RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., August 14, 2012– With the General Election looming, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) are about to don full battle gear to fight for their most coveted trophy: the Office of President of the United States. They have amassed their image consultants, pollsters, political strategists, and professional speech writers to package and “sell” their candidates, President Obama and former Governor Romney, to the unsuspecting public.
The Parties will raise and spend approximately $1 billion apiece to “win” the Presidency. What was once the most revered office in the world has become little more than a political trophy. It is leveraged by the Parties (regardless of which one “wins”) to further that Party’s interests to the detriment of every American.
The next President will be required to spend a considerable amount of time doing the bidding of his Party rather than attending to the business of the People. He will travel across the country, and sometimes across the world to deliver messages that are not necessarily reflective of his own personal beliefs but rather that are consistent with the carefully constructed position of his Party.
He will campaign on behalf of other Party candidates (whom he really may not know), and he will be the honored guest at a myriad of fundraisers that are focused on helping his Party maintain and expand its power going forward. This is because the position of President has become one of “celebrity” rather than one of leadership. Having the President in attendance will attract more people to these events who, in turn, may become donors to and supporters of the Party. Leaving the President in the White House will only allow him to do his job.
Correspondingly, the next President will deftly exploit any catastrophe that captures the imagination of the American public. As Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Since many Americans have abandoned the concept of intellectually vetting the candidates in favor of voting on an emotional basis, “likeability” ratings have grown in importance. So, the Party candidates will visit sites that are likely to attract mass media coverage and will pose for photo ops that individuals with more discretion would otherwise choose to avoid.
All of this will be done at taxpayer expense, and all of this will be a diversion from the purpose for which the President was elected.
Of course, the next President will have to agree to this approach, but that negotiation has already been consummated. Individuals who declare their political allegiance to a Party (rather than the Republic), have already surrendered their ability to lead independently in return for the massive funding and infrastructure they believe they will require to “win.” At the end of the campaign, they will owe the Party and, by association, the people and organizations the Party owes.
Party-compliant Administrations return favors in the form of White House appointments. Approximately 80 percent of the senior staff appointments and nearly 50 percent of the Ambassadorships were awarded to bundlers who raised $500 thousand or more for our current President. Even with a change in occupants, the Office of the President is likely to continue this time-honored tradition. In the world of Party politics, money triumphs over merit.
In the interim, we will be treated to an occasional political gaffe when Party candidates speak extemporaneously; perhaps, giving us a brief glimpse into their authentic beliefs.
This has given way to a new phenomenon: “walking back” one’s remarks. In effect, this is the charade of pretending that a recorded moment in time doesn’t exist. Party proponents and even the candidates themselves will appear on media shows to deny that the words were ever spoken, or they will intentionally “reframe” the comment to their political advantage or embellish upon the truth.
Should we really be reduced to selecting the candidate with the best damage control team?
Unfortunately, we do not vet the depth and breadth of the Party candidates particularly well. We do not challenge their sound bites and demand solutions. We are not allowed to ask them questions for which they are not prepared, thus we gain no insight into their problem-solving skills or the thought process by which they might address such issues.
Effectively, we embrace the image that is created by their marketing team without recognizing that our Party candidates have become nothing more than a commodity product.
Yet, we tolerate this. Perhaps, it’s because we have been conditioned to believe that we have no other choice.
There are roughly 150 million citizens in the United State who are over the age of 35 and thus eligible to serve as President. We have been conditioned by the Democrats and Republicans to believe that only their candidates are worthy of consideration. Considering the Parties’ record in that regard, we should be skeptical.
We have also been conditioned to believe that an independent or third-party candidate cannot “win” the Presidency. This may actually be true because we have allowed the Parties to silently build almost insurmountable economic barriers to entry.
Why would the Parties do this? The answers include: to preclude competition; to maintain control; and to foster their own agenda.
Then, they orchestrate campaigns that are predicated upon negative emotion. The Parties trade in the currency of fear. They try to get voters to identify with a particular group so they can exploit a more narrow set of characteristics to claim that only they “feel your pain” and that the other Party is trying to trample your rights, impede your success, take something that’s yours, or more recently, even kill you.
Until you begin to express your disgust at the polls, you can expect this despicable behavior to continue. For the Parties will never allow truth and integrity to get in the way of a “win,” and if you think they can’t stoop any lower, you’re just underestimating them.
Luckily, they leave breadcrumb trails of their disingenuous behavior. Words like “radical,” “extreme,” “rich,” “poor,” and “racist” provide telltale hints, and essentially any phrase that begins with the word “they,” such as “they don’t care about you,” “they want to take that away from you,” “they don’t think you deserve that,” etc. You may rest assured that the Parties are hoping to inflame your emotions to the point that precludes your willingness to actually research the facts.
On the rare occasion that the Parties are held responsible for their behavior, they tend to default to the defense that “the other side does it too.” If this sounds like a child-like excuse, it’s because it is. It is more befitting of an exchange on an elementary school playground than it is of a Presidential campaign, but then, we tolerate name-calling as well (e.g., “Romneyhood” and “Obamaloney” just last week).
As the concept of a Republic grows dim, we move toward an era in which form triumphs over substance and money prevails over merit. We celebrate the lack of choice rather than the breadth of it. We embrace the images of the candidates rather than the substance of their ideas, and we reward those who manipulate us through fear rather than those who inspire us through independent thought.
This is America’s wake-up call. Please do not hit the “snooze” button. We cannot afford to sleep through another Federal election, or our Nation will be in danger of becoming nothing more than a dream.
T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.
This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A President for the People, in the Communities section of The Washington Times.