The Man Behind the Curtain

In the Wizard of Oz, you will recall, the loyal watchdog Toto (think media for this brief item), pulls aside the curtain hiding the sham wizard, who is turning wheels and belching smoke from behind his phony throne. He is exposed for the fraud he is (the GOP Super PACs created by the Supremely flawed Court).

Our intrepid heros and heroine (the American voters) are for the moment stunned that their quest for salvation has been for nought. But the wizard placates the innocents with illusory symbols of their quest ( a diploma for brains, a medal for bravery and a watch for a heart), only to leave poor Dorothy without a way home.

After their defeat of the wicked witch, (supply your own villain) Dorothy returns to the wizard only to find that he is unable to keep his promise. Toto (the media again) chases a harmless cat and the wizard in his balloon (the Romney campaign) leaves by himself to enjoy his wizardry unfazed by his failure.

I am suggesting in this somewhat strained analogy that this election cycle is all about such illusion, sadly from both sides, with carefully (or not so carefully) scripted versions of alternate realities designed to either whip up our fears (the GOP) or exaggerate our successes (the Obama campaign), and we are left dazed and confused in a field of poppies (our television screens).

To a great extent, but for different reasons, our two candidates are not comfortable revealing themselves. The president is withdrawn by nature, whereas Romney is withdrawn by character. As Emerson put the matter in "Illusions," "Men who make themselves felt in the world avail themselves of a certain fate in their constitution, which they know how to use. But they never deeply interest us unless they lift a corner of the curtain, or betray never so slightly their penetration of what is behind it."

So this being the case in 2012, what are we to do? The best course of action for the country is to ignore the wizards and instead keep our eye on the best of what America can and needs to be: moving forward with civil and individual rights, with security for those in need, with safe and effective medical care for all, and securing a safe environment to pass on to our children (and their children and their children).

So as the wizard says, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."