I admit to a certain degree of pre-election, hysterical jackassery.
The things is, while I know that virtually nothing is likely to change for the better in the wake of tomorrow’s mid-term election, I’m compulsively checking the political news sites and the online prognosticators — Nate Silver’s 538 in particular. It’s all Politico to Daily Caller to 538, then a little CNN.com and a taste of MSNBC.com, and back to …
But it’s all bullshit. There may be some tweaks after tomorrow’s results, but I highly doubt that much of substance will change. We’ll still be saddled with an ever-expanding state, shrinking realms of life in which we can make our own decisions, and an economic debacle looming ever-closer as office-holders play hot potato with the job of explaining to the American people that both Social Security and Medicare have always been both incredibly stupid and unsustainable ideas, and Obamacare is just a double-down on idiocy.
It’s not that everybody running for office or participating in the process is a scam artist; in fact, I expect that the Tea Party activists of the moment’s headlines are overwhelmingly sincere (if occasionally unhinged). It’s just that the United States has some of the most astoundingly well-stage-managed elections in “democratic” history. Idealists come and go, but the same political parties, dynasties and even policies endure for decade after decade. Sea changes do come from time to time, but with almost geological slowness compared to the forces that have swept away Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party, every major Italian political party of the post-war period, New Zealand’s old first-past-the-post system and even several French constitutions.
Elections happen in the U.S., but change doesn’t necessarily follow. The same shit just gets done to us by a slightly re-shuffled arrangement of oh-so-concerned faces.
I don’t think it’s all futile, though. No would-be omnipotent puppet-master is half as invulnerable as he or she thinks. But we won’t actually know that the real change is coming until we wake up some morning to find that the White House is in flames and a revolutionary junta of iPad app programmers has seized the airwaves and is locked in a death struggle with Android-powered counter-revolutionaries.
Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend purely on the entertainment value.
If I was completely sane, I’d remember the revelation I first had when I was about … oh crap … five. That’s when I realized that a decent life depends on living the way you wish no matter what the folks in charge say, not on waiting for the rules to change.
But I still find myself getting that irrational thrill, waiting for the early returns …