The American electoral process has become a triumph of tactics over substance.
Those two facets of politics have warred throughout our history. Tactics gave us a B movie actor, Ronald Reagan, as president and changed our political landscape as if it were a Hollywood back lot movie set.
Here, as The Economist once noted, was a president who never had to think. He simply had to recite his lines and play the role of president. No wonder he could take long daily naps; the government didn't really need a wakeful Ronnie to function just as it would when he wasn't sleeping. His advisors' "government is the problem, not the solution" tactic blinded enough voters to win him two terms and the slavish devotion of generations of right-wingers.
Tactics rose to utterly dominate our politics, and substance became invisible, when Karl Rove, a tactical genius, created George W. Bush. As "Shrub," the addled black sheep son of a powerful politician, Bush was the laughing stock of Texas. Rove turned him into the the simple Christian warrior, pure of soul if utterly thoughtless. He remade Bush as the lovable alternative to those scary libruls who would have government take over our lives and so weaken the military that we'd have to take up our own arms to fight the ragheads on our streets and in our very neighborhoods.
And so rather than standing on and fighting for the principles that made the Democratic party the force that improved the lives of working -class Americans, the party of FDR and JFK went AWOL and remade itself as GOP LITE. Go for what works, not what matters.
The ragheads are the best enemy to run against in America since the great Red Menace of the Soviet Union and Commie Ratfink China. And so the issue of an Islamic center in a vacant building in lower Manhattan pervades political discourse. When Dr. Kidglove actually became presidential for a fleeting moment and pointed out that Muslims have a perfect constitutional right to do this, the fruitcakes on TV and in the Republican Party went berserk. Tea Party candidates in Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana took up the cry as if the occupancy of a shabby building in Manhattan somehow had relevance to their constituencies. Alleged Democrats like Harry Reid hastened to take the Tactically Correct position.
It defies logic and the laws of chance that an administration could be in office for two years and not propose a single initiative that would be good for the people of the country. And yet not a single Republican has broken ranks to support legislative efforts to fix things that are obviously wrong with this country; substantive things, like too many unnecessary deaths for want of adequate medical care; an economy that nearly plunged into a second Great Depression; millions of Americans without jobs or even the hope of finding one because there aren't any to be had. And yet even some Democrats have taken the Tactically Correct position to help obstruct attempts to deal with these substantive problems. This entitles them to be called "moderate Democrats" by the media.
Ah, the media. They are utterly complicit in the triumph of tactics over substance. Willing diseminator of falsehoods from on high whether in the "justification" of the invasion of Iraq or the myth that real health care reform would kill Grandma. Remember the early "debates" in the Democratic presidential primary? A candidate, Dennis Kucinich, bothered to actually prepare substantive proposals to solve actual problems in this country. One of the performers masquerading as journalists in the TV debates asked him, not to explain one of these positions, but why the hell he didn't drop out of the race because he had no damned chance of winning and he was just wasting valuable time on the podium. Another genius asked him about flying saucers.
ACORN. Shirley Sherrod. Birthers. Thank you, guardians of freedom who perform what passes as "journalism" today.
Dr. Kidglove and his handlers would have us believe that if we elect Democrats in November, it will preserve Social Security from the depredations of the mad Republicans. Never mind that the biggest threat to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other piece of the safety net for the poor and the luckless, comes from Dr. Kidglove's own deficit reduction commission, loaded with known adversaries of social security in any form.
Tactics over substance.