To the editor:
Let's face it, presidential politics has become entertainment; there's no business like show business. It started for me with the former first lady's pandering but colorful commercial candidacy announcement, or, was it the inquisition of Hispanic Ted Cruz, "You got a favorite Cuban food?" Then there was Trump. There is no need to expand on "The Apprentice" superstar, except to say he is more the result of our political disintegration than the cause of it. He has become our culture's coveted iconoclast, recklessly wrecking the house of flashy cards. Maybe it needed to be wrecked, but remember what happens when you swallow the spider to catch the fly? Where does it end? Perhaps we'll die.
The world of presidential politics is reality TV. It is tailor-made for our fashionable entertainment needs. It has become a satire of its former self, an SNL skit without the comedians. Of course there will be real elections with ballots and all, but the speeches and the sniping, the attack ads and the applause laden one-liners, the trash talk and talking points, have become ultimately apocalyptic, that is, revelatory. This is show biz, baby. As Neil Postman said, the media is the message.
What can we do? Enjoy the game. Like Monday morning quarterbacks, go ahead and critique the dubious plays, ramble against the opponent's chicanery, and memorize the fluctuating statistics. Have fun with it. We are the season ticket holders watching the pros do their thing on the field. We can whine and wail in our backyard cookouts, we can feign influence by joining a picket, and we can claim credit by donating a tribute, but the actual game is not really played by the fans. If it feels like you are cherished and valued as a player, remember that's how the business of pro sports runs. I don't blame the politicians; I really don't. If the fans keep paying high ticket prices and salivate over every move their beloved all-stars make, whose fault is that? To change the metaphor away from sports, Wellsian underlords feel they must keep their food in sufficient sunshine and sandals to keep eating. It's an ugly system, but everyone gets fed in the end.
What would real democratic politics look like? Our sight piercing through the glare of tinsel town and requiring results and measurable achievements from our elected officials. Diligent observation and accountability demonstrated at the ballot. It would mean more C-Span and less cable news, more NYT and less TMZ. It would require a discipline for serious debate rather than a hunger for tabloid tidbits. It would take a paradigm shift from the myopia of the masses to a demand for a cornucopia of real workable ideas. We know all this, but that is a lot of work for Eloi who prefer rest and relaxation.
After all, I like spectator sports; they are entertaining to watch. From a different angle, perhaps we the people are the underlords, slavishly providing delicious fruit and lavish freedom to our delectable candidates, until we devour them with our ravenous appetite for fun and farce. Trump has been the most delicious of treats. Yes, I think that's more accurate. Bon appetit!