I think we all know that we can’t solve our problems merely by throwing money at them, or more pointedly, that more money does not necessarily equal more solution. Ironically, it has been the strong suit of old-school conservatives to point this out, ideally helping keep government programs and bureaus streamlined, efficient, and accountable. I say ironically – because the new-school neo-conservatives running the GOP are throwing money at their campaign like there’s no tomorrow. (Well, there obviously is no tomorrow in the Radical Right’s worldview, for example – its pathological lack of responsibility toward our planet’s environment and future generations.) I think it’s a promising sign, actually.
It means that their usual fight-or-flight mentality (which in its low-grade, day-to-day state merely keeps them unimaginative yet calculating,) is in full panic mode. They’re being just plain stupid now. Like the Chimera when she realizes Odysseus just isn’t falling for it. Or Mystique when the Wolverine has bested her.
The “omney yan” yard signs should be the first clue that something is out of balance. Have you seen them? So poorly designed that the “R”s are almost invisible. Maybe the campaign couldn’t find a single graphic designer with an ounce of imagination who would work with them. Or perhaps some clever graphic artist sabotaged the logo by underdesigning it, and still brought home a good paycheck. (Kudos, if some artist pulled that one off!) The Republican Party can probably afford to dust every street corner in the nation with these yucky signs. But does more yuckiness mean more votes?
The coup de grace, though, is the new spate of Republican ads on YouTube. Now, I’m not sure of the exact demographic that tunes in to YouTube, but I’m guessing it’s one that is generally more informed, creative, engaged, critical, and interactive than the one vegging out in front of The Tube at prime time. In other words, the Far Right is probably not going to find a large fertile field for its narrow, selfish platform here. On top of that, the ads they’re running are the obnoxious kind that can’t be turned off after a few seconds. I guess this type of ad costs more money. So of course they can afford it. And the ads are bad! The color schemes, the editing, the writing… just plainbad art, funded by people whose aesthetic sense is blinded by fear-based ideology.
So what they’re doing is using their superior spending power to create an ugly and obnoxious presence on YouTube that will probably turn people already unsympathetic to their agenda even more strongly against them. Spend away, boys! Keep those big bucks rolling in to populist online information hubs! We can endure your ugly ads for another month, I suppose.
My hope is, of course, that this annoyance will get young YouTube watchers to actually vote.
What’s really exciting about this phenomenon, though, is that it’s a harbinger of a potential sea change in consciousness. The less it feels the need to hide behind a mask of average American values, the more the Extreme Right is showing us all what it truly is and who is behind it. It’s the same way the villain in an epic adventure takes off his disguise for the final confrontation, when he’s sure that he’s winning. It’s a sign of overconfidence and narrow vision. (For those who feel my references to fictional stories weaken my argument, remember that our mythologies are a reflection of real processes in our psyches. And our institutions are a macrocosm of ourselves. Or so Socrates implies.)
We may be coming to a point in time where the majority of voting-enabled Americans will be presented with a fresh new choice. And God knows they’ve been longing for one. The choice is no longer between two fairly reasonable political ideologies. As well, it is not between two puppets spouting differing policy stances but still in the pockets of corporate power – the “lesser of two evils.” Please get over these old scripts; one is antiquated and erroneous and the other is debilitating to the spirit.
The choice we have before us is between beauty and ugliness. Between love, music, creativity, intelligence, responsibility, care, compassion, diversity, fertility, aliveness, sexiness, and humor, and a pale, fearful, monochrome worldview that negates all of these. We are coming to a time where our survival as a democratic state may actually depend on the electorate going with their gut. The Right no longer feels accountable to factual truth. Yes, that’s another sign of pathological thinking and moral bankruptcy, but maybe there is a bright side; when facts become so clouded and inaccessible that rational choice becomes difficult, it forces one to go with feelings and intuition. (It’s the whole point of a Zen koan to confound the logical brain, hence opening the doors of the mind for spontaneous wisdom.) The overworked, underpaid, malnourished, ill-informed, frustrated majority of Americans with no time to research the issues is going to have to decide, on feeling, whether to go with those guys who are beating us over the head with excessive, ugly, divisive, negative ads, or the ones who can’t afford as much airtime. Since the life-affirming doesn’t get much voice in the mainstream, the average American may have to gamble on the ones not making as much noise, may have to step into The Unknown.
Yes, I’m talking about the Big Shift here. Most of those still reading this have done some sort of inner work that required them to step outside of their comfort zone for the sake of their souls, whether through mainstream therapy or through spiritual work. In the lives of most adults there comes a point where, for the sake of health, survival, or merely happiness, we are faced with a choice to let go of old destructive behaviors and beliefs. This process always requires surrender to feeling and intuition. I think we as a nation are coming to the same place in our collective story. (Remember Plato? The larger is a reflection of the smaller, and vice-versa.)
Will we make the step? It’s anybody’s guess. I think something else is being challenged, too. Our faith. It’s a sad side effect of critical thinking that it can lead to a pessimistic outlook on the future of humanity, or at least for America. So the challenge for critical thinkers is to stay positive, trust that one way or another we’re going to be ok, and remember that there is a younger generation of people not so hardened by disappointment; they’re the ones who got Obama into the White House in the first place, against all odds, purely on innocent faith and youthful energy. Remember that. Remember that the way Christians remember that “Pharaoh’s army got drowned in the Red Sea,” or the way Jews remember the Menorah candles staying lit. Try some faith. You don’t have to be religious.

What can we do on the ground? Encourage voting. Vote. It’s not just about the Presidency – we need a Congress that can work with Obama or we will suffer four more years of struggle and stagnation. We can’t afford that. And we need state governments that will not waste our time and resources bucking national policy based on localized bigotry. Work for progressive congressional candidates in swing districts. There’s one near you, no doubt, worth a few hours’ drive if necessary – here’s a good place to find out: House races: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/house/2012_elections_house_map.html
Senate Races: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/senate/2012_elections_senate_map.html