Well, here we go again. It's big-time politics. Just the look and sound of the word grates on me. I dislike politics of any type, but especially American elections, and specifically, presidential election years. The British election version is probably just as bad, not far removed from ours, but the rhetoric seems cleaner.
The European and Asian political landscapes can be worse, if that's possible. They've killed each other over their mean politics. Not once, but several times. Not to be outdone in mad political maiming, it's the Middle East's turn. And now we've let religion creep into the mix, God help us.
Fifty-some years ago I was slightly amused by the swift political changes occurring south of our U.S. borders. The "Banana Republics" seemed to change rulers, political parties (and some even their own borders) every other week. Later on there were some serious shooting wars down there, and I quit smiling. Especially when our own politicians sent in the marines and we began to get shot up ourselves for meddling in other people's miserable politics.
Then there were the political comedies of the South Americans. One even became a hit Broadway musical called Evita! Ms. Peron lit up the drab New York City alleyways and byways after her hubby had lit up Argentina, and it made us believe even Dictators had hearts.
But in the early to middle 20th century the entire world became entangled in two of the most horrendous political acts of all time. Millions and millions died in the world wars that followed. The first was the "Royal Cousins" disagreement, better known as World War One.
The old Royal Families of Europe began to argue among themselves about the way the European map was drawn. But when the argument was finished, so were the Royal Families (with a few exceptions), the borders of Europe redrawn, and millions of lives lost. The political winners were Hitler and Lenin, although they would have their own deadly reckoning to deal with later in the century.
The political wrangling over the gold standard, war debts, world currencies, trade and isolationism led to joblessness and worldwide hunger and the world's great financial depression of the 1920's and '30's. That caused millions more to die. But it set the stage for Hitler and his evil Nazi maniacs to rape Europe before finally being raped themselves in the mid 1940's.
The fascists in Italy and the militarists in Japan could not help themselves from indulging in such easy pickings and joined in the worldwide murdering and pillaging. The Axis bid for world power became World War Two and killed more people in 6 long years of warfare than had died in all the political wars since mankind had lived on the planet. America and her allies finally defeated Germany and Japan and returned the world to civility and peace. Then came the atomic age and the great failed political experiment called the United Nations.
And so now we come to our "modern" American politics.
When I was 9 years old, WWII ended. Since then I've watched the evolution of politics in this country, if evolution is what it was. Barely 5 years after the end of the most horrible period in the history of the world, we entered into what I call "the patti-cake political period." The Korean-Chinese conflict erupted in 1950 for 3 hard years. It was called "Truman's War" and stopped with just a political settlement or truce - not a surrender or a peace treaty - after costing over 50,000 more American casualties. In fact it has never ended, and 55 years later we are technically still at war in Korea.
Then came Vietnam and the Democratic Party's biggest political blunder in the history of the United States and the American people's worst nightmare.
The fiasco cost 58,000 young Americans killed and thousands more wounded or maimed. President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson began and sustained an armed conflict without reason and no hope or desire for winning. Political management of the undeclared "war" almost caused a civil insurrection in this country and the military was close to rebellion. After one embarrassment after another Republican President Richard M. Nixon finally bombed the North Vietnamese into submission and the USA left the country to the communists where it remains today. Sadly, our generation may never fully recover from the tragedy.
The only American winners in the Vietnam conflict were the Washington political insiders and perpetual congressmen who remained firmly embedded in their own comfortable and feathered nests and waited for the next debacle to begin.
Political hacks and other similar fools and lawyers have now successfully divided the United States into two political camps that detest each other and are fundamentally polarized. Politicians in Washington have regressed to playing children's games with our laws, our money, our welfare, our country and the lives of our children and families.
I am firmly convinced American politicians are 98% from the legal profession and the remaining 2 % are from movies and television, military and business, mental institutions and the Internet.
Presidential elections over the past 4 decades have almost become divided civilian warfare. The open hatred of sitting President George W. Bush and Vice-President Cheney exhibited by the Democratic leftist politicians, Congressional leaders and liberal public media has made me ashamed of the country for the first time in my life. This political animosity, boorish behavior, bad manners and extremely bad taste seems purely American. The world laughs behind our backs as we lecture others about democracy and peace, decency, and the pride of the human sprit.
Be remindful of the hateful rhetoric that has been going on now between presidential candidates a year away from the election. Better yet, tune in C-Span and watch our elected childish representatives in Congress at playtime. What we have endured in the past is nothing compared to what we will have to endure in 2008 and beyond, so prepare yourselves.
Others watch us, some hopefully, some fearfully, wondering whether we will wipe ourselves out completely this time around. The only clear winners in these political "campaign wars" are the television networks and print media.
Am I the only sane person in the country who believes the media empires planned it that way from the beginning and could care less who gets hurt in the process? The vast political campaign money chests that contain billions of dollars are the end property of the media owners and corporate stockholders (after some laundering and pilfering by candidates and political parties, naturally). And don't ask which socialist democrat candidate the leftist networks and newspapers will push to win. You can bet your bubby it won't be a republican, and that's a fact.
When the founding fathers were writing the constitution they envisioned great things for our democracy and the elective process. Today if you have a loud mouth, a few gimmicks, bad ideas and lots of money, it's a done deal.
In this upcoming presidential election, for the first time, we have a white female socialist, former anti-war activist and wife of an impeached former president, a black male socialist senator born of Muslim parents but says he isn't one, a white southern senator and some more liberal rich guys in the Democratic mix. The best the Republicans can do is an ex-mayor during 9/11, an ex-senator and Hollywood actor, a senator and ex-U.S. Navy pilot, an evangelical Christian governor, a Mormon governor, and several other conservative rich guys.
Should make for one great TV shows season of electioneering, false promises, accusations, unworkable schemes, outright lies and assorted shouting matches. None of which, of course, will be for real, and all subject to change once elected.
Final Score: Media 1, Citizens 0.
Jack L. Key is a freelance writer and commentator for both print and electronic media, Tennessee resident and the author of "Gideon's Trumpet", a novel of war and peace in the 21st century. Contact him at: email@example.com