Commentary 18 Oct 2012 08:43 pm
In a subterranean laboratory forever hidden from the sun, they are building him.
With cogs and levers, demographics and opinion polls, they are building him.
With spongy brains and a stony heart, with $100 haircuts and perfectly shined shoes, with a million-dollar smile, a closet of Armani suits and two pairs of blue jeans, they are building him.
He is the Perfect Candidate, cipher of special interest groups, beholden to nobody singular and everybody corporate, with photographic recall of talking points and photogenic intuition to look severe or stricken on cue, with robotic strength to press the flesh and invoke God’s name whenever substantive issues arrive.
His programming will be supplied by the highest bidders, he will have corporate barons on speed dial, he will uphold the rights of the common person only insofar as they do not interfere with the interests of the overlords who have created, bought, sold, leased, folded, spindled and mutilated him.
He will lead us further into the era of outsourcing and insourcing, whichever plays best to whatever audience he is addressing at the time. To the oil barons, he will sing the praises of the combustion engine; to the environmentalists, the birdsong of solar power. To the poor, he will hum a lullaby of tax breaks and prosperity built on the greater contribution of the rich; to the wealthy, he will belt out the same tune, this time financed on the backs of the poor.
He will embrace contradiction as he embraces the elderly — not to help them, but to woo them at public events so carefully choreographed that they put the ballet to shame. He will stand in fields and cry for the plight of family farmers from eyes connected to artificial tear ducts controlled remotely by his handlers, who will croon sweet-nothings into his invisible earbuds and remind him that he is late for his next meeting with agribusiness giants who have squeezed the life’s blood from the very ground that now receives his tears.
He will grind public education beneath the heel of his designer shoes even as he holds open the school door for his profit-driven cronies who have both created the problem and provided the solution — a new national curriculum sponsored by special interests.
His image will be ubiquitous, shouting from billboards, smirking from steel mills, sighing from pulpits, shalom-ing from temples. He will score highly with women, who will admire his smart, strong — but not too smart or strong, goodness no — wife, similarly sculpted (along with their three children and a dog) in the same underground workshop that gave rise to Perfect Candidate himself.
He will ascend to the highest office in the land and rule and rule and rule, to be replaced only by another of his ilk, similarly programmed to speak out of both sides of the mouth, to obfuscate facts and blur edges until things get all wiggy from the brightness of his electoral halo.
He — and they — will do this because we are a nation that has lost its way, that values sizzle over steak, that cannot discern between message and messenger, that has become a victim of demagogues and shadowy puppet masters who sell presidents the way Coca-Cola sells soda.
Lest you think this nightmare is the result of a deluded mind, that we as a nation would surely recognize such a shallow creature if he stood before us, I present for your (dis)approval a current presidential candidate.
While he may not have all the attributes of Perfect Candidate above, he has enough. This is a candidate, after all, who rejects a national health plan even though he championed a similar program in his home state; a candidate who says he isn’t “familiar” with any legislation about a woman’s right to choose that would be part of his “agenda” but who, if elected, could become familiar rather quickly and who will almost certainly have the opportunity to place at least one pro-life justice on the Supreme Court; a candidate who claims to care about all Americans but who, by his own words, already has written off 47 percent of us.
If this candidate wasn’t built in an underground lair, he was at least taken there for cosmetic work, his platform and policies pieced together the way a mad scientist stitches the flesh of his latest creation.
If this candidate wasn’t melded by a sinister cartel, he was certainly advanced by the interests of an elite who bid him rise, revive and perpetuate a socio economic hegemony that should be antithetical to every conscientious citizen.
Should be, but isn’t.
@cschillig on Twitter
Originally published in The Alliance Review on Oct. 18, 2012