Friday, September 14, 2012

Football and Politics as Usual in America

It’s football season sure, but not far beyond the bone-rattling hits of our nation’s most favored and dangerous sport lies a far more grotesque battle for dominance.

It’s election season and as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney continuously engage in the time-honored American tradition of lying and manipulating half-truths, it’s important to take a step back and marvel at the ghastly machinery of our political system at work.

Someone has to do it and the national media certainly aren’t the ones for the job.

The major news networks gamely tip toe around the parapets of actual journalism, but few are asking hard questions or taking anyone to task over the senseless nature of what has become an endless cycle of campaigning.

There are two things this has done to the way we are governed in this country.

First, politicians are less likely to attempt to make difficult, sweeping changes for fear of backlash come the next election. I’ve heard pundits discussing the idea that if re-elected the President can finally attempt to try and accomplish some big controversial things. 

However, the hyper-partisan politicians of our day have created the “lame duck” President, someone who can’t be trusted because he won’t be held accountable for his actions since he doesn’t have to run for re-election. 

President Obama wondering why he's doing this again.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell famously said with no touch of irony that “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.”

Which brings me to my second point. The election cycle has become so accelerated that a four-year term in office has really been shrunk down to two years before you have to begin running for re-election.

Coupled with the countless representatives jockeying for position as challengers for the White House who should instead be busy governing, we see a “lame duck” government as a whole and not just a President.

Just as professional football players live out their lives as hired assassins playing with an eye towards their next contract, our politicians are primarily motivated by how they best position themselves for the next election.

Governor Romney realizing what he's gotten himself into.

In addition to the unnecessarily accelerated campaign cycle, there are the record-setting gobs of money being thrust at politicians busy stumping about our nations financial struggles.

In August alone President Obama and the Democrats raised $114 million while governor Romney and the Republicans raked in $111 million.

According to this nifty chart from the New York Timesthat puts the total money raised at just over $1.1 billion, more than $900 million of which has been spent already.

Now that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money the United States owes, but it could certainly be used for much better purposes than political attack ads.

Could you imagine for example politicians traveling the country and holding rallies to fund our educational system or putting on a $25,000 a plate dinner to help families displaced by natural disasters?

That’s pandering we could all get behind.

Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. Politicians as a whole are little more than generally incompetent grifters with an insatiable lust for power and a taste for the flesh of young dogs.

Politicians will say just about anything they think we want to hear to get in our good graces, and we capitulate because there’s some special connection we’ve created in our minds.

These are dangerous people and they will stop at nothing to get to you. They’ll keep calling and sending letters and bombarding you with unwanted advertisements during commercial breaks of your beloved football games.

So while you’re watching oversized humans bash their heads into one another, keep in mind the delightful irony that it’s the exact same thing our politicians are doing with much higher stakes.

Be wary of the real beasts this football season.

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