Will Americans learn to trust their fellow citizens or stay
stuck on stupidly backing serial political betrayers?
I have been watching films from the 1940s and 1950s about
World War II. It was well known that Adolph Hitler was truly delusional. His
delusions prevented him from accepting wisdom and facts from experienced
military officers and others, and caused millions to suffer and die. Surely
George W. Bush resembles Hitler psychologically. His obsessive delusions about
his Iraq war are also causing incredible suffering and death, as well as
squandering our nation�s wealth.
Our constitutional democracy makes it nearly impossible to
free the nation from the grip of a seemingly sane but deeply delusional
president. The present constitutional provision for impeachment is clearly
inadequate. As with Hitler and other delusional tyrants, Bush has surrounded
himself with sycophants that share his delusions, and perhaps nurtured them,
and refuse to tell the emperor that he has no clothes. Congress, even under
Democratic control, commits negligent cowardice. And our mainstream press has
not rallied the nation to free itself from misused presidential power.
Also clear to some of us is that the delusional Bush has
survived because delusion runs rampant across the nation, blocking populist
actions in the national interest. Below are the main states of American
Millions of Americans persist in believing, contrary to all
historical evidence, that changing control of Congress and the Executive Branch
between Democrats and Republicans produces sorely needed reforms. But
mainstream politicians are serial betrayers. Thus, people suffer from
delusional political faith.
Millions of non-wealthy Americans believe that the economy
works for them. This persists despite reams of facts that show how working- and
middle-class people are not receiving their fair share of national income and
wealth. They keep running on a debt treadmill that will not take them to the
proverbial American dream. What they get is economic insecurity, inequality and
injustice. Consumer confidence is an oxymoron. This is delusional prosperity.
Viral delusional thinking is that America sets the gold
standard for democracies. The rest of the world, however, to its credit sees an
arrogant nation with a government that uses its military strength foolishly and
sees its policies rewarding the rich at the expense of all others. People from
Finland to New Zealand question why Americans do not receive universal health
care, why its workers are sacrificed for global trade and corporate powers, why
millions of its citizens go hungry and homeless, why so few people bother to
vote, why so many politicians are convicted of crimes, and why there are more
people in prisons than in all other countries combined. Yet Americans, by and
large, keep thinking that their constitutional republic gives them first class
democracy. This is delusional patriotism.
So, what are we to do? Keep expressing dissent by marching
and protesting in the streets? Keep signing petitions on the Internet? Keep
demanding impeachment of Bush? Keep reading and writing angry diatribes on
progressive websites? Keep voting for mainstream politicians from the two major
parties, hoping for a political messiah? Keep obeying Bush by borrowing,
spending, shopping and consuming to keep our debt-ridden nation afloat?
Such activities release anger, but are largely placebo
self-medications, unlikely to provide the permanent solutions our nation needs.
Protests serve more as entertainment for the nation than a force to tear down
the rotten system. Scale is a problem. Maybe if one million angry Americans sat
down peacefully in the streets all around the White House, defying police
action for many days, just maybe the system would crack. Protests must have a
revolutionary character. They must induce fear into the hearts of smug and
delusional power elites -- like Dick Cheney.
The real needs are structural reforms that combat the major
societal delusions that are driving America downhill. We must attack the root
causes of problems rather than provide temporary relief or cover-up of
Delusional political faith and delusional prosperity require
profound reforms in our political system. A new competitive political party is
needed. One that is guided by a set of principles that both mainstream
Democrats and Republicans cannot opportunistically accept, because the
principles clearly conflict with their rotten behavior. A recent New America
Foundation survey of Californians found that �seven in 10 voters say they often
feel they must choose the lesser of two evils; more than half the voters say
California needs another major political party.�
Delusional patriotism is tougher to remedy. To revitalize
American democracy we must have a national dialogue. Heed the words of the
great John Marshall: �The people made the constitution, and the people can
unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will.� And
James Madison: �the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible
right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or
inadequate to the purposes of its institution.� Thomas Jefferson believed that
the constitution-drafting process should be repeated by each generation of
Americans. That�s what real freedom is all about. A great democracy must be
much more than stable -- it must be self-correcting.
When a political system no longer deserves trust, citizens
must trust themselves. Considering how doggedly our unrepresentative democracy
stays under the grip of monied special interests and fails large portions of
Americans, more direct democracy aimed squarely at major reforms is desperately
needed. That requires a lot more than protesting and ranting. Some urge
citizens� assemblies (see Citizens for U.S. Direct Initiative and
Healthy Democracy) or national initiative elections. I and others
believe that we have a constitutional right to Article
V Conventions. However, elitist status quo forces have made the population
afraid of such activities -- a sick delusional, status quo bias belief. If it
persists, Americans will not set themselves free of the oppressive forces that
have hijacked their nation. They will keep venting their anger as dissenters or
stay distractive consumers rather than work to return power to the people.
Let�s not delude ourselves that all will be well afterBushis gone. As awful asBush
is, he is a symptom of what ails our nation. Our nation will remain in need of deep reforms. Millions of
dissidents must wake up to what is really needed and rally around a
S. Hirschhorn�s new book is Delusional
Democracy -- Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the
Government. He can be reached through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.