Most Americans will go the polls about nine weeks from now without having read or heard a word from the only three presidential candidates who are truthfully addressing all or many of the most important issues in the republic today.
Our great quadrennial Silly Season, during which candidates for high office and their giddy advocates perform childish hijinks and applaud saccharine entertainments, is, the Associated Press soberly tells me, "in full swing" in Tampa.
More of the same will ensue in Charlotte, NC.
And then we will endure the so-called "presidential debates."
At no point in all of this will we be exposed to the positions of Jill Stein, the Green candidate for the presidency; Ross Carl (everyone calls him "Rocky") Anderson, the Justice Party candidate; or Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate.
That's because they aren't "serious" candidates. Before the 2008 primaries had run their course, a television performer masquerading as a journalist dismissed Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio congressman, for wasting time in the Democratic presidential nominating debates because he wasn't a "serious" candidate. The TV clown said Kucinich's lack of "seriousness" was evident because he wanted to talk about the illegal wars that were killing hundreds of young Americans and thousands of Iraqi and Pakistani civilians rather than answering questions about whether he and Shirley MacLaine had actually seen a flying saucer.
Despite fierce opposition from the Romney campaign, Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states and, on that ground, still hopes to take part in the so-called presidential debates. He would hold both main party candidates' feet to the fire:
Democrats: "The notion of ending the wars, the notion of ending the drug war, repealing the Patriot Act, marriage equality [all of which Johnson favors] -- wow! These are traditionally Democrat issues that they're not doing so well on."
Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan: "This guy's supported the wars, this guy's proposed a balanced budget in 28 years, assuming growth, this guy voted for the Patriot Act, this guy voted for the National Defense Authorization Act, this guy proposed legislation in line with Virginia's ultrasound legislation regarding women . . .and the irony to me is that (he's) supposed to be the boldest Republican on the budget, but if he's the boldest the Republicans have then the Republicans are really a third party, they've abandoned what's historically supposed to be Republican."
Romney's position on immigration: "I'm speaking as a former border state [New Mexico] governor. There's a total disconnect between his rhetoric regarding immigration and the reality. (The language in the GOP) platform is anti-immigration; it borders on racist."
Put this guy on the stage with Romney, Ryan, Obama and Biden and we'd have the beginnings of a genuine debate. Add Anderson and Stein there might even be a smidgen of hope of restoring our democratic republic some day.
Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, wants to talk about why a Democratic administration wants to crush dissent (the Occupy movement, for example) and why government hasn't investigated what really happened on Sept,. 11, 2001. He, too, opposes NDAA and wants to debate why it should be repealed.
He told an interviewer: "The rule of law has been utterly eviscerated during the Bush and Obama administrations. We've engaged in wars of aggression, wars for which there has been no coherent explanation. Our debt is completely out of control. We have a military-industrial complex with a stranglehold on our government. And at the core of almost every public policy failure, all we have to do to find an explanation is follow the money, because our Congress and the White House have been purchased lock, stock and barrel by wealthy corporate interests. The Republican and Democratic Parties have colluded in creating the corrupt, perverse system that has led our nation to this point today. And there is now no question in my mind that we need a major new alternative.
"This isn't only about the American people. This is about the future of our world. Climate change poses, by far, the greatest risk to humanity. And the failure of essential US leadership in the international community will end up having devastating consequences.
"If we allow the fear-driven argument that the lesser of two evils may be defeated by the greater of two evils, then we're simply conceding to the status quo. Then we'll never see a change. In fact, we'll see things continue to get worse, with the ratcheting up of an imperial presidency, with the undermining of the rule of law and our constitutional values, and a continued destruction of our democracy, as well as a worsening economic disparity - which is already worse than at any time since the 1920s and during the Great Depression.
"We can either choose to simply move the players - Republicans and Democrats - around and sustain the corrupt system in which those with the money call all the shots, or we can finally organize and take action together to choose a very different way."
Stein likes to jump into the economic issues by saying government must "make the banks do what they're supposed to do, which is negotiate to keep homeowners in their homes." She says, "The playing field is tilted against everyday people trying to get jobs, trying to have decent wages, trying to get affordable health care, trying to have affordable higher education for their kids."
She speaks out bluntly against "this president negotiating a new Free Trade agreement that is like NAFTA on steroids." She wants to talk about "the attack on our civil liberties in which President Obama codified all the violations of George W. Bush and then took it further to where he can throw anybody in jail for whatever his pleasure is."
She has lots more to say, about the real problems that have dragged this country down, and about the bogus "lesser of two evils" argument.
Gary Johnson and Rocky Anderson have lots more to say, as well. But most Americans, when they vote for president in November, will not have heard them. Many will not even know their names.
And so they'll cast their ballots in ignorance, like sheep fattened on the sophistry of the Great Quadrennial American Silly Season.
No wonder the country is such a mess.