My Post Election Madness

I posit the American public is lying.

Who voted for Democrats in all those very red areas? If the elections aren't rigged, how did these guys get in?

Probably the same way the Republicans got in. Votes.

Could it be that the public has been lying to the pollsters? Could it be that the very conservative, right-wing base voted Democratic and told the pollsters otherwise?

Could it be the voters are dealing back to Washington the same deception that has been dealt out to the public these past few years?

We can only hope.

There is a line in the movie "Magnolia", where the screwed-up daughter of the child molesting game-show host says to her date, the good-hearted screw-up of a cop, "Now that you've met me, would you object to never seeing me again?"

I watched my DVD of "Magnolia" the other night and it reminded me that there are no coincidences, only acts of will which are reflected back onto us by the universe at large. And it makes me think of the newly elected Democratic congress, and I want to say to them:

Now that we've elected you, would you object to never running again?

I think politics is an awful career. It attracts people who would be politicians.

I think public service is an excellent career. It attracts people who would serve.

The problem is that the phrase "public service in politics" is oxymoronic. Few who would survive a modern campaign are armed with the ability to lead. The skills necessary to win a campaign: an ability to speak without saying anything that will pin you down, the ability to withstand withering personal attacks, the ablility to camoflauge ad hominem arguments, the ability to turn the responsibility to respond into victimization by an interviewer - these things are antithetical to good leadership. Mastering them necessarily takes energy away from performing the acts of a good leader.

All career politicians will disappoint us. We expect it.

This is the iceowl solution: Getting elected to congress should be like going to Antarctica. Once you're through the amazingly tough acceptance process, everything should be centered on the work. Your personal comfort should be irrelevant to the process except to sustain enough health and well-being to enable the work to be performed quickly and accurately. The work must be everything. Once the work is complete, the congressperson must yearn to return home. Life in Washington should be so spartan that no one in their right mind would want to stay.

Somehow we have to get to politics becoming an unprofitable soul-enriching experience for people. It should be like the peace corps. It should be like research in a remote outpost. It should be tough. It should be impossible to lead a lucrative lifestyle doing it. Senators and representatives should have to live in cinder block-walled college freshman dorms. They should have to hot-bunk with other congress people. They should receive a $25 per diem for meals. Taking money from anyone or any corporation during one's term should result in immediate expulsion.

Term limits would be no issue, then. Corruption would be nearly impossible. Enforced poverty would change everything.

There would be rampant sex, of course. But as long as the participants were of the age of consent, nobody would begrudge them these minor human comforts given the minimalistic drudgery of Washington life. There would be no issue with senators sleeping with each other, because we'd know that was the only human comfort they could afford. There would be no issue with elected officials never going back to their constituencies, because they'd be so happy to leave Washington to get back to a soft bed they'd always be home.

This is my proposal: reduce congressional pay to zero. Supply room and board at the taxpayer's expense.

Only idiots and the most dedicated would then want to serve. So while Washington would still be populated by idiots, we'd increase the numbers of the dedicated.

One thing I've found loathsome to do in the past years is to subject myself to Fox News. Yet, I've done it. I will not claim masochism or saintliness. I do believe that if you are to be strong and of clear mind you must understand all sides of an issue. It was always infuriating to me to listen to those with whom I should have been in agreement arguing an ad hominem point based on less than heresay. To my mind, if you want to argue against a particular point, you must have heard (or read) the opposing point being made. Otherwise you're flailing at windmills.

To this end I subjected myself to Fox Abuse. It wrecked my blood pressure and I lost sleep over what I heard. It amazed me that sane people could exist in its continuous distortion field.

But taking a step upward and out of the impact of the argument - one could understand how people of the opposing view could feel the "mainstream" news was one gigantic distortion field of the left. Whether that's true or not, to have a clear and certain position, one should be ready to answer to the validity of his sources.

That's what I think, anyway. So to not be hypocritical to my own philosophy, and because I have a hard time being self-inconsistent, I watched Fox News prior to the election.

Ok, I admit I couldn't take it for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. And I was thrilled to find there was an equally left-leaning show in Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

In the hours since the election, I've noticed a change in the tone of the reporting at Fox News, both in print on the web and in their broadcast. They have toned down the Republican rhetoric, and doesn't this make sense? And I have noticed a similar ratcheting up of the rhetoric by Keith Olbermann. Could it be ratings?

Olbermann's numbers have doubled again. He's close to surpassing his Fox News punditry counterparts.

Maybe the issue isn't that the right-wing press are all nuts, or that the left-wing press are weenies - but rather, that we the viewers are being spoonfed what they have determined will keep us in our seats through the commercials.

A majority voted in the Democratic congress, and that means many of Fox's own regular viewers voted Democratic. As they are not the President of the United States, to come out and suggest the American people are stupid for voting Democratic would precipitate a ratings debacle. Fox is feeding its viewers what they will sit through commercials for. If the viewing public has voted Democratic, they can't come out and blast them and expect them to sit for it. Not in this age when you only have to twitch a fingertip to change the channel.

And oddly enough, I suspect that with a left-leaning government in power, Fox News may have no choice but to move further to the center in its reporting. And dare I say - if it is true that the rest of the media supports a left-leaning government - it may actually become true that Fox News is fair and balanced.

We'll wait and see if that happens. I am buoyed by the possibility of it.

I am similarly buoyed by the possibility of the return of my creativity. Politics in 2006 sucked the life-force out of me. Now that the result I yearned for was achieved, I ache to go back to writing creatively.

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