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What's Up With Politics?

Updated on October 7, 2012
Obama & Biden on the campaign trail.
Obama & Biden on the campaign trail.

Aspirations & Reality

Is it just me or has the transparency pitched by Candidate Obama been reduced to a nice-sounding concept? Or worse, has it always been merely strategic words used to soothe an uninformed electorate?

During the 2008 campaign the debates were often summed up with sound bites that highlighted the clarity and openness of Mr. Obama; his policy proposals were going to be made available to be scrutinized in the electronic public square. All spending would be itemized and explained before being adopted. No details would be hidden or obscured.

Ah-huh. Ever wonder what color the sky is in the political world?

His campaign managers and cheerleaders in the press kept saying that after the secrecy of Bush-Cheney, an Obama administration would be gusts of fresh air blowing along the corridors of power. It all appeared to be genuine aspirations, but reality has turned out rather differently, hasn’t it?

Is President Obama the first one to ever give campaign promises the old heave-ho? Absolutely not, which is why the process of politics fascinates me; the fabrications and spin used to transform history or make it disappear completely is the magic that makes politics the greatest of all spectator sports.

Facts & Fiction

Everyone loves a good story, but storytellers usually practice their craft as novelists or screenwriters or around campfires at family reunions; more and more storytellers are employed as our elected representatives.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, from inconsequential meandering through the past to significant departures from accuracy in the present, politicians can be compelling tellers of tall tales. They deconstruct facts and restructure them into fiction that fits the politically expedient needs of the moment; they do so with a habitual ease that ought to frighten us right down to our proverbial socks. To paraphrase and pay homage to that astute Yankee philosopher Yogi Berra, oft-times when those entrusted to govern come to a verbal fork in the road, they take it. Shouldn’t those who aspire to govern be constrained by the framework of truth? Do they actually believe everything they say or does the word delusional apply?

In this country we are always in the midst of a moral crisis of one kind or another, so perhaps the misleading nature of politics is merely symptomatic.

Olbermann & Limbaugh

The present emergency is an economic quagmire. Huge government investments and overhauls of free markets have occurred with cloak and dagger maneuvering, and we are repeatedly asked to give the new president a chance and trust that Washington has the best interests of the people at heart.

We are now on the threshold of another trillion dollar take-over of an industry; it is wrapped up in a thousand page healthcare reform document which may be full of holes and leaves a multitude of questions unanswered. No one will likely ever know the ramifications of it until it is too late.

It is tragically humorous that the bill is getting blasted from all sides. No consensus will be cobbled together on this one. The healthcare reform controversy, along with every other serious issue, is being driven by the far-left and the far-right. Ideological extremes are wedges that have been welded into place.

In this corner, Keith Olbermann.
In this corner, Keith Olbermann.
In this corner, Rush Limbaugh.
In this corner, Rush Limbaugh.

Imagine Keith Olbermann and Rush Limbaugh getting locked in a room together with the mandate of providing a healthcare reform package that would be acceptable to their respective constituencies. Even with a time-bomb ticking they could not inch close to any semblance of agreement on the foundational basics.

Or put Olbermann and Limbaugh in a steel-cage death-match and sell tickets. At a measly twenty bucks a pop the proceeds could put a sizable dent in the national debt.

Mirror Images

The point is that Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Limbaugh are illustrative of the problem of politics and why finding solutions in the middle has become nearly impossible. The competitive instinct to win is so deeply ingrained in us that any attempt to set aside arguments and reach for the common good gets swallowed up in the roar of crowds.

The noisy shouts are constantly leveraged by vested interests. Entertainment organizations masquerading as news gathering agencies enable and exploit the divisiveness to garner higher ratings. The center no longer exists because dialog based on empirical evidence does not generate advertising dollars.

There is no one clean here; we’re all active contributors to the mess. Listen to water cooler or lunch counter conversations and note how quickly we lean in with those who agree with our viewpoints and gravitate away from those with whom we disagree. Also notice how important it is to win or protect partisan turf.

What’s up with politics is that what we see is what we are; we are tribal by nature and it works itself into all our political disputes. What transpires in Washington and on the airwaves is a reflection of what stares back at us when we look in the mirror.


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    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      peoplepower73 - You are exactly right. One of the problems is the never-ending campaign. It's always about oneupmanship.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Angela Brummer - Thank you.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Ken R. Abell: It's all political theater on both sides, where no one is held accountable for what they say or do. It is all designed to fund campaigns and get votes. Once a politician gets into office, he becomes beholden to big monyed interests that funded his campaigns, not to his constituients. Some part of congress is in an election cycle every two years.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Very well written!

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Cagsil - Thanks for stopping in & giving it a read & a thumb's up. Much appreciated.

    • Cagsil profile image

      Cagsil 7 years ago from USA or America

      Hey Ken, I don't usually read other people's political hubs, because most of the time they are off track or those who write them have personal issues in the way. I rated up your article, even though it is a bit short, but it was definitely an interesting read. Thank you for sharing. :)

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Tamarii - For me politics is a spectator sport, so I follow it for fun. For example it will be a riot watching the Democrats defend the "Nuclear Option" on a healthcare vote when a thirty second search on google would come up with video clips of Senators Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, Obama & others speaking fervently against it when the Republicans threatened it several years ago.

      My thoughts on President Obama remain unchanged. A gifted orator, but the most ill-equipped & inexperienced man to ever hold the office. He is not bipartisan. If anything he is purely partisan as he governs from the Left.

    • Tamarii2 profile image

      Tamarii2 7 years ago from NEW YORK

      Since you wrote this what are your thoughts on Politics and This Historical President.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks for stopping by & for your comments, Harvey. Blessings to you.

    • Harvey Stelman profile image

      Harvey Stelman 8 years ago from Illinois


      I grew up across the street from Yankee Stadium, so your not excited. Most things Yogi says were taken from Casey Stengal(sp).

      I enjoyed your piece. Sorry, gotta run.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      DTW - Thank you for stopping in & sharing your thoughts. It's the pandering that drives me bonkers. Oh well. Blessing to you.

    • Destined To Win profile image

      Destined To Win 8 years ago

      Enjoyed reading, "What's Up With Politics?" Been asking that question myself. Thanks for sharing your most welcome analysis. Your question, "Shouldn't those who aspire to govern be constrained by the framework of truth?" was particularly poignant. The response to that ideally is absolutely. Unfortunately for some in the political arena it seems that pandering at the pool of popularity as opposed to practicing a principled life based on truth is far more expedient.