Saturday, 4 October 2008

Axis of Stupidity

The really critical question for the 2008 Presidential election is this: will enough people be duped once again into voting for the Party which is least concerned with their wellbeing? Ever since Reagan led the Republicans to a new dawn of fools’ politics – where the poor and vulnerable are routinely deceived into handing more control to the rich and powerful – the odds have stacked up against those who want people to choose wisely what would improve their lives.

Obama, like Kerry, Gore, Dukakis before him, has to deal with endless distortions in the face of a formidable axis of stupidity. They want the poor who work hard without job security, struggle without health insurance, to have a fairer share of the nation’s wealth. Yet they are portrayed as uncaring ‘elites’ who do not understand ordinary people by Republicans who repeatedly shift more money to the wealthy elite through tax cuts for the rich. They want people who are discriminated against – women, blacks, homosexuals – to be given equal respect and support. But they are projected as giving in to ‘special’ interests by Republicans who are bankrolled by the real special interests of big corporations. They want to deploy armed forces only where it is truly necessary to protect the country. However, they are presented as muddled, or even cowardly, by Republicans who have few qualms about sending troops drawn largely from poor families to risk their lives for dubious objectives set by the powerful few.

So will the American people fall for it again? Will they turn their backs on candidates who have dedicated themselves to bringing about a better quality of life for all, especially for those with the least? Or will they actually vote instead for people whose only consistent policy is to help those with the most?

It is too close to call. America is too evenly divided between those who know what is good for their collective wellbeing and those too stupid to distinguish right from ‘Right’. It is a great country with outstanding innovators, selfless campaigners for the disadvantaged, hard working families, and noble defenders of justice. But it is also populated in depressingly large numbers by people who think that since “guns don’t kill people”, it is safe, indeed honorable, to hand them over to people (who apparently do kill people); who believe climate change has nothing to do with human activities because corporate polluters fund reports which deny any causal links; who take pride in having no social safety net even though they are about to be let go by their employer; who are anxious that not enough notice is being taken of the never-ending arrival of aliens (from outer space as well as Mexico); and above all, who will gladly give their vote to charlatans with little competence apart from the charming ability to deliver a timely wink and a smile.

Republicans have for decades exploited this font of stupidity to the full. To paraphrase John Stuart Mill: while Republicans are not generally stupid, stupid people are generally Republican. There is a dense solid force in sheer stupidity – such, that an able few, with that force pressing behind them, are assured of victory in many a struggle; and many a victory the Republican Party have owed to that force.

We can only hope that on 4 November, despite all the attempts to spread lies about Obama, all the folksy repackaging of McCain – a dear friend of the corporate establishment – as a maverick ‘outsider’, and all the other tricks of the trade, wisdom will prevail.

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