Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vote Smart. Vote S-Mart.

Today, I woke up in a New America. I could feel it in the air, see it in the faces of my fellow citizens - we had awakened to a new and glorious dawn, a new era for American politics and a whole new way of life. My friends, my dear readers, it's going to be AWESOME. If you enjoyed Wal-E, with its cute little trash-cleaning robot and the global warehouse chain store that created him, then stand up and rejoice. You watched it - now you get to live it.

As the announcement went out yesterday about the Supreme Court's decision to lift restrictions on corporate and union spending during political campaigns (and by "lift," they mean "obliterate"), a lot of people began with the hand-wringing and the mind-losing and the other displays of hysteria that play so well on cable television news programs. These pundits worried that the Court's decision means the end of democracy as we know it - corporate interests will use their bottomless money sacks to purchase politicians and use them as their personal Washington mouthpieces, while at the same time shilling out for advertisements that will help them further agendas that will serve mainly to line their pockets. Small grassroots campaigns funded by average voters will be crushed by the roaring behemoths that support incumbents and are paid for by corporate donors eager to keep their favorite lackeys in power. Areas with limited media markets will fall prey to political and economic monopolies as Fortune 500 companies buy up every available second and space of advertising during election cycles, and every tiny hamlet in the country will be home to a Wal Mart Superstore as the Walton family uses its seemingly limitless funds to buy off town councils one chair at a time.

They're completely right, of course, but they're missing the point. Sure, the American citizen may be doomed to a future of abject misery as he or she bears witness to ecological collapse while at the same time struggling to stay afloat on slave wages, laboring under chronic indebtedness to their new business overlords and feeling their bodies catastrophically malfunction thanks to subsiding on chemically-laden, genetically modified processed foodstuffs with all the nutritional value of the box it came in, but trust me when I say that the television programs that come with this brave new future will be spectacular. You see, now that Corporate America gets the green light to transform America into AmerInc, its main concern isn't going to be health care or fair wages or climate change or any of those silly things that take money and effort. The real goal - the pressing, vital issue that must be addressed - is how to keep the American voter/consumer entertained. Any company worth its salt knows that people want something back for their hard-earned time and money, and now that the government won't actually be working on anything pressing, AmerInc is going to have to provide some sort of value for the masses, lest a few within those masses get a clue and start fomenting Dissent, Now with Added Weapons. My prediction? Politics is about to get a lot more exciting.

It'll be subtle at first. You may catch your senator plugging a regional supermarket chain or a member of the House letting you in on the secret to young, healthy-looking skin. (I can't wait to see what brand of self-tanning lotion John Boehner uses, to be quite honest.) Later, things will get a little more overt - instead of looking at a presidential candidate and thinking that it would be nice to have a beer with them, we'll get to see them having a beer (an American beer, most assuredly) and telling us how much they love it. Once such hawking becomes commonplace, AmerInc will feel more comfortable in moving on with the next phase of the operation, which will involve finally making use of the wasted space that is Washington, D.C.'s many monuments and government buildings. Television news reports from the nation's capital will pay for themselves, as the bidding wars for space on the Capitol Building, the White House and the Washington Monument will be incredibly fierce. The networks will use the money to fund new and better reality shows, as well as refurbishing government buildings to make them ready for the next phase of the operation.

If you've ever had the misfortune to suffer from a bout of insomnia, you no doubt know that C-SPAN is the best and cheapest cure for what ails you. The channel is unbearably dull at the best of times, but once AmerInc takes over, the least-watched channel on cable will experience a ratings blitz the likes of which it has never seen. Imagine the House and Senate chambers transformed into TV studio/arenas a la WWE, complete with entrance ramps, jumbo-trons and a full pyrotechnics rig. As the leaders of the legislative branch make their way to the floor for sessions, the room will be awash in color, sound, and light, not to mention the promo bits featuring clever product placements. Never again will the American people ask what their Member of Congress does all day - they'll be able to see it live as it happens, and with that many eyes glued to the screen, you can bet that speeches and debates will be the most intense ever witnessed in the chambers. Everyone knows that people won't change the channel once they've been promised that the Mountain Dew XBox 360 Verizon Xtreme Ultimate Foreign Policy Cage Match Sponsored By Budweiser will begin after a short message from Nike. Just wait until the 2012 presidential debates. Let's see how hopefuls answer questions about immigration reform while attempting to negotiate a half-pipe.

With all this added air time, AmerInc will quickly come to the conclusion that the current politicians serving our nation are, shall we say, a bit past their prime. Only the most beautiful among us are allowed to push Rolex watches and fast food, so it's only natural that beautiful people would also be called upon to push laws, amendments and other policy changes that would best serve corporate interests. It will help soften the blow when it comes time to announce that health care premiums will be doubling once again or that air pollution regulations have been abolished to save a few pennies in the short term. No one wants to hear that from an old man in a suit, so expect a lot of young men in suits and young women in not much at all to be hitting the air waves with bright, happy smiles to tell you about all the exciting new changes that will be coming to your town soon. They'll start replacing their older colleagues on a permanent basis once they're up to speed on the jargon and get some good training time in the cage. Long may they reign, and long will they - eventually, it'll dawn on their bosses at the top that elections are costly and outdated affairs, so the best way for Americans to elect representatives is to vote with their dollars, literally. If your favorite candidate is backed by Sears, you'd do well to purchase your appliances at one of their fine retail outlets. Your money is your voice, and your voice matters to AmerInc. AmerInc - Serving, Leading and Ruling since 2010.

It's a brave, bold new world you have ahead of you, America. I can't wait to see what happens. I'll be watching from Europe.

No comments: