Sunday, August 26, 2012

Puck on... Politics pt. 13

Oh my, I have gone long haven’t I? Of course, there is, oh, so much to talk about.

So what’s the answer?


What’s the answer? You’ve talked a lot about what’s wrong with Politics.

And you’re asking what’s right with it?

No. But what’s the right answer. We’ve discussed the wrong ideas, so what’s the right one?

And why are you asking me?

You’re the only other one here.

Touché. But what makes you think I know?

I think you know. You know the wrong answers because deep down you know what the right ones are. At some level, you know.

If I know, then why am I what I am?

You rejected it.

Oh, it’s more than that and less. I don’t care. That’s the thing. I don’t care. I don’t give a lick whether you know the right answers. I live for the fact that you have no idea what the right one is and are mired in so many bad ones.  What? Did you think this was for your education?

What was it for then?

Ah, ah, that’s why again. You always want to bring the conversation back there, but you haven’t earned my reason yet.

Then what are we to make of politics?

Good question. In fact, I believe that was my question. What are you to make of it?

I don’t know. I’m not sure there’s anything we can make of it.

Perhaps. But what is certain is what it is making of you.

It divides us.

You do that already. Politics is just another means. Another dimension to categorize yourself. Republican, Democrat, Independent. Just more words and titles and little boxes to put people in. Another thing you want to tell you what you ought to do so you don’t have to decide for yourselves.

It breeds power struggles.

It is power struggles. That’s the bread of butter of politics. Another means for the big to control the small. For those who are in the know to dupe those who are ignorant.

It makes us hypocrites.

Yes. But, then again, what doesn’t have that potential?

It makes us into something we’re not. It ties us to something we shouldn’t be attached to. It makes us less than what we are called to be.

It is earthly. All its coloring is mundane. What could be more fleeting than politics?

Maybe the question isn’t: what do we make of it, but what do we do about it?

What, indeed? Live with it? It’s not going anywhere. Use it? It will tear you apart. Ignore it? Then how are you changing the world?

Maybe we don’t do any of that. Maybe it isn’t about using it as a means to an end, but making an end of it.

Are you being poetic?

A little. Maybe it’s not about harnessing it, like some wild animal that we can’t control. Maybe it’s about conquering it, like every other temptation we are faced with.

And how will you go about that?

I don’t know.

Then what hope is there?

I don’t know. But I believe there is one. I don’t the answer. But I believe one exists.

Bravo, my boy. You know, for a second, I thought I had you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Puck on... Politics pt. 12

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. I trust you have realized by now how the whole process is riddled, nay rife with that little concept we talked about earlier.

“Us and Them.”

Yes. We might call it the law of politics so endemic is it to the system itself. Why it’s what the system is built on. After all, what’s the point of striving for power if there’s no one to strive against? That’s where politics gets its power. It implants the idea that one side is salvation and one damnation, then feeds off the fruit of its labors. The backbiting, the empty promises, the general hypocrisy are all symptoms of this, this underlying vein of thought that winds through everything. Reaching across the aisle is even used in this way, with one side insisting that it would be more than willing to do so if only the other side would cooperate, by which it means stop being the other side and agree with them, and the other side is simultaneously saying the exact same thing. Oh, it’s delicious.

It’s getting to the point where it needn’t be hid. Do you know that in this very political season the phrase “lesser of two evils” has actually been used? And not ironically, either. Quite seriously. It’s hardly to be believed. You’re practically doing our job for us. Does it occur to none of you that that statement carries with it so much misunderstanding and simple-minded thinking that the wisest of every generation have regarded it as little more than a joke? Setting aside the sheer idiocy of the idea, “the lesser of two evils” means you are still picking an evil. And that assumes, of course, that the one you are choosing really is the lesser. How can you be sure? Are you really picking him because he is more righteous, or I should less unrighteous, than the other? Or are you simply picking him because he isn’t the other?

Ah, there’s the rub. Us and Them. Such a useful tool. So many applications. Both sides employ it, for it’s what drives them. And the hypocrisy of even those who think they are above it, who think they are superior to the rabble that don’t know how to think for themselves. Even you aren’t above it. How much of your life is dictated by it? Don’t be so demure.

And all those little people who think they are backing the right horse for no other reason than because he is the only other horse to back. Where’s the progress? And see how they judge the others for the same action. How they accuse them of constructing their cult of personality around their man, thinking him their savior. And what are they doing by detesting him? Are they not constructing their own cult of personality around him but simply in the negative? For worship and hatred are two sides of the same coin. They come from the same place. They each give power to the object adored or despised.

Don’t be disappointed. None of this, not an iota, is anything new. “Lesser of two evils” has been around longer than any of you, that’s why it’s so laughable that you would fall prey to it, a trap so many before you have successfully avoided. But it matters little. Politics doesn’t care. Politics wants power and cares not for the means to get it, as we’ve discussed. One side battles another, feeding off the failures of their opponent, even while feeding them from their own. Like two parasites on the same host. They bicker, they battle, but in the end the only one that suffers is the host.

If you, any of you, were smart, you’d stop. But you’re a junky for politics. It’s got you hook, line and sinker. Because when challenged you fall right back into the old philosophies. Don’t you see that as long as you buy into the idea that Them winning means doom things will never change? Why should they? Us will always be there, standing against Them. The only hope. Never mind that they are saying the same things. Never mind that the party of Us is no more righteous. Best to stick with the lesser of evils. “The Devil you know”, right?

Ha! “The Devil you know.” That’s something I would say.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Puck on... Politics pt. 11

That’s what I love about politics it smuggles in so many different sins: greed, hypocrisy, pride. Oh delicious pride. Sweetest of fruits.

Of course, you don’t call it that. You never do. What’s worse, though, is how you disguise it. You cover it up with such wonderful alacrity. That’s the beauty of politics, it has woven itself into the very warp and weft of your governmental fabric. So much so that one is very much mistaken for the other. Politics and government, politics and civic duty, politics and citizenship. They are one and the same in your eyes! And that’s where the true, how shall I put this, insidiousness of it is.

I told you that the way to win was to not play. Ah, but nowadays the not-players are the outcasts. Your society condemns them. How dare they! To go against the very framework of democracy. Little realizing that all the things you now consider democracy were never part of the framework, but the dressing added by the corrupt and the power-hungry. But you don’t care. Why should you? The system moves on, and it “works”, to a point. Power volleys back and forth between your parties: one taking the ball until they fumble it to the other who does no better in their treatment. Each in an endless cycle of desire, conquest, abuse and reversal. The system is self-perpetuating. Because you only have the two options, and you’ve never asked for another or for the options to be better. You’ve simply accepted what was given to you by those who know how to play the game, in ever increasing stakes. In the arms race of words, empty promises and meaningless accusations. Because that’s the big secret: they are both playing the game. Hilariously, while maintaining that the other side is really the one who is abusing the system. And you see how it goes on.

But as if that weren’t enough, what it does to you, to your kind, is delectable. You have set up hope in your politics. Perhaps in the one place it is least suited to thrive. After all, how can the seed last among thistles? You think your country has fallen far, don’t you? That it was once so great, and now so threatened by… oh, it doesn’t really matter what. Never mind that the time of national greatness you point to never existed; if it did, it was almost certainly contemporaneous with slavery, racism, manifest destiny or a thousand other state-sanctioned sins. No, what is really the kicker is this desire, this illusion that you’re nation is under judgment, and if you don’t act, if you don’t perform up to par you are doomed.

And do you see how subtly, under the guise of righteousness, a works-based philosophy is snuck in? That if you don’t pass the right laws, elect the right people, the wrath will come. Now, where do you suppose you got that idea?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Puck on... Politics pt. 10

But don’t breathe that sigh of relief just yet, my boy, as I don’t think we fully put this matter to bed.

Will we ever?

Good point. But don’t worry, we will move on to more fruitful matters when the time comes. For now, I think there is an aspect of your political motivations that requires more discussion.

Let us posit a situation, shall we? Supposing a “candidate” was so bold as to offer you a sum of money, say a million, that if they were elected, you would receive it. Would you take it?


Of course not! You are a man of honor after all. And who would? Why the indignity of it.

Now supposing another candidate promised that if elected they would work to put through tax cuts and eliminate government spending, so people like you could take home more of your hard-earned money. Would you support them then?

You know what? You don’t have to answer that. Here’s my question: what’s the difference between the two? Hmmm?

Let’s leave you out of it, to save that precious pride; do you think others would take the second offer?


In fact, you can see that many already have.


So, what’s the difference? Why is the first proposal considered so indecent and the second lauded, praised? What reason do you suppose one of those supporters would give for backing the second’s plan?

I suppose, they might say that they had earned their pay, that it wasn’t wrong because it was already their paycheck.

Oh, but they shouldn’t count themselves so short. After all, if he wants to be so generous, who are they say to no? They will certainly have earned the first’s money. That was the promise. They will do their part and he will do his. Why should we look down on this exchange?

Because it’s a bribe.

And what is the other candidate’s plan? Is he not plucking at the same string as the first, appealing to the same part of the citizen? What is so different? Is not the reasoning the same? Why should gains be so ill gotten when someone wants to simply give them to you as opposed to promising to take less? Isn’t the same thing being bought?

And here we have the second part. Before the ends justified the means, but here, the means are meant to justify the ends. And this is not so uncommon a practice. A thief is tried and punished, but a businessman is a success, however he chooses to make his wealth.

They are not always praised.

No, but so few find their way into courtrooms. Of course, we perhaps are skirting the central point. We are talking about taxes, aren’t we? The rules are different, always different with taxes. You said yourself, that is your money, and we both know, that any amount that you have to give- Give? No, they demand it from you, steal it! Any amount you must render unto Caesar is nothing more than an absolute encumbrance, a punishment. Why, it’s unconstitutional! (Oh, the speech I could give you about that word.) And any man that promises to lighten that load must be a saint, deserving of your absolute devotion.

Never mind the fact that money indeed makes the world go round. For governments no less that businesses. If they cannot get it from you, where do you expect them to get it? Is it any wonder manifest destiny was once a popular idea? Let the foreigner foot the bill. That surely can’t come back to bite you.

Ah, greed. You are such a crafty sin.