Here Thar Be Monsters!
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I get accused of shilling for this party or that, or being a "fence sitter" for declaring myself to be a political atheist. I should mention, for those confused by the term, that a political atheist refers to a complete disbelief in establishment politics and has little or nothing to do with religion. That's a completely different conflict. In the end, I get accused of being everything, since I believe in nothing, is the way I read it.
But how does one get to be a political atheist, you ask.
As I've mentioned before, my father was a politician. He was first elected in 1960, as a Democrat from Houston. He served three terms in the Texas House before switching parties, due in large part to the corruption and pure evil of the Johnson Machine. For those unfamiliar with this term, Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was a Texas politician who became president upon the death of John F. Kennedy (in Texas, but there are books on that connection). Johnson's network ran Texas politics with a platinum fist, fed by oil money and raw lust for power.
In 1966, Dad jumped parties and was elected to the Texas Senate as a Goldwater Republican, and in 1972, ran for governor, coming within 200,000 votes of becoming the first Republican to hold that office since the Civil War. Of course, the jump came just in time for the corruption and paranoia of the Nixon years, which ultimately resulted in Nixon's impeachment and resignation in 1974.
Watching all this as an impressionable kid, I grew disgusted with politics, having seen that there were no sides with clean hands. I also saw the toll it took on my father - the frustration, anger and ultimate withdrawal from the process, since one could never get a message directly to the voters. There were always layers upon layers of control in between that had their hands out - ass, gas or grass, nobody rides for free.
When the time came for me to receive my enfranchisement, I didn't want it. There was nothing there that I found appealing or desirable. What I did learn, though, was the power of the media. I had already spent my entire life to that point on stage. I was a political prop, rolled out at the appropriate moment to enhance the "family man" image. I instinctively understood this. I saw how it all worked, and I liked the power of controlling people without ever being seen.
I spent many hours in TeeVee studios and back stage. I was agog at the technology and machinations that turned into programs and productions. I loved listening to the production meetings - throwing out ideas, anticipating responses, calculating demographics. It reminded me of all those WW2 movies my father loved and forced me to watch. The generals in dimly lit rooms, smoking furiously, moving pieces around on a map.
I knew what I wanted to do with my life - and what I didn't want.
What I didn't want was to be in the political system. I preferred the position of being on the outside, watching the rubes argue and lambaste each other. When they were done, they came to me to polish and present the results of their bloody in-fighting. I enjoyed being above them, looking down with mild distaste at their grubby faces as I bestowed my talent, knowledge and skill upon their message.
Through all of it, politics and politicians were potential clients. I never invested any importance or meaning in their system. All I wanted was their money, and all I gave them was a product.
Eventually, I came to realize that I was deceiving innocent people in the process. Sure, they donated to the parties and were active in campaigns, but they honestly had no idea what went on behind the scenes - the cynicism, corruption, greed and lust. The masses truly believed that they were doing some good by supporting this or that cause, party or politician. They were completely unsuspecting of the blackness that sucked their money and passion away and spit it back at them.
The other day, I posted a link to an Infowars video on my private Facebook account. It was a hidden camera recording of a DNC delegate saying Hillary would ban all guns and destroy the Second Amendment (right to own guns). Almost immediately, I got a response from a good friend and the person I interned with lo, these many years ago:
"Stop posting these links to bullshit sources. Can't you see what he's doing? He's leading that poor idiot to get her to give the answers he wants."
Incredulous, I replied, "Really? You and I have done that exact thing to elicit the response we wanted from an interview hundreds of times. And Infowars has more followers than many cable news hosts. What makes them less legitimate than any other source, especially given the revelations in the past two weeks concerning Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Reuters, and Politico?"
I thought about it for a few minutes, then added, "You know as well as I do that there is no such thing as an objective reporter. Every story has at least seven people injecting their personal views into every story that goes on the air.." I was referring to the producer, reporter, editor, news chief, owner, sponsor, and viewer. Each places their prejudices and assumptions into a story at every step of the process.
There was no response, and there can be none. It is true. Because I grant more credibility to one source over another does not change the process itself, which is the same for any media outlet. For every form of communication, there is a standardized process for encoding and decoding information. Regardless of who or what is communicating, the process is the same. In any given language, the rules of grammar must be followed or the message is scrambled and unintelligible.
Ultimately, I have withdrawn from politics, media and as much of the bullshit as I can. I prefer pure entertainment now, like the stage and film. The reason is that at some level, everyone in the audience understands that the actors and scenery are a lie. TeeVee crosses that line by pretending to reveal reality - but whose reality?
As I disucssed previously, it is all magic. It invokes spirits and presents possession as a mirror of reality, however distorted. As a professional in "show biz," I have come to see media as either benign (theater, film) or malignant (TeeVee, especially "news"). In the benign form, the audience is aware that they are being manipulated, so they have a fighting chance. In the malignant form, the audience believes what they are seeing is at least some form of truth, which of course, none of it is.
In the end, I have washed my hands of politics and mass media, and have tried in some small way to absolve my sins. Generally, though, people don't want to hear it. During election season they dive in, regardless of how much distance they keep during the "off" years, and most people reach for the TeeVee remote almost immediately upon coming home from another day as corporate drone.
We have all been so conditioned that we can't imagine, much less remember a time when life wasn't like this. It seems quaint to think of days when TeeVee didn't exist and campaigns rode around in trains, giving stump speeches along the route. We have pulled the wool over our own eyes, seemingly as a choice, but really what choices do you consciously make?
When you vote for a candidate, do you think, "I can't choose a third party because they will lose. I want to go with a winner." Ask yourself this: regardless of which party won, have you ever won? Have you ever been happy with the choice you made?
Remember back when Obama was first elected? There was a kind of religious aura about it. None one could say a cross word about him. It was a sacred moment. Now, it is hard to find someone who will admit to voting for him.
That's why I'm a political atheist.