Monday November 3, 2008 7:08 pm
Whither The Candidates?
It’s usually around your third year of a Bachelor of Arts degree that the conversation will get theoretical. Talk turns from the texts (Moby Dick, Frankenstein, Oscar Wilde, or Bernardo Bertolucci) to the subject of theory, conjecture. Invariably, any honest English, Film, Communications or History student will eventually come around to the topic of simulation and simulacra. It’s been a few years since I’ve studied those particular subjects, but there’s something about the US election that has forced those old lessons out from the dusty recesses of my brain.
The fact is, John McCain and Barack Obama are no longer two American Senators vying for the highest office in the country. They’ve become symbols, or worse, caricatures, of themselves. They’re simulacra - representations of a thing without the original referent, the master copy. Who are these two men? We don’t really know anymore, do we? We know what they say of each other (One, a socialist. The other, George Bush’s legislation prop).
I could say that we need to take a step back and try to imagine a portrait of the two, but I think the point is moot now. On November 4th, America will go to the polls to mark down which faint idea they want in the head office. Obama has become the face for the Democratic party - one wonders if the Democrats exist as a group any more, or if they are simply an over-extended glee club. John McCain, on the other hand, cannot do enough to unshackle himself from the party that looms so large behind him. The election now is, quite simply, Barack Obama vs. the Republican Party.
There are some that recognize the symptoms better than other. Take a look at Peggy Noonan’s Halloween column, and good luck to everyone on voting day. What WILL we talk about once it’s all over?
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