Every four years we elect a president and the dramatic run-up to this spectacle has already begun. We can expect to be treated to near-daily tidbits of information from here on in. This is owing to the fact that, for the Democratic and Republican Parties, election day is everyday and an exploitable public is, as always, assuming the prone position.
These parties have two main tasks. The first is convincing the public that voting in the presidential election is the highest form of citizenship, and is therefore illustrative of patriotic spirit. The second task, hidden from the public, is to ensure their continued role as co-exploiter, and is therefore illustrative of the daily struggle for political power.
Whichever way the winds blow for these parties, the winner will claim to represent the will of the people, something we should be extremely leery of as a political concept.
How would we test the idea that the election of this or that party actually represented the will of the people? Taking a simple example, Gore argued that Bush’s proposed tax cuts would disproportionably benefit the wealthiest 1% of Americans, and the election was not 99-1, but a statistical tie. Obama argues that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest must go, but they’re not going anywhere. Given the dire straits our economy is presently in, and given the outlandish wealth and income disparities that exist in it, why would this issue even be close if the will of the American people had anything to do with it?
The political parties serve their own interests, just as regular people do. And just as regular people are selfish (self-ish), so are the parties. They represent the will of the people to the extent that it can be useful to them. Where it is harmful, that is, when the will of the people comes into conflict with the will of the elites that the parties serve, the public loses and is subjected to a propaganda campaign to soothe its unrealized will.
Should it be needed, a remedy from elite sectors would be felt with immediacy and intensity.
There is no public remedy, save for the inevitable reassurance that it will come in the next election. Public remedy is of paramount importance in the history of our country. Our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, is a stunning example of a peoples’ unequivocal and radical remedy to a government unwilling to accede to the demands of its people. Now it is assumed, by virtue of little else besides the quadrennial march to the ballot box, that our government always embodies the will of its people.
Both parties want the country all aquiver about next year’s election. This is what they have, and so long as people show up and vote to validate the system, the system will be in good hands. Theirs!
I think the theme for 2012 should be, What’s the Difference?, because for the things that truly matter to the common man or woman, there is none between Bush and Obama, or between Obama and Palin/Bachmann. Even though no president moves beyond the party,liberals agonize over the calamity of a Palin or Bachmann presidency. Perhaps they like the idea of giving our “smarter” president a little more rope to hang themselves with.
For those wondering what degree of overstatement is intended with the “no difference” remark, here’s a little rundown:
Bush orders attacks on countries, Obama bombs relentlessly. Bush authorizes torture, Obama winks at it. Bush condones assassination, so does Obama. Bush takes the path to our becoming a national security state, Obama accelerates it. Bush targets whistleblowers, Obama raises it to a first principle. Bush is secretive, Obama more so. Bush prefers to look forward, ignoring history. Obama prefers to look forward, ignoring justice.
Things are going to happen that are beyond the control of the common man or woman. Least of all will they be able to affect them at the ballot box. That’s a losing game. Great change will come in a way it has always come, through popular mass movements of people making demands. At a critical stage the government will recognize that it cannot afford not to be aligned with the movement.
The International Criminal Court has a case against Muammar Gaddafi for crimes against his people while putting down an uprising. It may be painful for an American to think about this, but consider what the reaction of a Bush or an Obama or any American president would be to a massive group of people, even non-violently, calling for a throwing off of the government. Do you picture the government sitting on its hands, or lying in wait? And would we embrace the same standard that we apply to Gaddafi?
No advocacy here. The comparison is presented solely to illuminate the lengths that any concentration of political power will go to when challenged, as when the Kingdom of Great Britain responded to events of July 4, 1776.
James Rothenberg can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org