Laying Bets: W Will Win

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Tue Aug 15 08:23:13 PDT 2000

At 09:28 AM 8/15/00 -0400, Nathan Newman wrote:

>Probably most important, the GOP folks want to win, from the moderates to
>the rightwing nuts, while a lot of traditional Dem voters aren't as
>convinced the election will matter. So GOP turnout and activism will
>probably be more successful or at least successful enough. Gore and
>Clinton are to blame for stupid trade policies that alienated the base but
>that lack of activism will be the reality that will probably put W in
>office in the fall.
>So we'll have a chance to see if the Left does better with a GOP President
>in office so we can concentrate our opposition. Hope it works as well as
>folks predict.

I second this opinion, but I do not think there is a serious reason to worry - except a symbolic one. Electoral politics in the US are nothing more than professional wrestling for the middle class. European politics with their proportional representation system and no-confidence vote are a bit more serious, but not very much.

Like professional wrestlers, the candidates embody caricatures of moral characters and pretend to engage in a mortal struggle - but both the characters and the struggle are phony from the beginnning to the end. Like in a professional wrestling game, the outcome is predictable from the start - the most amiable charcater wins - and is totally inconsequential, save for its feel-good enetertainment value.

Important policy decisions are made in the privacy of corporate boardrooms and communicated to the public by professional PR hacks. That explains the smashing success of Reagan presidency - the B-movie actor was more effective as the Great Communicator of Corporate Will than, say, a lawyer or an economist.

For average middle class Joe and Jane Schmoe it matters little who wins this or that election, for the coprorate bosses will not let things go down to the point that a suffcient number of people become sufficiently pissed off to start seriously demanding a change in the status quo. In plain English - I do not think that electing Bush or Gore will have any impact whatsoever on my or people's I know employment conditions or living standards - although I would feel a little bit better if Gore got elected, because I do not like Bush's show at all.

The only people affected by electoral politics are those who pay for it - i.e. business owners and operators who are part of the Democrat or Republican political machines and hope for windfall profits from easy access to public coffers. But most people in this country are not part of these political machines-- which btw is a major change form the 19th century. Unlike businessmen who thrive on public contracts, most people have no real stakes in electoral election. What ordinary peope get from electoral politics is what they get from a pro-wrestlig game - entertainment and ritualistic confirmation of conventional values. Hence the salience of symbols, values, and personalities in the electoral politics - since for the majority of people this is the ONLY substance of electoral politics.

Thus I pay minimal attention to electoral politics and will most likely stay home on November 4. I do that for the same reasons I do not watch pro-wrestlish games, rock-and-roll concerts and kindred televised pulp - watching bad shows offends my aesthetic sensibilities and makes me upset.


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