Area Boys on Display: Campaign 2012

Area boys are loosely organized gangs of street children and teenagers, composed mostly of males, who roam the streets of urban West African cities They extort money from passers-by, sell illegal drugs, act as informal security guards, and perform other “odd jobs” in return for compensation.


Well, it’s all over now. No more knife fights. No more direct blows to the gut. No more memes, splendid or otherwise for another four long years. The debates are over.

My husband doesn’t share my sorrow. He’s so fed up with this political hooliganism that he refused to watch last night’s US Presidential debate on foreign policy or as I call it: Another chance for Obama and Romney to bicker about the economy, sprinkled with some international “stuff”. (“Stuff” as Joe Biden defines it.)

I don’t know about you, but these debates have been an eye-opener into the world of American politics. Most of us who are honest will admit that all politicians lie – yes, even your precious Barack Obama has overstated the truth – but it’s rare that we get to see them behave in primeval form. That is what set these debates so far apart from those in years past.

American politicians in years gone by usually set out to portray themselves as pragmatic statesmen.  They wanted to appear congenial, but tough; thoughtful, but decisive. Though he might disagree with his opponent, a statesman would never interrupt another gentleman in the middle of a monologue. He knew that if he kept the other guy talking, he would eventually hang himself with his own words. During these debates, we saw constant interruption, heckling and bullying on the cameras, and that’s alright – because Obama and Romney are not statesmen.

They are kubolor boys, and that’s just the way we like them.

In my grandmother’s generation Americans wanted one thing when it came to foreign policy: to be feared and respected abroad. A lot of this mindset had to do with Pearl Harbor, and America had to show that it was the biggest, baddest kid on the block. The idea of ever attacking America should make a foreign power piss in its boots. So we pursued a policy of aggression, a show of military might whenever possible, and economic sanctions and bullying. However at home, we wanted peace, prosperity and equality for all. However my grandmother lived through the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era, and saw worse atrocities meted out on American citizens than Americans enemies abroad. It wasn’t right, but those were the policies of her elected officials of her day. Human beings are hardly capable of being more than what they are, and that is all that a politician is: a guy in a suit with a mic and a set of mores that he wishes to impose on a group of people.

(Luckily, America did some image and policy changing and apart from that whole 9/11 thing, everything has gone pretty smoothly for us)

That’s why it’s so essential to vote. These are the people who set the agenda for the country. Gone are the days when the agenda was set by “We the People”. America’s plans are now dictated by “We the Democrats” or “We the Republicans”, depending on who occupies the Oval Office every four years.

But back to my point about our area boy candidates. Every news outlet has come to similar conclusions about these debates. There was little difference in substance between the two candidates. Voters will make their decisions based on firmly established allegiances and style. From the first debate to the last Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agreed with each other on many policy points. From drilling to auto bail outs, they read from the same manuscript. The only differences were in inflection or a pause or two. I will concede this: Obama is the better orator, and that will probably win him the election.

The American public is largely ignorant when it comes to foreign policy…or foreign anything when it comes down to it. Mitt Romney mentioned Mali last night and twitter was virtually silent. Ask a passerby today where Mali is, and I get you $10 they will say it is in China! Yet he called America the hope of the earth. How can you bring hope to the earth when you can’t even pinpoint key geographic locations on a globe? However, Barack Obama said “I kill people who hurt Americans and our interests” and twitter almost exploded. He then looked at Romney like he was eyeing a tasty MittMuffin.

Yeah POTUS! Yeaaahhhh!!!

We like our politicians to be area boys! We like them to say things that are familiar to us, not expedient.  We don’t want them to tell us how good their plans are for fixing our problems; just how bad the other guy’s plans suck.

I have to admit, with all the economic upheaval the world has suffered these last 10 years (this was a global economic crisis, not just an American one remember) it was good to see two politicians bloody each other on stage. We the people are Pompeii, and RMoney and Obama bin Laden are our great gladiator warriors.

So who won last night’s debate in America’s mind? The guy with flesh, bone and blood clogged in his teeth, that’s who. That’s how America gauges political success: by eating the other opponent alive.

Say goodbye to political sobriety y’all. It sang its swan song last night.