U.S. politics as professional wrestling

One time many years ago I bought a T-shirt that depicted a donkey and an elephant doing battle inside a wrestling ring in typical pro wrestling style: extravagant, flamboyant, over the top. The caption read something like “US Government Wrestling Federation: It’s All Fake.”
Sagacious commentators like Gore Vidal and many others have been telling us for years that our political system is dominated by a duopoly which is really two wings of one Business Party, one of them slightly more moderate than the other, but both fundamentally subservient to the oligarchy. I think you would have to be either seriously deluded or disingenuous to disagree.
During the fake health care reform debate of 2009, Anthony Weiner remarked that Democrats show up at a knife fight carrying library books. And traditional, gullible liberals often lament that their leaders aren’t mean and ruthless enough to go up against the evil Republican opposition. I think Anthony’s remark is profoundly insightful, perhaps even more so than he intended. Assume it’s true: Obama carries an armload of library books as he goes up against his vicious knife-wielding foes. Why? Why on earth would you do such a thing… unless… he doesn’t really mean to win. Oh dear me, it’s all fake!
I am reminded of the pro wrestling analogy as I watch the Obama administration pretend to care about the interests of ordinary people.
Here he comes, approaching the ring: Barack “Mister Main Street” Obama, wearing his coveralls and hardhat, carrying his lunch pail. He is lucky enough to be employed, it seems. Before entering the ring he punches his timecard on a clock installed outside his corner by the promoters, and the crowd goes wild — their hero, a working man!
And now, here comes The Republican, in full evening wear. Cigar in hand, pocket watch on a gold chain, he steps into the ring, removes his top hat and hands it to his valet. Mostly jeers and boos come from the crowd but you can hear he has his supporters as well: those who like to imagine that their own interests coincide with those of The Republican. Now he pulls out a wad of cash and starts counting, driving his enemies in the crowd into a screaming rage. He jeers at the rabble, finally hands his cigar to his valet and gets ready to rumble.
The action begins, the Republican and Mister Main Street pound the shit out of each other for several minutes. Oh, the drama! Oh, the entertainment! How diverting! Finally the Republican beats Main Street senseless and wins the match once again. Tax cuts for the rich, billions for criminal wars of imperialist expansion, austerity for the rest of us.

open letter to Congressman Pascrell

I urge you to oppose Obama’s freeze on federal pay. According to press reports, this measure would save a mere $5 billion over 2 years. Meanwhile, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are still on the table, and reportedly would cost $700 billion over 10 years. And the cost of our criminal misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan is of course obscene in terms of both blood and treasure. Clearly, Obama’s gesture is no more than symbolic in terms of deficit reduction. But it is a good deal more than symbolic for federal employees who were expecting a paltry but nevertheless welcome cost of living adjustment of 1.4%.
I speak from self-interest, as a federal employee. I will feel the impact, but am fortunate to be relatively well paid and will more than likely be able to suck it up. But the same cannot be said for countless workers whose wages are low. There are federal workers who push mops, clean toilets and do their best to get buy. I exhort you in the strongest terms to stand up for all of us federal employees and not let Obama throw us under the bus for the sake of this cheap and cowardly gesture of submission to the deficit hawks of the right.