The Supreme Court has just handed the remains of America’s pseudo-democracy to the corporate elite. Previously, corporations could form Political Action Committees which would solicit donations from shareholders and workers and hire lobbyists who would influence elected officials with money. Eventually a state/market relationship was formed which led to rampant corporate favoritism in the form of contracts. Most notably in the case of Halliburton. Now, though, corporations can use their own funds (without limit) to back candidates and political parties.
Let’s take a look at our political system. We lack direct democracy and vote through a convoluted electoral college system. Third party candidates are shoved to the side through a sideshow of flaming hoops in order to even get placed on the ballot. Democrats and Republicans don’t have to jump through these hoops because they’re established parties.
Next, the Commission on Presidential Debates (run by the two major parties) makes prohibitive polling requirements to exclude third party candidates, thus denying them a voice.
Somewhere in here, corporations and lobbyists bombard candidates with campaign money, support and promises of future support should things go their way. There’s no such thing as “money for nothing”. In the past, these corporations could only solicit so much money in donations and only spend so much on the candidates. Now, though, they have free reign. They don’t even have to solicit donations. They can use money from their own coffers.
Big media (owned by six companies with the same interests) then uses “news” broadcasts to steer public opinion. Sometimes they outright lie. Other times they simply exclude major details. Most of the time they present one sliver of an issue as the entire thing. They manipulate the perspective of voting citizens by manipulating what they’re exposed to.
At this point we’ve narrowed the field of candidates to those who either already subscribe to an ideology favored by big business and the two major parties (who, if you lift the sheets, you’ll find in bed with big business) or who can easily be made to do the bidding of the corporate elite because they’re too compromising or easily corrupted.
Now we get to vote. This is the democracy we live in. One in which candidates are groomed and vetted by elite interests. One in which voters’ perception of truth is distorted. One in which the truth is obscured and nothing is transparent. One in which, ultimately, your vote matters very little and money rules the day. That day is November 4th, by the way.
So, Peep The Strategy
Does it make sense to participate in a system in which even when you win you lose? People say that socialism is idealistic. They say that anarchism is idealistic. They say that direct, participatory democracy is idealistic. What, though, is more idealistic than voting for candidates who benefit from a system that is an insult to democracy and expecting them to change it? What is more idealistic than voting for candidates who have survived the corporate gauntlet and expecting them to disempower the very people who allowed them to succeed? What is more idealistic than sitting day after day, election after election and seeing the people you’ve elected not just disappoint you, but work against you and still expect them to change?
I know it’s scary. It’s scary to think that we live in a country with a completely broken political system. It’s scary to realize that there is a neo-aristocracy running the show. Fear, though, does not negate reality. You can keep voting and keep waiting for change but you reap what you sow.
It’s time, then, that we end this reliance on politicians, our political system and traditional methods of activism. Don’t change the world with your vote. You won’t. Don’t write letters to your representative. Most of them, honestly, don’t care. In fact, they’ll likely come up with some poor legislation which looks like it addresses the issue but is designed to have no impact whatsoever. A good example of this is the Democrats’/Obama’s credit card legislation. Don’t petition.
Let’s abstain from a system that insults us. The electoral system, as it stands, is only legitimate if it is used. As long as people vote, the politicians are justified in their actions. They have “democracy” and “the people” on their side. One may argue that an even worse candidate will win, then! We voted (well, I didn’t) overwhelmingly for Obama. He gave us air raids in Pakistan and Yemen. He gave us an economic branch of the federal government made up of white collar criminals from the Savings and Loans Scandal days. He gave the banks all of our money. He glossed over torture and extraordinary rendition but somehow made everyone believe they had ended. He did nothing about rampant home foreclosures or skyrocketing unemployment. He defanged the already weak UAW. He approached popular support of the legalization of marijuana as if it weren’t extremely important to both domestic affairs but international ones, too. He snubbed the LGBTA community but plans on throwing them DADT as a consolation. He surged the war in Afghanistan. He continues to allow Blackwater to receive government contracts. He didn’t touch NAFTA. He didn’t touch the USA PATRIOT Act. He saber-rattled with Iran and North Korea. He did nothing about the overturning of democracy in Honduras. He remained silent on Israel’s massacre of Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead. Does he sound like a Republican yet? There are two parties in this country, but they’re a siamese twin. I don’t buy that McCain would be worse. He’d be terrible in much the same way. There is no least-worst candidate. Both candidates are the worst. One is just better at making you believe he’s not as bad.
Instead, let’s organize ourselves. No one’s saying it will be easy, but at least it will be honest. We can tackle many of the domestic issues ourselves if we stop relying on the unreliable and commit ourselves to action. As far as international concerns? The majority of our security problems are caused by the economic and military interventionism of the elite. The current War on Terror is a product of U.S. intervention in the Middle East since the Cold War. America’s safety is being further compromised by the War On Terror which is adding massive amounts of fuel to the flame.
I’m not saying that we can have cooperative health care facilities, democratic free schools, community militias, free housing and democratic workplaces by tomorrow. I’m not even saying that we’ll have them in my lifetime. What I am saying is that throwing your effort towards this process isn’t idealistic. Whereas voting for the same candidates and parties within the same system and expecting different results is just plain insane.
It always starts with a spark. Gather some kindling. By that I mean get together with people in your community. Find people with common issues. Make a commitment to one another and people in similar situations to at least try to find ways to solve these problems collectively. That’s how it starts. The revolution is social before it’s political. We need to break free from our current, individualistic, government-centered mindsets and start thinking as if our neighbors are our family and our neighborhoods are our homes. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.
If you want me to be a part of your community, send me an e-mail. We’ll chat.