In law, boilerplate is copy-paste legal language that’s often used as the basis for drawing up standard contracts and other documents. In politics, boilerplate is the current state of the major American political parties: the Republicans and Democrats.

Miracle Economy Spring Water and Fighting Internalized Whiteness

Nowithstanding the obvious changes brought about by COVID-19 restrictions and the ensuing virtual nature of this year, the conventions were both oddly fake in their own ways, with political rhetoric spouted like ads from an all night infomercial or a Scientology grand world conference of some kind (Karen Bass might have been into it if Biden hadn’t gone for Kamala Harris instead).

Whether it’s miracle healing water that will fix anything under the sun and make the economy dance a jig or pious sermons on how to heal from whiteness and offer boilerplate pseudo-compassion-talk it all just seems like products trying to force a new market to exist.

You wake up with a headache and you don’t buy the product. All you want to forget is that it ever existed or that other people still buy it.

The word we’re looking for here is cringe.

Republican Rebranding

Still, there have been noticeable shifts in messaging. The GOP is clearly aimed at branding itself the new party that cares about working people and hitting Biden’s strong points of coming from a working class family and being from a less technocratic and older wing of the Democratic party.

And it could definitely work for them to score a repeat of 2016’s success in breaking the Democrats’ blue wall.

Still, though. It’s just so transparent.

One more infomercial about steelworkers or small farmers screwed over by the Obama Administration and you could form a new Republican film genre: Blue Collar-sploitation. “Hey, uh, Jim? Can you get the mood a bit more down, but like also determined? Turn your face more in profile.”

Calluses on hands, check. Hard-won, wry smile, check. Reluctance to get into politics but conviction that Donald Trump will still save us all from greedy Chinese people and deranged Democrats by saying provocative things, check.

Please, Just No

Between Kimberley Guilfoyle breaking the glass ceiling of volume in a speech to a bizarre, hyper-speed speech from Don Trump Jr. and boilerplate rhetoric from many other suave suits it was Alice in Republican-land. What new actual policies will be put in place or efforts to improve the country from the Republicans? The main focus instead was on socialism and saying the word socialism as many times as possible in a menacing tone of voice like you were just burning the cover of a covert spy overseas (oops, Trump already did that last year).

The convention advanced a fake version of Trump’s response to the coronavirus and overall seemed like a CPAC convention more than a political convention.

Nonetheless, the President pulled off a speech that will fire up the base despite its rambling, utopian boasts and there were also some powerful messages from pro-life activist Abby Johnson and Cuban escapee Maximo Alvarez. There was also a message from hounded Covington Catholic School student Nick Sandmann who brought up some important points while managing to look and sound like a robot or a character from a Lifetime movie that replays every night at 3 a.m.

In a seeming dig at Trump, who is often mocked by the mainstream media for bringing up how important ratings are, the New York Times noted that the first night of the GOP convention had lower viewership than the Democratic convention’s first night.

Democratic Dabbling

The Democrats, for their part, have a mottled platform that dabbles in some democratic socialism but caters more to Wall Street. Their convention showcased a party that is full of words and grand statements with little actual substance apart from keeping donors happy and spending and making sure Bill Clinton can talk about ethics with a straight face.

While candidate Joe Biden received praise for an energized and well-delivered speech that made some tough claims and bristled with emotion and conviction, the majority of other remarks and speakers were entirely forgettable, with former President Barack Obama using his abilities as a gifted orator to deliver a hypocritical, annoyingly unctuous speech.

Indeed, the slickly produced Democratic convention was full of the kind of virtue signalling pablum that is just a mirror image of Republican “freedom and liberty” rhetoric. For the Democrats the bad guys are all racist, hate-filled or religious wackos. They hold their convention using Biden as a pretext to inhale their own rhetorical flatulence and pat each other on the back in their rarefied party world of mock solidarity and pretend change.

Dullards Acting Out

The Democrats desperately want to pretend to be for the “little guy.” They are a Broadway Show live-staged on Pennsylvania Avenue full of pomp and circumstance that ultimately means next to nothing and is more like a surrender to cultural degeneration and political inertia.

“We’re the rebels,” they insist, while collecting checks from Goldman Sachs and rubbing shoulders with large, suddenly very woke corporations. They bring up all the old Iraq War boosters like John Kerry and Colin Powell to talk about “decency” and line up their new Republican muppets onstage to say some version or other of “my goodness, how horrid.” They buy full page newspaper ads of all the national security officials who support Biden.

This doesn’t win elections, to say the least, although focusing on how the “establishment” supported Clinton was one of the big ways that Trump managed to seize victory in 2016 despite his dire lack of experience or readiness.

The Script is Getting Old

For the Republicans, the Democrats are comprised of self-satisfied hypocrites and elitists as well as manipulated minorities and nagging nobodies who are obsessed with policing language, being offended and eating vegan food while talking about socialism. On the Republican side they compare Biden to Fidel Castro (seriously, what?) and have this shiny apple version of bowtie conservatism whose time has already come and gone.

Rightist politics is orange now because people didn’t want that polished schoolboy image anymore. Leftist politics is Bernie now because people didn’t want the neoliberal veneer. Both sides will do their best to talk about their embrace of their activist bases while making sure not to implement many of the major policies.

More voters will lose interest in the coming years and eventually split off from the national populist right and democratic socialist left. It’s a neverending cycle.

Drive-Thru Politics

I call it drive-thru politics. You pick a buzzword and a color and you munch down on the delicious political pickles and extra mustard and talk about how lame the other guy’s burger tastes. You get a momentary jolt of satisfaction: “I’m right and they’re wrong! Forget those idiots!” Then in a few hours you’re hungry again, however. The meal you ate had no substance, it just gave you a temporary food buzz.

You crave more high sugars and a delicious industrial sized bucket of freedom fries to fill the hole you just created by drinking a bunch of Coke and scarfing fries, so you let Nikki Haley fill you with puerile neoconservative political propaganda and Hillary Clinton whine about her disapproval of the electoral college system and how unfair the 2016 election was.

You try to feel that jolt of righteous anger. How dare they say that! But soon it dies down and you need a new jolt (this is not an energy drink endorsement of Jolt).

People are Smarter Than This

The truth is that people are smarter than this. Some of them, anyway.

A growing number of Americans are politically unaffiliated for a reason. They know the fix is in and that politicians are mostly heavily compromised. These “forgotten men and women” often turned up to vote for Trump, or Bernie Sanders, or any politician they felt could shake things up in the past. Boilerplate political conventions and signalling from both sides while American cities like Kenosha are engulfed in chaos and racial tensions are at a vicious high won’t bring over many new voters.

The new virtual era we’re in exposes a drive-thru politics that’s always – in some form – been a drive through politics. A veneer on real life and a self-stylized representation of scripted empathy that spiked even further after the introduction of television into politics in the 1960s. In fact, Richard Nixon was even convinced he lost his first race to JFK because of the latter looking better on TV in their debate, and it could be partly true.

Zooming Towards the Digitized Virtual Horizon

It’s a time of screens as we Zoom towards ever more fake virtual horizons, trying to drum up some inspiration from a broken system by legions of the people who helped break it. Many on the left will say Biden may not be perfect but he is much better than Trump; many on the right will say the exact same thing about Trump vs. Biden.

Then there’s everyone else.

The voters who aren’t a fan of either party and don’t feel represented or convinced by drive-thru politics may indeed show up to cast a ballot for Trump this November, but for many it will be because they don’t know what else to do other than stay home. The same will be true for many who show up to say yes to a Biden-Harris presidency.

The upcoming election will be like a kid being picked for a sports team because nobody else is left to pick, except this is picking the next most powerful person in the world.

Is it just me or is a telephone book selection system looking mighty tempting right about now?

It's a tough moment
LET'S STAY TOGETHER