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OUR ELECTED LEADERS ARE PLAYING US FOR FOOLS
Oct. 9, 2005
Have you ever had the chance to sit backstage at a magic show? Let me
tell you the
subtle slight of hands and distractions that create the illusions of a
professional magician are designed to be seen from the front. When you
actually see what the magician is doing from another angle, the tricks
seldom work. However, as many professional magicians will tell you,
despite the desire of every audience member to “know how the trick is
done,” most allow themselves to be readily deceived because they want to
enjoy the show.
Imagine for a moment that the goal of a performer was not to entertain
you, but rob you. How long do you think you would sit by and allow the
deception to go on before you took action to stop it? Well, it might
take you longer than you realize because our elected leaders from both
parties have been doing this very thing for years. Unlike a professional
magician, our elected magicians are not trying to entertain us, but
deceive us into endlessly funding their reelection campaigns.
Like most Americans, I have an innate distrust of politicians. While
most of them are nice people and honestly want to accomplish good
things, the money and power associated with American politics soon
consumes even the most virtuous until all they are really concerned
about is retaining their office.
For many politicians, the desire to see their party control a particular
chamber of Congress has more to do with who gets the corner offices and
most convenient reserved parking spaces than any rhetoric about values
or the direction of the country. This is nothing new. Mark Twain wrote
over 100 years ago that America had “the best government money could
buy,” and you might think little has changed since.
However, something fundamental has changed. Looking out at the American
political landscape of the last 25 years shows three broad trends. The
first is increasing levels of hostile partisanship, which has led to the
dramatic polarization of the electorate. The second is the astronomical
increase in the cost of political campaigning that has been fed by an
equally astronomical increase in the amount of money donated to
politicians by both individuals and businesses. And third, a general
decrease in the effectiveness of government, where no matter which party
controls the White House or the Congress, the results are often the
same; nothing changes.
After 8 years of Democrats controlling the White House, followed with 5
by the Republicans, why are we still debating the same issues from 1982?
Both parties have had ample time to alter the course of our country, and
neither have done it.
It is time Americans take a “walk behind the stage” and see just what
our elected leaders are actually doing when they claim to be
Let us take a look at the “Plame Game” and Tom DeLay grand jury
investigations. Both of these issues can be summarized into one
sentence: Party A surreptitiously attacks Party B over something that
both sides agree was not an actual crime, while Party B surreptitiously
counter attacks Party A as unethical for doing something Party B would
happily do to Party A under differing circumstances. Mix and match the
party names, it really does not matter. Nor does it matter what the
results of the investigations will be, because they have already served
The political bases of both sides are now mobilized. Blogs and internet
chat rooms are ablaze at a level usually unseen outside of a
Presidential election when the most pressing issue in the upcoming 2005
race is who is going to be elected dog catcher. But the money is
flowing. Mobilized bases do more than just argue on the Internet, they
donate, and more importantly, inspire others to donate cash to the party
that supports their particular cause.
Just like master magicians, our elected leaders use these crises over
nothing as a distraction so they can do whatever they want and avoid the
scrutiny of the voters. How can Conservatives attack Bush for passing
over dozens of eminent legal scholars to name a personal friend to sit
on the Supreme Court when if the Democrats controlled Congress they
would make the average tax rate 85%, outlaw porch lights because they
distract migrating birds, and force school children to pledge allegiance
to a photo of Karl Marx? How can Liberals blame Howard Dean, Nancy
Pelosi, and Ted Kennedy for radicalizing the Democratic Party to such an
extent that nobody outside of New England and San Francisco will ever
vote for them again when if Republicans stay in power they would cancel
Medicaid in order to fund a tax cut on yacht club memberships, legalize
slavery, and require school children to participate in full immersion
baptisms in order to get lunch in the cafeteria?
The issues in the 2006 and 2008 elections will be the same as they have
been for the last 20 years: Abortion, health care, military spending,
Social Security, and education. Liberals and Conservatives will
dutifully support their causes, argue their points, and donate their
money to political parties who only care about these issues until the
election cycle is over and their incumbency is secured. Pretty nice
scam. Wake up America. We are being played for fools.
© Justin Darr
Justin Darr is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area with
his wife and twin children. He can be read widely on the Internet and in
publications across North America and in Europe.
Justin Darr is a staff writer for The New Media Alliance, and proud
member of the MoveOff Network.