For starters, happy Election Day. Now let's see just what the hell that means.
About three weeks ago, Senator Joe Sestak visited my college. Chris Matthews was hosting Hardball there. We were all in a crowd behind a movable steel fence watching Chris Matthews interview Sestak. Sestak was wearing his jacket from the Marines and is answering Matthews' questions. Well actually, he doesn't actually answer any of Matthews' questions as much as he continues to drop these soundbite codewords into the conversation. Green jobs. Corporate power. All of these are designed to maximize impact on specific audiences, just like that Marines jacket is supposed to make veterans feel he's "one of them". And all this time he's talking, he's wearing the most plastic smile I have ever seen. And he's talking for some 8 minutes straight. Go ahead and try to smile and talk simultaneously for 8 minutes in front of a mirror. That smile is guaranteed to look strained.
After he gets off the air, he shakes everyone's hand in the crowd without ever looking anybody in the eye or even give anyone a firm handshake. It's like we all just took turns holding his hand for a fraction of a second. A few minutes later he walks past the steel fence into the crowd. People are surrounding him for photo ops with the Senator, and I'm there too.
"Senator Sestak, pleased to meet you." I say. I have the full attention of a United States Senator. He puts the smile mask on and shakes my hand. His face is a peach colored smear from all of the make up he's globbed on. It's ridden with deep wrinkles as his skin of his face stretches and contorts to smile he's wearing and has been wearing for years on end. He honestly looks like the troll face. "I hope you can deliver on everything you say, because young people have finely tuned bullshit detectors and they don't like being lied to," I say.
"Well I can't promise anything. I can send the troops in but I can't tell you they're gonna win. But I'm going to fight for you." He shakes my hand again and says "Thank you! Vote for me November 2nd!" The smile again. It meant Go Away. I was being told by my Senator to go away. He takes a couple steps away from me and other people started to surround him now. A laborer from another town who he met on the campaign trail asks Joe Sestak if he remembers him. He doesn't but pretends like he does.
"But that's just another soundbite!" I shout. "You're just a walking cliche machine! The lights are on but there's nobody home!" He's looking at me now, shocked. "Oh, and by the way. You look like a clown with all that make-up on". And then I strutted away from the most epic moment I've had in my life.
What do I take away from this? Politicians are not your friends. When they make speeches they don't make it off the top of their heads. They don't kick it. Every word in a speech is crafted for maximum impact, and they never tell you anything you don't need to know
Now to some this may seem old and you may say "But that's what politicians do! It's their job to lie to you! That's why we hire them! To do a such a manipulative job!" But if that's the case then why do we pretend that these people care about you? Somehow, somewhere there is the expectation that these people don't lie to you. Politics is very personal to us. People relate to politicians. Bill Clinton is a "down to Earth guy". So for some reason it shocks us to find out that our politicians are actually skeezy slimeballs. Hell, it's prestigious in this country to be a skeezy slimeball!
Call me naive, but was there ever a point in time where politicians didn't have such massive disrespect for the people that they represent? Is this what democracy should look like? Some history-knowers should get their butts in here.