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Martin LeFevre: Presidential Campaign Blues

Meditations (Spirituality) - From Martin LeFevre in California

Presidential Campaign Blues

Politics is much too serious a business not to have fun doing it. But how long ago three months seem, when the choices were fresh and the races exciting. Now, popping up alongside the flowers of spring, are the same old poisonous fungi of backbiting and smallness of mind.

Who would have thought that young people would turn out in the millions on just a wing, a prayer, and a hope? As the Democratic race turns rancorous, a college age Obama supporter, speaking about her reaction if Obama loses the nomination, said today: “It would be like killing Santa Claus on Christmas morning.” Did the master of half -truths, Bill Clinton, get it right when he said the Obamenon was “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen?”

The one fascinating thing about the political scene in the USA is how it has morphed into three parties. First, there’s the party of McCain, a hybrid Republican campaign in which the candidate isn’t quite sure who he is. (It was recently revealed that he approached the Kerry Democratic campaign in 2004 with a desire to run as his Vice-President.) The only thing McCain is sure of is that he believes in the Iraq war (while he says “I hate war” of course). As he flaunts his scars from the second most stupid war in American history, Vietnam, the media laps it up, and many Americans are buying it.

Then there’s the Proposed Party of Obama, literally a mixture of East African and Middle American that’s as smooth as jazz (without the blues of course). And finally there’s the party of Clinton, which gives new meaning to the politics of personal destruction—Hill and Bill’s personal ambition being the Democratic Party’s destruction.

But you don’t go to the circus to see the elephants trample the midget, or the old lady fall from the tightrope without a net, or the limber showman get blown to bits when he’s shot out of the cannon.

Something about Obama reluctantly and languidly walking out of his salmon colored vacation home toward the insatiable maw of CNN cameras and microphones inspires ennui. He didn’t have to make his obeisances to the current coin of the realm—the “in God we trust” humbug. But then again he did, just as he needed to stand in front of eight flags (presumably one for each year the country was lost during the Bush era), during his speech on race in America.

Obama will either emerge immune from the diseases the Clinton Party and the Republican Party have blanketed America with, or he’ll be sucked into the same sewer from which they seep. And despite his adult speech on race, his crisp white shirts are beginning to look a little gray and wrinkled.

If Barack Obama is truly a different kind of politician, he cannot and should not be elected without a genuine transformation in America’s body politic. But the body politic of America is moribund, which is why the monstrous manifestation of Bush-Cheney occurred in 2000, and was reconfirmed in 2004. So, can the nearly dead come back to life?

I don’t know, but we’re still way behind the spiritual/metaphysical curve. Indeed, we’re sliding backward into the muck, to a time of religious and patriotic litmus tests for our political figures.

Growing up Catholic in the days when the Mass was still in Latin, I was first amused, but now am simply disgusted, at how public confessions have become so de rigueur. When public discourse becomes as coarse as it is in America, unsolicited declarations of scriptural adherence are obligatory for even our most thoughtful politicians.

While the American Empire collapses from within (as they always eventually do), politicians and pundits alike blather on about ‘restoring American prestige and leadership in the world.’ Never mind that that is the language and mentality of pride in Empire, most adults need fairy tales too.

And given the interest outside America in the election of ‘the most powerful person in the world,’ one can only conclude that the myth of beneficent Empire is a fable most of the world still shares.

Seeing the utter mess the next president will inherit at home and abroad largely because of the invasion of Iraq, perhaps it’s fitting that either a supposed Democrat who voted for the war, or a “we are winning” Republican should be in the White House.

The American military touts ‘the awakening’ by former Sunni enemies who had taken marching orders from al Qaeda, but now are willing to take fists full of dollars to be on our side. The real awakening, if we’re going to begin to pull ourselves out of this morass at home and abroad, has to occur here in the USA, and no amount of money can buy it.

But even if such a miracle occurs in the next few months, a restoration of “moral authority” in Washington requires a belief in Santa Claus.


- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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