The Party of Change

Last week the Democrats had their convention. This week it’s the Republican’s turn. Much speechifying has and will be done, and some of it might cause those not yet irredeemably cynical to feel the frisson of uplift and inspiration. The powerful and transitive word “change” has and will be employed with a promiscuity befitting folks of low morals. Delegates and voters, participants and observers, will momentarily experience a sensation of energy and will, a freshly minted belief that they and their fellow Americans can (and will, and must) do something salutary for their country — not to mention themselves and their children. Citizens will embrace the urge to be involved in democracy, whether as an organizer, a proselytizer, or a voter. They will feel part of something larger than themselves, until the feeling passes, at which point they may safely return to the stuff that really matters to most of us: procurement and consumption. 

But the whole change mantra, while it lasts, is wonderfully seductive.

Amid the intoxication of possibilities, let us not forget, however, that the Change We Can Believe In is neither a Democratic nor Republican franchise. Neither party if the Party of Change. Neither party is Party that Will Make it All Better. Both of them, Republican and Democrat, are charter members of the Money Party, and both serve as gigantic, efficient mechanisms for excluding 99% of Americans from having their voices heard and their needs respected. Our two-party system, and the broken Electoral College scheme they support, is at the very root of our political dysfunction. No amount of hagiographic Obama videos or McCain war hero stories obviates the fundamental problem: Nothing in the United States of America’s long-term future can truly change so long as the Money Party runs the country.

(The same could be said of market-based Capitalism, but that’s another essay.)

The rampant (and painfully obvious) hypocrisy that shrouds every deed, every speech, every promise emitted from political mouths no longer enrages us. Indeed, we hardly notice it, so accustomed have we become to the genteel charade the Money Party trots out every election season. Barack Obama is an entertaining orator, with a compelling story to tell. John McCain has some interesting ideas for a rich, white dude. Neither of them, though, is compelling enough characters to rewrite the American narrative, a sordid tale of institutional bribery made palatable by a constant infusion of fresh euphemisms.

When that changes, we’ll all have something we can believe in.

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