Politics, it would seem, have become pretty interesting of late. I mean, there’s a woman, and a black guy, and a Vietnam vet. Really, this is approaching sitcom levels of absurdity. All we really need now is a wacky neighbor and a monkey and I’ll tune in to the news each and every night to watch the shenanigans. Some of you out there might be curious though. “What is this democracy I’m hearing so much about? I suffer from selective narcolepsy and slept through each and every Social Studies and History class in my whole education.” Well, Mr, Sleepy Von Ignorance, prepare to be educated.
It starts with war. Not that it is a particularly warlike political system, but you need to get rid of whatever you were using before, right? And nothing gets the blood flowing like a good revolution. I have found that a clash of two radically different fighting techniques serves to underscore the conflict of old versus new. So long as the other guy isn’t using guerrilla tactics. For some reason, democracy can’t beat guerrilla tactics. Sure, it can make use of them (see American Revolution) and it can struggle against them, but it just can’t get the hang of taking them out. If guerrilla warfare isn’t the kryptonite of democracy, it is at the very least the red sun.
Once the war clears out the riff raff, the meat and potatoes of democracy can be rolled out. It is rule by the people, assuming in the case of modern American democracy that there are exactly two types of people, only half of which need ruling at any given time. You see, currently we are using something called a “Partisan” system. Partisan is a Latin word meaning “composed entirely of people who disagree about everything always.” The two most popular flavors for the past century or so are the democrats and the republicans. That covers everybody, right? For those unfamiliar with these parties, it boils down to this. Republicans want everything to be like it was on black and white TV. Husbands and wives sleep in separate beds, homosexuality doesn’t exist, every man carries a briefcase, and every woman wears an apron. Other races, that is to say “not white people,” seldom make an appearance, and if they do, never in a speaking role. Democrats are like hippies with money. They want everyone to be able to say or do anything they want, so long as it doesn’t use any resources, create any pollution, or hurt the body or feelings of any living thing, dead thing, or abstract concept. Independents are people too crazy to gain acceptance from either category. Every few years we hold a popularity contest to shuffle things around so that the people in power always have the people that came before them to blame.
That popularity contest is where the essence of democracy comes in. We all get to vote. Imagine American Idol, only instead of voting for the best singer, you vote for the person who tells the best lies, and tells them most convincingly. Unfortunately, voting is squaresville, as the youngster’s say. MTV tried to do their part with the “Rock the Vote” initiative. Now voting is still square, but if you register you get a sticker. Take THAT, voter apathy. So what you end up with is a leader selected by the following types of people: people with nothing better to do on a Tuesday, people who vote because they hate the other guy, and people who do whatever the talking heads on TV tell them. These are the people who control the future of a democratic nation. Sure there are a few people who read the papers, listen to the speeches, do their research, and actually make an informed and intelligent choice. Accent on the few. And remember, democracy is rule by the many.
Once we finally decide who we least dislike and install them in office, it is time for that person to lead. Well, not really lead. More like “suggest.” The president can’t really “lead” because of the system of checks and balances. This incredibly useful and vital political apparatus is peerless in the world at preventing things from being done. See, if anyone in the congress or the senate doesn’t like an idea, which is always going to be the case thanks to that nifty two party system I just talked about, he or she can drum up his or her buddies and vote against it. In the rare instance that an idea comes up and doesn’t get shot down, it will make its way to the president, who can then veto it, thus shooting it down all by himself. Democracy inaction.
And that’s the long and short of it. You now know all you need to about American democracy. (Unless, of course, you fell asleep and drowned in your soup when you were reading this, but in that case, who cares about you? Dead people only get to vote in Chicago. And besides, who eats soup while they surf the Internet? Dead narcoleptic weirdo.) Granted, it has its flaws, but hey, what doesn’t? The important thing is that it keeps things interesting, keeps fresh faces on the cable channels you never watch, and lets you feel superior to people who do things differently. Plus, it makes sure that, if things suck, you can at the very least complain about it and still be allowed to compete in the Olympics. If you don’t understand that little jab at our friends in China, stay tuned for the next installment in this educational series, Communism, which I probably will never write.