COMMENTARY: November Fools’ Day

By Joseph J. Honick

Joseph J. Honick

Joseph J. Honick
While it goes by the cryptic term of Election Day, it really is a totally deceptive term because you never got a chance to cast any ballot as to who would be up for election.
In fact, you and I, and the rest of ordinary Americans are the “fools” because we allowed some small cabals of partisan power bosses to hold something that looked very democratic (small “d”) called conventions. And in those very deceptive, fun-filled noisy events, they each created someone called the “The Next President of the United States” and announced that person as the nominee for November Fools’ Day.

It’s a wonder the Federal Trade Commission does not step in with charges of deceptive advertising.

They sure did not ask you if you agreed that person would be the nominee for either party, nor was there any discussion of the hundreds of millions of dollars “invested” to tell you for whom you might vote.

Oh sure, there will be a chance for you to express your individual thinking in pre-Fools’ Day with polls or with what is called a “write in” vote, but we cynics (called realists) know such write in votes are good for conversation but little else.

How does something like this happen? Where did it all start? Why does no one even object to the process?

Contrary to what many believe when reciting the wonders of our Founding Fathers and wanting to return to those good old days, before there were even nominating conventions, men (always men) were put up for election much less formally. In fact, until about the 1820’s, nominations were made by some folks in the Congress.

At some point, this practice was labeled “The Corrupt Bargain,” There then followed conventions, first by Republicans and then by the Democrats, both in Baltimore, Maryland, for some unknown reasons. There was even one Anti-Masonic nominating convention, according to historian Robert McNamara.

Things have gotten much more complicated in recent decades, however. With the advent of more and more sophisticated communications that include much more than just television and radio, it’s often difficult for the ordinary worn down citizen to figure out what to think. Most of all the power structures of what are now three political parties virtually control any aspect of what Americans can vote for on the “Quadrennial November Fools’ Day.”

Some years ago, I had proposed (tongue in cheek) that we get rid of nominating conventions. Instead, I proposed we do what most large international corporations do and retain a consortium of executive search firms, otherwise known as “head hunters.” They could put ads in Rolling Stone,Wall Street Journal and other big publications.

They could make some surreptitious phone calls to perceived good candidates and ultimately come up with a slate of people for the “selection committee”…you and me…to vote on.

I even wrote a want ad that said “no experience needed, will train on the job.”The road shows called “debates” are little more than carefully constructed performances by people with PR agents and financed by known and unknown sources suddenly saying they’re presidential material. The dimensions of the financing alone, if truly revealed, could rival the sums badly needed to help put thousands of people back to work or pay for other important social programs. And those sums are only for the presidential campaigns!

An American public, stressed and strained by a ruptured economy, massive expenditures for wars on foreign soil, millions out of work and with little promise of change … the additional reality is that heavily financed power brokers and controllers from all interest sectors will tell you, like it or not, the list from whom you must pick to lead the nation.

In the end, the only real beneficiaries will have been the successful candidates, the agents, PR firms and other minions heavily financed by their backers and special interests who see themselves benefitting from their active involvement.Many will see these comments as simply cynical and realities beyond any ordinary citizen’s control. And they will be correct so long as the millions of “ordinary” citizens accept that role and do nothing. But Americans have histories of responding to perceptions of injustice.

They include even that “Tea Party” of the 1700’s to civil rights marches, campaigns to do right by veterans of various wars and in other arenas, not to mention the current demonstrations against perceived injustices from Wall Street.

So when the next November Fools’ Day rolls around, will enough Americans have demanded their rights to control the process to make a difference? A naïve question  perhaps, but one that needs response.

* * *
Joseph J. Honick is an international consultant to business and government and writes for many publications, including Huntington News Network. Honick can be reached at joehonick@gmail.com.

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