09/09/2008 05:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Turn It Off: Political Lies

This morning even I, a self-confessed news junkie, reached for the off button on the remote to tune out the morning news. The reason? The report that "white women in droves" are turning to the McCain camp as a result of the Palin vice-presidential selection. Oh, and Ellie, my wife, reads aloud from the Tuesday morning New York Times that the Obama camp is now having difficulty raising funds, while cash pours into the Republican coffers. And Obama, in an interview, continues to maintain that "Americans aren't stupid." I hope he's right.

Me, I'm not so sure any more. But then I'm one of those who couldn't believe it when Nixon was elected, and then re-elected. I thought we were headed for the toilet when a worshipful country went for Ronald Reagan. The 2000 relection and, God help us, the 2004 RE-election of George W. Bush put the cap on the insanity. And all the while, despite the rhetoric, despite the laughable mantras, despite the lies repeated ad nauseam, the economy runs irreversibly downhill, the debts mount up on every side, the financial well-being of the American middle class is increasingly at risk, our reputation in the world is shattered and despised while we stand by and tolerate the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians on our name, and the imprisonment and torture of still more, and the very Constitution that defines us is shredded with impunity before our compliant eyes.

Are we willing, now, to throw away the opportunity to change this freeway to disaster? Are we ready to elect a man who in so many ways represents a workable future for our country and the world we share? Or are we so insecure, so shallow, so easily hoodwinked that we prefer instead a "maverick" who preaches the same conservative gospel that has led us so very badly astray, these past three decades; and his fellow "maverick" who continues shamelessly to trot out her demonstrable but apparently self-serving lies before an adoring and uncritical public?

An old friend was saying just a few days ago that he believes, essentially, that this worldwide economic and social system we have constructed has us by the throat. He sees no hope for any significant change, no matter who gets elected, and puts his faith instead in the ability of human beings to regroup in small, workable, mutually supportive communities (he calls them "sacred lifeboats") to survive the inevitable collapse of what we call our civilization. I told him that I was not yet ready to go so far as to give up on the possibility to change course. It looks like this election could possibly support his view--in which case, I'll jump ship with him. But my friend is ready with the lifeboat he has been working with quiet prescience to construct. It may well be time for the rest of us to get to work...