Presidential politics is a weird and distracting phenomenon.
For over a year, the focus of media and the topic of water-cooler conversation is the presidential race. It makes sense…this is the BIG one, when the most important political position in the world - the “leader of the free world” - is up for grabs, and all the contenders step into the big spotlight.
And of course, it is the BIG personalities that have just enough hubris to believe they can be THE ONE, and just enough humility to do the song and dance that causes attention to be thrown their way…those are the ones who step into the big spotlight.
It is always a circus. This year, it seems more of a circus than usual, but then again, so does society as a whole. After all, we are a nation that chooses the Kardashians to be our celebrity du jour…so, we obviously enjoy a circus.
Our presidential contenders this year are Donald Trump and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina (three people who have never held political office - and do you remember when the GOP was complaining that Barack Obama did not have enough political experience to be president after serving only one full session of the Senate?) on the right side of the aisle, and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on the left side of the aisle. Emails and socialism and hair-do’s and insults and immigrants and walls and…it is enough to cause a mental and spiritual melt-down.
ENOUGH TO CAUSE A MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL MELT-DOWN.
And may I suggest…that may be exactly why the circus has come to town?
DISTRACTION is the name of the game in politics. The loudest voices and the biggest personalities are used to turn your attention OVER HERE…while, over there, in the darkened corner or behind the curtain, the real game is being played.
Presidential politics is an intended distraction. The media turns the big spotlight on Donald’s hair, or Carly’s looks, or Hillary’s emails…while laws are being passed and decisions being made in the closed door chambers of Congress - AND NONE OF US ARE PAYING ATTENTION.
Right now, while America is going ga-ga over the latest Trumpism, or the latest revelation about Hillary’s emails…our nation is spending billions of dollars to challenge Russia face to face over their military presence in Syria. It is potentially more dangerous than the Bay of Pigs ever was…and yet, most Americans are not even aware that it is happening.
Or…an investigation is revealing that the US military may have intentionally bombed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders - and if not intentionally, then due to profound and criminal neglect - and yet most people could not even identify where the atrocity occurred.
But they know the details of Donald’s hair.
And that is the point.
Most of the really important stuff does not happen at the presidential level. Presidents are…at the very least…symbols. Spokesmen. Caricatures. The real power brokers, the ones who are making the laws, and the decisions that could cost thousands their lives…are doing their work behind the curtain of public awareness.
While it is tempting to watch and invest in the presidential circus, the reality is that our attention needs to be in the darkened corner. We need to be shining OUR light over there, and pulling back the curtain designed to keep us from the truth.
Presidents don’t have much impact on our daily lives. Local criminal politicians, corrupt lobbyists, senators and congressmen and crony committees are where the real work of politics gets done.
The ONLY way to “shine the light” on those hidden areas is to get active locally, and to make a ruckus when decisions are attempted without public disclosure or involvement (the new Atlanta Braves Stadium in Cobb County ring a bell?).
Locally, groups like Moral Mondays and Common Cause Georgia are doing a great job of exposing the horrible and sometimes illegal activity of the state house. Start there. Forget presidential politics, and focus on the men behind the curtain. You will be shocked at what you find!