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The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers

Photo by Jörn Schubert | CC BY 2.0

CIA Director Pompeo believes that “… folks like WikiLeaks, [are] out there trying to steal American secrets for the sole purpose of undermining the United States and democracy,” (“Trump CIA director blames ‘worship of Edward Snowden’ for rise in leaks,” The Guardian, June 24, 2017). That’s actually kind of funny, well, at least in a sardonic sort of way, especially when readers think about the secret CIA-run prisons of the very recent past and torture programs carried out in those prisons.

When will these talking heads representing the government, and their slavish patrons in the mass media, end this utter nonsense and baloney about the U.S. being either exceptional or a democracy? This government has long since abandoned even the excuse of window dressing to prop up the fiction of democracy existing in many ways at any level in this nation. Citizens United, voter suppression, and grotesque levels of income inequality have all nailed down the coffin lid of any quaint notion that a government run by both an oligarchy and a plutocracy has very much left resembling a functioning republican democracy.

The few and the wealthy have no shame left after their decades of raids on what remained of a representative form of government. Now the Republicans in the Senate and House want to throw both grandma and grandpa out onto the streets after lifetimes of hard work.

Alice Jacobs is 90 and lives in an assisted-living facility in Virginia. She’s done all of the right things: worked hard all of her life, saved, raised a family and now the proposed Republican cuts to Medicaid could take her out of that living arrangement. Nothing is sacred to these right-wing ideologues and their sycophants in the larger society who have greased the skids on which the government does its harm! (“Medicaid Cuts May Force Retirees Out of Nursing Homes,” The New York Times, June 24, 2017).

But the few and the wealthy want those who have the cash to be able to afford all those shimmering goods that we’re so accustomed to having in this exceptional land of plenty. And why not? If we can have all of the endless and costly wars imaginable, then why miss a beat when it comes to consumer goods? In Cambodian sportswear
factories that supply famous corporations in the U.S. like Nike, Asics, and Puma, “more than 500 workers in four factories… were hospitalized… The most serious episode… in November, saw 360 workers collapse,” (“Cambodian female workers in Nike, Asics and Puma factories suffer mass faintings,” The Guardian, June 24, 2017). That mass fainting was linked directly to working conditions in the sportswear factories. For those readers who are acquainted with the not-too-distant history of Cambodia, it was the U.S. that carried out military incursions into that nation to purportedly stem the flow of weapons and fighters through Cambodia into Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Those U.S. incursions set the stage for the destabilization of Cambodia that eventually led to the maniacal Khmer Rouge taking control of that nation and carrying out a genocide on their own people. When history is studied, even a casual observer can detect a pattern of the U.S. not caring one iota about democracy around the world, just as that democracy has methodically been destroyed here in the U.S. But, oh, all of that very colorful footwear!

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).