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Friday, August 24, 2012

Party Down: The 2012 Politics of Fantasy

Party Down: The 2012 Politics of Fantasy

Those who succeed in politics, as in most of the culture,
are those who create the most convincing fantasies.

— Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion

By Ben Schreiner
Dissident Voice
August 24, 2012

With both tickets now set, the democratic farce that is
the U.S. presidential election lumbers into its final act.

And for a campaign already rife with all the petty trivialities
and celebrity intrigues more suiting of a reality TV show, it
is no surprise that both political parties intend on using their
upcoming political conventions to furnish choreographed
spectacles designed for little more than prime time viewing.

According to the New York Times, a “$2.5 million Frank Lloyd
Wright inspired theatrical stage,” complete with 13 different
video screens, will welcome the television viewer of the
Republican national convention in Tampa.

All part of an effort, the Times notes, to cloak that cold,
vulture capitalist Romney in a veil of “warmth, approachability
and openness.”

As a senior Romney advisor boasted to the paper, “Even
the [wooden video screen] frames are designed to give it
a sense that you’re not looking at a stage, you’re looking
into someone’s living room.” (Presumably a direct mock-
up of one Romney’s living rooms.)

Protecting Mitt’s newly crafted aura of “approachability
and openness” from the potential wayward vagabond, the
city of Tampa will spend $24.85 million alone on law
enforcement personnel during the four day convention.

This will include a massive deployment of 3,500-4,000
“contingency officers” from up to 63 outside police
departments. Hospitality clearly has its limits.

It is all much the same for the Democratic convention set
for early September in Charlotte.

The award-winning Brand Obama is also much too valuable
to be tarnished by the taint of social unrest.

The looming crackdown on dissent Charlotte-style, though, will
be eased by nothing short of an Orwellian city law allowing any
large public gathering to be declared “an extraordinary event.”

Arbitrary search and arrest of any individual the police fancy
will then be ipso facto legal. (Like such police practices are
in any way “extraordinary.”)

Of course, all those hapless souls set to be greeted with the swing
of the police truncheon in the streets of Tampa and Charlotte will
garner nary a mention from the herd of corporate media planning
to embed safely within the bunkered convention halls.

Instead, the legions of dimwitted media pundits and talking heads
will busy themselves filling air time as they wax-poetic on the true
splendor of American democracy manifested in the sheets of
convention confetti raining from the rafters.

The media’s neat packaging of the entire spectacle as all part of
the must-see docudrama titled “Decision 2012” will undoubtedly
do little to hide the true nature of the charade from the perceptive

Nonetheless, the politics as entertainment orgy will precede
forth, with the media present to celebrate and partake in it
all. Which can only give added credence to the Neil Postman
quip that, “In America, the least amusing people are its
professional entertainers.”

The fundamental matter of whether there is truly decision
at all to be made in 2012, needless to say, is rather dubious.

As the New York Times writes of the international outlooks
of Obama and Romney:

“The actual foreign policy differences between the two seem
more a matter of degree and tone than the articulation of a
profound debate about the course of America in the world.”

Put differently, threats to bomb Iran, “contain” China,
and bow to Israel are simply beyond debate.

Indeed, even leftist supporters of Obama admit there is
no discernible difference between the two candidates.

As Obama backers Bill Fletcher and Carl Davidson instead argue,
“November 2012 becomes not a statement about the Obama
presidency, but a defensive move by progressive forces to hold
back the ‘Caligulas’ on the political right.”

Such bankrupt arguments inevitably rear their ugly head every
four years in the now tired attempt to send the fractured
American Left scurrying straight into death vise of the
“Party of the people.”

Given this altogether pitiful state of affairs, the presidential
campaign necessarily must devolve into little more than a
national marketing campaign—replete with the assorted
gimmicks, tricks, and deceptions inherent to that vile craft
deemed “public relations.”

Thus, the “decision” to be made in 2012 is limited to that
between Brand Obama and Brand Romney.

No different in approach, really, than choosing between
Pepsi and Coke—Nike and Adidas.

For just as with all branding, the 2012 decision is not about
deciphering between two differing products or candidates—as
they both promise to deliver the same agenda of neoliberalism
at home, imperialism abroad—but rather choosing between two
sets of experiential promises (fictitious as they are).

In terms of 2012, it’s the dim hope and vague slogan of
“Forward” proffered from camp Obama, versus team Romney’s
promise of comfort to be found in a restoration of America

In other words then, the man best able to peddle the most
convincing fantasy to the American consumer this fall shall
be the one to ultimately prevail in November.

All befitting of an empire of illusion.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon.

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