My first thought when I saw the news about the Democratic National Convention Streaming the entire event (see Taylor’s post here): that’s to keep the peanut gallery – where most of us reside, including the delegates to a pre-determined, scripted convention – under the illusion that we’re a part of a representative and sort of participatory democracy. It’s to keep us “involved,” entertained and distracted. Meanwhile, in what used to be dark, smoke-filled, closed-door rooms (at least in popular story-telling) but today at least include lavish parties to which only those with enough dollars to be considered worthy will be invited (when they aren’t throwing the party themselves) … that’s where the actual decision-making will happen. Or maybe more accurately yet, where the deals already made will be celebrated.
Steve Horn, at TruthOut, has an interesting piece that reflects on this situation.
The People Behind the Parties – and the Democratic Party – at the DNC
… Like its RNC counterpart, the DNC will be what The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald recently described the election year as being on the whole: an ‘uber-contrived reality show that has less to do with political reality than the average rant one hears at any randomly chosen corner bar or family dinner.’
The real story of this year’s DNC, in actuality, is the lobbyists and political operatives throwing the parties at corner bars and hosting extravagant dinners everywhere you look … . The hosts and organizers of the parties at the DNC are the real wielders of power in today’s modern Democratic Party.
And the ‘uber-contrived reality show’? That’ll be occurring on the DNC floor.
Of course the reality show that pretends to be a convention where serious people are making serious decisions will go on, as it must. However many millions will be spent on the performance, it’s a small price to pay to keep the masses entertained, or placated or comatose or just ignoring what’s actually going on. And as Horn notes, even though more of the “soirees” are “privately financed,” still, “much of the funding for the parties occurs on the taxpayer dime.”
One of the most interesting parts of Horn’s article focuses on the LLCs (limited liability corporations) formed by those hosting the exclusive parties, thus “skillfully skirting lobbying ethics laws.” Party hosts aren’t lobbyists. No, they’re business owners. For example,
In October 2011, a new start-up business was born, its corporate lobbyist parents naming it DNC Convention Strategies.
‘We help our clients get the most bang for their convention buck,’ DNC Convention Strategies explains on its website. …
DNC Convention Strategies is the child of Conventions 2012, LLC, which was registered in Florida in July 2011 … . Its brother, born to the same mother, is GOP Convention Strategies. …
The DNC, like the RNC, handles the convention floor theatrics, what is televised and live-streamed. And lots and lots of non-elite parties also take place, of course, and maybe get a VIP, or near-VIP, or an aid to near-VIP, to drop by. But those are just side-shows, no doubt a cool experience for those attending, but relatively if not completely meaningless in terms of any accountability-holding purposes. They could hold possibilities for connecting, networking and coordinating, and so have an actual benefit. But those will be in spite of the “uber-contrived reality show” that is our political / governance system.
(Photo via Photobucket)