Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why Do You Think They Call It Hope?

Reading endless liblog comment threads numbs the lobes to such a degree that after an hour, you can hammer nails into concrete with your forehead. So many people seeking deliverance, trusting that Obama will somehow make things better. It's a sad sight. For all of my critiques and sarcastic japes, I really do feel for many of these people, especially those who have convinced themselves that the Democratic Party is, beyond "capitulation" and "caving in," moral, or at least more upstanding than the evil GOP. Ascribing human emotion to a corporate-funded machine is insane, but then, this is the reality of our time. People have been reduced to praying to gun barrels pressed against their skulls, hoping that the trigger's never squeezed.

"Hope" is the key word here. One can talk of "change" until the ceiling collapses, but it's "hope" that people cling to. On the surface, hoping that those in power will not harm you or make matters worse is bad enough. It lowers the concept of "citizenship" to a cheap prop gag, which alone suits our owners fine. But there's a deeper application of "hope" in the political realm, at once fallacious and very real. It's the brand of "hope" that's encouraged by the most cynical pros in the business; indeed, they are perhaps "hope's" biggest boosters. For so long as there is "hope," those desperate for change or even a breather from the madness will stay within the system. "Hope" is the system's juiciest promise and its biggest lie. It mollifies and pacifies, leaving just enough room for the voter to believe that his or her ratification on election day has some powerful, personal meaning. I'm sure you've seen the faces of those lined up at the local elementary school, waiting for their chance to change the world. There's a tangible sense of expectation, of purpose, of "hope." It's an effective means of control, which is why the corporate media endlessly promotes it, echoed by those with a stake in each Party.

I think that on some level, those invested in "hope" know it's all a beautiful con, but go through the motions anyway. Hopers are trapped, told that only so many "realistic" choices exist. This profoundly limits the hoper's options, dampens his or her political imagination, and thus makes "hope" even more necessary. Mix in a smooth talker like Barack Obama, who can make "hope" sound like consequence-free, bareback sex, and it's set, game, match -- or so our owners hope.