Sep 162008
 
Authors: Ryan Nowell

Sen. Barack Obama has made a huge mistake. In the wake of Pig-Gate, the single most important issue our country is facing today, Obama has fired back at the McCain camp for accusing him of misogynistic remarks.

“What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country. They seize on an innocent remark, try to take it out of context, throw up an outrageous ad because they know that it’s cat nip for the news media,” Obama said — or at least, The New York Times Online said he said.

Obama’s mistake was not in making the initial comment, but rather in assuming that we, the people, are sick and tired of inane, childish political diversions.

McCain learned firsthand what happens to those who trust in the voting public’s decency and intelligence, when, during the Republican Primaries back in 2000, the Bush campaign started phoning homes throughout the rural South, telling them McCain had an illegitimate “black baby.”

While the story was a hoax (though that mattering is a sad comment unto itself), it was enough to sway the stupid/racist constituency and hand the nomination to Bush. Now, with our latest fake-scandal, Obama is counting on Americans to not be idiots, and unfortunately for the senator, we are.

Where other countries would not even tolerate this level of discourse, we consume it almost exclusively. Our political news is nothing but gaffs, photo opportunities and the occasional clip of a candidate falling off a stage.

Most of us inherit our critical thinking from the pundits on the 24-hour car-chase networks.

Pundits, who are themselves inane, childish diversions, have become appointment viewing for those of us who like to think we’re staying well-informed by watching a bunch of hand-puppets bicker talking points at each other. Reality television now masquerades as the news.

Partisanship has become a certificate of political expertise that we grant ourselves once we make the assumption that one of the parties is somehow “on our side.” Once decided, we can then commence being completely trusting of our chosen party and ceaselessly antagonistic towards the other.

I’m not sure what did it — Disney movies, sporting events, religious upbringings — but something has us convinced that, first of all, there are sides (rather than large conglomerations of individuals pursuing their own interests and trying to convince you they aren’t) and second, that one of these sides is, now and forever, absolutely, eternally, biblically wrong.

We’ve sold ourselves out, America. We were supposed to be the power in this country, but we didn’t want the responsibility, we wanted it easy. Freedumb isn’t free, so we’ve paid by creating institutions that tell us what we want, that dictate our political views to us along party lines, that make the future of this country out to be as simple as Coke or Pepsi. And we buy it. All of it. Wholesale.

I guess the bright side is it will all pay off eventually. Politics, I predict, will become the 22nd century’s most popular spectator sport. Just imagine: the Krazy Korporate Pay-Off Fun-Grab, the Hork-‘n’-Retort Debate/Pie-Eating Contest, the Adidas/Dr. Pepper Irradiated Baby Kissing Pentathlon (as regular babies just didn’t make the candidates seem sympathetic enough). It’ll be awesome.

Heck, even in the near future I can see things picking up. I can picture the year 2080.

The Democratic candidate will be a sitting senator, chairman of the Organization for Gluten-Free Wheelchair-Bound Tibetan Single Mothers of Blind Kids for Peace, who on weekends will play in a jam-band at benefit concerts for diseases only three people have. The Republican candidate will be a tire swing. Really, what’s more American than a tire swing?

Ryan Nowell is a senior English major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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