To test the relevance of my older work with Neil Levy, Tom Rifle, and Bill Carson to current times, I randomly selected an sVHS tape from one of the boxes of masters and adjunct footage related to Art Temple and The Temple Tapes. It was not a master tape and the writing on the label was unintelligible. I captured 3 segments of 10 minutes each. Capture. Fast forward. Repeat. Turns out it was mostly a long shot of Neil and I talking just after the 2002 election. Is it relevant 14 years later? Let’s take a look.
The Boycott Major Parties Movement was one topic of the conversation recorded in November 2002. The Occupy Write In 2016 Campaign was the latest rendition of an Electoral Jam. The whole Temple Tapes/Art Temple Mandala thing started with us taking credit for the Great Electoral Dysfunction of 2000. We’ve been pushing this idea for a long time. We got almost as much traction in 2016 as in 2002. The basis of the campaign was the boycott of single candidate races and repurposing the write-in space to promote movements, ideas, and people. Despite the minimal level of engagement for Occupy Write In, our intent has manifest in the Minneapolis City ranked choice voting system. The RCV system in MPLS requires unopposed candidates to earn at least 50% of all votes cast in the race to win in the first round. This gives write-in votes, any write-in vote, much more weight than in the winner-take-all voting systems. It also gives a serious leg up to well-organized write-in campaigns. The City of Minneapolis has effectively recycled votes that were wasted by the previous electoral system by enriching the write-in votes with RCV. I’m gonna call that a victory.
Our boycott of the Major Parties also went a bit more mainstream at the national level in 2016. The last election featured so many Third Party candidates that our ages-old effort to introduce the Alternative Party tag seemed ready to take off. The serious efforts of the Libertarian and Green Parties to get either Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, or both in the televised debates, almost bore fruit. Protest voting went mainstream with Evan McMullin touring the news shows. Both Major Party nominees were divisive within the party that chose them. The result was like 2000 but without the drama of recounts and pregnant chads. The candidate with the majority of popular votes got sent home and the loser won because of a special mechanism that may or may not be a good thing, but looks a lot like a curse. The Greens pushed recounts where the main$tream parties would rather sweep stuff under the rug, or stick it back inside Matryoshka dolls. Bottom line, Trump takes office with a record-setting deficit in the popular vote tally, surrounded by a gang of belligerent billionaires, nazi-boys, and pussy-grabbers. Meanwhile, a fake battle over competing fake news blows a shabby smokescreen over the real corruption rolling on in front of our eyes. These are the times that try American political parties. Sometimes they break. All tolled, election 2016 was pretty much as expected for a political system under a Stopped Sun for the last 16 years.
The next clip is so relevant it is almost redundant. Pointing to the continued blatant corruption of politicians from 2002 through 2016 as evidence of continued relevance of the Temple Tapes would be like shooting fish in a barrel, or getting an executive bonus after crashing the company. It is too easy and beneath us. The term, “technically not illegal”, is a highlight. This one has been refined a bit over time: “everything we did was legal”. Our Dear PET (President Elect Trump) refined this mantra to fit his low ball tax advantages. Only pay the taxes you can’t avoid, dodge, or write-off. Its the American way. Maximize personal benefit from every law and exploit every loophole. That’s the genius of a businessman. Donny knows all about it, just ask his kids. They know what’s good for them.
In the next random fragment from the Temple Tapes video vault, Levy brings up the idea of an imaginary candidate of the future that’s in it for justice and equity. It is interesting to think of Bernie Sanders 2016 because Neil often reminded me of Larry David – probably the accent – and David has revived his schtick by parodying Sanders. Full circle. Closed loop.
When Okar brings up the role of angry white men in the 2002 Republican electoral success, he presages the rise of Trump and the Rabid Right. Talkin’ shit and bustin’ heads. We saw it coming. We always have. The clip ends as they point to popular culture as the culprit. Tempted as I am to point out a few positive aspects of pop culture and culture in general, I recall that Trump crawled out of the cesspool of reality TV that the Temple Tapes aimed to undercut. That is what Trans Reality TV was all about.