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Thursday, 20 December 2007

The Perversion of American Democracy

category_bug_politics.gif I am more discouraged and hopeless about the future today than I have ever been. I'm exhausted from the presidential campaign from which I have learned nothing about the candidates except their most excessive beliefs - or, rather, pronouncements, because there is no way to know what they believe. Their messages shift with the wind of the polls and all we are given by the news media day after day, hour upon hour (and where else is there to go for information?) is who is ahead by five points or 10 points or behind by 15.

Perhaps my hopelessness (and no small amount of fear) is what comes from a close reading over the past five or six hours of campaign coverage - in two dozen newspapers and at least that many political websites and blogs of all stripes, some research into the background of big-money campaign supporters plus the general television news coverage of the past few days which I spot check in the morning, at midday and evening.

The news is always the same - they just recycle yesterday's script and substitute new numbers. I could recite it from memory except for the shifting poll statistics.

From what I can glean, half the Democrats are crypto-Republicans and half the Republicans want to establish a theocracy in America. As a friend refers to him, "that Mormon fellow," trying unsuccessfully to channel John F. Kennedy didn't come within light years of JFK's unequivocal, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." Instead he told us "freedom requires religion". God save me and our country from all the ignorant religionists in America (and that's not irony).

I don't mean to single out Governor Romney. All the candidates but one of both parties are smarmy suckups paying lip service to democracy with their carefully crafted non-statements calculated to be empty of substance so they will be beholden to nothing and no one if they are elected.

There is one exception among them, Dennis Kucinich, but the public is not being allowed to hear the lone voice of reality and intelligence in the campaign. The news media almost never lists him in the preference rankings even though he regularly outpolls Senator Biden and Senator Dodd.

And on 13 December, Kucinich was shamefully and shamelessly banned by CNN and sponsor The Des Moines Register from participating in the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses based on the stupendously stupid excuse that he doesn't have a campaign office in Iowa, instead working out of his home. Will someone explain to me how this is different from tyranny where the power elite decide whose voices may be heard.

For the rest of them, every healthcare plan is variation on every other healthcare plan designed to further enrich the insurance companies. No one has anything new to say about improving education. All equivocate on the illegal immigrant debate which is a phony issue, anyway - immigrants are here to stay because corporations want the cheap labor.

I can't find anything useful from any candidate about the horrendous economic problems they will inherit if elected. And not one has addressed how they will restore the civil liberties the Bush administration has removed from the Constitution. Or the hundreds of signing statements with which the president has neutered Congressional legislation.

The pundits - paid press and unpaid bloggers (yes, me too) - discuss the issues and candidates as though they matter. Only one thing matters - the person who will be selected president, and I use the word "selected" purposefully because the corporatocracy decides who wins.

So what if Ron Paul raises $6 million in one day. Corporations can dump a hundred times that much into the campaign in the blink of an eye. What's that to such as a CEO of Goldman Sachs who was paid $70 million in 2007 - and that's just salary, not yet counting his year-end bonus. Some predict the cost of this presidential election will come close to a billion dollars. Think what that amount could do for the education system or those 47 million citizens without health coverage.

As backup - just in case the American public is pissed off enough to see through the money haze - the corporatocracy, much of it controlled by the most zealous of the religious right, have their rigged voting machines to assure the victory of their candidate. Our government is owned by corporations, exists to serve the wealthy and the next election is already decided. The 11 months between now and election day are a charade, a perversion of democracy.

And you know what? Even if all that weren't so, when was the last time any president lived up to his campaign promises?

[In keeping with the approaching holiday, today at The Elder Storytelling Place, Lia tells of the Ghost of Christmas Past.]


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 03:16 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I share your feelings of being discouraged, Ronni, and there are days when I want to jump in a hole and pull it in after me. I vow to ignore the political news because I get too depressed. But, political junkie that I am, I can't resist one intriguing headline and I'm hooked again.

The most depressing part to me is the apathy of the voting masses. The only thing that can save our way of life are the voices of the public crying out in protest. When you read of the number of people who still think Saddam had something to do with 9/11 you know that voice won't be heard until it's too late. Most people don't even know the names of their representatives. Ben Franklin was right, "You have a Republic if you can keep it." Silence is not golden in this case.

I agree with you that very few, if any,campaign promises have been kept by the President. He didn't make any promises to me because he was my LAST choice and ,of course, I didn't vote for him.

The Evangelicals elected Bush because he promised to do the things that they felt were important.

Bush has been in office for 7 years now and has had both a Republican Senate and House of Representatives, and a nearly all hand picked conservative Supreme Court.

Yet, in those 7 years,he has not accomplished one thing the Evangelicals elected him to do. He has failed them as miserably as he has failed all Americans.

Abortion is still legal in America.

The Ten Commandments still cannot be displayed in the Courthouse.

Evolution is still the theory of choice in public schools.

The Morning After pill is now available over the counter.

Stem Cell research is going full speed ahead thanks to private funding.

So, how can the Religious Right deceive themselves into thinking that any candidate that they elect simply because he is Evangelical is going to stick to their agenda?

Bush has been a disaster for all Americans, but particularly disappointing to the religious right.

When they see Gov. Huckabee's Christmas greetings with a subliminal white cross highlighted behind him, they should run,not walk, away from him as fast as they can.....Don't they ever learn???

Yes, it's a very scary and upsetting time. What happened to the country in which I thought I grew up? It mystifies me. Were we never the people I thought or did something change? Is it a media drumbeat intended to create what is happening? The media is owned by the neo-con types which are fascists to anyone who bothers to look in their dictionary and yes are in both parties. I liked what Ron Paul said recently as he cited a quote-- when fascism comes to this country, it'll come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. It's what we see today and if it's not frightening, you are not thinking!

Ronnie, not to be too cute or too imitative, "I feel your pain." And, indeed, you feel mine. Yet, with 14 grandchildren's future in mind I compel myself to say, "This too shall pass." We are, after all, an amazingly adaptive species and I therefore strive to optimistically say that we are passing through a period of darkness on our way to a brighter future.

Wishing you a joy-full Holiday Season,

David

Here, here!

The great Smokey Robinson says it best for me: I second that emotion!

And Kucinich has always been my choice since the '08 drive to the goalposts began. I have listened to the other candidates, but like you, I found they are just puppets - full of sawdust rhetoric, dancing on a gaudy stage, with all too visible strings tied to every movement.

Punch and Judy seem more flesh and bone than the present contenders to the throne. And we all know who the Professor is for this show - Corporate America.


I am so discouraged this time that I made up my mind early and am turning off listenning to all the fuss and feathers treating it as if it were spam.

Your blogs always consider me a problem. Usually I have to leave those filtering numbers three or four times before the blogs will take my notes. Today, tho I tried repeatedly, The Elder Storytelling Place would not take a note from me on Lia's story. It repeatedly told me I was spam. Gee, is it what goes around comes around. I had to laugh.

Did you catch the Katie Couric interview with Romney? He was asked if he ever gets angry/loses his temper? He said he never does. Then a few minutes later he admits kicking a door! What gives with this guy? I can speak as a Mass. resident, don't vote for him!

It's a fine mess we're in, for sure. And, until we figure out a way to regulate corporations we will be in that mess. All of the progress we made between 1933 and 1968 has been erased. The Democrats have long since been absorbed by the Corporate Party. The Republicans ARE the Corporate Party. Red versus Blue is as meaningful as the colors of sweatshirts on pro-Football fans.

Let's keep swinging for the fences though.

Mage:

Your comment is now posted at The Elder Storytelling Place. Typepad's new spam filter is way over-zealous. Fortunately, I can release them to the site. This happened to one of yours, Rabon, yesterday, which I've now posted - and a couple of other people.

As to the difficulty with the CAPTCHA security, I feel your pain, Mage. I KNOW I've typed correctly, but it sometimes doesn't "take." I've also complained that the Typepad version of CAPTCHA is hard for elder eyes to read, but no fix has been forthcoming.

Growing up in the south and knowing more than my share of Baptist I believe what Kennedy was saying to them was what they wanted to hear. These guys taught absolute separation of state and church. However they also believed in absolute separation of the races.

During the Carter years the Supreme Court ruled on a case concerning the racist practices of Bob Jones University saying that to discriminated based on race took them out of the charitable organization classification. That would then open them up for taxation. (Notice this is also about the time the Mormons decided blacks could become Mormons reversing historical stand on rejecting blacks.) All the yelling about abortion and gays is and has been a cover for their previous racist stands and fear of being taxed. Why else would they reject on of theirs’ - Carter, a well known Baptist and Sunday school teacher - for a divorced non-church going Reagan? There was a reason for Reagan's speech in the south promoting state's rights and it was pandering to the racist. And at the time this included most Baptist leaders if not most Baptist in the South. (Some quick reading on the subject can be found in Thy Kingdom Come - How The Religious Right Distorts The Faith and Threatens America by Randall Balmer.) Even today one finds two Baptist churches in the south. Black and White, although you do find a few blacks now attending some "First Baptist" churches.

That brings us to the 'now' - if the religious right can control the state they can control the tax issue - but what they do not understand from history is that once you mix the two you kill religion and do great harm to Democracy and freedom of religious choice. If they are successful in doing this their members in the long run will regret the government-state marriage. And my children and grandchildren will be in Sweden or such.

Post script: Notice the outrage of allowing gays to marry and such – I would give you ten to one odds deep in there concern is this fear that if they show open discrimination to gays, up will come the taxation issue again.

As much as I agree re: Corporate America I believe that a lot of "one issue" voters are also to blame as well. I know many woman who are supporting Hillary because she is pro choice (and probably has sold her soul to corporate America given her huge war chest) or Mike Huckabee because he's a Christian. That isn't enough.

A stance on one issue should not ever be one's only criteria for one's choice for the Presidency. The issues facing this country are many.

I'm choosing my candidate by his/her record on ALL the issues particularly the Constitution which has been ignored by most candidates and recent administrations. There isn't a single candidate with whom I agree on everything nor will there ever
be. My choice will be based on the big picture.



As a non-American, I can only empathize with your pain.

I watched the first Democratic candidates debate in Las Vegas and, of all the candidates, Dennis Kucinich was the one who impressed me the most. I wondered why I hadn't heard of him before. Then on another forum, was told that he's too extreme (i.e. too far left) for the Dems. Huh? He just sounded sensible to me.

According to the pundits up here, our Prime Minister, a Conservative (both big c and little c), would be considered a Democrat in the US. Viewed in that light, it's quite scary to think how far right the US has swung in only a few years.

Maybe corporate America and religiosity really has taken over. I don't know if the power base has shifted so much that it can't be wrenched back into the hands of the people.

I do know it must be disheartening to feel like you're fighting an uphill battle - but what's the alternative? Unless individual citizens keep speaking up and speaking out over what is wrong, your democracy will most certainly morph into something your founding fathers didn't intend.

All you Americans who still give a damn, please don't give up the fight. The world is watching.

I tried to post earlier but couldn't get past the spam filter. I will try again.

I agree that the political situation is depressing. I find none of the candidates inspiring. Right now I am for Kucinich because of his stand on health insurance and his other positions are not objectionable. The news presented a tantalizing quote from Obama in which he called for new ways of dealing with other countries but if he presented any concrete notions of what those new ways were the news did not see fit to include them. I really hate sound bits. Some years ago I likened the corporate news media to a 'whore' giving her clients what they wanted. Now I think it is a particularly inept whore providing what 'service' it thinks the client wants. I and many people I know have been extremely dissatisfied with that service for a very long time. Unfortunately, I think it will be very difficult for me to keep my New Year's goal (I don't make resolutions) and hold on to a more upbeat mood.

Let's not be so discouraged. We could be living in the Dark Ages you know but instead we have the power to communicate. We can demonstrate and rage against those in power. With the internet, such as this website, we can share our views and powerful people interest groups can circulate what the people don't always get from the news media.

We must never give up. I have been in full care of my husband for 1 1/2 years with no government support for custodial care in our home. But I am writing a book uncovering all the ways we need to change things. I am doing a simple video about the needs of the family caregiver and the ways that we need to change society to include family support services. I will never give up.

We have our bonsai Spruce tree up in our living room with decorations that have graced our tree for many Christmases. I have my doll collection displayed all about the house. We are having a family drop-in on Christmas Day and I will serve fruitcake (yes, we like fruitcake),
popcorn, Christmas bread, crackers and cheese and hot spiced cider.

Our health aide didn't show today but I am still able enough to fill in during an emergency. Life is good.

But as soon as I am more able, I will start raging again with the RAGING GRANNIES who dress outrageously and sing protest parodies about changing the world.

In the meantime I am celebrating this holiday season and shining my light as far as it will shine.

In my opinion, Bush is certainly the worst President we have had to endure. But in my 71 years I have never admired or respected any President wholeheartedly, even when some were more in line with my policies or seemed more authentic. 2007 seems like more of the same. Even though I am quite attentive to poltical news, it is a search below the sound bites to focus on who will do the most good and the least harm. A serious and sad task.

As another MA resident, I echo Rhea regarding Romney. I think the media is part of the problem. Last week Europe was focused on the climate crisis conference in Bali. It was in the news for three or four days. Here we got just a brief summary, if any at all, after its conclusion.

Thank goodness there is an "off/on" selection on the remote. My good ole' tape player is serving me well these past few weeks! Dee

I doubt that Dennis Kucinich could ever be elected President. Not TALL enough....

Imagine trying to get Harry Truman elected today, and yet Truman was one of our better Presidents.

He had the guts to shorten the war and save thousands of American lives by using the atomic bomb.

He established the Marshall Plan which gave Europe a leg up and didn't leave our former enemies resentful and ready to start another war as soon as possible.

He is responsible in part for America having a middle class by signing into law the GI Bill which provided a college education to all veterans.Until then only rich MEN went to college. Veterans could also buy a home for their family using their VA benefits.

I have no doubt that Dennis Kucinich could be a very good president too, except, as I said earlier, we will never elect a president who is not TALL. Never mind what else he is, how smart he is, how honest he is, how full of ideas he is, he must be TALL.

After all, we DO have our standards!

Exactly, Ronni. Well said. Unfortunately that is little satisfaction given the situation. It is discouraging. Please don't give up and please don't shut up. Your voice helps to keep others thinking and moving on.

I read this post yesterday with interest and a heavy heart. Then I read Mother Jones summary of the candidates. More fuel for the idea that we don't have a candidate who would really make a difference.

I subscribe to the idea that things can change in surprising ways and that the problem cannot usually be solved at the level at which it was created. (idea attributed to Einstein). Given that, I've been asking myself, "What could make a difference?" This morning I woke up with this idea: Write in Brad Pitt for President. If name recognition is all that's needed...
I like what he's doing in New Orleans.

You know the rules of brainstorming, don't discard ideas immediately. See what's right about them first. So I will continue to invite creative solutions, simple answers for even big problems. That's not my only response, but it may be the one with the most impact.

Admittedly, I tend to hang around Internet venues like this one that expresses views close to my own, but everywhere I turn I see people pointing to Dennis Kuchinch as their favorite. Yet the media has declared him unelectable. Comedians call him a pixie. He's short. Of course, we Americans have demonstrated time and time again that we don't want an intelligent president.

Admittedly, I tend to hang around Internet venues like this one that expresses views close to my own, but everywhere I turn I see people pointing to Dennis Kuchinch as their favorite. Yet the media has declared him unelectable. Comedians call him a pixie. He's short. Of course, we Americans have demonstrated time and time again that we don't want an intelligent president.

I haven't been excited about any Presidential candidate since Adlai Stevenson. And who remembers him now?

My sense of the world lately is that everyone lies to me, almost nonstop -- from my students to my condo board to local officials to the national politicans and journalists. It all feels like a sham -- and a very dangerous one when people start talking about WWIII as if it's a given.

The political scene is discouraging. Add in climate change and peak oil and it’s a wonder any of us get out of bed in the morning. But, you know, it’s possible that these problems are not objectively worse than problems in past eras. What seems to be worse sometimes is our ability to deal with it – to pick ourselves up and do what we can.

Ronni, I believe that what you’re doing in helping inform people, like yesterday’s post on Social Security, is helpful. I know that’s what keeps me going - continuing to try to inform people and encourage them to keep trying. I don’t know. The alternative – giving up – just won’t work for me.

The perversion of American Democracy into its current morphorm - which fits well into the definition of fascism - lies directly at the feet of We The People of these United States.

We fell asleep at the switch. We did not heed Eisenhower's warnings against the military/industrial complex, nor did we pay attention to "that man behind the curtain", per the Wizard of Oz, when it was necessary to do so (i.e., all the presidents, congresses & judiciaries since Eisenhower and the megacorporations). And we decided to "let George do it" - without so much as a peep - and so he has. It is said that one always reaps what one sows, and now we are. It's time for US All to grow up and do our collective job - even if it means taking to the streets - and take back that which is ours. None of the curious blend of candidates will be able to do it alone unless We stand up with - or against - whoever is (s)elected.

End of Rant.

Check out www.freedomkeys.com/vigil.htm for a bit of perspective; 'tain't the first time we've been here - probably won't be the last.

By the way, I don't trust any person who claims to have 'the solution' - especially not if they're in politics. I go by how closely their views match my own.

Besides, anyone who would decide to run for the office of the president of the United States is obviously unqualified by reason of insanity.

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