THIS EPISODE ORIGINALLY AIRED ON 'THE ELEVENTH DRAFT' ON AUGUST 27, 2008.
All that we need to know about the election, we learned from “Guys and Dolls” in the first song, “Fugue for Tinhorns.”
Listen: "I got the horse right here.The name is Paul Revere.And here’s a guy that says, if the weather’s clear, can do.Can do.This guy says the horse can do."
The song goes on to talk about two other horses, Valentine and Epitaph, who can do – or, in less sing-songy language, can’t lose.If these three horses are running in the same race, this is a contradiction.Of course, the reality that has each of them winning the same race is in the future and, therefore, is still not necessarily inaccurate.
There is the idea of virtue within each of these future horses (even though it cannot be within each of these horses in the future), that virtue being specifically the idea of Victory that will attain fulfillment.Victory is therefore a Form, as Plato would say – e.g. a characteristic of something: a ball, a marble, a rabbit turd are all round.A rabbit turd is a particular that has many Forms.Also according to Plato and his World of Ideas, “Forms are said to be perfect and what particulars strive to be like but fall short of.”
Another way to think of this more simply is as fantasy, defined not as “an unrealistic idea” but as “that which a person wants to happen.”
In the latest issue of Newsweek, Robert Samuelson writes an insightful piece on The Rise of Fantasy Politics.Many, many other writers have covered this topic, citing that both the Obama and McCain plans for the economy are unrealistic and are very unlikely to be implemented.Samuelson takes it a step further.“Elections serve, in civics textbooks, to reach collective decisions about the future,” he writes. “The real world is different. Many campaign proposals are so unrealistic or undesirable that they may never be enacted… All this makes sense only as fantasy politics. Proposals aren't necessarily intended to be adopted. They're selected to win applause and please voters.”
Fantasy and expectation are the core of political campaigning, which makes irony the core of politics.Irony – a situation that is incongruous, often laughably so, with what one expected from reality – is perhaps an unfortunate but also intrinsically necessary consequence of politics.
According to Rod Lurie who wrote The Contender (2000), Napoleon once said there is paucity of great statesmen in the world because in order “to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.”George H. W. Bush was an example of this point in 1988 when he proclaimed, "Read my lips: No new taxes."And a similar philosophy is attributed to Jimmy Carter who, when he was running for governor, told a civil rights leader, “You'll hate the way I run but you’ll love the way I govern.”
While Carter ran explicitly on the dichotomy of campaigning and governing, the entire Obama political message and underlying Form is based implicitly on that same dichotomy.
Hope and Change are ideas that are perpetually in the future and, therefore, are always fantasy.It is impossible to ever reach either of these ideas.We cannot reach Hope because Hope is always something that hasn't occured.Change cannot be reached because at present a Thing is whatever that Thing is; it has no other Form.And, if we look at it from the other side and assume that change is constant, that a Thing is continually changing, Change again is never achieved because it is always occurring. (I know that’s an annoying thing to say, sorry.)
Politicians, John McCain included, have always campaigned on fantasy.Nothing new.Consequentially, the goal of the voter should not be insight and dissection of promises, plans, ideas, etc.The goal of the voter should be to evaluate a candidate as a character, as an individual on a psychoanalytical level in order to ascertain what kind of person he or she is and how they will make their decisions in the future.
Fantasy politics is necessary.At best, Plans change constantly and serve simply as examples that a candidate knows what the fuck he’s doing.We all know that doesn’t mean he’ll do it.
Listen to what Robert Samuelson says again: “Elections serve, in civics textbooks, to reach collective decisions about the future.”More accurately, elections serve to reach a collective decision on how we will make decisions in the future.That’s why it’s so important to understand why John McCain allegedly latches on to the last thing that’s told to him before he makes a choice; that’s why it’s so important to understand why Obama wanted a vice president who would challenge him in the White House.
Who we are is a complex Form from which we cannot hide.
Obama makes no attempt to disguise that he is running on fantasy.He says Hope.He says Change.He says that he has the horse right here and, if you trust him, this horse can do.His ideas may not manifest the particulars that they promise, but they will manifest particulars that are good.
Listen: "I got the horse for ya.The name is Obama.And here’s a guy that says, if it’s Change you love, can do.Can do.This guy says the horse can do.If he says the horse can do…can do…can do…"
Sorry.I'm not a very good singer.
Democracy has always had that seamy underside of hypocrisy, a hypocrisy which is necessary to secure votes. And the voters know it, so everyone plays the game.
I love Stubby Kaye doing that there song, too.
I'd vote for Nathan Detroit in a New York minute.