Manipulating Politics – Yes

ANY ideology, whether political or religious, is used to manipulate the electorate. That’s today’s problem. In today’s poisonous Washington game, politicians have two objectives: (1) to get elected; and (2) to get reelected.

American-style democracy is still a noble experiment that has survived two centuries . . . a mere tick of the clock compared to the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans. Our Founders were wise enough to draw on the best attributes of those political systems and risk their lives to establish our “imperfect Union” which guarantees politicians the opportunity to freely express ideas and gain as many supporters as they can inspire or deceive.

The centuries leading to the “Golden Age” of Greece (500BC to 200BC) and those following contributed to the explosion of modern philosophy and science by centering on the general well-being of the populace that supported it. The Roman Empire was Greece’s equal in the advancement of human knowledge before it was corrupted and derailed by power-hungry close-minded religious leaders from the 7th Century on.

Our Constitution guarantees us the right to vote, which implies the burden of knowing what we’re voting about. Politicians know we can’t possibly parse the complexities of national and international issues so they keep it simple. They don’t care if they use secular ideology or religious theology to make us vote for them. They will do anything, say anything, touch our basest instincts and our greatest fears to get elected. Some are honorable, some are not.
Many will lie, cheat, and steal to convince us they are the sole saviors of our nation, our incomes, our children and our very lives.

They are very clever at this. Political campaigns spend millions on marketing research that gauges our buying habits and inspects the most personal details of our everyday lives. They blast us with questions that confuse and separate us from our neighbors: pro-life or pro-choice, gay marriage amendments or school prayer instead of jobs or healthcare, war instead of peace, tax cuts for the rich instead of college tuition. There are diabolically clever arguments on both sides of these issues and it’s hard to do anything but blindly vote Republican or Democrat and hope for the best.

An example of this is that after a generation of Repubmocrats, politicians have damn near bankrupted our nation. We have a critical choice ahead. Two contenders are neck and neck for the next generation of American progress or decline.

I’m sorry, but I have bills to pay. I have kids who want to go to college and I have a wife whose healthcare benefits have been stripped by her employer. I’m on social security and I don’t believe investing in the stock market is going to increase my monthly check. My food bills increase every week and gas prices are a complete mystery except for the fact that I know Exxon-Mobile will post another record quarter in October. It’s damn near impossible for me to learn everything there is to learn about the two candidates and whether one of them is more able to see the future than the other. And God help me with local, state, and federal candidates who are running their own deceptive campaigns.

I question the idea that there is any “real” political ideology other than getting enough votes to win. If a politician can get votes by being pro-life, he says he is. If a politician can get votes by supporting stem-cell research, she does it. If politicians can get votes by calling himself or herself “the agent of change,” he or she will.

That’s the challenge of our democracy. Politicians count on our ignorance. They prefer to “tell” us what to believe rather than let us decide. They divide us, confuse us, enrage us, threaten us, cajole us and mislead us to get elected. One party contends everything is just fine but for a little glitch here and there and says it understands how to fix it. The other party says there is a fundamental failure in government that requires drastic change and says it understands how to fix it.

Lord, I wish I had the time and intellect to follow all this and figure it out.

One candidate is an old man of great courage whose opinions, understandings and beliefs are indelibly forged by past generations. He is a warrior who wants to win. We face terrorist threats that cause us to spend $12 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan while oil-rich nations force us into national bankruptcy by manipulating oil prices. How we assess and mitigate that two-pronged challenge, the question of how to preserve the American Dream while supporting our military commitments, is open to ideological manipulation. Actually living through this history is valuable experience in the decisions that face us as a nation.

One candidate is a young man, charismatic, with a new vision of what America’s position in the world should be. He is farming a New Age of political and technological soil and it’s reasonable to question whether what he plants will grow. He is future-thinking and has a bias toward renewing and strengthening America’s grassroots middleclass rather than spending our children into poverty. His focus is on restoring average American’s prosperity at the possible cost of leaving us more open to horrific attacks of Islamic Fundamentalism, but believes a stable, healthy, prosperous nation is better able to meet whatever challenges come our way; all concepts open to ideological manipulation.

Each candidate, regardless of honesty, is sponsored by a party that manipulates visceral ideologies rather than common sense. Only one of them is right.

God preserve us.