3.37 The Book of Annoyance: Politics
Unfortunately, Zouch Magazine will not be publishing anymore content and is closing up shop next year. It was fun while it lasted. This is one of two unpublished Book of Annoyance articles. I think this is the best one, both in content and in relevance to the sideshow circus happening south of the border. You'll still be able to read all my articles at this LINK. In case anyone hasn’t been reading the newspaper lately, there’s an election coming up in the United States. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to write an article about politics with a column that is about annoying things. With the way politics has evolved – or devolved – is it any wonder why we participate in the democratic process?
From right wing Christian fundamentalist wingnuts to disappointing democrats, self-interested senators to lunging lobbyists, where’re pretty much hitting bottom when it comes to politics.
To balance out the blame a bit, the immortal George Carlin put it this way: “There is one thing I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall from the sky. They don’t pass through membrane from another reality. They come from American parents, American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities and they’re elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do. This is what we have to offer. It’s what out system produces. Garbage in, garbage out.”
It’s sobering to look at the system in this way. But that doesn’t make it wrong.
Carlin continued: “But maybe it’s not the politicians who suck, maybe something else sucks around here…like, the public. If it’s really just the fault of these politicians, then where are all the other bright people of conscience? Where are all the bright, intelligent and honest Americans ready to step in and save the nation and lead the way?”
Yes, where are they?
Bullys and Blowhards
Let’s start small with municipal politics. I live in the city of Toronto and we voted in a sideshow mayor and through his own descriptor represents: “300 hundred pounds of fun!” This is the kind of politician that canvasses on one-note sound bites, anyone that disagrees with him is a pinko and has all the respect for taxpayers but no respect for the actual people paying taxes. His two years in office could not be a movie because it wouldn’t be believable. The studio executive would say, “Great screenplay, but take out the part where the mayor sets up a scale outside his office – obviously a smoke screen. Audiences wouldn’t buy it. Also, can you scrap when he calls 911 on the CBC? And, can you remove when he attacked a journalist?” A few weeks ago, our esteemed mayor was brought in to court over conflict of interest charges, his defense being between admitting he was an idiot and being completely sincere in his ignorance. Sitting beside our esteemed mayor is his right hand man Giorgio Mammoliti. He signals to the rest of council, through giving a thumb’s up or thumb’s down, as to how the mayor wants the rest of council to vote. Are they reviewing movies? Is Mammoliti a political version of Roger Ebert? No, it’s just our democratic process at work. ANNOYING!
Politicians lie to get your vote. I understand this is an obvious, and even clichéd, statement. However, a trend over the past years, which we can perhaps attribute to George Bush, is for politicians to not even attempt to cover-up their wrongdoings. If you’re going to lie to me, and let’s face it, it’s going to happen, then at least have the decency to see that lie through to the end. Last year, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl talked about the organization Planned Parenthood, saying that over 90% of what they handle was abortions. Front-page news! A few days later after some fact-checking, it was discovered that abortions make up 3% of what Planned Parenthood actually does. CNN caught up with Senator Kyl and his response: “It was not intended to be a factual statement.” Wait, what? By this point, the message was out and the truth didn’t matter. Ah, those pesky facts, they get in the way of a good sound bite. Way back during the 2008 presidential election, Sarah Palin – remember her? Someone we all wish would just go away? – changed history, literally, when she mistakenly said that Paul Revere warned the British about the Constitution’s second amendment. Palin supporters actually attempted to change Paul Revere’s Wikipedia page to her boneheaded interpretation of the actual historical event. I guess the winners, or in this case, the losers, really are the ones to write history. In The Atlantic, Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” It took me a moment to process this sentence. I read it again and realized that the veil has been lifted, the mystery solved – politicians do lie. And they seem proud of it. Actually, this statement can be used in a variety of ways. Say you got caught stealing money from a charity: “I’m not going to let my actions be dictated by fact-checkers (police).” Say you said something hateful towards another person, “I’m not going to let my words be dictated by fact-checkers (a person with higher morals than you).” This is fun, you should try it. The truth is certainly not something we should be concerned about, especially not in politics. ANNOYING!
Everyone complains about how with each year, and with each election, political ads keep getting more and more negative. Aren’t all ads negative ads? Couldn’t you perceive a McDonald’s commercial as a negative ad? McDonald’s is certainly not helping me in any way. Sure, I can stuff my face and it is so good going down. But fifteen minutes later, my stomach is turning upside down, a churning mixture of physical uncomfortableness, hidden shame and Catholic guilt. And in the long-term, McDonald’s is actually detrimental for my health. This started off as a metaphor, but now I see a direct correlation between politicians and a Big Mac. Besides, what would a positive ad look like? Politicians can be detrimental to my health and do sometimes provide significant doses of Catholic guilt. McDonald’s current catchphrase is, “I’m lovin’ it!” Perhaps a politician can borrow this catchphrase. For example, he can be shaking hands with working class people – because that’s who they really care about – and afterwards, you show testimonials who all say, “I’m lovin’ him!” Followed by, “I am Mitt Romney, and I approve this message!” ANNOYING!
The presidential debates provide the opportunity for the two candidates, who up to this point have spent a few months ripping apart each other’s credibility, to meet head to head. This is an outdated way of determining who is the most capable leader. I have a much better idea: full-blown cage match. Do we really want the candidates to debate on economic problems, immigrant issues or America’s foreign policy? Boring. Let us borrow from the very respectable and homoerotic nature of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I want to see Romney and Obama in the octagon, shirts off, ready to go all the way, no rules and no words. Perhaps more exciting would be the vice presidential matchup. Paul Ryan might have lied about his marathon time, but he’s sure not lying about those abs. You might think it unfair to throw Joe Biden in the ring with Ryan. But beware the guy who falls asleep during presidential speeches, he’s just saving up his energy. The UFC boasts, “Two men may enter but only one will survive.” The keyword is ‘men’ and you might think we would have to adjust the cage match rules when a woman runs for president. If Hilary Clinton ever campaigns for the top job, I think she could take Obama, Romney, Ryan and Biden at the same time. If we don’t do this now, we’ll be watching useless theatrical debates for the rest of time. ANNOYING!
The United States is not a dictatorship, that’s why they have not one, but two whole parties. Well, that’s if you discount Ross Perot that one time. Canada, on the other hand, adopted the British parliamentary system and has a multi-party arrangement. In the southern United States, grits might be a local delicacy, but in Canada, we call them Liberals. Tory’s used to be Progressive Conservatives, an oxy-moron even by political standards. Our Prime Minister helped convince them to drop the ‘progressive’ a few years ago. Conservatives do not have the ability to think unilaterally, so this moving backwards and forwards in time only confused people. The Marijuana Party of Canada fights for their rights even if they can’t remember their platform and are always hungry for munchies. The Christian Heritage Party needs to get the word out that environmental issues are merely conspiracy theories – and abortions? Not on your life! The Green Party has one seat in the House of Commons, which is held by…what’s her name again? Support for the New Democratic Party surged during the last election, threatening the Conservative base. Naturally, a few months ago, Prime Minister Harper brought out the Hitler card, saying, “Unlike the NDP, we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances. The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler.” As the Globe and Mail pointed out, “The NDP did not even exist until 1961.” You could use the line from Mr. Newhouse here, “We are not going to let our statements be dictated by fact-checkers.” My question is, with all these parties, why isn’t anyone having any fun? ANNOYING!
Now, doesn’t that feel better?