"[M]onopoly profits exist over the long run only when the government guarantees them, as in utilities and cable. And for concentration of market power, no robber baron can hold a candle to the U.S. government.... The hugest concentration of market power in this country does not lie with the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates, but with government itself.... No private company, no matter how huge or wealthy, could possibly have as much widespread power over the function of American markets as government does." ~ Brian Doherty
Critics of a Lost Nation
As I open the door to my house, I can feel the sweat on the palms of my hands abandoning me in favor of the doorknob. I look nervously out the door and scan the street in all directions. I look straight ahead at what holds the cause of all my recent anguish: a small, cylindrical metal object that sits on a pole in my front yard. Lately, every time I open my mailbox, I find shiny cardboard mailers with horrible images of human metamorphosis and killer reptiles, along with derisive facts about the people pictured on the mailer. Yes, election season is upon us once again.
Walking out onto my yard with the bright Florida sun beating me incessantly over the head like a Catholic-school nun on speed, I begin to feel nauseated and dizzy. I finally arrive at my mailbox, opening its small metal door slowly. I cautiously reach in and feel the coarse envelopes that bring my bills, but unfortunately, I also feel the glossy cardboard that tells me more bad tidings are in store. Fear and paralysis overtake me for a short moment. Pulling the glossy political mailer out of my mailbox, I can see the images of snakes surrounding the picture of a candidate for State Senate (who until recently was on the school board) and under that one, an ad featuring the male incumbent morphing into Hillary Clinton. Hurriedly walking back towards my house, I try to control my anxiety, which has surfaced because I know that soon I will be reading the content of those glossy cardboard mailers.
Seated on my sofa in the comfort of my air-conditioned home, I begin to read the large glossy cardboards. The one with the picture of the 'challenger' surrounded by snakes wants to introduce me to the folks contributing to his campaign. It says 'Meet Who's Bankrolling Frank Bolanos' (I wasn't aware of any new election laws allowing snakes to contribute to political campaigns). I turn the mailer around and continue to read, 'One of Mr. Bolanos's campaign finance members is under investigation.' 'A key political supporter is constantly involved in scandals.' And finally, 'Call Frank Bolanos at 305-219-2308. Tell him we don't need another politician backed by developers under investigation.' I dutifully pick up my phone, but I am instantly distracted by the other glossy mailer.
This one has a picture of the incumbent that, over four frames, morphs him into Hillary Clinton while asking, 'Why are Hillary Clinton's top political advisors supporting Alex Villalobos?' (Villalobos, by the way, looks terrible in Hillary's hairdo; maybe he should try the Katherine Harris look.) Turning this piece around, I am shocked to find out that 'the two men working to make Hillary President' are also working on Senator Villalobos' campaign (who is a Republican). I also learn that, 'On issue after issue, Alex Villalobos has become a liberal like Hillary Clinton.' (She really must do something about that hair.) And that 'Alex Villalobos is no longer one of us.' (Obviously not, if he can morph into other people. Wasn't he in X-Men 2?) I throw the piece on the dinner table where it lands next to another mailer showing Senator Villalobos morphing into Ted Bundy.
The dueling politicians supposedly had nothing to do with these ads; the return address is for groups of 'independent' concerned citizens like 'Tell the Public the Facts Inc.' and 'Citizens for Conservative Values.' I suspect that these groups' interest in 'the facts' and 'values' is fairly recent, since 'Tell the Public the Facts Inc.' was incorporated one week prior to their mailer reaching my mailbox and 'Citizens for Conservative Values' was, until this mailing, unheard of.
The politicians do openly send us mail that tells us nice things about them, adorned by the gratuitous glamour shot and/or family picture. These contain nice slogans like 'We're here to serve you!' and 'Republican leadership we can trust,' along with vague campaign promises like 'Cut property taxes' and 'Reduce government spending.' (Gee, I wonder how my real estate investment in the Everglades is doing.) As if their pictures alone are not enough (to make you puke), the politicians sometimes find it necessary to include pictures of other politicos who have pledged support (at least, for now) for their candidacy (why am I suddenly reminded of some pictures at the post office?).
This election year, as in others prior, I have chosen to believe the negative mailers and not waste my vote on either candidate. Democracy and the accompanying suffrage are touted as the solutions to all that ails humanity (just ask over 50,000 dead Iraqis), but year after year, election after election, despite all the campaign promises, things only get worse. Taxes rise like an old man's sexual organ on Viagra, government spending increases, and civil liberties are further curtailed.
No matter which of these two power hungry thugs I vote for in the upcoming elections, I will still continue to live much like a serf in the Middle Ages (except that I have air-conditioning and a mortgage payment). A portion of my income will be confiscated before I even see it. I will pay property taxes directly or indirectly as long as I exist. I will be told what I can or can't ingest or what I can or can't do with my body. These days when you vote (with very rare exception), you're not electing a Mayor, Senator, Commissioner, or President; you are electing a master. Tomorrow, mail from more aspiring masters will once again clutter my mailbox, not to mention the incessant campaign spots that will flood my radio and boob tube. Where did I put my Xanax?