Thursday, April 09, 2009
The grand illusion that is politics
When I was a kid, I hated magic shows. Most of my friends enjoyed them. I did not. Instinctively, I knew the pretty woman was not really sawed in half and put back together again. I knew it was not wonderful magic, but that someone was trying to trick me into believing that magic happened. My brain and common sense knew better. So, as a kid, I sought out to learn how the famous “thin box sawing” was done. Once I learned how it was performed, I never looked at magic shows or life the same again.
Then, I went to work in politics as a young adult. My experiences taught me that politics was little different from the illusions presented by magicians. Politicians still tried to fool people; the only difference to note was that while the magician only presented his tricks to entertain someone, the politico presented his tricks in an effort to gain power and money. In short, the magician wants you to believe that the pretty lady disappeared or was sawn in half and restored to give you entertainment. The politician and political consultant want you to believe that they actually care about your well being and the well being of your children.
A few years ago, the Fox network presented a series of shows by the masked magician. Fearful of retribution from his colleagues in legerdemain, the masked magician remained unidentified as he showed how magic tricks were done. Frankly, VUI has no such masks. With the exceptions of the staff who offer me ideas and pointers from time to time that I refuse to name, there is no hiding here. Yet, I am going to tell you frankly what goes on in politics in this state, especially in the great education debate.
The illusion is we have one side, claiming to support parental choice in their child education pitted against a side who wants only the best for public schools students, including the poorest amongst us. The illusion divides average people in a fevered pitch. The problem is it is an illusion.
The hard cold truth is that the well paid political operatives on either side of that issue, or frankly any other, do not really care about how their espoused positions hurt or help people. It is in, the terms of the magic show business, a grand illusion. Political operatives who otherwise would not have gainful employment have been linked up with money from Howard Rich and his associates to argue for private school tax credits. Add to that some of those associates have an interest in establishing corporate private schools for profit. On the other side, political operatives, who like their opponents on the issue, could not otherwise find gainful employment, are funded by education elites and unions to argue for the status quo and more money to flow to the status quo. Those political operatives fight out the grand illusion while making good money. Regardless who eventually prevails, all the operatives get paid and the taxpayer gets his money sawed in half with no hope of a magical restoration.
Regardless the issue, any great issue of the day in politics has well paid lobbyists and political operatives spinning their illusions to the people. Funding this or that group or consultant, contributing to this or that candidate’s campaign, it is all is part of the illusion being pulled on the people. Those operatives earn their money in that they know how to frame arguments in the favor of those who pay them and how to work on people’s fears and dreams to whip up frenzies of support. Such is no illusion; it is the reality of modern politics. Money and manipulation are the masters of the illusion.
Frankly, it makes me feel sort of bad about hating the magic shows from my youth. At least the magician did not pretend what he was doing would help me or mine make my life better and he had some pretty ladies on display. All we the people get from the illusionists that are political operatives is patronization and a tax bill.