by Joe Buonfiglio
First of all, a quick message to all the non-US readers of my Potpourri of the Damned blog: You can take this week off. Just pour yourself a beverage of choice, turn on the sexy-time channel and kick back. As you are not carrying a US voter ID, this post surely isn’t aimed at you. No sense in reading this and running the risk of being sucked into the soulless depths of our political black hole here in the States. Unless, of course, you enjoy following the delightfully dysfunctional American pastime known as red vs. blue politics; in that case, this might just be your proverbial cup of tea … or coffee … or whiskey … or perhaps some Irish coffee, should you be more in the mood for a blend of both—
I digress. Although, not really. You’ll need to imbibe something a little stronger than milk to deal with the Conservative against Liberal psychosis engulfing the political landscape in the Land of the Eagle.
Want an example? Here’s one from the state of North Carolina. Keep in mind that this is actually happening as I write this. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried while manically paranoid after sparking up a Thai stick way too strong for me….
So, Conservative-Republicans take control of the state legislature and, owing the NRA (National Rifle Association) for the significant amounts of cash and political influence they pumped into the last election, enact a law that pretty much lets you legally go around “packing” damn near anywhere you want. With the Liberal-Democrats politically castrated in the legislature, the way was paved for the Showdown at the Not-So OK North Carolina State Fair.
Even though guns are banned at the fair, a gun-rights advocacy group declares that “The law very clearly in black and white states that those with a valid concealed handgun permit are able to carry in places of assembly that charge admission. That is the state fair. It’s very clear.”
Very clear indeed.
And even though the governor has given a big “No way, José!” to these folks, they don’t seemed swayed. The 2nd Amendment is the 2nd Amendment; so fuck you and the safety concerns for your fried-Oreo munching petting-zoo addicted four-year-old rugrat. We is a-comin’ with our sidearm strapped, locked and loaded.
As a compromise, the spokespeople for the NC Department of Agriculture have suggested that these paramours d’Smith & Wesson could be asked to pretty please with powdered sugar on top of their funnel cakes voluntarily leave their guns in their vehicles.
Oh, that’s much better. Ever see tired, cranky folks in the parking-lot demolition derby at the end of the day trying to get out of the state fairgrounds? No temper flare-ups there to tempt some gun-totin’ gal or fella. What could possibly go wrong?
Now, as a person of logic and reason, you might think you should turn to a “gun guy” at the state fair and say, “Hey asshole. Want to know what the scariest ride at the fair is this year? YOU!”
Unfortunately, North Carolina also has a “Stand Your Ground” law. And since this utterance in front of the doughnut-burger trailer would be considered life-threatening by Wild Bill Hickok here, he’d probably just shoot you in the face and then calmly ask the vendor if he could get his deep-fried Twinkie double-dipped in chocolate.
But, he’s not a total monster. I’m sure after seeing the bloody mess he left of everything above your brainstem; he’ll happily buy a deep-fried butter stick for your hysterically screaming toddler.
Think this is crazy? It’s not as hyperbolic as you’d imagine. This is just today’s politics in America manifesting itself into a tangible reality in everyday life. And you know what? We deserve it. We deserve every fucking inch of it shoved up the backside of our citizenship. It’s just the mirror reflection of what we’ve all become in America shining back on us. If there are idiots in office, you can thank the idiots who put them there.
As with the baseball pitcher who just can’t seem to stop scratching his balls from atop the mound, there’s actually a much more sinister force at work here.
So to my fellow travelers aboard the carnival train known as America, remember: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
This quote by banker David Hannum is often attributed to the master showman of the 19th century, Phineas Taylor “PT” Barnum, but was actually an attack by Hannum on Barnum’s character in relation to old PT being a skilled craftsman at the art of the hoax. It speaks to being able to count on the gullibility of the masses in order to extract profit from them. And when it comes to modern-day politics in the good old U-S of A, this infamous quote is as valid today as it ever was. The often unscrupulous and sometimes insidious machinery behind our elected officials is truly playing us for suckers.
Ah, you can almost hear the calliope and smell the stale popcorn.
“Step up. Step up. Go into the voting booth and take your prize. Everyone’s a winner.” It’s as if WC Fields’ voice is barking out to you.
Unfortunately, my fellow American chumps, it’s not as easy as it seems on the partisan midway. I have some bad news. We’re bigger marks than we realize.
I hesitate wasting my time telling you, because I know there is little chance you’ll listen to me (and virtually no chance you’ll agree with me) enough to attempt a political paradigm shift of this magnitude. We Americans tend to look to reinforce what we already believe, not be willing to change our perspective in light of new ideas.
Now, I know a number of you are already engaging in the big “Fuck you, Joe!” even before the reveal takes place. That’s probably my fault for trying to prepare you instead of just slapping you in the face with it. So here goes…
When it comes to elections in the US, “my guy” is — drumroll please — AN ASSHOLE.
That’s right. I admit it.
Sure, you don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. Hell, many of you have made it quite clear to me in the past that my candidates of choice were assholes and I was an asshole for supporting them. But, here’s the kicker. Brace yourself.
Your “guy” is a fucking asshole, too.
Ah, see. I knew it. That’s the part you have problem wrapping your manipulated little mind around. But unless we all do that, nothing — NOTHING — will change the direction of the turd-on-wheels that is the current state of politics in America.
I know your knee-jerk reaction is to get all defensive and start rattling off why your political views and backing of your candidates are the right thing. I’m a dipshit. You’re the leader of the brain trust. Well, just hear me out.
At the time of this writing, according to Gallup polls, the approval rating of Americans for the US Congress stands at about 14%. Thus far this year, it has ranged from a low of only 9% to a high of a whopping 16%.
TRANSLATION: We all think Congress sucks.
And yet, according to the BGOV Barometer (Bloomberg Government), 90% of House members and 91% of senators who sought re-election last go-around were successful. The election before that? The incumbent re-election percentage rates were still in the mid-80s.
TRANSLATION: Sure Congress sucks; but that’s YOUR guy. MY guy is great.
As Atheism is the fastest growing religious-belief system in America, also notable is the rise of the political Independent. In fact, there are more Independents in the US than those aligned with any political party. Four out of every ten Americans identify themselves as “Independents” or “Unaffiliated.” And that seems to be a growing trend, not merely a fad.
Why? Once again, because…
MY GUY is an asshole.
YOUR GUY is an asshole.
They are all — ALL — assholes.
They ALL take money from special-interest groups and political-action committees for which they are beholden to and for whom they are compelled to do their bidding. They work for them, NOT US!
They ALL are more concerned with their reelection than they are with governing. (Read: concerned about being career politicians, NOT US!)
They ALL appeal to our fears, our anxieties, our prejudices, our deficiencies and our anger; the worst in all of us. They drum up our hatred for the other side. That way we’re too distracted to question their gorging themselves at the money-trough of the power brokers. Get us all fired up about guns and abortion and gay rights and immigration and flag-burning and the War on Christmas and fracking and race and sex and birth control and and and…. All these things are important to us in varying degrees based on the priorities of the individual. However, American politicians and their respective political parties use it all against us as a magician uses misdirection performing an illusion on a Las Vegas stage. It’s so we don’t see whose pocket their hand is in, whose bed they’ve jumped into, and never question the money-loyalty connection.
Who gives a shit?! We’re all being manipulated like so much pizza dough at Big Tony’s on the Jersey Shore. That’s what matters.
Don’t get sucked in. Your political guy/gal/party is playing you for as much of a sap as mine is playing me. We all need to wake the fuck up and realize the problem is the career politicians and their lobbying sugar daddies.
Do I have a solution? Do I have all the answers?
However, here’s a start that incorporates the old journalism mantra — back when America appreciated news outlets as places of journalistic integrity and not just tools of punditry propaganda — and it goes like this: “Follow the money.”
Until we all — every single one of us — pull the money-influence rug out from under the politicians and their lobbyist/PAC bedfellows, we can expect the same political bullshit to go on forever. And not just from the “other guy’s” party, but from our own party, too. Changing this warped, immoral system of governing means dumping the political gifting even by causes we support and charities, let alone the likes of mega-corporations and organizations such as energy companies, big tobacco, Wall Street investment houses and yes, the NRA. They can all talk to the representatives, of course, just as “We the People” can. They just cannot have MORE power than the average citizen can simply because they have more money. They can’t give politicians cash or gifts. NO political campaign contributions. NONE. All money for political campaigns must anonymously come from taxpayer donations on tax returns. All debate takes place on the public airwaves. The taxpayers also pay for “platform” statements to be published online. And this means the elimination of political parties. All of them need to fuck off into the sunset. Uh, buh-bye. EVERYONE is an Independent. We vote for individuals, NOT parties. If you were able to get X-number of signatures in a grassroots movement, then the top X-number out of that gets to run for the given political office.
As with the political parties themselves, the money-buying-political-influence scheme running this country is gone, gone, GONE!
And yes, that means the media outlets lose billions of dollars in political-ad revenue. Too bad. So sad. Fuck you, democracy is worth it.
Couple that with term limits, making it illegal for a former politician to go to work for ANY company or individual represented (or in any way “touched” by) a lobbyist the elected official has granted audience during his/her term in office, as well as the reversal of current and outlaw of future gerrymandering of districts.
Why such extreme changes to our current political system? Beeeeeecauuuuuuuuse…
MY GUY is an asshole.
YOUR GUY is an asshole.
They are ALL assholes.
NO EXCEPTIONS! Once we start making exceptions for “our guy,” it all falls apart … and that’s EXACTLY what they’re banking on; EXACTLY what they’ve been using against us all along.
Think I’m just an unpatriotic asshat who doesn’t get it?
Maybe. But let me ask you this: do you think the defunding and destabilization of the public-education system in this country is an accident?
Gee. A stupid electorate; I wonder who would benefit from that?
“But Joe, come on. You know all this kind of change could only happen in some kind of Bizarro World.”
Oh really? What the hell do you call the current political state of the country? “Bizarro World” seems like a pretty fucking apt description to me.
What’s that, you say? What’s with all the serious shit? I didn’t “bring on the funny” that much this week?
Sure I did … … … in a Greek tragedy concept of a comedy kind of way.
Now, stop yelling at the political ads on TV, get your fat-American ass off the couch and go out and do something about all this, goddamn it!
Nah. I’m too busy binge-watching South Park.
© 2014 Joseph P. Buonfiglio All Rights Reserved.