Politics is Theater
Culture is a meta-ego created and sustained by the same source, fear and conflict, which spawned our personal ego. This meta-ego suffers from the same dis-eases; comparison, jealously, revenge, self-centered aggression, depression, pride, humiliation and all the rest. Culture is a group mind and that mind was created and shaped by the same egotistical fearful selfishness that defines our individual images of self. When that image is not – neither is the disease.
To date very close to $2 billion dollars has been invested in presidential propaganda and nearly every penny crafted to induce fear in one form or another. Like the cold war the Republicans must outspend the Democrats and the Democrats must outspend the Republicans or perish.
None of this $2 billion was spent to meet and solve real challenges: infant mortality where the US and Romania stand neck and neck, obesity, a so called health care system which is now the leading cause of death in the US, corrupt crony-casino capitalism, the impact of a former lobbyist and VP of Monsanto serving as the head of the FDA, the fact that not one Wall Street executive has gone to prison for the greatest train robbery in history, the meltdown of public education, the list goes on and on.
Republicans and Democrats are meta-egos, psychological entities just like Mary and John and we, by identifying with these meta-egos, morph into them. Selfish meta-egos are like vampires sucking our precious energy and resources to maintain their cancerous existence. Television and other screen based technologies are their virtual fangs. And we, caught in our lazy conditioned stupor, carry these fangs with us, check every five minutes, insuring the transfusion continues uninterrupted.
Image replaced substance in 1960 with the first presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon forever changing the face of politics. Ten years later a B actor became president. Ronald Reagan spent most of his adult life acting, performing, playing a role, groomed perfectly for theatrical-politics. What is so disturbing and revealing is how the image sticks even in the face of Contradictory facts.
Recently I wrote to John Vasconcellos, retired senior senator for California, questioning the veneration of Ronald Reagan. Argentine courts had just convicted two right-wing dictators, Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, in a scheme to murder leftist mothers and give their infants to military personnel, a process known to the Reagan administration as it worked closely with the bloody regime.
Elliott Abrams, then Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, said the Reagan administration “knew that it wasn’t just one or two children,” indicating that U.S. officials believed there was a high-level “plan.” The so-called Dirty War resulted in 13,000 to 30,000 victims.
A human rights group, Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, says as many as 500 babies were stolen by the military during the repression from 1976 to 1983. Some of the pregnant mothers were kept alive long enough to give birth and then were chained together with other prisoners and pushed out of the planes into the ocean to drown.
Both as a political commentator in the late 1970s and as President - Reagan warmly supported these neo-Nazis who saw themselves as pioneers in the techniques of torture and psychological operations. Reagan knew these generals (along with then VP Bush senior) were helping to fund the dirty anti-communist war by covertly dumping cocaine on US streets, publicly telling our kids to ‘just say no,’ while turning Latin America into a nightmare of unspeakable repression.
There are two kinds of politics. Real politics, the relentless hunger of egos, big and small, for power and control of social resources and consumer, mainstream media politics which is theater. Real politics, like the Mafia, is a family business and not public. What is performed in public is theater.
Theater is fine, sitting in a dark room, being enchanted for an hour or two. With political theater however, the lights never come on. The show goes on, uninterrupted; generation after generation, creating the illusion that one emergency after the next is looming, but is never resolved. The endless performance recreates and sustains the vampire’s feeding frenzy. $2 billion spent on force-fed propaganda that no one asked for is a lot.
We forget this is theater. Those backstage understand this. They use this fact, play it like symphony conductor, feeding on it, steeling our personal and collective power while we carry the signs and sing the slogans they provide, just like reality TV.
We forget about the Contras, the stolen babies, chained mothers pushed out of airplanes, the dirty drugs, the hypocrisy of just say no, Oliver North, Reagan-Bush cutting a deal with the Iranian’s to hold our hostages until after the election. This is the face of real politics, but we forget.
Remember, popular politics is mostly theater. So look back stage and ask tough questions.