Monday, May 30, 2011

Beauty Queens, Heroes, and Presidents

I have changed my mind about what would be the most important amendment to the U.S. Constitution, were it possible for me to obtain such a boon. I'd amend it to lengthen election cycles. Let the House of Representatives be elected every four years, and the President every six years, with Senators staying at six. Elections under our current corporate security state system seldom change anything meaningful, but they waste a lot of time. Politicians are distracted from governance, while the entertainment value to the public is minimal.

In my Internet Biography of Andrew Jackson I am about to write the first chapter in which he is being taken seriously as a candidate for President. Back then, in 1821, owning and trading slaves, fighting chickens and dogs, and shooting acquaintances when they won't apologize for alleged slights to your honor were not considered to be disqualifications for the Presidency. Especially when you were the general who won just about the only American victory of any importance in a war in which basically the British kicked U.S. ass from Canada to the Carolinas. Even so, Jackson did not win the office until the election of 1828.

The last war heroes to win the office of President of the United States were Dwight David Eisenhower and John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Eisenhower, like Jackson, had been a general. Kennedy had been a mere Lieutenant, but he made getting his ass kicked (but not killed) by the Japanese seem romantic and heroic.

Since that time heroes have been out of style. Jimmy Carter had been a submarine officer, but joined up after World War II ended and never saw combat. John McCain, the Republican Party nominee in 2008, had been a war hero of sorts (shot down while bombing North Vietnam in an illegal and undeclared war), but he was beaten by Barack Obama, who grew up between wars. George W. Bush was elected despite dodging the dangers of the Vietnam War.

Nor are heroes lining up to run in 2012. The closest thing is Sarah Palin. If she did not serve in the U.S. military, at least she braved beauty pageants and a husband crazy about snowmobiles. She is not as pretty or as smart as Michele Bachmann, but while both are from the frigid northern regions of our nation, Sarah is about as civilized as Genghis Khan. Elect her President and we might just end up with Canada and Mexico both.

While hardly heroic, current President Barack Obama is still the odds on favorite. His famous lack of political backbone has not prevented him from toughening up since 2009. He increased troop levels in Afghanistan and does not seem to mind killing civilians in that undeclared and illegal war. He has kept military spending up. He even bravely challenged the progressive wing of his own party by keeping taxes on the richest Americans at their lowest level since the Great Depression.

Most of the time a Presidential election is a beauty contest. The corporate security state does not care, very much, who they break bread with. A woman in the White House would be a novelty, but I doubt that would bring any fundamental changes in policies.

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