To use a play on Winston Churchill's cynical words, the best argument against democracy is a five-minute perusal of election coverage. Another way to put it - at risk of sounding trite - is if it weren't for nonsense, it wouldn't make any sense at all. Yet, if being trite were a sin, most presidential aspirants would languish in political purgatory.
First we have the bromidic bilge about change. You can bet your withholding tax that the Democrat candidates were programmed to pepper their speeches with the word in a measure as liberal as their politics. Tell certain constituencies you're a change agent - even if the only thing you change is your personality - and the idiot vote swoons.
Change isn't by definition good; it's just by definition change. One-hundred years ago, Russians' dissatisfaction with the Tsar led them to roll the dice. Things couldn't get any worse, many thought. So they made a change.
And the communists took power in 1917.
Then, if your child's diet yielded vigor and health, would you place him in the hands of some guru promising ambiguous change? Wouldn't you demand specificity?
In C.S. Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters, written from the point of view of a demon bent on undermining civilization (a perspective much like that of certain campaigns), the chief demon Screwtape instructed (I'm paraphrasing):
"Change is supposed to be a means to an end, but we have to convince people that it is an end unto itself."
Many have been convinced. And, for sure, mentioning it incessantly has become a political end unto itself.
Then there's populism, now a euphemism for statism. Mike Huckabee thrives on populist rhetoric, delivered with a mouth greased with snake oil. No doubt, he turns phrases as well as he turns out Christian votes, but we're choosing a president, not a wordsmith.
But Huck has his strong points. He believes in charitable giving -- at least with tax money -- which makes some think he wears his cross more than he carries it. He also opposes anti-marriage, although this minister has presided over some strange unions. Why, he created an unequally-yoked marriage between Christianity and statism, which basically means he'll rob Peter to pay Paul in the name of religion while praying for votes.
We're Peter, by the way.
It goes down easy, though, with his chicken-fried charm and nimble tongue. Just remember the masterful verbal salvo aimed at Mitt Romney:
"You know, people are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off. . . ."
I hated the guy I worked with.
But it's correct to associate Romney with money. We're told that even if Romney keeps losing and losing and losing . . . and losing, he's not out of it and can keep campaigning for the duration, through November 2012.
This speaks volumes. People don't research and vote for the best; instead, they're bought by the fellow who can afford the most face time.
And what a face.
Romney's has one great asset and one great liability.
And they're the same thing.
If a filmmaker cast a man to play the president of the United States, it would be Romney; he has the looks, bearing, voice, temperment, and, oh, yes, the hair. Yet if you cast someone to play a phoney politician, it would also be Romney. It's so superficially perfect, it doesn't seem quite real.
Speaking of phoniness and style over substance, there's Barack Obama. Have you ever seen those multi-racial, computer-generated pictures politically-correct marketers sometimes place on packaging? I mean the ones that don't look like anyone you might actually meet; that is, unless, through marvels of genetic engineering, you somehow amalgamated the genes of every single racial and ethnic group on the planet into the Democratic National Committee's conception of an über-politician. Obama is as close as you'll come.
So the young flock to him because, weaned on political correctness, he fits their profile. Not only is he multi-racial, he has a cool, exotic foreign name, a resonant voice and rock-star persona. He isn't just a plain vanilla white dude. It doesn't really matter what he says.
Good thing for him, too, because he makes Romney seem like a font of ideological fortitude and depth. I honestly cannot address the substance of what he says because I've yet to detect any. But he's practiced in the platitude, speaking of change; being a uniter, not a divider; yada, yada, yada. His is a Seinfeld campaign: It's about nothing. But it sure is entertaining.
As for Obama's nonsense, there's no greater insult to intelligence than the "uniter, not a divider" schtick. To believe it is to confuse cause with effect. Who thinks President Bush -- who we're told is a divider, not a uniter -- asked 50 percent of us to vote against him in 2000?
Our division is a product of a deep, abiding philosophical rift. That's why it's called the "culture war," not the political one. How much fellowship will there be between two groups on opposite sides of abortion, anti-marriage, guns, Iraq, the nanny state, taxes, public displays of faith, and probably the chasm between Heaven and Hell? To think we're divided because of a politician gives voters no credit for having principle; it says that, if the right demagogue comes along, they will unite around him. It is to believe all voters are lemmings, as opposed to just those who vote for tears.
Talking about Hillary Clinton, it's said her strength vis-a-vis Obama is experience.
Experience is much like change, an ambiguous term saying little of quality, only type. What is the given individual experienced in? As I wrote recently, if criticized for lack of experience, I'd answer:
Well, honestly, you're right. I have no experience levying confiscatory taxes and stealing people's wealth. I have no experience violating the Constitution, writing intrusive laws and robbing people of freedom. I have no experience propagandizing and lying to get elected. I have no experience pandering to special interest groups, taking lobbyist money and funneling funds to pork barrel projects. So, you're right, I have absolutely no experience.
Vote for the other guy.
Speaking of the other guy, we have Ron Paul.
If you support him, don't scream . . . yet. Paul deserves great respect for upholding the Constitution; if other politicians followed suit, we wouldn't be losing freedom. Paul also is honest, and anyone who doesn't respect that deserves damnation to a netherworld of listening to Hillary Clinton's nails-on-a-blackboard speeches (circa 2003) for all eternity. But his foreign policy -- or lack thereof -- deserves criticism. Dar al-Islam won't narrow its scope just because we narrow ours.
Now we have Paul's supporters. A motley crew, they hail from the right, left, middle and probably the fourth dimension and beyond. People thus find them hard to peg, but it's not difficult.
I call them the X-Files Set.
Conspiracy is their stock-in-trade, and every day or event is an exciting new episode. It's not that things aren't always as they seem in their world; they're never as they seem. They believe Bush and bin Laden shot Kennedy and Oswald perpetrated 9/11, or something like that. One wrote me recently and mentioned one of their common themes: Paul would be assassinated before the election.
But, friends, unless you mean at the polls, you needn't worry. He's not that important or dangerous, and the establishment isn't Hollywood. The Paulistas also believed he'd launch an electoral revolution and win the nomination. And after Iowa and New Hampshire, I'm waiting for claims that the vote was rigged (I just gave them an idea).
Paulistas aren't crazy, but they do live in an echo chamber. I understand this well. If I, who mainly preaches to the choir, believed my email, I'd think my coronation nigh. That's why I won't drink anyone's Kool-Aid - not even my own.
The subject of widely-imbibed, sweet-but-deadly concoctions brings us to perhaps the worst election-year nonsense of all, the idea that low turnout is bad for "democracy."
Far too many people vote, largely because those possessing only the superficial rely on the support of those who can't see past it. Thus, our standard for electoral participation is this:
Is your body warm (not a prerequisite in Chicago and its environs)? Can you operate a slot machine? Then, congratulations! You can vote.
This brings me to something not at all nonsensical. With our sorry crop of experienced change agents of unity, sweetness and light, people sometimes ask me whom they should support. And I'll answer, since if you're reading me, perhaps you should vote.
My motto is simple: ABHHH.
Anybody but Hillary, Huck or (Barack) Hussein (Obama).
Want a better choice? Get the turnout down to about 1 percent.
That may not be the language of populism or unity, but it also isn't nonsense.