A Caucus Race

“First [the Dodo] marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’ ~ Description of a Caucus Race from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

Brian Williams, anchor for the NBC Nightly News, announced yesterday the official race for the White House would begin in forty-three days with the Iowa Caucus.

It leaves one wondering where he has been for the last few years.

If memory serves correctly, the Caucus Race devised in Carroll’s book, “Alice in Wonderland” was a tortuous affair without official end, until everyone finally decided they’d had enough, and a winner was eventually chosen apparently at random.

While there are, no doubt, those who at least make pretense of understanding the American way of choosing their nation’s next leader, to those outside this inner political sanctum of doubtful knowledge the whole thing makes “Alice’s” Caucus Race appear remarkably logical by comparison. In fact, the tortuously meandering path of the US presidential election closely resembles this Wonderland jaunt.

The race was suggested as a way to dry-off a number of very wet creatures. Is their anything wetter than a US politician slavering over the White House and pawing at unwary voters?

The process certainly seems to drag on without end, and the final outcome appears to bear little relation to all that preceded it.

Primaries, secondaries, CBS polls, MSNBC polls, straw polls, debates for Republicans, debates for Democrats (for God’s sake don’t let them get together, there’ll be a bloodbath!), the spending of billions and billions of dollars, huge luxury buses hurtling round the country, thousands of hangers-on supporting their man (or woman), endless TV debates by pseudo-experts with as much idea of the political outcome as had Alice’s Dodo………..

And all for what? So once again a glitzy, pearl-teethed, dumbass can make a total mess of the world for another four years, or longer.

Check out the history and it’s obvious there has never, ever been a good president of the USA. Every one has cocked up the job one way or another. Sure, some have managed to do a bit better than others, but overall their credibility ratings have been decidedly lackluster, and frequently downright appalling. Even the one perhaps remembered with greatest fondness, Abraham Lincoln, could hardly be described as lily-white, given that in 1862 he ordered the largest mass execution – of 38 innocent Santee Dakota Sioux – in American history.

Lincoln also suspended Habeus Corpus and arrested thousands of US citizens, including journalists. There is also evidence he was a racist and hated blacks, despite being feted for abolishing slavery. Probably, he would be less well remembered had someone not assassinated him in 1865. America remembers its assassinated presidents with obliging affection. The far-from-perfect JFK is another fine example.

The US political system is probably one of the most flawed on the planet. It falls only slightly short of downright military dictatorship. Instead, it balances precariously between that and a rough pretense at democracy, with the latter conveniently cast aside whenever US policy requires a more direct approach, as amply demonstrated by the present incumbent.

Indeed, just as the birds and small creatures of the Caucus Race crept quietly away at the mention of Alice’s favorite cat, it would seem Lady Democracy is also slipping silently into the American political basement, as Congress cedes more and more of its power to one very dubious human being in the highest office on the planet.

How long, one wonders, before a newly-elected appears at the presidential inauguration dressed in the attire of the Queen of Hearts, while occasionally screaming, “Off with his HEAD!”

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8 Replies to “A Caucus Race”

  1. Brilliant commentary, RJA. I would only add one element and that would be the corporate lobbying influence which basically permeates all aspects of the U.S.of A. The campaign spending is obscene as a result and the so-called ‘elected’ are held captive to all the backroom promises made to their corporate overseers. A country by the corporation and for the corporation. Never has been a democracy. Good point about old Abe. I remember reading that. Did he not also have a black child with one of his maids? I remember reading something about that years ago.

  2. One quiet word, RJ: Bioregionalism. Cooperative stewardship of small bioregions by small, inter-related and non-competitive management groups. In such a system the guy holding the position would be the one willing to do the (small, inillustrious) job. And get along with the other hard-working managers.

    Did i mention the word ‘small’ enough?

    Good to see you back at the pen, RJ.

  3. It’s good to see you back, and well again, RJ.

    What a great re-entrance too! Wonderful insight – Alice in Wonderland and the USA’s system of government. I often feel that I’ve fallen down the rabbit-hole myself here.

    It’s amazing though, isn’t it, considering the size and diversity of this here land mass, that any system works at all?

    I agree with sister anan, and have often said to my American husband that the USA is too big for one government – nothing could work efficiently. Maybe, as a Brit, and used to life in a small country where the government does actually seem to do its job (some may disagree), I can’t “get” the American way.

    It’s odd that most Americans have such high regard for this system. I suppose it might have worked well enough when it was originally devised, when the country was in its infancy – half of it unpopulated.

    I did enjoy this piece.

  4. WWW – thanks for your kind words. You are right about the corporations, of course. It is they who really govern this country. Rumors abound about old Abraham. Some say he was gay; others that he was half-black, the product of an affair between his mother and a black man. I, too, heard about the black child, but have been unable to confirm or deny it. Certainly, he was not the great hero of American legend.

    Anan – absolutely the way to go, though I fear there might be inter-regional problems. Careful though, or you could be labeled a “communist”.

    TOB – thank you, and I’m very pleased you enjoyed it.

    Twilight – Thanks for your gracious comment. America highly regards its political system because it constantly tells itself it is the best. Just another of those little indoctrinations taught as ‘fact’ in the schools. The state system isn’t too bad, when properly run, but America’s in-built fear of all things federal is a most confining influence. The health service is a perfect example. A little more people-power, perhaps, (as presently occurring in France) is needed in this country.

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