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Guest Opinion: Campaigning American style

We find ourselves, once again, in the midst of another two-year campaign for the presidency. Presidential campaigns, for the first two years of the cycle, are like an underground fungus that, although they may look dormant and moribund, are alive...

We find ourselves, once again, in the midst of another two-year campaign for the presidency. Presidential campaigns, for the first two years of the cycle, are like an underground fungus that, although they may look dormant and moribund, are alive and well and spreading underground to rise to the surface, fully formed, about two years before the actual election occurs, to provide "news," info-mation and entertainment for the populace who have been carefully prepared for these events by years of celebrity sex, scandal and shenanigans that passes for news here. Between this news are scattered reports on what they named their babies, what they were wearing and what events they attended. Occasionally some national or international news seeps in, if it is bloody and sensational or if it serves to deify our friends and demonize our enemies.

When the open campaigns for the presidency begin, the ruling metaphor is the horse race - who is leading, who is trailing, who the odds favor and who the money is on, who leads in the first turn, who is the dark horse, who is coming up on the rail. There is endless analysis of who is ahead or behind in the polls and why, what did the trainers do right or wrong, the mistaken choice of jockeys and what errors were made and why their feed might have been off.

It becomes a performance, and whoever captures the interest of the public will win. It is full of gotcha moments, good and bad sound bites, funny one-liners, catchphrases, images to scare us all to death, unbridled predictions and promises and good and bad camera angles.

It is quite a performance and one that fills our airwaves as well as print and electronic media with sound bites and photo ops, pseudo interviews and analysis as well as barrages on Facebook and tweets galore both trending and forgotten.

It is much like a segment of Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" in which applicants for important positions show their worth by jumping through hoops and tumbling, showing their agility and ability to entertain the crowd.

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There are two reasons this all takes place. First, it is a gold mine for corporations, the media, consultants and fund-raising organizations. Second, in this personality dance-off we are totally distracted from any real issues or any hope of real change or actually solving any of the myriad problems that stalk our existence.

The reality is, it does not really matter who wins, the nation will continue down this road concentrating the wealth in the hands of the few while imposing austerity on the society and exploiting the citizens while plundering the resources (natural, economic and human) and leaving a wasteland behind.

They have the money and the media, and no matter who wins they will call the tune, and all the traditional candidates understand and accept this as part of the process. After all, those with the money and power have built and provided this media arena in which all candidates must perform. All of the traditional candidates understand the rules and the underlying implications and continue to compete for the status and promise of the future wealth of the presidency.

Of course this works and has been accepted as reality in American-style campaigning. Who would be so idiotic as to challenge the dominance of such established conventional wisdom?

Well, occasionally someone comes along who has the courage to "just say no" to the invitation to perform under the big-top in the ever new and sparkling arena with instant news-feeds to the world and analysis by all the big names.

When he begins to speak about real issues and to say we can stop accepting solutions that clearly do not work for us. It is like a light-bulb goes on and people begin to think that there might be a better way to run a government. And God does not strike him down with a bolt of lightening for having the temerity to challenge the status quo and all of those powerful people and institutions.

He offers a real alternative and he simply refuses to perform in their arenas. He is having success without their money and without their media - their levers of control. He is beyond their control and the illusion is broken. There are things beyond money and media. There is truth, finding real solutions to real problems and there is a rekindled human spirit in America.

Maybe this will become the template of a new model for campaigning American style.

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Bob Passi, Baxter, is a retired empowerment consultant and educator

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