Friday, October 3, 2008

Presidential Packaging

Perhaps nowhere is the absolute joke that American politics has become more evident than in the 90 minute spectacle of the presidential and vice presidential debates. And the part that’s most sad is how many people pay attention to these debates and take various “facts” from them.

Very simply put, I cannot remember a time during any debate I’ve ever watched where a straight answer was given to a question asked. Oh, it may seem at times like straight answers are being given. It may seem like a candidate has the facts and figures, charts and graphs to eloquently illustrate a point, but sadly, there are no rules against the heavily distorted truth or the unadulterated lie in the debate forum.

They each consistently bring up the other candidates voting record in an effort to vilify them, but you can’t really trust what you hear because while a particular candidate may have voted against something that seems like good old-fashioned common sense, it’s often because of some other stipulation in that particular case.

They each try to point out how the other is out to get you. That a politician is out to “get” any of us is the greatest fallacy in all of politics though. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re that important to them. You’re not. If bad things happen to us, it’s collateral damage—it’s not anyone’s goal in Washington to make our lives worse.

It is, however, their goal to look out for number one and let’s not be coy about it, number one is the person looking back at them in the mirror every morning. Not we the people, not their constituents, the number one job of any politician is keeping their job.

And that’s where these debates become truly sad. They tell their lies, thinly veiled as promises and reasons for hope in an effort to bamboozle us. And we are all too willing accomplices to their deceit. We would much rather be lied to and not have to work at it than to actually have to dig in, know and understand our own political system and make informed, intelligent choices. So, a politician isn’t really judged on what he or she does in office, but rather how their able to spin and market the things they’ve done to make themselves look good.

If serial killers had the kind of spin control and marketing teams that politicians have they’d be honored as population control executives. If the IRS had that kind of team in place we’d all be lining up begging to be first to donate on April 15th.

The simple fact is that politicians run unchecked because we allow them to do so. We buy into the marketed version of who these people are rather than the true version. Do you have a favorite candidate? Have you gotten into a discussion with someone about them? Have you used the terms “change” or “maverick” in your discourse? If you have, consider yourself affected, as these are the two principle key words in the marketing effort to get a president elected.

After watching last night’s debate, I’m now resolved to get a beautiful woman to precede me everywhere I go to tell people that I am a maverick, ad nausea. I think it’ll do my social life some good. People seem to be too na├»ve to understand that a real maverick doesn’t need to tell people about it. In fact, a real maverick’s reputation will always precede him. A real maverick would never need to tell anyone about it.

And as far as change goes, well change is something you do, not something you talk about. It’s a simple thing to say, but an amazingly difficult thing to do. And the word alone should not be a comfort or a reason for encouragement. Change alone is not progress, it’s intelligent change that makes the difference.

Which brings us back to the debates and the improv actors on stage who have been well-coached before hand on repeatedly using the party-approved key words whenever they are on shaky ground, whenever they feel trapped, when they need to make or counter a point. The groundwork has been laid, in the commercials, in the signage, in the rhetoric, in the editorials—so when in doubt, fall back on the marketing plan. Hit them with the key words and nothing can go wrong.

And the sheep watch without noticing. So used to marketing, from McDonald’s and Budweiser and lately from Microsoft, are we that we don’t even notice when we’re being bombarded by it anymore.

It’s not a campaign. If you think it is, you’re a fool. If you think you truly know either candidate, you’re sadly mistaken. American politics has become a battle of Super Bowl commercials. Bud Light versus Miller Lite, trading shots back and forth, trying to make their product look good and the other bad.

You’re not voting for a person. You’re voting for a product. It’s been packaged up nicely and depending on who you are and where you’re from, you’ve come to believe that your product is the only product worth having, but it’s really just the same beer in a different bottle.

Drink up America.


Anonymous said...

You know, you've gotten really bossy of late (unless you've always been that way, in which case cancel this first sentence). Now stop trying to tell ME how I feel and what I think! I am one of your devoted readers, not a member of the sheep-like cult (a/k/a "Average American") to whom you keep preaching!

PenguinsWalkAmoungUs said...

I have always been a firm believer that we need to fire every single politician and replace them all with accountants. At least then we'd have someone semi-competent running the show.

Introduction: said...

Packaged product indeed, I think that if we have a Dem. president the VP should be a Rep. really shake things up.

khristina said...

All of our candidates this year are celebrities now and I can't stand it!

Ramona said...

Well, good thing I can't vote. Not that I wouldn't, America just won't let me. At least I have a semi-good excuse, right?