The End of Politics

How politics went from a system for achieving common good, to a show business for acquiring power, explained by the guy who changed it.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone

Moshe Halbertal, Israeli professor and philosopher from the Hebrew University, said, “When everything becomes political, that is the end of politics.”

He added, “For healthy politics to flourish it needs reference points outside itself — reference points of truth and a conception of the common good.”

That is to say, politics is just a means to an end. A system by which good men can prevail and lead society, making decisions based on the greatest good for the most people.

But when the actions of politicians are guided wholly by political motivations, and not some higher moral compass, then politics is headed towards imminent self-destruction, since it starts to serve only the politicians’ goals, and not the wider population it was designed to serve.

The New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently wrote that the great U.S. of A is going down that slippery path of “the end of politics” — where everything under the sun has become political.

US politics, in his mind, is now “just about power”.

“There is no center, there are only sides; there’s no truth, there are only versions; there are no facts, there’s only a contest of wills.”

— Thomas L. Friedman, Beirut’s Blast Is a Warning for America, The New York Times

To Friedman, every single issue in America — from climate and energy down to the practical and desperate issue of wearing masks in a pandemic — has become politicized. And the sole purpose of this is to make its citizens take sides in the constant dual party political stand-off that defines the U.S. today.

No decision is made, nothing is ever done any more, simply because it is good for the people.

There’s always a political agenda.

But hey, don’t take it from me, a non-U.S. citizen typing from the other side of the world. Don’t even listen to Friedman, decorated journalist for the New York Times since 1981 and two-times Pulitzer Prize winner.

Hear the truth from the infamous political operative and “trickster” lobbyist who co-founded the whole tradecraft of manipulating the public for political gains — Mr. Roger Stone.

Yes, he has unashamedly, even proudly, ‘confessed’...

Yup, Stone said that in a TV interview, captured in a Netflix documentary that profiled his life and career as an election campaign strategist and government lobbyist for hire to the highest bidder.

Stone proudly claimed to have co-founded political action committees (fundraising fronts for politicians), negative campaign advertising (slamming your opponents with public ads), and paid lobbying for clients that pay millions (including blood-stained foreign dictators).

In short, he was a founding father of money politics; and probably the most infamous one.

In the documentary, Stone also discussed why he backed Trump for presidency in 2016. After 15 seasons of The Apprentice, he thought that it had made Trump look very presidential — “high-backed chair, perfectly lit, great makeup, great hair, decisive, making decisions, running the show.”

He then went on to say, without even blinking, that:

“Do you think voters, non-sophisticates, make a difference between entertainment and politics? Politics is show business for ugly people.”

— Roger Stone, infamous political operative and lobbyist

And indeed Stone was spot on.

In case you don’t know yet, the whole idea of casting Trump as a successful businessman “was all a joke”. The makers of the show knew that Trump’s apparent wealth and success was a badly put together facade.

But they decided anyway, that it would be funny in a sardonic way to cast him in the reality show. It’s all documented here in this long but engrossing article about Mark Burnett, the creator of the show.

“This is an oddly common refrain among people who were involved in “The Apprentice”: that the show was camp, and that the image of Trump as an avatar of prosperity was delivered with a wink.”

— “How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success” in The New Yorker.

Bill Pruitt, Producer of The Apprentice, and Jonathon Braun, Supervising Editor, even went on record on camera to talk about this. When viewers started taking the TV image of Trump seriously, the show makers were caught by surprise. But they carried on anyway since the show did so well.

Stone had always thought of himself as a great jockey, who needed a horse with great potential to win. And so Stone deployed the same strategy, same mantras, and pretty much the same campaign tagline that worked for him when he ran Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, and rode that reality show Trump all the way to the white house.

You can see that he took his analogy of modern politics as pretty much another form of entertainment for the people, quite literally — with his choice of actors as candidates.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make here?

That it is time for U.S. citizens to wake up from this highly tragic and manipulative reality show they have been cast in.

“Roger (Stone) actually gets democracy in a way, that I think most people who cover politics don’t… Democracy is the process of appealing to the majority.

— Tucker Carlson, Fox News commentator

The problem is, U.S. politicians and political operatives like Stone have mastered the art of creating that appeal in a perverse manner. Instead of producing a heartwarming story of compassion, they’ve decided it is much easier to draw attention and win support by putting on a petty soap opera.

But in so doing, Stone merely embodied and became the face of the innermost truths that lurked in the hearts of many modern American politicians — that it was all about getting elected and staying in power, and not moral or civic duties.

But that, is a major disease and disaster. To quote Halbertal yet again:

“When you lose the realm of the sacred, that realm of the common good outside of politics, that is when societies collapse.”

— Moshe Halbertal, Professor and religious philosopher

This is a problem not just for America, but for the rest of the world. The U.S. is still the most powerful country in the world. Any action, or inaction, reverberates globally.

Americans, you have a responsibility to the world. Will you vote for politicians who want to appeal only to American interests (damn the rest of the planet), encourage conflict and push blame to ‘enemies’; or will you vote for leaders who care about the greater good?

Are you, in future elections, still the “non-sophisticate” that Stone labelled you to be, easily manipulated and tricked into voting for the best “entertainer”, whose political operatives has done the best job of opponent bashing?

Or will you be politically mature enough to vote for someone who advocates wise policies that require short term economic pain, but reaps long term societal benefits?

It’s not a business people, it’s a democracy.

Written by

I write about business, technology and society... Investor | Entrepreneur | Thinker 🔗

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store