I'm confused by the confusion.

As we await news that the Obama administration has caved yet again to the interests of the minority (both in Congress and in the country) by extending tax cuts to the richest 2% (paid for by further borrowing from China), those on the left are befuddled by how this can possibly be happening. Rachel Maddow, despite her earnest intelligence (or perhaps because of it) just can't figure out why these Democrats keep backing down when they've got a majority of public opinion and a majority of the votes in Congress on their side. It just doesn't make sense  to Maddow, Olbermann, Bill Maher, Paul Krugman, and the rest of that crowd.

Heaven help me, but it's becoming clear that I'm way more cynical than even Bill Maher!

American politics, from my perspective, is about as relevant to reality as Steelers vs. Ravens. It offers a compelling narrative and seemingly authentic drama, but in the end, what matters is that the stadium is filled, the TV rights sold, and t-shirts bought. It doesn't matter who wins the game, just that the games keep getting played and people keep thinking they do matter enough to keep the money rolling in.

Transposed to politics, it doesn't really matter whether Obama, Palin, or that Dos Equis guy is president. It only matters that most of us think it matters. The marginal issues are enough to keep us distracted from the central matters. While we're all watching the shiny debates about repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, there's little discussion of the fact that the budget of the Defense Department continues to rise, and is already the highest it's ever been. That thousands of low-income Americans are being blown apart in wars they don't begin to understand, defending something nobody can really name, against enemies that are funded by our "allies" with money we pay to finance what we're told is "the American way of life." The sad and bitter truth is that Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Exxon, and General Electric run the country. The rest of us just watch. As John Boehner put it the other day, "There's a reason we have two parties." That's the reason: to maintain the illusion of choice for a gullible American electorate.

I'll never forget an interview I read with a football coach once. He was asked the secret to being a great coach. I don't remember who he was, but I'll never forget his answer. "Well," he said, "you have to be smart enough to understand the game, but not smart enough to realize how little it really matters."

About the Author

Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan, Ph.D., is the co-author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality.

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