The US Presidential Election Circus Ruthless Criticism

Voting is Wrong:

The Campaign for President of the United States

A celebration of pure patriotism

I. “Change”

The slogan under which the election campaign in the U.S. is running, and Obama propagandizes most of all, is “Change.” Not only must the acting president step down in accordance with the constitution, which allows only two terms, he is also deeply unpopular. Americans’ approval ratings of their government are negative and the poll numbers are getting worse. Very convenient, then, that elections are due, because by changing the figure who presides over the state program, as everyone knows, democracy makes everything right again. The public is certain that just by Bush leaving the White House, regardless of who is elected, share prices will soon rise again, the investment climate will improve, and America's reputation in the world, thus respect for the super power, will be restored.

Why must there be “change”? The nation is discontent with itself and with the rest of the world. The nation has to reorient itself, as it is not acceptable for the USA to not live up to its own ambitious standards which demand that its economy be strong without competition, that the people work, uphold morality, and do not incur any improper costs, and that the world is in the service of American success, best cheerfully but at least obediently, and that this benefits the national investment site, unrestrictedly fulfilling the pride of its citizens in their promised land. In the general view, something is wrong with the USA nowadays, no matter whether it is the still undefeated enemy of terrorism, the financial crisis, the health insurance that 50 million Americans cannot afford, or the price of oil. Therefore, the domestic conditions, like the global political relations dealt with by American rule and which also appear inadequate, are the reservoirs of discontent from which the candidates draw when they advertise themselves as the one who is called upon to bring America and its world rule into order.

In the rhetoric of Obama:

“All of us know what those challenges are today – a war with no end, a dependence on oil that threatens our future, schools where too many children aren’t learning, and families struggling paycheck to paycheck despite working as hard as they can. We know the challenges. We’ve heard them. We’ve talked about them for years.” (Obama’s Announcement for President, Feb 10, Springfield)

In one breath, he mentions the global challenges together with the dire straits of the common people. The fact that they have a lot of reasons to be discontent is just as clear as the fact that there is only one legitimate way for them as democratic citizens to cope with these difficult living conditions: by voting, thus by commissioning a new leadership to take care of them. This is their compensation, and it ensures the freedom of action of the next administration to examine their predicaments from the point of view of state necessities, to change them or also not to.

In order that he be chosen for the calling, Obama puts on a show that he is in touch with the ordinary people in America, they are important to him, he is with them, he goes on the election campaign trail for them and holds entertaining speeches. He scores at getting the ordinary people to donate money, which they spare because he inspires them. This closeness to the people qualifies him for the presidency.

In his speeches Obama tells stories about meeting people who were brought into dire straits by the social relations – the workers in Ohio who no longer have jobs because their company can produce more cheaply in Mexico, the single mother who will soon sit on the street because she cannot pay the interest on her mortgage, the mother who lost a son in Iraq. Their state-imposed dependency on the employers, who prefer cheaper workers in China, or the banks, which foreclose their mortgages, is showed quite clearly, but this should not be taken as an argument against their dependency, no call to be free from it, but a proof that things are going badly for America, that America needs a new, better leadership. Obama assures his potential voters that they have his full sympathy in their plight and deserve a better rule, namely: his.

The woman who is about to be evicted – something that happens every day and not just since the real estate crisis, something that is very much part of America – does not need an apartment, she needs “change today,“ i.e. leadership. Obama‘s campaign is positioned on this abstraction. Its effectiveness indicates the enthusiasm with which his followers participate in it. Obama points to the victims and explains that the social conditions give rise to challenges that are to be coped with by the agreement of the people and the leadership. Obama appears as the embodiment of this unity. “Can we change this?” “Yes, we can!”

“In the face of a politics that´s shut you out, that´s told you to settle, that´s divided us too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what´s possible, building that more perfect union.” (ibid.)

The trust in Obama, who celebrates the unity from above and below in emotionally delivered speeches, the successful “Yes, we can” ritual, gives him virtual power over the American people in every appearance, including and especially when it concerns the victims that the state requires.

What are the masses actually doing when they shout “yes, we can,” but are not sure what they can or who can? The critical comment about this slogan in public is that sometimes this slogan “yes, we can” seems empty of content. We do not share this criticism. Certainly, somebody who expresses this criticism notices that what somebody can do is not specified. But empty, therefore meaningless – not by a long shot. On the contrary: precisely in its complete abstractness – “we can,” completely without “what” – it obtains a massive content. Especially if no concrete issues, no specific project is identified, then it is clear that everything that the nation plans is meant. And with the “we” in “we can” is meant first and foremost the man who is the candidate for the most powerful office in the nation. It is clear who is meant: a man who already has power and wants still more power. By “we” Obama refers to himself as the future incarnation of the national will, who wants to replace the current “we,” the old leader Bush. Then his “we can” covers just about all the concerns and projects that the superpower America pursues around the world. And its well known that there is a lot in this program.

II. The National Cause

The “war against international terrorism” is Obama's first and most important program. Obama leaves no doubt about this: America is empowered to order and dictate the world with all the necessary rigor and toughness. The duties he is tackling will be no different from those which already stand on the agenda of the superpower. Obama cites them all: a Middle East peace with a supreme Israel, more troops to Afghanistan, denuclearization of Iran. “Bring the boys home” sounded at first to some people like a criticism of the Iraq war, even of the anti-terror war program. They delude themselves. Obama leads an argument about which war, where, when, and how long it should be waged. Unity in the thing itself is assumed. He distinguishes himself as a Commander in Chief who is determined to use every means in America’s power for victory. Then nothing can go wrong, he says, unless the leadership screws it up. Bush did not take a hard enough line with the Iraqi government, neglected diplomatic pressure and allowed himself to be dragged into a civil war, demoralizing American soldiers instead of advancing the victory of the anti-terror front. This undesirable course of events, the long unrealized final victory, was his opportunity to step into a debate about an ongoing war with the slogan “change” without being seen as betraying our boys at the front. Obama has better use for them than Bush or his rival for power. He wants to give the orders from now on; the purpose of the war and the right to unconditional victory are not in question anyway.

McCain reminds the public that Obama was against the surge, which has only made the current state of military superiority in Iraq possible.

“When you win wars, troops come home. And we are winning. And the fact is, if we’d have done what Senator Obama wanted to do, we would have lost.” (07/22/08, CBS News)

McCain pronounces the national dogma that American troops could only come home as victors, as if it depends on him as Commander in Chief and not simply the power resources of the American state. America‘s victory or downfall are the main themes with which McCain recommends himself as president. Any criticism of the leadership of a war already verges on treason, debilitating the final victory of the preordained nation. He compares the current criticism of the Iraq war, which he calls “immediate withdrawal,” to the peace movement against the Vietnam War, which in his view led to the betrayal of his fellow prisoners in North Vietnamese POW camps and the destabilization of American combat strength. Intellectual carping on American values, defeatist talk about poverty that speaks badly of the hard working American people – McCain sees these as the reasons for what is wrong in America, why it needs a properly understood change under his leadership.

“Will we make the right changes to restore the people’s trust in their government and meet the great challenges of our time with wisdom, and with faith in the values and ability of Americans for whom no challenge is greater than their resolve, courage and patriotism? Or will we heed appeals for change that ignore the lessons of history, and lack confidence in the intelligence and ideals of free people?” (02/19/08 speech in Wisconsin)

Being full of so many virtues, the American people under the right leadership are simply entitled to world rule. McCain declares that the hard work, courage, and decency of the people, their thoroughly magnificent character, are the essential productive power of the nation. He just leaves aside the dollars and missiles that also play a certain role. Everything depends on the attitude of the people, on their trust in the government which he restores. The unity of the state and the people is fulfilled in the fact that they may count on being free from welfare state paternalism with a gun in the closet. In case this freedom is in danger, they can count on McCain as their Commander in Chief to rally them behind the flag. There is no subject about which the man does not speak of America as a superpower:

“We will campaign to make our schools more accountable to parents and better able to meet the critical responsibility they have to prepare our children for the challenges they’ll face in the world they’ll lead.” (ibid.)

Even American schoolchildren are destined to be leaders of the rest of the world.

The view that it is a task of the USA to control the world, to produce the world peace in which the states have their permanently established order of rank assigned to them by America, the conviction that the USA, before world peace is reached, must defend itself with its military from the rest of the world because it is threatened, is state doctrine; in this the candidates for presidential office do not differ. The more danger, the more honor.

III. Unity

Obama has made his election campaign a kind of grass-roots movement, which he concerns with the problem of lack of unity between the people and the leadership, and confronts it with the still existing unity of the nation which sets aside all differences. Rich and poor, blacks and whites, Democrats and Republicans, old, young, men, women, are they not all Americans? He is not content with naming grievances of all kinds in the United States to excoriate economic policy, diplomacy, warfare. He is also not simply content to indict the wrong leadership, Bush’s, in order to paint himself the better leader. He condemns what he calls “the ways of Washington” in general. In mass gatherings, which he summons, he calls the people to abolish together with him the mismanagement in Washington and to make everything better.

“It is going to require something more, because the problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas. It’s that Washington has become a place where god ideas go to die...because lobbyists crush them with their money and their influence, because politicians spend too much time trying to score political points and not enough time trying to bridge their differences so we can get something done.” (speech in Wisconsin, 2/19/08)

“The ways of Washington” are supposed to be the cause of everything that makes life so difficult for the people. “The ways of Washington” are the interests, the power strivings of the parties, the lobbyists and Big Business which mutually block each other and so do not come up with solutions. They do not search for compromise, they cannot agree, nothing gets done. This is, first of all, a grandiose minimization of everything that the existing interests decide on and set in motion, of what they obviously can agree on. Secondly, Obama of course does not want to say anything against capitalism and the parties in democracy. He is no state-monopoly capital theorist when he attacks Big Oil, Big Business, the interweaving of the political class with the capital interests and the lobbyists. In the end, it would be entirely far off for him to call for the nationalization of basic industries or anything similar. Not even someone in the election campaign camp of McCain would have the idea of foisting that on him.

The invoking of “we,” the call for unity, is his way of going about the Great Whole of the nation. Egoistic interests harm the people’s community in which he does not want to know about conflicts of interest, but only the great “we.” The state power, which he will lead, should not be restricted by calculating interests, but free to obtain everything from the good, willing people, from victory on the world market in the digital age, the abolition of poverty in America, to massacring terrorists. The battle cry for this appeal to the supporters: “Can we do it?” “Yes, we can!”

He accuses those in Washington of disillusioning the people, losing their engagement, this productive power of the nation. He, on the contrary, knows a lot about how to get this done.

“And as people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration, we know what filled the void. The cynics, the lobbyists, and the special interests who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we’re here today to take it back. The time for that poltics is over. It’s time to turn the page.” (ibid.)

“The ways of Washington” is the image of a government in the claws of interests hostile to the people. “We,” the rightful owners, should take back the rule, Obama recommends to his supporters who should put him in the White House. Obama has made “Unity” his brand name, marking the style of his campaign. Hence, he publicizes that he will not engage in the usual, ordinary mud slinging. If members of his staff drop bad words, they are fired. He sacrifices a supporter because she called Hillary Clinton a monster. This turned out to be problematic, because his opponents could point to the missing unity and harmony in his own election campaign retinue. But Obama courts personalities from the republican camp as well and wins some as supporters. He can do this on all sides, he also does not disdain supporters from Big Business or the trade unions. All the extremes produced by American class society are converted into differences which are unnecessarily divisive.

IV. Democratic Personality Cult

The candidates are personifications of the state will. As character masks of the office that they aspire to, they kick against each other and advertise their personal characteristics that show they have the personality most suited for leadership, that they can do “it,” rule. The campaign concerns a political decision-making process insofar as their suitability is expressed in the fact that they are able to credibly represent in their personality the type that corresponds to the interest of the people in good leadership – more important than what they want politically, more important than the program of the party that nominates them . An army of election campaign managers and assistants is busy staging the characteristics of the candidates as impressive individuals so that the voter gives his vote to the one who succeeds and not to the competitor. He must appear the best, must be predestined for the high office with which the voter entrusts him, radiate the calling for it. By the staging of a power-seeker as a decent person, a question of taste is opened to the people, which is the only one up for their decision: can I trust him; would I buy a used car (or nowadays: a mortgage) from him?

A candidate is found to be a) credible for a politician because he b) comes across so human. Obama is young and dynamic, looks like a male model, a winner’s type, what America needs in the globalized world of today. He comes from a modest background, worked his way up, does not forget where he comes from. His resume ensures a social conscience. He is a family man, holds responsibilities, goes to church like any decent American. His mother was a white American, his father African, so he knows from birth the problems of the world he will have to govern.. His skin color signals racial equality and international understanding. He will be the first black president of the USA. With this racist argument, he supplies the evidence that America is not weak because it is divided by racism, but that world power number one is united.

McCain is the old warhorse, experienced, he knows America‘s enemies first hand and therefore can cope with them, whereas Obama still hasn‘t taken part in a war. He is a disabled Vietnam war veteran, has already given victims to the nation, resisted torture in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, this distinguishes his strength of character. His age and his illnesses do not speak against him as a president, but for his stability. He is not too old because he even has a mother who, at the age of 97, he drags along in his election campaign. Speaking for his youthful vigor is his wife, bleach blond, slim and willowy, stylish as a Hollywood star. A man who has such a woman is equal to all the tasks which the nation puts to him, the security of America is in good hands.

The election campaign appearances of the candidates are staged so that they emphasize the competence of the candidate in the respective field of his future political decisions. The challenge in doing so is that the qualities which the candidates have by nature or are imputed to them really work as indicators for good ruler qualities, that they enthrall the majority of the voters to make the right decision. To denigrate the rival candidate as absurd, morally questionable, incapable, to call into question his patriotism, to shrink away from no dirty laundry and no defamation, belongs therefore to the craft of a clever election campaign management.

McCain profiles himself against Obama‘s attacks that he understands nothing about economics with appearances at oil companies, nuclear power plants and gas stations, demonstrating that he knows the problems of the ordinary guy with the price of oil and knows how it concerns him.

The mud slinging from the McCain camp against Obama (originating from the Clinton camp) appeals in essentials to the ubiquitous racism in combination with all known unamerican activities. The liberal New Yorker magazine puts a cartoon on its cover that ironically summarizes the mud slinging against Obama: Obama dressed as a Mullah with his wife in front of the fireplace in the White House. She wears an Afro like Angela Davis and has a gun in hand, probably a Kalashnikov. Above the fireplace, where the American flag is burned, is Osama Bin Laden. Liberal, Obama-captivated America is outraged, holding the cartoon to be harmful to Obama‘s campaign. This holds only if the grotesque accusations are taken as arguments against him, which is not impossible, because they are actually no more grotesque than the arguments that are to supposed to speak for him.

Election observers report daily on the status of the candidates in the polls, including how much percentage points they are projected ahead by the latest election campaign strategy, and how much points have been generated by that message. Nothing is more successful than success.