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Another American Sideshow

Why is so much attention paid to the 2016 race for the White House?

June 30, 2015

Why is so much attention paid to the 2016 race for the White House?

The United States – and, by extension, the world – is about to get treated to another complete sideshow. Its production is estimated to cost around $3-5 billion. It already has around 18 declared performers, with as many as a dozen more set to follow.

Coming soon: End the Snake-Oil Salesmen Era of American Politics

The show is called “The Race to the White House” – and will last almost another 500 days. The event certainly provides occupational therapy for the media, with many organizations hiring feverishly to have “the best campaign coverage team imaginable.”

But is that spectacle really something the world and the United States as a nation really needs? As things stand, there are enough real and immediate problems that warrant our attention.

Instead of focusing on these pressing issues, the United States will engage in the celebration of one gigantic sideshow. Already, various parts of the global agenda are about to be put into deep freeze.

This hiatus will last until another figure will be anointed as the next leader of the “free” world. That person will be presumed to have God-like powers, as was the case most recently with Obama.

Only over time will the world at large and Americans more specifically wake up to the truth that, despite all the pomp and ceremony, the U.S. presidential election is no mega-event with cosmic effects.

A lucrative sideshow

No question, that finding flies is in the face of the core tenet – and solemn promise – of “demo”cracy. But in America, it is sadly not the people that rule. It’s the corporations.

A small subset of them, the media companies, stand to benefit handsomely from these timewasting proceedings. They will specialize with acrimonious obsession on the minutest details of the candidates and the race.

The more detail-oriented, of course, the more meaningless. But that’s the way things are.

Desperate about finding a revenue model that works, media companies are doing their level best to detract from that baseline reality.

After all, the presidential election every four years is the one event where the media is on the central platform again.

Election or no election, the conventional media is already very busy selling its souls to corporations and associations, largely by relying on the sponsorship of these organizations for their conferences and “issue dialogues.”

These events – really little more than a much-needed revenue stream – are carefully designed to create the appearance of pseudo-objectivity. In reality, they peddle the pet peeves of this or that corporation or association. Clean coal anybody? Or “free” trade?

What about the other big-time distraction mechanism – campaign consultants and pollsters? They are salivating about the business opportunities that especially the near-endless field of Republican claimants to the presidential throne entails.

Cults versus leaders

Ultimately, what is in question is the entire presumption of a presidential race. Americans invest heavily in the (faulty) notion of the importance of the ritual (s)election of a single individual.

In other advanced democratic cultures, this misplaced cult of personality was thankfully buried circa 1945.

The United States, in stark contrast, remains invested in the belief that a single leader, once anointed, can potentially heal the nation with one magic stroke of all its present ills.

By now, it should be known to everybody that this is a completely immature conception of politics. Alas, it remains the American reality.


Instead of focusing on more pressing issues, the US will celebrate one gigantic sideshow.

In America, it is not the people that rule. It’s the corporations.

The presidential election every four years is the one event where where the media is on the central platform again.

The United States is invested in the belief that a single leader can potentially heal the nation.