Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum, and You (a commentary on the 2012 Presidential election and the superfluous nature of voting in our current political system)
The Presidential election of 2012 demonstrates the minute differences between the two American political parties and the big-money-backed business platform on which they both run. Think about the current state of the world: Economies are collapsing all over the globe thanks to the "work" of greedy mafia-minded banksters; the American war-machine strikes civilian populated areas through the red eye of a drone's camera lens; and all the while our civil liberties slowly erode at the hands of an aristocratic oligarchy determined to maintain and expand their power. They preach peace and security in an Orwellian irony while the everyday American citizen settles for the mind-numbing droll of television.
It makes me wonder why I take the time to vote at all. Democracy is based on the idea that my voice- added to my communities'- will help shape public policy. However, between corporate backed super PACs, voter ID laws, and a trustee philosophy of governance my vote- and yours- has devolved into little more than a Facebook "like." Yet corporations and the rich spend millions- and soon billions- of dollars on advertisements in order to sway and brainwash the everyday American with soaring rhetoric about change, lower taxes, and a "better America." Meanwhile, you and I are essentially forced to work until we ache in our bones just to pay the rent and keep food on the table. Not to mention the struggle to maintain health insurance, a retirement, and education for our kids. But politicians are out of touch with our reality.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are poster boys- or should I say playboys?- for the out-of-touch governor. Ryan's budget plan seeks to gut Medicare with a zealous gusto for smaller government as if it were the unchallenged will of the people. But has he or Mitt addressed the real problem with Medicare (i.e. the lack of solvency based on indiscriminate military spending and inept tax policy)? Have the American people become so mad about social safety nets that they are taking to the streets to bring it down? No. The people have not played a role in shaping the GOP platform. The aristocratic oligarchy has kept everyday conservatives so drunk on Superbowls and foxy news that they have forgotten that it is their responsibility to set their own agenda. So their agendas are spoon fed to them like they are sitting in a high chair gulping down bullshit and calling it caviar. (Are they?)
The Democrats are no better. In 2008, President-elect Obama promised us change with a capital "C". He promised the purposeful end to the war in Iraq, deescalation in Afghanistan, real healthcare reform, and that the financial industry would no longer gamble away our pensions and social security on hedge bets. Instead our military was unwillingly thrown out of Iraq at the insistence of the Iraqi government, tens of thousands more men and women were (and are) sent to die in the streets of Kandahar, Congress granted the insurance industry probably the biggest handout yet, and the banks have only gotten more mafia-like. And my favorite: Mr. Obama promised that he would not take unaccountable superPAC money. Yet when the election cycle came back around this year Mr. President wavered, bent, and broke. I haven't even mentioned the 2,100 civilian deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan alone or Guantanamo's curiously still open doors. And all of this military might is coming from a sophisticated Democratic Constitutional lawyer from Harvard. What the hell are we going to do if a trigger-happy Republican decides that Iran looked at us the wrong way?
Money and mass media politics have co-opted government to the point of flaccidity. During "Water Gate," Richard Nixon's approval rating was an astoundingly high 26%. The Congressional approval rating for the last few years has been hovering around 9%. 9%! That means for every ten people you meet nine of them think that Congress is a bunch of over-entitled fat cats pulling the marionette strings of public opinion with cockamamy blueprints of a red or blue Eden. Yet they ignore the cries and shouts of anger of the people.
But what about third party candidates? Surely, Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, and Al Gore have pushed the conversation to the left right? Candidates like Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala- the 2012 Green Party Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominees- have fantastic platforms and campaigns. The Green Party is advocating for political reform, equal rights, and ecological sustainability. And what's their idea of a campaign stop? They performed an act of civil disobedience and were arrested at a Fannie Mae in Philadelphia to highlight the epidemic of big bank foreclosures that are plaguing Americans everyday. That's the kind of President I want! So where are they in this election? Lost in the milieu of obscurity. A staffer on the campaign told me it was because they don't have the money. Our two party system commands so much coin that it is nearly impossible to challenge it. So the Republicans and Democrats buy the billboards, the airwaves, and your attention with mind-numbing ads and empty speeches while we are left pacified by our tvs and our exhaustion.
Why do we let these people rule us? Rule us. We allow people-mostly old rich white men- who 91% of the country find to be irresponsible, inept, and unqualified to conceive of, implement, and even break our laws. And yet we wave our flags, buy our McDonald's from the wheelchair of our obesity, and belt the Star-Spangled Banner like it was Amazing Grace- at least until we lose our breath from the emphysema. Yet we are the shining beacon of freedom and democracy in the world? Ha! And what's worse is we let them do it. We sit by year after year, choose the lesser of two evils, and shrug our woes off like it was the hand of fate- or God. We are just as much to blame as them for the derelict nature of our government as they are. We should be in the streets with torches and pitchforks! Democracy requires education and participation: we are entertained and pacified.
So you may ask: what do we do? First, we accept our failures. We accept that we have let these bankers rob us blind, these politicians deceive us, and these rich men dictate our paychecks, our privacy, and our dignity. Then we take that fire that arises in our bellies from the realization and direct it toward the real enemy- apathy. If we are to have a real democracy we are going to have to take an active role in tearing down the rich man's temple and build a new foundation based on equality, compassion, dignity for all humans, and fairness. Such are the underpinnings of a just society. Then rich men will not rule us, dictate to us, or manipulate us. We will have direct control over our government and our lives in a true democracy. But it will not come easy. Democracy is never given: it is earned. What am I voting? No confidence.