Sunday, October 17, 2004

The American Presidential Race: Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee

Earlier this week, I watched the last of the presidential debates, and by the end of it I was ready to change the channel in disgust. Neither George Bush nor John Kerry seemed to be saying anything original, or anything that hadn't been heard before. By the end of it, I couldn't help but feel like I was watching Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee dancing around in Alice & Wonderland, except here, maybe we'd be better off calling them Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber.

During the debate, both candidates seemed to stick very close to their respective "comfort zones", and never really said anything that I found surprising or revealing, or even really that interesting. They are both probably so afraid of the special interest groups, they stick very close to their respective party-lines.

The United States seems to be run by a collection of special interest groups. Special interest groups don't really like anybody, but hate those candidates that say anything against them. You have these statements which I'll call "political landmines" - they're just sitting out there idle, waiting for some gullible politician to utter them, and as soon as the guy says them, they blow up in his face. The trouble is, some of these special interest groups are against each other, so if you make any strong statement, you're sure to piss someone off. If you talk about a woman's right to have an abortion, you piss off the pro-life people. If you talk about gun control, you piss off the NRA and the pro-gun lobby. If you say anything about Israel, you're sure to piss someone off: either the pro-Israel lobby for not being strong enough in favor of Israel, or the anti-Israel lobby for not being strong enough against them. About the only way you can win is to keep your opinions to yourself and say nothing controversial at all.

It seems to me the ideal presidential candidate here in America would be the androgynous "Pat" from Saturday Night Live. You can't tell if Pat is male or female, Republican or Democrat, pro-choice or pro-life, pro-gun or pro-gun-control, pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, homosexual or homophobic, or anything like that, because Pat is so afraid of saying anything that would piss off some special interest group somewhere that he/she spends a lot of time spouting off meaningless drivel.

You wonder why so many younger people are disinterested in the political process here. They simply don't care about who wins: Bush, Kerry, who cares? It's a simple case of "same shit, different barrel." I think it was this same voter sentiment that propelled Jesse Ventura (a former professional wrestler) to win the election as the governor of Minnesota a few years ago, even though he wasn't affiliated with either of the two main political parties. I wonder how Jesse would do if he were to run for president in this election - probably better than he would think.

Groucho Marx once said, "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies." This definitely sounds like what is going on in this election.