As we enter yet another presidential election season, let’s consider the 1986 message from the band Timbuk 3, that “Presidential elections are planned distractions.” Is that just clever rhyming, or is there something to it?

The song claims: “Presidential Elections Are Planned Distractions”

What are presidential elections, really? Are they chances for the public to determine the course of the country for the next four years? If so, does the people’s will prevail? If not, what are elections all about?

Sometimes, music and poetry can say things in ways that traditional prose can’t. Enjoy these lyrics, and this music video:

Timbuk 3, “Just Another Movie”, 1986

Presidential elections are planned distractions
To divert attention from the action behind the scenes
Like a game of chess when the house is a mess
Or a petty money squabble when your marriage is in trouble
Or a football game when there’s rioting in the streets

It’s just another movie, another song and dance
Another poor sucker who never had a chance
It’s just another captain going down with his ship
Just another jerk, taking pride in his work

I was a poor magician; I could never understand
You can’t make tears disappear through sleight of hand
From the bottom of my heart—off the top of my head
Words were pulled like rabbits from a hat but nothing was said

Now my freedom’s bought and paid for—it lights up my living room
I got nothing more to prove; I’ve got no reason to move
And when I’m tired of the program—when it’s taken its toll
I can press a button, change the channel by remote control


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