I've haven't been paying attention with even almost interest to the goings on in Iowa. It's depressing - like watching the paste eaters from grade school stage a production of A Christmas Carol. You know every line, every scene, and how it's going to end. And even though the thing is so familiar you can recite it in your sleep, it is amazing how far below even your lowest expectations the show falls.
I have always felt guilty being so cynical about politics - always, in the silence of my heart, believed the goody-goody student council types who said, "If you want things to change, you can't just complain, you have to work to make it happen." Then I realized something - I'm right, and they are wrong. Reform is not really possible - history is, at its most basic level, a tale of things changing for the worse.
The reason isn't hard to fathom. There's three kinds of people: First, those who want to be someones pet - they want to be housed, fed, clothed, and protected from all evils - real and imagined. In return they promise to plow the fields, not run out of the yard, tug too hard on the leash, or make a fuss. The second kind are the ones who don't want to be kept as pets. Perhaps they are just ornery, and naturally do the opposite of what they're told, perhaps they feel no one has the right to make them do what they don't want to, or maybe they realize that politics is a zero sum game and every public good represents actual goods taken by threat of force from private individuals, that power exercised in the name of the government must be wrested from the hands of citizens, and every of advance of law must be matched by an equal retreat of freedom.
And then there is the third kind... the kind who wonder if zero sum game is on the same channel as Dancing With the Stars.
The first group has an entire political party dedicated to getting them what they want. In this time and place they're called the democrats, and they have been into keeping human beings as domestic animals from the beginning - you might call it the family business. But don't get hung up on names, there have always been those who were willing to sell their birthright for three hots and a cot, and there have always been those on the other side of the equation looking to accommodate them.
The great thing about this party is how easy it is to become a member - all you have to do is renounce your desire to be free, and promise to the best of your ability to get others to do the same. The better you are at convincing people to accept the yoke of servitude, the higher you go - sort of Cloward-Piven meets Amway. The hierarchy goes like this - on the top are the president and senior senators and congressmen, next come the sycophantic newspaper and television organisms, tame corporate CEO's, and labor leaders, followed by college professors, then public school teachers and other taxpayer funded worker bees. Finally, on the very bottom, are the organized community of mopes, dopes, mokes, druggies, rummies, lackwits, halfwits, dimwits, and nitwits who do the scutwork in return for any table scraps which might fall their way and a chance that the more enterprising of them can climb the ladder to higher levels.
There is also a political organization which tries to appeal to the third group - in the here and now, that organization is the republican party.
Oh wait, you thought the republicans would naturally try to appeal to the ornery and anti-social? Why?
That category of people isn't very large or well defined. If you are taking the time to read this, you probably fall, more or less, into that group - I would like to believe I do also, and I know regardless of meaningless polls where people self identify as democrats, liberals, conservatives, or republicans, those who want their elected representatives to use government to take wealth from others and give it to them, far outnumber those who want to be left the hell alone.
Along with being more numerous, that third group is more independent - in the same sense a toddler is independent. They weave around randomly, bump into things, fall on their butts, and finally end up in a corner picking their noses and drooling. Figuring out what they want is a hit or miss proposition. Which is why watching the republican party is so frustrating - every toy, game, and snack gets pulled out of the baby bag and waved around while candidates make cooing noises (Does diddums, want a binky, a woobie, an ethanol subsidy?), all in a desperate attempt to hold their attention until the second Tuesday in November.
And the party of treating people like infants must keep that attention focused; there is no room for error. That is because the party of keeping people as pets has massive built in advantages. Hell, the existence of public schools alone means virtually every person in the country gets ideologically sheep-dipped for thirteen years before being released into adulthood. Their constituency is designed to grow, and all they need for victory is to win is some plurality of the toddler cadre.
The republicans, on the other hand need every single one of the votes of people who get distracted by shiny objects; which means their platform, expressed in its simplest terms is, "Don't scare the baby."