The commodification and distraction of politics


This past Thursday I took a break from procrastinating to sit down, relax, and enjoy the Republican debate in Florida. I was looking forward to this one; I secretly hoped that Newt Gingrich would take another swipe at the debate moderator and, in the process, cement his reputation as the “people’s candidate”, the lobbyist-turned-antiestablishment, left-wing-liberal-media-bashing crusader we all know he is. It was with this in mind that I tuned in to CNN, only to watch Mitt Romney and Wolf Blitzer pummel Gingrich’s toad face of mock incredulity in front of millions.


It was fun. It was exciting. And best of all, it wasn’t real.


Let me explain.


I am Canadian. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you are Canadian too. We are not American. We are not Democrats or Republicans. What happens with the GOP is far removed from what happens in our day-to-day lives. The way I see it, the events of the past few months—the debates, the op-eds, the campaigns, pretty much everything we have been subjected to through the far-reaching arm of global corporate media—is totally and utterly meaningless to us.


That’s not to say that American politics doesn’t affect us. I’m well aware of the close ties between our countries—trade and cultural and whatnot—but this year’s GOP nomination process is, I believe, a great chance to take a step back and safely enjoy the spectacle of American politics.


Sure, you can argue that if Romney or Gingrich does become the next president, we won’t be laughing. But what about Michelle Bachmann? Herman Cain? Rick Santorum? Vermin Supreme? Think about the hours of entertainment these people have given us and at what little cost. This is reality television at its finest. You have the insane global warming deniers, the extramarital affair addicts, the nerdy constitution originalists, and the pandering tax-cutters. All in all, it looks like a season three of Flavor of Love, but (thankfully) without the gratuitous ass-shaking.

Which brings me to my next point: Is this politics? When we start to focus on this element by itself, can we say we actually know what’s going on? Is this just a distraction from what’s actually happening in Congress? Even worse, is this a distraction from what’s happening in our Parliament?


I know a number of people, students, who would count themselves as political junkies. I usually only hear this during the primary season when it seems everyone is tuned in. But how much can they tell me about what’s happening here at home? Not too much, usually.


I’m not trying to make any extravagant claims here. But I do find it curious.



Michael Di Leo