Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
That’s a rhetorical question. Very clearly the U.S. electorate has decades of practice in walking, chewing gum, holding its nose and whistling past the graveyard at the same time. No doubt you can add other actions. The point is, we’re quite accomplished at doing this kind of thing, and can always depend on the Duopoly to provide the opportunities to gain yet more experience, every two and especially every four years.
We can say, accurately, that we have some choices about where we walk and which gum we chew and how long we hold our nose and what tune we whistle … but to this point, the only choices that count – according to the rules written and maintained by the Two Party Front for the Oligarchy – are those provided by the same Left / Right Front.
This time around, the Right side of this process is dealing with a candidate who really doesn’t fit the preferences of some further to the Right. The Left side of the process is dealing with an incumbent who really doesn’t fit the preferences of some further to the Left. In both cases, attempts are being made to convince those further to the Right that Romney really is a good Republican and those further to the Left that Obama really is a good Democrat. For both Right and Left, the convincing process includes large doses of how terrible it will be if the other guy wins.
There’s nothing wrong with pointing out our disagreements with, and fears about, what the other guy (and occasional gal) will do in whatever office. In fact, making the distinctions clear is very important. That part of the process the Electorate does quite consistently, if not always accurately (when we’re too dependent on our side’s opposition research). The part that often seems to get lost, though, is listening to what “our” guy / gal is promising, and then if he / she wins, holding him / her accountable. It’s almost like we walk, chew, hold and whistle for a few months every two or four years, but then sort of hibernate until the next election.
Back to the 2012 presidential contest – of course, it will be the usual “swing states” that will largely determine the winner. The walking, chewing, nose holding and whistling process in those states includes the added task of swinging the vote. I find the “swing state” realities of the two party election, and thus governance, system rather bizarre. Actually, I think the whole system is bizarre, and decidedly unresponsive to we the people.
There are those who are working for change, from both within and without the System, on everything from campaign and election reform to “third” parties to focus on specific issues. They don’t get much media, Elected or Electorate attention, which for me, makes their efforts even more admirable, along with essential.
The “your guy is worse than our guy” arguments seem like a very low standard in choosing our Electeds, from president to local school board. And it’s that apparently fatalistic acceptance of “it’s just the way things are” and/or “we have to wait until after this latest ‘most important election in our life’ before we can do anything” argument that’s of primary concern to me.
So, different question: Can the U.S. electorate walk, chew gum, hold its nose, whistle past the graveyard of the Duopoly AND work to change this ridiculous system at the same time? And a follow-up: If we can, will we?