By Frank Scott
Journal Contributing Writer
Feb 5, 2005, 20:50
A lavish inaugural under police state conditions reminds us
that 2005 began with the immoral war and disputed election that ended 2004. And
we have other problems. The conditions of our political economy and our
cultural arrogance could get much worse, and they will if our social
intelligence and collective morality don�t get much better. Hope for the best,
prepare for the worst.
Furor over the 2004 vote may lead to reforms of a system
that has always served ruling interests, despite democratic mythology. Our
electoral setup is so corrupt that we might as well have let the puppet regime
in Iraq count our votes. That savaged nation may suffer far more, physically,
but the hypocrisy of its alleged democracy is almost on a par with our own.
While many justifiably criticize U.S. balloting
imperfections, they are late in noticing that poverty and race loom large in
whether people are able to vote at all. What is shameful in this belated
awakening to electoral injustice is the hypocrisy of Democrats who told Ralph
Nader�s supporters to take their democracy and shove it, but now squeal about
the unfairness of Republicans. Chutzpah?
Casting votes and accurately counting them are important,
but without real control over the process of what people are voting for, in the
first place, such control means little or nothing, in the second place.
We elect presidents who never garner an actual majority of
the electorate. Even the relatively large turnout of 2004 saw more than 40
percent of eligibles stay home, despite hysterical propaganda that said their
lives were at stake. That�s just a little better than the vote in Palestine, where
more than 50 percent of a stateless people did not participate. The miracle is
that any Palestinians even bothered to vote; an occupying army, as in Iraq, ran
an election that offered no opportunity for voters to tell the occupiers to get
the hell out. Rather, they were offered candidates who had mostly been chosen
or approved by those occupiers.
Under the real conditions of such elections, here or there,
calling them democratic is merely placing an advertising label on the product
to disguise the real contents of the package. In fact, we not only fail to meet
the standards of democracy in other modern nations, but look pretty bad
compared to the �cradle of western civilization.�
Some scholars estimate that even with slavery, class
division and elite male domination, 10 percent of the population in ancient
Greece actually participated in that primitive democracy. That didn�t mean
shuffling to a polling place every four years, but active involvement in
community life, through debate and decision making over its place in the world.
In other words, macho-homosexual Ancient Greece was far more
democratic than effete, heterosexually obsessed America. If 10 percent of us�30
million people!�were actively involved in running our country, we might truly
be a great democracy.
But we have even more problems than our fake freedom.
Our economy still depends on ordinary citizens amassing
millions of dollars in debt, as industry turns nature into garbage in order to
keep them shopping. Even more significant are the billions in daily foreign
investment that enable us to maintain our colossus of consumption, though that
becomes less inviting as our dollar declines relative to the euro. This
potentially serious structural problem is hardly deemed newsworthy, though it
has far more importance than most of the fear mongering fiction that is called
news. Like the alleged Social Security �problem.�
Given the regime�s lust to put more middle class money into
upper class pockets, and its critical need for new funds, an economic equivalent
to the WMD fiasco is in full swing. Market vampires want to suck the blood out
of the Social Security system, and they are making their most blatant attempt,
by selling two big lies.
The first is that the system is in financial trouble. Of
course, that�s true of the larger system within which SS exists, as the only
safety net offered to American workers. That safety net can easily be
strengthened for the future. But as long as the wealthy pay taxes at a lower
rate than the middle class, and the Department of Defense budget stays bloated
beyond any need, we may face bankruptcy of a system, and not just its one
little safety net.
The second big lie is that privatization will help ordinary
people get rich, by having their wages invested in the market. The Wall street
shysters who brought us Enron and destroyed private pensions will now
unselfishly create profits for even more workers. Sure. Then that money can be
used by the workers, to purchase bridges or maybe surplus WMD.
Such fables, like previous lies about Iraq, Saddam, and
other distortions that keep us confused, frightened and shopping, need to be
countered by truthful reporting. But when corporate media acts as the public
relations department of the regime in power, and the political opposition is
useless for anything more than serving as a slightly lesser evil, truth becomes
just another commodity.
If we can believe polls, we now have the most unpopular
president in history, who triumphed over the most unpopular opponent in
history. No wonder we�re insecure. Maybe we should take a poll of South
Americans, who seem to be doing a better job of democratically improving real
Several nations have begun moving away from neo-liberalism
and closer to social democracy. And rather than believe negative propaganda
about anti-capitalism in Venezuela, we should be inspired by their movement to
democratically take power from a wealthy minority, in order to improve life for
the great majority.
That isn�t a novel idea; we once had such a populist
movement here. Imagine Americans becoming hopeful, united and confident,
instead of remaining frightened and weakly divided among themselves. Real
democracy. Real security. An idea whose time may have come? Again?
Copyright � 2005
Frank Scott. All rights reserved.
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