I haven’t written much about the presidential election. That’s on purpose, and my reasoning works something like this: I don’t give a shit who wins.

As much as they prattle on about jobs and whatever distraction-minded social issues, this year’s election is about one thing: The Bush tax cuts, whether they’ll expire, forcing rich people to pay a little more, or whether they’ll be extended or made permanent. This is moot, because the rich don’t pay taxes anyway. And so the election is meaningless.

That doesn’t mean it’s not interesting, however. It continues to fascinate me on the level of watching the truth become not something decided based on facts conveyed without bias, but rather a series of competing biases to which one must ally oneself or find a compromise point between. This past Saturday, when Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney announced Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan—who wanted to replace Medicare with a voucher program and privatize social security—as his vice presidential running mate, the spin was appropriately dizzying.

But the fun part wasn’t in listening to the back and forth nitpicking and naysaying—the democratic pundit pointing to the ridiculousness of the so-called “Ryan Budget” that the congressman proposed as an alternative to President Obama’s and the republican responding with, “Well at least he has a plan,” as though Barack’s had his thumb up his ass for the last four years and we don’t know exactly where he stands on domestic fiscal policy—it was in the level on which those interactions were taking place. Very quickly, it became apparent that the question wasn’t about what was actually in Paul Ryan’s agenda, but that he had one in the first place.

By the end of the segment, it was as though the republican position was, “See? It’s got his name on it. Barack Obama doesn’t have his name on anything!” and if it was a pissing contest—oh wait—that would be very close to a valid argument. As usual, the democratic position was, “Well, we’re right, and that should be enough,” which of course it never is, and in the end, no one learned anything substantive about either Paul Ryan’s track record or what he might actually bring to Mitt Romney’s campaign, other than a slew of new cynical talking points about how he has a plan that never lead to any real discussion of what that plan might be.

And I thought I was jaded. These guys have the market cornered, and when the conversation wasn’t honing in on the existence of a budget that Paul Ryan has his name on, it was about how negative the Obama campaign has been, as though Mitt Romney hasn’t been dogwhistling bigotry for the last six months, talking his “shared Anglo-Saxon heritage” and “taking back” the country. From whom are we taking it back, I wonder. Oh right, the big scary black man who wants to impose Sharia law while also stealing our guns and using them to force us all to get gay married. Or something. Whatever the NRA and the corn lobby say it is.

As enjoyable as it is to poke fun at ignorance, or try to counteract hatefulness with mockery, in the end, if it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney who wins the election, it’s not going to matter. Both are in the pocket of the banks, the oil companies and the interests of the super-wealthy few who control them. One’s already a war criminal and the other would only race to try and get there faster if he won, so what the hell. It’s a waste of time, and no different from every other reality show out there. Certainly no more authentic than anything my wife watches on Bravo.

Nothing changes until motherfuckers start pelting J.P. Morgan with molotov cocktails, and I’m not holding my breath for that one. Better chance of Godot showing up.

JJ Koczan


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