I’m trying not to pay attention to the election results coverage tonight. Not that I’m not interested, but I can’t stand the thought of listening to the television network infotainment blowhards passing their usual gas. To some extent, I will admit, this attitude is sour grapes over the way virtually every TV news media outlet (other than Fox, of all places) has been in the tank for Obama since… well, face it, since the DNC convention in 2004. The conventional wisdom has the journalist class succeeding in this election in getting their man in, but I’m still holding out hope that enough John McCain voters will come out in key states to tip the final tally into the Republican column. But, yes, I’m avoiding the news in a probably vain attempt to stave off depression.
I voted on my way to work this morning, and did not at all experience the kind of long lines that have been reported throughout the day as existing all over the place. I was in and out within a few minutes. Naturally, every vote I cast has come up on the losing side of the ledger in Massachusetts, according to early projections (OK, I peeked). But I felt good voting today for the first time in a while. I’m not a big fan of John McCain, but at least I could support him without serious reservation. It’s been a while since I could vote in a general election without holding my nose.
But whichever candidate ends up losing this struggle, the biggest loser will be the republic, as yet again the blowhards and morons who have anointed themselves the arbiters of American political discourse have succeeded in reducing the most important political process in the world to trite sloganeering and posturing. The candidates are not above responsibility for this situation themselves, but I think the lion’s share of the blame needs to be placed on the shoulders of the journalist class. They are a disgrace. They seem incapable of even understanding that political questions might consist of competing ideas, being instead thoroughly wed to the imbecilic reduction of everything to competing opinions. They are an impediment to intelligent political discourse, not only in how they frame the struggle in reporting and analysis, but even in how they manipulate the candidates themselves. And they are the lens through which almost the entire democracy views the problems to be solved!
Watching the four presidential and vice presidential “debates” was an exercise for me in how not to manage stress. Again, it’s not just how the questioning tended toward addressing controversy instead of meaningful content, but there were even occasions when the celebrity News host was striving to keep the candidates from addressing important matters (such as each other) in order to keep themselves front-and-center in the process. I nearly fell out of my chair at the end of one of them (can’t remember which) when the celebrity host announced that the next “debate” would be on such and such a date, “with celebrity host B” (again, I forget which one – as if I care). Is it even possible that Senators McCain and Obama themselves might star in the next episode of Presidential Debate ’08? No, no. They may be there playing the contestant roles (who cares?), but the star would be Fred Flintstone – or was it Barney Rubble? Or Captain Kirk? Or Oprah? Or was it George Stephanopoulos? No, George would be needed afterwards to analyze the candidates’ facial tics.
The bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, is that these buffoons have to go if American democracy is ever going to rise back above the level of bumper sticker philosophizing. We do need someone to facilitate the public presentation of political process, but these people are incompetent, and we need to find a way to throw them out. Changing the politicians will avail nothing if the gatekeepers remain the same.
But where do we go to find suitable replacements? The universities? Ugh. The public sector? No point giving the inmates the keys to the ward… The religious sector? Can you imagine the uproar that suggestion would cause on campuses and in latte shopppes across the land? But it might actually be the most responsible (and practical) approach. The private sector has clearly failed badly, and the universities are wastelands of trendy inanity. The public sector itself is a non-starter. Maybe the religious leadership in the country could, collectively, provide a balanced framework for serious discussion of serious matters…
But what am I talking about (sorry for stealing your line, Senator Biden)? I’m just thinking out loud – I have no idea how any such thing would work – but I can’t help but think that the folks who might have the best chance to drive our political discussion past the ratings-driven diatribe of controversy and opinioned buffoonery just might be those whose lives are ordered to the transcendent, yet who understand profoundly (pastorally) the sufferings of the world.