Everything you need to know about American politics is on your cell phone

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Every four years, we’re captivated and consumed by this magnificent competition, spattered with color and dripping with drama. We align ourselves with our champions, identify with them, glorify them, cheer them on to victory and agonize over their defeats. It’s all we can think, eat, speak or dream about: Who will win!

Oh, yeah, and there’s the Olympics, too. There’s that.

Yes, I mean that other all-consuming quadrennial spectacle, our presidential elections. Oh, how I wish I could pull the warm, comfy blanket of olympic excellence back over me, but no, it’s all gone. Nothing left but the soul-sucking chill of American politics.

Back in the day, I used to get all wrapped around the axle about elections. I really, truly, honestly believed to my core that our country’s entire future dangled on whoever won the election. Every election was “make it or break it,” and if you’ve been with me long enough, you already know which political party I believe makes it and which one breaks it.

True, Dubya raised the “break it” bar higher than any of us ever imagined possible — crashed the family car, left it in a steaming heap, tossed the keys to Barack Obama and walked away whistlin’. But did he do it alone? Hmmm. In retrospect, I think not. He no more controlled what was happening in the White House than Mickey Mouse controls Disneyland. Bush was a mascot, nothing more.

When Obama was elected, I really believed that things would change. Finally, we were out of the clutches of the radical right and Fox & Friends, and it seemed like we had a fresh start, a new direction – we’d surely rise like a phoenix from the ashes of scorched earth left by the previous administration.

But, it didn’t really turn out that way, did it.

We hoped for change, but there hasn’t really been substantial change. Obama’s administration seems to have stopped the bleeding, but the country’s still comatose. At least it still has a pulse, but it’s clearly not out of the woods. Keep the priest’s number handy, just in case. And the coroner’s.

Is this a criticism of Obama? Hardly. It’s just a reality check. I really believed things would magically turn around under this new leadership. But in the end, Obama isn’t a super hero, he’s just one man, and he doesn’t have control over everything. That’s an illusion. That control lies with Congress, and this Republican-controlled Congress is determined to pour all its energy into making sure Obama isn’t reelected. Several prominent Republican Congressman have been quoted as actually stating that.

Chew on that for a moment: Our country is in crisis, our economy is in the toilet, average people are suffering and struggling mightily, and the number one priority of the congressional majority is to keep their own jobs and get their own kind elected. Never were the true motives of our so-called leaders more transparent than they’ve been during Obama’s presidency.

But before the Democrats get all smug and self-righteous abut the purity of their intentions, might I temper their enthusiasm with the reminder that they had the majority during Obama’s first two, and proved themselves to be timid, spineless and utterly useless. They had a golden opportunity to make change, and they blew it.

Or did they.

Maybe they weren’t just a trembling gaggle of inept, pee-pants wimps. Maybe they’re merely not as transparent as Republicans, who are unashamed to be in a perpetual liplock with Wall Street. But their motives are the same: Do whatever it takes to get the money, so we can keep our jobs. It’s just a style difference. Republicans are brassy street-walkers in pink satin spankies and black stilettos, and Democrats are nervous, semi-ashamed Craigslist call-girls working their way through college. Either way, “Show me the money, honey” is how they roll. Trouble is, it’s the public that’s getting screwed.

The hard reality is that although I’ve had a grand time trashing Bush & Co. over the years and blaming him and his Darth Vaderian sidekick for all our woes, the fact is that the Bush Administration didn’t do anything that wasn’t approved by Congress. And the reason the Obama Administration hasn’t mitigated all that damage is, again, no fault of Obama’s. Just like Bush before him, in the end, Obama’s just a mascot too.

Want to understand how our political system works? Just look at your cell phone. Does yours have a skin? If not, skins are colorful plastic covers that encase your cell phone to make them look cute and snappy — pink flamingos, blue polka-dots, tiger stripes — anything that catches your fancy.

The Republican and Democrat parties are nothing more than Red or Blue skins over our political cell phone. They make you happy when you look at them. They make a statement when you whip your phone out to answer that incoming call, and let everyone know just what you’re about. But they have absolutely no functional impact on the phone. The phone will work the same way, regardless of what color skin you put on it. The skin has no power. It’s just a decoration.

For me, the choice in this election is essentially just that simple. Obama makes me feel good. Romney doesn’t. I’ll be keeping that blue skin on my cell phone this election because it makes me happy, even though I know it doesn’t really make the phone ring. The corporations that designed it do that; calling plan provided by the One Percent.

— Email Debra DeAngelo, winner of the 2012 Best Serious Column award in the National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.edebra.com

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