“You know,” says the man in the light gray suit, when his drink arrives, “the finest line of poetry ever uttered in the history of this whole damn country was said by Canada Bill Jones in 1853, in Baton Rouge, while he was being robbed blind in a cooked game of faro. George Devol, who was, like Canada Bill, not a man who was averse to fleecing the odd sucker, drew Bill aside and asked him if he couldn’t see the game was crooked. And Canada Bill sighed, and shrugged his shoulders, and said ‘I know. But it’s the only game in town.’ And he went back to the game.
- Neil Gaimen, American Gods
Politics is as crooked as the riverboat find-the-lady games. We only get an illusion choice or success. Living in this city feels like a rat stuck in a maze, with only the aroma of cheese, not the cheese itself.
My dad thinks this is depressingly cynical, and perhaps it is. Every once in a great while you might play a three card monte game against an honest dealer, and you may even find the lady. But that’s the exception.
This may seem like political nihilism, but instead I think it’s the starting point for a commitment to constructive action, toward building a community and a space where this kind of zero sum game doesn’t infect our lives.
I don’t understand placing your faith, your time, your energy, and your emotions, to crooks and cronies. I don’t think revolution in the streets is the answer. Revolution needs to happen in our heads and hearts, to recognize this whole endeavor is silly and crooked and we’re all being fleeced. There’s got to be a creative alternative, and we have to build more every day. It may be the only game in town, but we need to find a way not to play.
Maybe I am jaded. David Foster Wallace has a point in his McCain profile about reasonable people voting to offset the crazy voters. That’s a fair tactical point that doesn’t address my underlying concern. The lesser of two evils is still evil, and we should be working away from that false dichotomy.
The growth of government has done little to benefit the folks who need the most help. It’s helped the people who need the least help, or rather they’ve used government to help themselves. There’s little categorical difference between America or Zimbabwe in this regard. Whether it’s multi-nationals or unions or dictators, all sides use the system to lie, cheat, and steal from us all. The solution isn’t to enable any particular team or bias to steal. The system is wrong. The game is rigged.