Recently by Fred Reed: Advice to a Generic Candidate
Vote? Why? What candidate in the quadrennial resurrection of the Mickey Mouse club wants to do anything that I want done?
I want to roll back the onrushing police state and return to constitutional government. The plunge into totalitarianism is a far worse danger than World War Two, in which the US was never in danger of being invaded, and in which the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Who do I vote for? No candidate (except Ron Paul: ERP) is against sovietization.
I want to end our stupid wars, now. Yesterday. Who do I vote for? There is no antiwar candidate (ERP). Obama sends the troops anywhere he can think of, and all the Republicans want to attack Iran.
I want to reduce the military by half and end the militarization of the country that is bankrupting us. Who do I vote for? (ERP)
I want to reduce the size of government, get rid of the departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce, toss the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and so on. What candidate wants to do these things? Republicans talk a good show, but which of them actually wants to cut?
I want to end affirmative action, which means governmental favor for some citizens over others, and rely on merit. No candidate speaks of this. Who do I vote for?
I want to end the empire, quit meddling in the business of other countries, get out of South Korea, Japan, and NATO. I don’t want to be the world’s mommy. Who do I vote for?
I want to reform America’s dysfunctional system of taxation, go to a sales tax or flat tax or value-added tax, anything to get IRS off our backs. It isn’t the amount of taxation that I dislike, but the intrusiveness, mystery, complexity, and lack of recourse. Who do I vote for?
I want to reform the public schools, outlaw teachers unions, require decent GRE scores from teachers, cut the propaganda and outlaw drugging of students. Who do I vote for?
Why vote at all? Nothing of substance is on the table, other than the desire of Republicans to attack Iran. Yes, we must get America back on track, get it going again in the right direction, turn the country around, get back to the American values that made the nation great, promote the American Dream – none of which means anything. We must create jobs (how?), get America back to work (how?), and favor all the vague platitudes intended to mulct fools. All right, I hereby declare myself mulcted. So why vote?
The elections are supposed to indicate the presence of democracy, but they do not. Elections do not determine policy but only the division of spoils. An election in which candidates take no positions becomes a high-school popularity contest. The way to have elections without having a democracy is to let the people vote, but not on anything.
And oh god, the boredom. Night after night, day after day, we will have this version of Dancing with the Stars, the judges in the media solemnly that Santorum displayed Confidence, but Gingrich committed some trivial gaffe or other. Nuance, gesture, composure, but no substance.
Where is this going? The country is in grave difficulties and needs desperately to make hard decisions. Those in power seem to have decided to keep picking the nation’s bones while the corpse slides towards the precipice. Cosset the morons, assure everyone of everything, avoid the issues and do nothing that might upset anyone. Greece, Spain, Ireland all take unpopular measures to try to bring things under control. The US? It spends on, wars on, as if the gravy days of 1960 had never ended.
Having a one-party system called by two names is a technically slick way of disenfranchising the public without their noticing. In a parliamentary system all manner of politics would gain expression in proportion to their prevalence in the population. With two identical parties, no dissenting view can ever gain office. A masterly dodge, this.
Over the years I have read or listened to many men rattling on about this and that arrangement of matters human, socialism, capitalism, republics, direct democracy, fascism, militarism, all the gang. What the theorists all seem to overlook is the irresistible buoyancy of excrement. Communism, theocracy, the divine right of kings, all eventually fall into the hands of the crafty and unscrupulous. If they don’t, it is only because they haven’t gotten around to it.
It has to happen. Once society becomes more complex than a modest tribe or small town, once its affairs extend beyond the immediate visual horizon of the citizens, they become clueless. Most don’t have the brains, and almost none the time or interest, to monitor sprawling bureaucracies and distant wars. Villains thrive in the shadows.
Vote? You can choose between Gingrich and Gingrich, between Santorum and Santorum, or between Gingrich and Santorum which is the same choice, or you can choose Romney, who is both Santorum and Gingrich. Such a deal.
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Bem, Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet Nam, and A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about Mexico. Visit his blog.