• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

    • August 19, 2012 in Columnists

    Everything you need to know about American politics is on your cell phone

    by Debra DeAngelo

    Every four years, we’re captivated and consumed by this magnificent competition, spattered with color and dripping with drama. We align ourselves with our champions, identify with them, glorify them, cheer them on to victory and agonize over their defeats. It’s all we can think, eat, speak or dream about: Who will win!

    Oh, yeah, and there’s the Olympics too. There’s that.

    Yes, I mean that OTHER all-consuming quadrennial spectacle, our presidential elections. Oh, how I wish I could pull the warm, comfy blanket of Olympic excellence back over me, but no, it’s all gone. Nothing left but the soul-sucking chill of American politics.

    Back in the day, I used to get all wrapped around the axle about elections. I really, truly, honestly believed to my core that our country’s entire future dangled on whoever won the election. Every election was “make it or break it,” and if you’ve been with me long enough, you already know which political party I believe makes it and which one breaks it.

    True, Dubya raised the “break it” bar higher than any of us ever imagined possible — crashed the family car, left it in a steaming heap, tossed the keys to Barack Obama and walked away whistlin’. But did he do it alone? Hmmm. In retrospect, I think not. He no more controlled what was happening in the White House than Mickey Mouse controls Disneyland. Bush was a mascot, nothing more.

    When Obama was elected, I really believed that things would change. Finally, we were out of the clutches of the Radical Right and Fox & Friends, and it seemed like we had a fresh start, a new direction – we’d surely rise like a phoenix from the ashes of scorched earth left by the previous administration.

    But, it didn’t really turn out that way, did it.

    We hoped for change, but there hasn’t really been substantial change. Obama’s administration seems to have stopped the bleeding, but the country’s still comatose. At least it still has a pulse, but it’s clearly not out of the woods. Keep the priest’s number handy, just in case. And the coroner’s.

    Is this a criticism of Obama? Hardly. It’s just a reality check. I really believed things would magically turn around under this new leadership. But in the end, Obama isn’t a super hero, he’s just one man, and he doesn’t have control over everything. That’s an illusion. That control lies with Congress, and this Republican-controlled Congress is determined to pour all its energy into making sure Obama isn’t reelected. Several prominent Republican Congressman have been quoted as actually stating that.

    Chew on that for a moment: Our country is in crisis, our economy is in the toilet, average people are suffering and struggling mightily, and the number one priority of the Congressional majority is to keep their own jobs and get their own kind elected. Never were the true motives of our so-called leaders more transparent than they’ve been during Obama’s presidency.

    But before the Democrats get all smug and self-righteous abut the purity of their intentions, might I temper their enthusiasm with the reminder that they had the majority during Obama’s first two, and proved themselves to be timid, spineless and utterly useless. They had a golden opportunity to make change, and they blew it.

    Or did they.

    Maybe they weren’t just a trembling gaggle of inept, pee-pants wimps. Maybe they’re merely not as transparent as Republicans, who are unashamed to be in a perpetual liplock with Wall Street. But their motives are the same: Do whatever it takes to get the money, so we can keep our jobs. It’s just a style difference. Republicans are brassy street-walkers in pink satin spankies and black stilettos, and Democrats are nervous, semi-ashamed Craigslist call-girls working their way through college. Either way, “Show me the money, honey” is how they roll. Trouble is, it’s the public that’s getting screwed.

    The hard reality is that although I’ve had a grand time trashing Bush & Co over the years and blaming him and his Darth Vadarian sidekick for all our woes, the fact is that the Bush Administration didn’t do anything that wasn’t approved by Congress. And the reason the Obama Administration hasn’t mitigated all that damage is, again, no fault of Obama’s. Just like Bush before him, in the end, Obama’s just a mascot too.

    Want to understand how our political system works? Just look at your cell phone. Does yours have a skin? If not, skins are colorful plastic covers that encase your cell phone to make them look cute and snappy – pink flamingos, blue polka dots, tiger stripes – anything that catches your fancy.

    The Republican and Democrat parties are nothing more than Red or Blue skins over our political cell phone. They make you happy when you look at them. They make a statement when you whip your phone out to answer that incoming call, and let everyone know just what you’re about. But they have absolutely no functional impact on the phone. The phone will work the same way, regardless of what color skin you put on it. The skin has no power. It’s just a decoration.

    For me, the choice in this election is essentially just that simple. Obama makes me feel good. Romney doesn’t. I’ll be keeping that Blue skin on my cell phone this election because it makes me happy, even though I know it doesn’t really make the phone ring. The corporations that designed it do that; calling plan provided by the One Percent.

    • I loved this Debra and you are so right. I will vote for Obama as I like him as well. I think he is a better person and will try harder to do the right thing but, he is just a mascot as you said until corporations go back to being corporations and people take back their lives and laws and rights.

      • David Lacy

      • August 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm
      • Reply

      Absolutely. And it’s a form of catharsis put in place by the one percent to make us FEEL empowered. “Ooooh. I have a choice. I declare my allegiance to this. See? I took a stand!” *wave blue case frantically for all to see*

      It’s actually quite brilliant on the part of a very few (relatively speaking) evil people in this world.

      And yes, as a supporter of Obama (who COULD be effective when he was a community organizer, and who could be partly effective as a state senator, and a teensy bit effective as a U.S. Senator) I’m aware of the layers of irony, hypocrisy, and false hope that live inside myself.

      • Kelvin

      • August 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm
      • Reply

      Great column. It’s the bitter reality. I’ve always been a political junkie and I’ve never been more turned off to politics. So depressing. Citizens United has made it complete now. The country will be ruled by an aristocracy, exactly what some of the Founding Fathers feared. How’s this for a fantasy: a rogue independent billionaire runs and wins the Presidency and pushes Congress hard to clamp down on Wall Street, push hard for a single payer healthcare system and move towards a defense budget that reflects the modern world and not the Cold War. Then both the Democrats and Republicans would have to go on record. The only one who will push hard against sacred cows is someone who is not beholden to them. It’s ironic that it takes a member of the 1% to take on the 1%.

      • Carri Lacy

      • August 24, 2012 at 12:10 am
      • Reply

      I agreed with every word…until I got to the last paragraph. There are more than two parties, if anyone noticed. We’ve become addicted to this “choice”, which really isn’t a choice–like a coin with heads on both sides. Or a dog and pony show in a one-ring circus, designed to keep us entertained with the thought that we’re “making a difference”. With the US’s constant interference in other countries, the bank bailouts, the lack of any accountability for the Wall Street fiasco–not a single CEO charged or arrested (at least Iceland is taking some action!)–the loss of millions of homes and record number of homeless, with increased poverty levels, an economy that’s really a house of cards built on sand, ready to collapse at any moment…the list goes on. I cannot in good conscience vote for the party I supported all my adult life. “Choosing the lesser of two evils is choosing evil.” Nothing will change if we keep supporting a broken system; it’s like an abusive relationship where the aggrieved person won’t leave! I’m sending a message, telling the Democrats I won’t support them anymore by voting Green Party. (90 million voters will not be voting in this election, and I can’t really blame them. Although I wish they’d get organized and vote for a third, fourth, or even fifth party. Now that would send a message.)

      • Carri Lacy

      • August 24, 2012 at 12:21 am
      • Reply

      I got all caught up in the moment and forgot to say how much I enjoyed reading this! I was with you the whole way, internally cheering, “Yes, she gets it!” Alas, my heart sank upon reading that you, after so eloquently stating your disappointment, would still vote for Obama. Oh well…

      • Kelvin

      • August 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm
      • Reply

      Sure there are other choices but they’re not real choices either. I was playfully arguing with a right wing friend and she said, “I’d never vote for Obama!” To which I replied, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for. It doesn’t matter if. Vote for Obama. We live in Californa. Presidential elections wont turn on us. There’s only like 12 states that matter.”

      As far as picking the lesser of two evils, as much as I realize the parties will work for the corporate and union paymasters, there are differences. Sure I’m disappointed that Obama didn’t fight for single payer, didn’t take it to Wall Street (although it was obvious he wasn’t when he loaded up his government with Goldman Sachs alumni) and hasn’t gotten us out of Afghanistan but would I rather John McCain and Sarah Palin be in office today? Hell no. Do I think if Al Gore was elected in 2000 he would’ve passed those huge tax cuts and invaded Iraq? Hell no. So while there are corporate interests that pull the strings of the parties in office (moneyed interests will always have their influence), I’m okay with choosing the lesser of two evils. Even if I have to take a couple of Tums to do it.

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