JANUARY 24, 2004
ELECTIONS, DRUGS, AND THE FAIRY TALE
. Politicians are always looking for an issue that makes them look good. Especially an issue that makes them look humane and caring.
When they find it, they latch on to it like barnacles.
One big one these days is MORE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS FOR THE ELDERLY.
Just about everybody loves it. Free drugs.
I?m sure some of you have been in the bedrooms or the bathrooms of your parents as they move into their ?golden years,? and have seen the stunning array of bottles containing those precious little pills and capsules.
You would think your folks were living off these drugs as food.
A drug for this, a drug for that, a drug to counteract the effects of this other drug.
The doctor turns out to be some kind of demented alchemist juggling the supposed health requirements of body organs and body processes as he writes out scripts on scripts.
It?s a beautiful thing for the pharmaceutical companies, and a horror show for the elderly.
The elderly, by the way, are prize game for political candidates, because they often live in nursing homes, and you can send one bus to gather up all the residents on election day and drive them to the polls. And the ubiquitous AARP hammers on political issues that old people need to concern themselves with.
There are districts in the US where seniors swing the tide and make the difference between winning and losing political office.
And of course the children of the elderly tend to hop on the bandwagon and vote for the person who will give the parents and grandparents the promise of more drugs.
The candidate turns out to be a dealer.
The people who run nursing homes want these drugs, too; especially the meds that dampen down the energy of the residents and make them into pliable zombies. Nursing homes thrive off inmates who aren?t going to get better and aren?t going to complain about conditions.
In the current prez campaign, I?m sure you?ll hear every candidate on both sides talk about more drug benefits for the elderly. Dean is a leader on that score. After all, he?s a doctor.
These hot-button issues in political campaigns are stereotypes, symbols, geared to move the masses in a certain direction. No serious candidate will question the wisdom of more drugs for the elderly, will even ask whether there is a limit to how many drugs are good for people.
Last night, on C-Span, I watched Rob Reiner working a small crowd of Dean supporters in a room in New Hampshire as everyone waited for the man to show up. As proof of Dean?s ability to analyze issues and offer solutions that actually work, Rob merely said, ?He?s a doctor.?
Cased closed. What else did he need to point out?
To paraphrase Blanche DuBois, ?I have always depended on the kindness of doctors.?
No one in the room stood up and said, ?Wait a minute, I had a cousin who was operated on when he didn?t really need the procedure, and now he?s disabled.?
No one said, ?My mother?s doctor gave her a drug that caused her to have seizures.?
No one said, ?100,000 people in the US are killed by prescription drugs every year.?
No one said, ?My daughter lost half her brain function after she received a vaccine.?
No one said, ?My son became violent after he was given an antidepressant.?
HE?S A DOCTOR.
I?m sure, at the very least, that half the people in the room had had an experience with an arrogant doc who pissed them off.
But this is politics. This is an election campaign. This is another venue, one in which all suddenly agree on a different set of rules. The main rule is, we are talking about symbols. We are talking about hope that gives birth to these symbols and makes them into something different, something longed for. We are in a fairy tale, and we are looking for the best story with the fewest variables. We don?t want Harry Potter with its twists and turns. We want a boiled-down child?s version of a Brothers Grimm tale.
During an election year, everyone agrees to be a wonderstruck child again, to look for the hero riding over the hill to save the nation.
Disbelief is suspended.
In that atmosphere, blatant lies become welcomed messages. Empty promises become tangible possibilities. Vague references to so-called humane programs become badges worn by the faithful, become white hats, banners, religious invocations.
MY OPPONENT IS TELLING YOU HE WANTS MORE POISON FOR OLD PEOPLE.
Ah, no. That?s not going to fly. That?s a crude disturbance in the ordered ripples of the melodrama. That?s an impolite intrusion. That?s ?going negative.?
To put it another way, ?You have to believe in something. And what you believe in has to fit within the parameters of an election campaign populated by the standard array of candidates. Otherwise, you?re a cynic and a misanthrope and a naysayer.?
Take even Ralph Nader, who is not on the scene this time. When he ran in 2000, he said nothing of substance about the dangers of pharmaceuticals. Yet his brainchild, the organization called Public Citizen, contains a watchdog group that monitors toxic meds day in and day out.
But in an election year? It?s all different. You have to rally the faithful behind a message that has all the sense of a compressed little fable.
There is one thing you can do to reject that fable. DON?T VOTE.
NONE OF THE ABOVE.
ROCK THE VOTE? I don?t think so.
Is there one rock group out there that will take up the challenge, that will promote, at every concert, abstaining from a ludicrous process?
The IDEA of voting for a president certainly has merit. But in these times, under these conditions?
And I?m not even talking about rigged voting machines in this piece. I?m talking about waking up. No matter how many very real conspiracies to control us exist, and I cover these all the time, there is a place where the rubber meets the road. You can take a toxic drug, or you can walk away. You can vote or you can stay home.
How many times, between elections, have I heard people say, referring to politicians, ?Ah, they?re all phonies.? A very good battle cry. But how many of those people, when the election rolls around, are bitten by the bug and enter the voting booth? How many succumb?
I once had a friend who believed in nothing. I mean he was very active in believing in nothing. As in, NOTHING. And yet, in 1980, when Reagan ran against Carter, he came running up to me at the last moment and said I had to vote for Carter, because Reagan was such a threat to the nation, and who was it, John Anderson, was the third candidate, and he could take votes away from Carter and so we all had to drop our indifference to the whole dumbshow and go out and support Carter. My friend was on fire. He was in a tiz. He was taken with a panic.
The fable had won him over.
He was in the whipsaw.
In the US, we have programmed ourselves to be little children, certainly at election time. Disney moves in. It?s this cartoon versus that cartoon. Which one will we choose?
Knowing all the while that either cartoon is going to find a way to do the same thing: make the federal government grow bigger and more powerful and more intrusive and more concerned with its own survival and image. And every member of Congress is going to stump for federal dollars for his home state.
?I want to shrink the size of government, except I want this pork and that pork for my state. Otherwise, I can?t get re-elected, and re-election is my only chance to do the most important thing: shrink the size of the federal government.?
As the size and power and arbitrary nature of federal government increases, so does the power of those whose agenda is to link that government with other governments and form a de facto structure of global management, in which the power of individuals and even national governments will ultimately be diminished.
You don?t run and control a planet by linking up PEOPLE. Are you kidding? You do it by increasing the power of those existing structures that already control people, and you link up those structures, and then you run those structures with another structure built on top of the whole mess.
Bush, Dean, Kerry, Clark, Edwards---they are all on board that same basic train. They may have different objections to different parts of the train, but they are all heading toward the identical goal.
Who is more pawn and who is more knight? Does it matter? Yes, but not to a degree that will change the basic thrust.
Meanwhile, our role is to keep our eyes closed and believe in the fairy tale. To that end, we are prodded, kissed, felt up, fed propaganda. Wall to wall. But we are the ones who do it to ourselves. We are the ones who take the leap of faith and enter the little stage play and vote and feel good about voting.
Somewhere every day, it seems, some journalist praises or quotes HL Mencken. The great American reporter. The man all other reporters respect and love. Of course, Mencken (Mark Twain as well) never tired of calling politicians crooks, drunks, perverts, idiots, congenital liars, frauds, thieves, lunatics, and whores. But when the election period comes up, these same Mencken-worshipping reporters go out there and do what they can to make a sane process out of it. They drop their masks and they join the mob. They assess the horse race. They treat the candidates as serious people. They wash their own brains with booze and they dumb themselves down (even further) and they express faith in the whole magic of voting.
I don?t know, to me that?s a clue.
JON RAPPOPORT www.nomorefakenews.com
The news on the left is by Jon Rappoport.
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