McPolitics and America's political palate

Perhaps you caught a glimpse of Tuesday’s presentation at Soldier Field. You know, the political fashion show displaying the Democratic presidential candidates to all the union bosses in order to determine who – if anyone – is to get the endorsement from the AFL-CIO for the run to the White House. If you didn’t, perhaps you saw excerpts of the apocryphal debate in the news, and maybe even heard a 10-second bite where the junior senator from New York offered herself as Labor’s fighting hero: “I’m your girl!”

If you didn’t even know that seven of the eight declared Democratic candidates were having a get-together, it’s just as well. Nothing much was said that’s worth repeating, with apologies to Congressman Dennis Kucinich and moderator Keith Olbermann.

An item in the news the day before probably drew a much larger audience if for no other reason than its catchy theme, stating that kids liked most any food better if perceived to come from McDonald’s as visually suggested by McWrappers. It gave results of a study on obesity prevention, and how McBranding hooks preschoolers; also had Dr. Robinson of the Stanford University School of Medicine, and author of the study, saying how at McDonald’s “The majority of their marketing and reputation and brand is based on foods that are high in calories and fat and low on nutritional value.” Health foods are for show.

Those two items in the news, a day apart, brought to the forefront what could be two of the greatest ills facing America today: obesity and bad governance; one affecting the physical health of the nation, the other dealing with the socio-political health of society.

Unhappy about how the country is being governed? Hey, cool off, don’t be upset. For a nation of faith and monotheism, why not carry the idea beyond the realm of religion and into politics? Americans worship one god, so why look beyond our homespun form of capitalism to determine the nature of America’s body politic.

Free from foreign impurities, this sacrosanct capitalism, whether dabbed socially-benign or predatory, must be provided with an all-American circulatory system. And none better than McPolitics, a system designed to honor diversity of opinion via those two Golden Arches of thought, our two political parties: Republicans and Democrats. Two arches that hold together, lock, stock and barrel, our entire body politic; that’s what Americans should desire to achieve, a unity-of-purpose doctrine for this land. Lefties, liberals, populists, greenies and progressives of all types are simply relegated to just epithets that the greater-right can bestow on the lesser-right, in this incredible make-believe land of milk and honey… and two-party politics.

McDonald’s is about business strategies, public relations, advertising... and plain deceit. But you know what? So is McPolitics! The vast majority of Americans are uninformed, misled and tricked into thinking that they can have it all: health, taste, convenience and low prices; as McDonald’s, by chance or design, keeps health and culinary issues away from young and old, concentrating on what really counts in business: meeting people’s expectations with flying colors. And so it is in politics as Republicans and Democrats, in their alternating governing roles, strive to keep Americans politically illiterate.

Homogeneity in American politics stays true behind the mask we put on to attend the biennial and quadrennial election balls. It reminds me of a yokel from Vermont that did appear on a popular TV sitcom a few years back. His repetitive character line was an introduction of himself and his two brothers, saying: “Hi, I’m Larry; this is my brother Larry; and this is my other brother Larry.” We all seem to be part of this bumpkin Larry-brotherhood, half addicted to unhealthy food, and most suffering the consequences of bipartisan politics which cater to special interests instead of the citizenry at large.

But unlike McDonald’s franchises which have found success in much of the world, McPolitics is probably reserved for the American political palate and no one else. One doubts that it meets enough criteria for export, even if aided by heavy subsidies from both the US State Department and the imperial peacekeepers at the Pentagon. At least for now, America’s interpretation of “democracy and freedom” does not appear to have made measurable inroads anywhere else.

Be that as it may, there are two mission statements that could shed some light on what might be the problems behind obesity and bad governance. McDonald's proclaims in its mission statement, “McDonald’s vision is to be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience.” No corporate responsibility, not even empathy for customers as people. And it’s fairly evident that “McPolitics wants to be America’s answer of a government that lets business take care of business without interference.” So if there is neither corporate nor government responsibility to educate and protect people, who else can they turn to? Somehow, carried to the extreme as ultraconservatives would have it, the answer is simple: it must be left in the hands of the economic marketplace. That is a polite way to be told in historical terms that we are marching back towards slavery.

Unfortunately, obesity and bad governance are two issues Americans are yet unwilling to confront head-on, and fighting food addiction or recognizing political or governmental malfeasance are simply not in the cards.