The Coastal Post - September, 1996

Conventional* Politics

BY FRANK SCOTT

*Devoted to and bound by conventions to the point of artificiality; ceremonious. Unimaginative, conformist.

That is a fair description of what just ended in San Diego, and begins in Chicago soon after this is written. Anyone seeking the unconventional at these major party assaults on intellect might do better searching for knowledge in Dan Quayle's head. As we get closer to the election, it seems that the choice is between emotional people without brains, or intelligent people without hearts. Never was the need for the unconventional in politics more apparent, and rarely has it been so lacking. At a time when we need balance, we get two schizoid wings of the corporate party, filling the air with unintended humor while keeping a unified straight face.

In what could be a new Olympic event, both sides indulge in a stunning display of Synchronized Cynicism, as they manipulate feelings, while the national intellect is treated as a toxic dump. One group of more affluent delegates is regaled with tales of a satanic president, coward in time of war, cold-hearted to working people, and murderous when it comes to the fetus. The other group of more culturally diverse, if equally class-stratified delegates, reacts with orgasmic joy at the heralding of a president who saved the economy, women, children and the future, not necessarily in that order. What's a nation to do?

The Grand Old Party lives up to its name, bringing "youth and energy" to its ticket by signing an over-60 ex-quarterback to stand a heartbeat away from the World War II vet at the top. Kemp brings a Reaganesque quality of optimism to his sermons, inspiring all whose understanding of economics equals a kid with a lemonade stand. They believe the only thing between that kid and millions of dollars stuffed in a Swiss bank account is hard work. Kemp is called a bleeding heart conservative, and we should be thankful that he has at least taken showers with black men, and is thus avant garde among his vanilla peers when it comes to awareness of the real American nation.

Vigor is also added by Dole's younger wife, a skilled practitioner of rehearsed spontaneity whose attractive bearing—and empty words—lend zest to an atmosphere that makes pro-life an oxymoronic turn of phrase. She made it necessary for Hillary to emerge from her milk-container anonymity of the recent past, in order to show that the other wing of the corporate party also has a woman who looks and thinks better than the old man.

The only suspense left is whether the Republicans will arrange to have Hillary led away in handcuffs the day before the election, or whether the Democrats will find it necessary to murder some innocent people in the Middle East to prove their front man's mettle. Rumblings are going on over "punishing" Iran, Libya or some other relatively helpless nation for terrorist bombings, while allegations against the Clintons' financial adventures are feverishly being worked on. Perhaps the only decent thing would be for both corporate candidates to be removed by an act of nature, with the country forced to start from scratch. Don't bet on it, or pray for it. Democracy can't depend on acts of God, no matter how many religious and family values are trotted out at political dis-informercial extravaganzas of waste and futility.

Left out of discussion at these conventional congregations is the corporate domination of reality that creates a global shopping mall, as it works to shrink government to the size of a local strip mall and make it powerless before international capital. Unmentioned is the growing gap between the 20% who are doing well—among them, the delegates to these circuses—and the vast majority which is just getting by, or slipping into poverty. This gap is even wider among the people of the rest of the world, where consumption is growing among a minority, while a majority slips into the desperation that causes illegal immigration, squalid refugee camps, terrorism and war. As our domestic and foreign policies become ever more corporate, those who see the USA becoming a third world country would do well to heed these words:

"The developed nations are the largest polluters in the world today. They must greatly reduce their over-consumption if we are to reduce pressures on resources and the global environment. The developed nations have the obligation to provide aid and support to developing nations, because only the developed nations have the financial resources and the technical skills for these tasks. Acting on this recognition is not altruism, but enlightened self-interest: whether industrialized or not, we all have but one lifeboat."

That quote is from a warning to the world signed by 1500 scientists form 70 nations, including the most developed, and issued in 1992, right after Clinton was elected. Neither he, his "new" Democrats, nor his atrocious opposition, has even come close to dealing with the real problems facing the nation and the world. Our continued credit financing of the consumption of crap by a minority, while neglecting the production of life supports for a majority, can't continue if we want a future on this "lifeboat."

On November 6, the day after the Clinton corporadoes are re-elected, we need to begin working in unconventional political ways, so that the real problems confronting humanity are dealt with, and the next election offers far more hope, and far less corporatism, than this one.