Closing Statements: 25 Thoughts on What’s Wrong with American Politics

1) The Circle of Strife: Politicians raise money from rich people. Rich people gain speed dial access to politicians. Campaign war chests are used to purchase, produce, and run television ads. Media consultants, agencies, and stations are happy. Television ads cast doubt, twist facts, and manipulate impressionable middle-class viewers. American television audiences become American voters. Voters select the candidates that rich people told them to elect. Rich people use their access to protect their interests. Disgruntled middle-class Americans fall asleep to the warm flicker of dancing pixels.

2) Americans make decisions in my interest, not in our interest.

3) Sneering and scoffing media personalities obfuscate the truth for fun, buzz, and profit.

4) Would you be friends with someone who was in his element while giving four-hour marathon monologues five days a week?

5) Citizens United cut the ethical brake lines, and the unmanned political tanker truck is now careening downhill. In retrospect, we’ll view the 2012 election cycle as child’s play.

6) Corporations are not people and should not be granted the same constitutional protections as American citizens.

7) Most Americans’ understanding of other cultures begins at Taco Bell and ends at the Chinese buffet. It’s tough to lead the 21st century global economy as a nation of xenophobic monoglots.

8 ) We take a bold stand on hanging the Ten Commandments in the courthouse but cannot recite them to our children.

9) We fail to recognize that the original intent of the founders was that their original intent was subordinate to the prevailing will of the people.

10) We mistakenly think that the Constitution and the Declaration are historical documents written by and about the government, when they are both declarative statements spoken by and about the people.

11) A broken electoral system dissuades and excludes virtuous and qualified candidates. It encourages simpletons and mercenaries.

12) We have substituted morality for faith and legal proscription for spiritual conviction.

13) We think—and candidates perpetuate the myth that—the president possesses the power of direct economic causation, when his only economic power is indirect and correlative. A system of perverse incentives, not a particular president, caused the recession, and the recovery will likewise be systemic, not personal.

14) True statesmen, compromisers for the greater common good, do not meet our rigid tests of partisan ideological purity.

15) We think the President is our national quarterback, his cabinet is his beefy o-line, Congress is the blitzing defense, the Supreme Court are the tedious officials, and we are the poppers of popcorn.

16) Our electoral system favors and rewards narcissists, sycophants, and psychopaths. In short, the people who took Student Council way too seriously now run our country.

17) While we self-flagellate over our multi-trillion dollar debt, we are completely fine with over a billion dollars being spent to obtain the presidency.

18) Satirists are the media’s most reliable purveyors of truth.

19) The well-heeled make campaign donations like a dapper gentleman places a bet at Churchill Downs. With a tilt of his white fedora, he collects his winnings and expects to mount the champion for a ride through the town.

20) Political appointments are like offering to the highest bidder the captaincy of Seal Team 6.

21) The qualifications for public office are a photo ID, a basic seventh-grade vocabulary, a penchant for repetition, a preference for red meat, and an ample supply of hot air.

22) Conservative Christian churches rail against biological Darwinism and celebrate social Darwinism.

23) The proliferation of information mixed with a dearth of critical thinking has led to a pandemic of paranoia and paralysis.

24) Credible sources have been replaced by amplified voices.

25) Special interests do not tire in their effort to sever our common bonds.

About Ben Ponder, Editor-at-Large

Ben Ponder, PhD, is Editor-at-Large at Media Rostra. Ben has received decorative pieces of paper conferring upon him an unnamed set of “rights and privileges accorded thereto” from the University of Arkansas, Regent College, and Northwestern University (where he was a Presidential Fellow). He studied (in alphabetical order) architecture, classics, communication, history, political science, rhetoric, and theology. He is the author of American Independence: From Common Sense to the Declaration (“Sizzling.” – TMZ) and the co-editor of Making the Case: Advocacy and Judgment in Public Argument (“Six-pack abs-olutely great!” – US Weekly). Ben is currently an executive in the educational software industry. He and his organic wife, Amy, live with their four free-range kids in a farmhouse Ben designed and built. His personal site on the Interweb is benponder.com, and he can be reached on Twitter @ponderben.