Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Governator pushes our buttons
Certain postulates govern the hand as it directs the remote control to choose certain channels for certain fare. For instance, if the spirit moves us to laugh, a witty sitcom or bawdy talk show can satisfy our need for humor, and our fingers push the buttons accordingly.
And, if we are lucky, a sober mood prevails every once in a while. The viewer searches for something, anything, on the boob tube that proves the half-century-old technology’s higher-minded potential. She looks for political discourse. She yearns for thoughtful sophistry, even if only to observe it in that passive way that talking heads permit.
When the aspirations to civic duty move this citizen, her mind is fragile. Her opinions are easy to shape. When the call to politick first tugs her, it is at its strongest, and so is the temptation to disengage. The kind of citizen our founding fathers envisioned is budding. The moment is at once crucial and delicate.
And her fingers push the buttons accordingly. What greets her at the doorway to her inaugural excursion into the world of higher minds and courses of nations? Why, of course, the Governator of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has labeled his political foes “girlie men.”
It is enough to make us cringe. And yet, we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is what happens when we loose the dogs of laissez faire on politics. Serious discourse gives way to sweeps week. Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln yield to The Terminator and Boy President. We sell the things that define us, and civic duty goes out of business.