Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Gaming the System

By Thomas Kochman - 11.06.2010

In the last scene of the 1972 movie “The Candidate,” Bill McCay, having just won a stunning upset victory for the U.S. Senate, in the midst of celebration, hands his political advisor, Marvin Lucas, a note which says, “Marvin … What do we do now?”

The film, framed around a political run for public office, says everything about campaigning –an end unto itself—and nothing at all about governance.

Like the slide show presented at a strategy session to House Republicans 11 days before Obama’s inauguration asked, “If the goal of the majority is to govern, what is the purpose of the minority?” “The purpose of the minority”– came the answer– “is to become the majority.”

That purpose and the continuous drumming of time worn Republican mantras: limited government spending, reining in the deficit, and lowering taxes had everything to do with providing fodder for the next campaign and no bearing at all on global economic realities or the pressing concerns of everyday working people.

Never mind that Obama resuscitated the banking system with $700 billion in bailouts, saved the auto industry, kept interest rates at an all time low, stemmed stock market decline and, “delivered more sweeping, progressive change in 20 months than the previous two Democratic administrations did in 12 years” or anyone “Democrat or Republican — since the mid-1960s.”

Never mind that the benefits of new legislation and strategic government interventions take time to surface.

What counts is what turns votes at election time and what political hucksters can get people to believe in the interim.

Clinton said, that this last campaign has been “the most fact-free election” he’s ever been part of. “To hear the other side tell it, every Democrat at the state and national level is responsible for everything that happened from the second the president took his hand off the Bible…. I’d like to see them get behind a speeding locomotive going down a mountain and stop it in five seconds.”

Unfortunately, as they say in the Chicago vernacular, that unrealistic hope and expectation in this past election was precisely “where too many of the voters were at.”

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