It's only mine because it holds my suitcase.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Your Regularly Scheduled Program

I accidentally watched the ABC local news a few days ago. Okay, I watched in on purpose, mostly because I haven’t seen a local news program from a national network in several years. Now I remember why. The ‘local’ part of the local news was a cop who shot a crook at a local Burger King. That never happens. Must be news. Then there was the teen who was not allowed to graduate because he’s allegedly hacked a teacher’s password and changed his grades*. On to California news: Michael Jackson may or may not be a perv. National news. A very white woman is missing in Aruba, and another in Alabama. After the break: the common household item that can kill your child.


If I were to ask you whether you preferred ignorance over enlightenment, what would you say? Does anybody really want to be ignorant? Do we desire to be uninformed mushrooms? I’m guessing the answer is ‘no’. Yet for all intents and purposes, network news is just another mindless reality show. Even the dedicated cable news networks hardly go beyond the drivel we see on nightly news. If we’re lucky we get to watch the premeditated propaganda of our administration delivered through that puppet guy they taught to talk four years ago, and maybe, if it’s a good day, we get five minutes of foreign news.

Pop quiz:
What’s going on in Bolivia right now?

If you answered ‘Who cares?’, then congratulations, you’re an American. Before true democracy, those who led were generally educated. They may not always have had what’s best for their people at heart, but what’s changed there? Now, we have a true democracy where half of the eligible population doesn’t bother to vote and the other half treat the entire procedure as a ‘Who gets kicked off the island?’ show. Dial 1-800-UR2-DUMB to vote. Even those who attempt to form an educated opinion before casting their vote do not have any useful resources at their disposal. Choosing between democrats and republicans is like choosing between Bud and Miller. Pithy TV commercial bounce back and forth, accusing and distracting, while the candidates themselves base their platforms on what they believe will draw the most voters, and their policy on what they believe will put themselves and their cronies, powerbrokers, corporate supporters, and demagogues ahead in life. Born again christians battle Vietnam heroes for the privilege of screwing the population for the next four years. Can somebody explain to me why we let this happen? Are we so comfortable in our mortgaged houses, our 48-hour a week jobs, and our the bank’s cars that we are willing to simply let our democracy be run as if it were a taste test between Pepsi and brand X? I guess so.

Demagoguery and jingoism have historically been prime tools a government used to keep its populace in step, and I guess that may never change. But when I think about the great Democratic experiment that the founders of our country envisioned when they composed the constitution, and I compare it with the sorry mess we’ve become mired in, I can’t help wondering whether ‘We, the People’ will ever actually mean we, the people.

*Hacking: verb. The act of copping a look at a piece of paper kept in a drawer.