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Last week’s dark prediction becomes this week’s news about the campaign

26 October 2012

Summary: Forecasting the next stage in the decay of the Second Republic becomes more difficult as it accelerates. Last week we posted Putin’s ads today are those of America’s future, describing the likely evolution of campaigns into entertainment — like Wimbledon, a fun stylish competitive event — as the policy differences between the candidates diminishes. Last week’s prediction has become this week’s news.

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October 19th’s post looked at advertisements for Putin’s campaign and concluded that the Second Republic has fallen into a process of decay. The 2008 election allowed us to choose between different candidates with almost identical policies. That was not obvious to those that voted for Mr. Hope And Change. Four years experience has shown that Obama’s economic and national security policies are almost identical to Bush Jr’s.

Now we have a new election, new choices. The banality of the 2012 slogans — Romney’s “Believe in America” and Obama’s “Forward” — cannot be exceeded, and the reality-free nature of this campaign will prove difficult to top. The news media expect little (rightly so), and cover the election as they do figure skating at the Olympics.

So what is the natural evolution of elections in the post-Constitutional era, as we slide from the Second Republic into plutocracy? We can look to Russia to see our future, where they run campaigns — but few expect anything serious from them.

Not much of a prediction; more like advance reporting. Now we have the confirmation: Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy flags this new YouTube ad from the Obama campaign featuring Girls star Lena Dunham, and explains the similarity to Putin’s ads.

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The similarity Keating mentions is to a series of advertisements from Putin’s campaign with the theme “Putin — the first time is just for love.” Such as this one, eerily evocative of the Obama as savior hysteria from 2008 (which the ad with Dunham attempts to recreate). The translation (from a Huffington Post article):

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Mystic: “Let’s find out who is intended to you by destiny.”
Girl: “You know, I wish it to be for love — It is my first time.”
The mystic flips the card, revealing a photo of Putin.

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Other Putin ads have similar vignettes.

Girl: “You know doctor — I am very scared, although my choice is one of love.”
Doctor: “Of course I understand. Everyone is afraid the first time. The main thing is to trust your choice. Because trust is love. And your choice you can trust.”
The camera closes in on a picture of Putin amid romantic music.
The girl is then shown happily walking to the polling station.

Doctor tells another girl: “The main thing is to be sure it’s safe. Especially the first time.”
Camera focuses on a photo of Putin.
Doctor “With him, it will be safe.”
The ad concludes with the girl happily casting her vote.

The difference between Russia and us

An AFP article links to another YouTube video showing that the Russian people know where this leads, although they lack the strength to do more than mock their ruler. The woman, glamorous media star and socialite Ksenia Sobchak, explains that “Now is not the time to rock the boat and we should rally round one leader. This is why I have taken this difficult decision” to vote for Putin. Watch the end to learn the rest of story.

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Sobchak is the daughter of Putin’s late mentor, former Saint Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak. This video has 2.6 million views on YouTube. Is this how the Second Republic ends, with Americans becoming politically impotent?

This need not be our fate. We can change. We can do better.

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This post uses material from these articles:

For More Information

Too see all posts about this go to these FM Reference Pages:

Other posts about our dysfunctional elections

  1. Lilliput or America – who has a better way to choose its leaders?, 19 November 2008
  2. About campaigns for high office in America – we always expect a better result from the same process, 17 June 2009
  3. The economy speaks – and votes, 12 August 2010
  4. The winners and losers from this election, hidden amidst the noise, 3 November 2010
  5. Why do awesome people – like us – have such inadequate leaders?, 2 April 2012 — Because we vote.
  6. The presidential debates are performance art. They’re Kabuki., 4 October 2012
  7. A reminder that debates are fun, not politics: Reagan had Alzheimer’s in 1984 and we didn’t notice., 5 October 2012

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Pluto permalink
    26 October 2012 4:48 pm

    It seems to me that the Russian and American political systems are merging with frightening speed. I wonder which American political party is going to try to have their preferred leader dodge the 2 term presidency limit by simply having the ex-president serve one term as VP and then run again.

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  2. beej permalink
    26 October 2012 4:53 pm

    panem et circense

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  3. guest permalink
    26 October 2012 5:53 pm

    This might be over-interpretation, but those political ads overtly playing on erotic/sexual insinuations with even a (quite vulgar in the case of Putin) cult of virility (the masculine leader who can literally satisfy the needs of modern women, appease their minds and bring them a feeling of safety), are reminiscent of what fascist propaganda was playing with.

    It would tie with your previous post on USA and its slide towards fascism.

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  4. 26 October 2012 11:16 pm

    “March 19th’s post”

    Should be October 19th’s post

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  5. Thomas More permalink
    27 October 2012 1:33 am

    As I’ve often pointed out, in order to combat the Soviet Union during the Cold War, America had to turn into the Soviet Union. Our GOSPLAN is called the Pentagon; our NKVD is called the Department of Homeland Security. Instead of gulags, we have the world’s largest prison system. Instead of a nomenklatura, we have graduates of elite Ivy League universities. We have a tekhnari just as they did — the founders of google, amazon, etc. America now tortures dissidents and beats them and jails them without charges (see the response to the Occupy movement, Bradley Manning, et al.). Our Pravda is of course the Washington Post.

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    • 27 October 2012 4:48 pm

      While More’s analogy has some strong points — as has been pointed out by many during the cold war, this part strikes me as odd:

      “our NKVD is called the Department of Homeland Security”

      The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The wholesale reduction of our civil liberties began after 9-11, a decade later. What was it about 9-11 that sparked this process? My guess (emphasis on guess) is that the moment was ripe because we had grown weak.

      Like

  6. 27 October 2012 6:43 pm

    Big Brother Loves YOU!

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  7. Thomas More permalink
    28 October 2012 4:00 am

    FM states “The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The wholesale reduction of our civil liberties began after 9-11, a decade later.”

    Not quite accurate. The Patriot Act was actually drafted in 1995, before the Oklahoma City bombing. And who drafted the prototype for the Patriot Act? Our current vice president, Joe Biden.

    “…months before the Oklahoma City bombing took place, Biden introduced another bill called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. It previewed the 2001 Patriot Act by allowing secret evidence to be used in prosecutions, expanding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and wiretap laws, creating a new federal crime of `terrorism’ that could be invoked based on political beliefs, permitting the U.S. military to be used in civilian law enforcement, and allowing permanent detection of non-U.S. citizens without judicial review. The Center for National Security Studies said the bill would erode `constitutional and statutory due process protections’ and would `authorize the Justice Department to pick and choose crimes to investigate and prosecute based on political beliefs and associations.’

    “Biden himself draws parallels between his 1995 bill and its 2001 cousin. `I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill,’ he said when the Patriot Act was being debated, according to the New Republic, which described him as `the Democratic Party’s de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism.’ “

    So the “wholesale reduction of our civil liberties” actually began within 4 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That’s close enough that we can reasonably say that the moment the USSR imploded, America threw out the constitution and the rule of law and galloped straight back to pre-1776 tyranny.

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    • 28 October 2012 4:09 am

      These kinds of dates are definitional, arbitrary lines in the sand.

      When did the erosion of our civil liberties begin? Perhaps after WWII, or perhaps during WWII, or perhaps during the 1920s “red scares”, or perhaps during WWI.

      By “wholescale” I meant not small things — like drafting laws — but large scale things. Like passing laws, like the massive expansion of domestic security agencies, like government agencies doing illegal things without legal consequence. It’s a matter of degree.

      Like

  8. 29 October 2012 6:27 pm

    A particularly observant topic. The utter shallowness of it all is somewhat frightening and disturbing.

    Like

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