The following is a priceless example of the American electoral system in action:
That's Michele Bachmann, Minnesota-R, Tea Party caucus leader, and prospective Republican presidential candidate speaking in front of The Family Leader, a conservative and mildly deranged group in Iowa. Since Bachmann has decided to throw her hat in the ring for 2012, she's making the rounds in the rural, largely agricultural state, 30th in total population rank, that somehow continues to have the exalted status of deciding who is a real or imagined candidate for the two major parties. Since she's a Republican, she has to troll for votes among the people who consider a gender preference to be "akin to second-hand smok[e]". Most importantly, she has to lie to them.
She MUST lie to them because that's how the game is played. If she doesn't lie to them, she gets dismissed as a wacko, because the vast majority of Americans, even most of the homophobes, don't consider being gay a "public health hazard." There are plenty of people already ready to dismiss Bachmann as a wacko (I'm one of them, boundlessly entertaining as she is) but people still have to tolerate her unless she says something really outrageous that Huckabee and Romney can pin to her and use to isolate her even from the Tea Party-types. But she can't outright dismiss the fringe elements because they'll still have an effect on the Iowa caucuses, so she has to pretend that she really doesn't have an answer, either for or against them. In short, she has to lie to them until she gets elected (or re-elected), whereupon she can proceed to ignore them for 2 (or 4 or 6) years until the cycle begins anew.
The best part? They KNOW she's lying to them. They know it. They have to know it. They can't be rational human beings (and, believe me, in the case of people like Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader, I'm using the broadest possible definition for "rational") and not know that she is lying to them. Without her directly responding to the above question with a "yes" or "no", they have to know she's lying. After all, the man who will be her political director for Iowa in 2012, essentially did just that.(linked because it's unlisted; wonder why?)
She has to lie. They have to accept that she's lying. Bachmann is a quantifiable nutjob who believes that communists are still hiding behind every corner (Hi!), is married to a "cured" homosexual who attempts to cure other homosexuals, and believes "the nuclear response" should still be on the table as a foreign policy plank, but those Family Leader guys are apparently still a little too 'out there' for her. But she will still ask for their support and they will still probably give it. That's how it works. They must accept the lies and they must not talk about the fact that they are lies, because that reveals how hypocritical both they and the system happen to be and no one wants to face that.
Almost no one is immune to this. The vast majority of Democrats (and non-Democrats) gladly lapped up the lies being spewed to them in 2008 by the current occupant of the White House. Many of them are vowing not to fall for his perfidious ways in 2012, by golly! But they will. He delivered what was nominally a budget speech today, but it sounded an awful lot like the opening campaign speech for the next cycle and, boy, did it sound all progessive-like! And most of the herd will spend the next year-and-a-half basking in the warm glow of the lies. To do otherwise would be to face harsh reality and only a few members do that. They stand on the edges of the group to absorb the cold wind and keep an eye out for anything too dastardly from the wolves, while the rest stay inside, listening to the noise of the leaders and thinking that things will be OK. Until they're not and then there will be a little outrage and wonder at how they could have let themselves believe in the lies which they knew to be lies.
That was the funniest part of the confirmation hearings for lukewarm moderate and corporate-loving Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, last year. The Republicans got to make a little hay (sheep love hay...) over the fact that a younger Kagan had dismissed SC confirmation hearings as a "vapid and hollow charade". Of course they are. They're supposed to be! They give the sheep the impression that senators are watching out for their best interests by making lifetime appointments to the highest judicial body in the land with the idea that said people are going to be even-handed and interested in justice... provided, of course, that they attended Yale or Harvard, clerked in the right places, and know the right people. Since Kagan had absolutely no judicial career or published opinions of any merit whatsoever (except, you know, the one that called Senate hearings "vapid and hollow"), she was the perfect candidate to do an about-face and take the whole thing seriously. Everyone in the room knew that it was bullshit and yet everyone spoke about it in ominous tones more reflective of the signing of an armistice. It's a lie. Everyone knows it's a lie. But everyone swallows it just the same. Too much talking might lead to... turbulence. And no one wants that. Except us. Well, me, at least.
My dear friend, Leigh, left a comment last week asking what she could do in response to my rant about people tuning out of the process and I've been thinking about what to say since then. My response: I don't know. I honestly don't.
My initial reaction was: Well, I could set up a group on a couple social portals simply called "Revolt" and start trying to organize people for mass actions of some kind: general strikes, blocking streets, etc. with the express intent of disrupting and, eventually, trashing the system. But I've been there. Many times. No one else seems to carry the fervor or intensity that I do, so I end up doing things myself and burning out from lack of time or energy; the same things that are preventing a lot of other people from joining in, I assume. I don't begrudge people their lifestyles (well, most people, anyway) or how they choose to spend their time. It's not for me to do that, as I am neither ascetic nor saint. All I can do is sit here and rant about it and hope that someone responds.
Nation of sheep. Ruled by wolves. Owned by pigs.