01. October 2012 · Comments Off on ObamaPhone · Categories: Ain't That America?, History, Tea Time · Tags: , ,

So, with a little more than six weeks to go to Election Day, this particular video is getting play, and no little amount of critical commentary, which does not actually surprise me in the least. What would surprise me would be to find out that the speaker in question actually is privately embarrassed, humiliated, and ashamed for selling her vote so cheap, and publically encouraging others to do also.

A phone, a simple cellphone; this is the price of a vote in this decadent age. Never mind that this ‘assistance to the unfortunate’ was something started several administrations ago, never mind that this particular interviewee seems to know history as well as your average potted plant, never mind … well, never mind several more observations regarding this particular person’s education level and personal background which might in all fairness be assumed from a brief interlocution with a video camera. Again – the most deeply appalling, unsettling part is how cheaply votes can be bought. Oh, at certain times and in certain places during the history of this grand republic, votes were bartered for goods or good-will. This was what built the big-city machines; Tammany Hall is of course the grand historic example, but other big cities in the late 19th and early 20th century also fell to lesser imitators; the Daley Machine in Chicago being presently the best known, and still poisonously effective, given the eminence of the present occupant of the White House.

But still … your vote is for him, because he gave you a cellphone? Gave all your friends and neighbors a cellphone? And you’ll sell your vote for that … the vote that men and women of color and otherwise campaigned, protested, marched, and went to war for, for those 200 and some years since the American Revolution and the founding of the republic? The considered choice of a thoughtful and involved citizen in electing fellow citizens to public is sold for a mess of pottage and a few trinkets. I have read many editorials regarding how republics eventually became corrupted once citizens realized they could vote themselves largess from the public treasury. You, my dear fellow citizen – would sell out for a cellphone. This particular brief video makes it almost nakedly obvious: he gave me stuff, so I’m voting for him. Which is probably why it’s been linked, posted and shared all over the place – the very scumminess of the exchange revolts viewers. One of them is Wretchard, at the Belmont Club, who wrote eloquently in the comments to his original post:

“It reminds me, horribly enough, of how politicians in Philippines buy votes for a bag of peanuts and bottle of Marca Demonyo Gin plus maybe the equivalent of a $5 bill.
And don’t imagine people don’t understand they are being bought. They do and that is the worst of it. To see in their eyes the awareness that they’ve fallen so low they’ll follow orders for chump change. The more intelligent of them hate themselves for it. But then … they haven’t been able to afford a bag of peanuts or a bottle of gin for a while … and maybe this chance won’t come again. You can watch the struggle until the hand goes out and grabs the gin.
This to me is the most terrible sight you can see. I don’t feel any superiority over the woman in the Obama Phone video. Just horror. Horror. And the worst of it is that I know that I fell so low I’d be in the same state. Just drooling over that cheap-ass phone. How terrible. How absolutely terrible.”

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