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Since forever, people have always known and accepted that politicians lie to the voters about what they will do if elected. The lying was almost always in the form of exaggeration or promises that were desirable, but unrealistic. The former is of the form, “Vote for me and I will cut crime in half” while the latter is of the classic form, “vote for me and there will be two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot!” The lies were the sorts of boasts one expects from a salesman.
This has changed over the last thirty years. Republicans discovered that they could simply lie about their intensions and nothing changed. In the Clinton years the GOP became the “none-of-the-above” option. When the voters were angry with the people in charge, they would vote Republicans. In 1994, people thought Clinton lied about his intentions, so it was a GOP landslide. In 2000, people were tired of the Clintons, so we got Bush for president. In 2010, it was 1994 again.
On the other side, the promises from the Democrats were entirely disconnected from reality and became purely aspirational. They were the party that would work like the mind altering drugs that are marketed to single women. Obama was going to cause the seas to stop rising because he was the black Jesus the oracle promised. He would magically make everyone immortal by freeing the amulet of health care from the insurance companies that were guarding it.
This is the state of politics in modern America. The Democrats promise to perform feats of magic, like replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, a concept squarely at odds with the physical universe. The Republicans, on the other hand, swear they will end the stuff that the Democrats are doing that is making normal people angry. Frankly, the Democrats are more likely to circumvent the first law of thermodynamics than the Republicans are to reverse the decline.
The population of America is currently being forced to relive the 1970’s by the geezer class running the government. Most people were not around in the 1970’s so the nostalgia is lost on most everyone. As a result, the voters will punish the head geezer by voting for the other party. Why will people vote GOP? No reason other that it is the only way to voice displeasure. In power, the Republicans will do the same thing the Democrats are doing, but with different rhetoric.
This is life in a one party liberal democracy. It is like Henry Ford’s old line about giving the people color choices. The voters can pick their leaders as long as they are from the uniparty and do not deviate from the script. The Republican congress will keep shipping billions to Ukraine, while ignoring the southern border. They will do nothing to reign in corporate piracy or the managerial war on white people. Politics in America is a vending machine with one product.
It is tempting to think that this is unique to America. In a land where everything and every man has a price, it is no surprise that nothing has value. The truth is it is a feature of the liberal democratic system. Just as the free markets leads to a few players dominating the market, even monopolizing it if permitted, democracy ends up with a small party that controls the state. The politicians are reduced to ornaments that decorate the system but have no real power.
An example of this is over the sea in Europe. The local governments have no power as everything that matters is decided in Brussels. The economy is a disaster and rapidly deteriorating due to a pointless war of choice against Russia. The local leaders feel compelled to go along with this so they are pretending they are the good guys in some great moral drama. As a result, the political parties are unified in their defense of Ukrainian democracy, as if such a thing exists.
The people, of course, are not happy about hyper-inflation. The official numbers, like those in America, are re-interpreted into single digits, but people know that real inflation is well into the double digits in Europe. This summer there will be petrol lines and this autumn there will be gas rationing. A European angry about this has no recourse, as all of the political parties are on board with the economic suicide plan. The only difference is in the style and presentation of the empty gestures.
This is the logical end point of democratic systems. Much like the cereal aisle in the grocery store, there is the illusion of choice. The main parties figure out that they are immune from market forces if they simply agree with one another on all of the important issues and agree to share the spoils. Congressman X gets booted from office but lands a high paying lobbying job. Not only does he not leave the city, but he also gets to buy a bigger house and avoid the folks back home entirely.
It is also why the gestures get bigger and more absurd. The two-dimensional Barak Obama was sold as black Jesus in 2008. That seemed like the limit of political absurdity until Joe Biden was sold as the most popular man in history who will end the scourge of fascism under Donald Trump. For his part, Trump is promising to run in 2024 as the first revenge candidate. Presumably, the slogan will be, “Vote for me and you get to feel smug while sitting in that food line.”
The end of liberal democracy was supposed to be a reasonable and moderate society that operated within agreed upon rules. Instead, it is a world run by people who cynically provide us with emotionally stimulating illusions. Rather than face our reality, we engage in the high drama of politics, which never amounts to anything other than these momentary emotional eruptions we call elections. We signal yes or no when commanded and as a reward we get the illusion of choice.
In fairness, this turns out to be a good system to keep people under control as long as the rulers can keep the plates spinning. Two years of Covid drama is a fairly good proof of concept. It turns out that people will suffer the most absurd humiliations as long as they have material comforts. Soon we will learn if people will suffer the same humiliations without many of these comforts. It could be that the illusion of choice is enough to keep people trapped in their chairs.
There are limits to everything, even monopoly power. As soon as the monopolist gains monopoly status, the decline begins. Every monopoly ends up being gnawed into collapse by a million small dissidents. It turns out that nature almost hates the monopoly as much as she hates the free market. That may be what we see today. The monopoly of political power in the hands of a few is dying from a thousand small wounds and in time it will collapse from trying to maintain itself.
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