Sympathy for the Devil

Happy Inauguration Day, America – you’ve got 4 more years of hope and change!

Back in 2008, on the morning of Super Tuesday almost 5 years ago now, Hillary Clinton was the front-runner to be the democratic nominee for President of the United States.  Given how much everybody hated George W. Bush, it was pretty likely even then that a democrat would be our next President – but it was far from a foregone conclusion.  At that point, Barack Obama was just an also-ran among a handful of other rich politicians chasing Hillary’s exhaust.

That’s the morning when I sat in the high security underground bunker where I worked, taking a break from morning processing to look up at CNN on the wall for just a couple minutes.  I called it out loud to everyone else in the room: Barack Obama is the next President of the USA.

How did I know he would win?  Because he was the one with image on his side.  That’s not to say I told ya so, but… umm… I told ya so.

It’s actually kind of simple in the big picture: whoever controls public opinion controls a democracy.  Whoever controls the media controls public opinion.  Therefore, if you want to control a democracy to vote you in as President, you have to control the media.  How do you do that?

Well, at this stage, it’s actually a bit impossible to control the media because Americans and other informed citizens still cling to these antiquated / ridiculous / radically libertarian notions like “free speech” and “privacy” and “equality before the law”.  But there are many extremely rich and powerful people working to change that, and I’m confident they’ll rid us all of these crazy delusions within just a few decades.  Already, the vast majority of English-speaking media outlets in the entire world are owned by just 5 enormously powerful conglomerates.  Look it up.

Anyway, we don’t seem to be doing much about this stuff, so I guess we’re all content just to let the dirtiest fighters win.  Oh, and we were talking about image, right?  Let’s make that “the dirtiest fighter with the handsomest face and the smoothest catchphrases.”  Barack Obama came out of nowhere in 2008 because he was exactly that – at exactly the right time.  It was a textbook exercise in target marketing, and the Obama campaign blew everyone else out of the water because they were selling the right product, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time.

What did Americans want from a new President in 2008?  You want a noble leader?  He’s tall and male and charismatic and better looking than the others.  You want the opposite of that evil and villainous G-Dubs whom it was so chic and fashionable to hate in 2008?  He’s a far left democrat who is promising “change” (because change is always for the better in the 21st century, obviously.)  You want to be saved from this terrible economic meltdown that we all brought on ourselves?  He’s saying intelligent-sounding things and talking about “hope”.

And OF COURSE there wasn’t change because “change” was just a campaign promise from a politician – which means basically nothing.  And OF COURSE there wasn’t “hope” because hope was just a campaign promise from a politician – which means basically nothing.  “Hope” and “change” were catchphrases chosen specifically to overcome the (literally) infinite apathy and ignorance of the public.  They were never remotely based in economic or political reality.  We’re looking at a deep and fundamental conflict of interest here: catchphrases are never based in economic or political reality.  From a marketing standpoint, Obama has been successful for a lot of the same reasons that Apple has been successful.  Charisma, fashion, and simplicity… or to put it short: image.

Don’t get me wrong: I like Obama better than Romney.  But Ron Paul (crazy as he was) would have been far better for America in the long run than either of them.  That’s exactly why those big media groups hated him so much.

What I’m trying to say is that if you want to control a democracy – you can’t control the media (yet – or hopefully ever), but you can and must definitely team up with it.  Just MIND YOUR IMAGE:  play your role.  Appear the right way at the right time.  Make the right friends in the right places.  Play the game.  Make everybody happy.

How do you make everybody happy?  Well, you become ridiculously, disgustingly good at lying through your teeth.

Did I mention that phrase, “conflict of interest”?  I wrote a song on that morning of Super Tuesday, sitting in that same underground room.  It’s called “I Don’t Care Who’s President”.  Our American system guarantees that the winner of any upper-echelon political race will be the one who fights the dirtiest and lies the most skillfully.

How do you get elected unless people vote for you?  How do people vote for you unless you get your name out there in the right places?  How do you get your name out there in the right places unless someone pays for it?  And how does anyone pay millions upon millions of dollars in campaign costs without help from some really rich and powerful people?

And then, just like everything, it comes down through all of that “how” to end up at “WHY”.  Why… would these really rich and powerful people want to help you become President?  What are you going to do for them?

That’s exactly how we screen for the Presidency in our current system.  Anyone who gets even remotely close is guaranteed to be some mix of bought, sold, psychopathic, spineless, detestable, tragically-lovable, shrewd, merciless, and pure unadulterated evil.

Part of me actually prefers W because at least he was a bit more up-front about it.



Great post, Brad! That makes me think back to a conversation I had recently about the candidates who spend the most money on the campaign trail have the highest chances of winning the election. It’s basically advertising/marketing – which goes back to what you said: Image.

If there is one thing that America knows how to do well it is how to sell a product, so it doesn’t really surprise me that our elections go the same way, but it is really sad.

Mr. Codeman @ January 23, 2013 3:29 am


Not only is it SAD, but probably the end of America as we know it. WE are not a Republic anymore. now they are calling us a Democracy. Remember Rome? That is how a Democracy ends.

Grammy Mary @ January 26, 2013 6:41 am


Mr. Codeman – thanks kindly my dear sir! Yeah – I kinda think that we need to get rid of first-past-the-post in the US… if it’s not too late anyway (which I’m sure it is.)

Big Bad Brad @ January 29, 2013 8:25 pm


Grammy Mary – wow, seriously! People get as bad or good a government as they’re okay with having. Sobering thought, right?

Big Bad Brad @ January 29, 2013 8:26 pm

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