When reporters interview George W. Bush or Dick Cheney, which they still do as if they have some untapped wisdom to share with people, the only consolation they can offer for causing the death of over a million Iraqis and the displacement of millions more, leaving the country in utter destruction and spending over a trillion dollars of US Treasury and sacrificing over 4,000 US soldiers, is that they got rid of a brutal dictator, who was a war monger and had no regard for human life.
But, how different would Dick Cheney have acted had he been given the powers that Saddam had? My guess is: not very. But, we don’t have to guess. He planned and pushed for a war, through lies and misrepresentation, that caused the death and displacement of so many innocent people and the destruction of a country that neither her leaders nor any of its nationals had done anything to Americans, a war the victims of which were sacrificed purely for geopolitical reasons and profits. And despite the deaths and destruction it caused, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and their cohorts still have no remorse for it. They still continue to defend their actions.
The Bush Administration, and specifically Dick Cheney, also pushed, encouraged and gave the political cover to the CIA and US military to capture men in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, fly them to Guantanamo Bay and torture them, in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, not to mention US law. And as it turned out and we now know, many of those men who were kidnapped, taken away from their families and kept in secret prisons and tortured for years, some of whom are still not freed and are force fed through their noses, were innocent individuals, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, who even now don’t figure in any national debate or conversation, which is typically about whether or not the torture was effective in getting information from the captives. Not only no one is held to account for breaking the law, including international laws, which clearly forbid any use of torture for any reason, there is no accountability for destroying innocent lives. Those lives aren’t important enough to even be discussed, let alone be the cause for anyone to go to jail.
So, was Saddam, as brutal as he was and who was ultimately executed, any more brutal than US leaders like Bush, Cheney and Obama, who have arguably caused more deaths and suffering and more devastation than Saddam ever did or could? Was he more brutal or did he cause more deaths and suffering than Israeli leaders, who continue to enjoy the full support and largesse of US leaders? If the Iraq war that killed so many innocent people was justified for bringing the leader of a foreign nation to justice, as Dick Cheney and Bush still argue and Obama tacitly and even not so tacitly defends them for it, don’t US leaders also deserve to be brought to justice for their crimes, especially if doing it involves no war and no one has to die for it to happen? What makes punishing of a criminal dictator half way around the world right, especially if it takes a devastating war to do it, but not the punishing of American war criminals, who have killed more people and destroyed more lives? The fact is: Saddam had the same mentality as Dick Cheney, who continues to insist that waging a war on the Iraqi people, as well as torturing prisoners, was the right thing to do. The difference between these two men is mainly in the circumstances and the environment in which they lived, not in their values or psyche or proclivity to commit violence or wage war.
Many liberals are disappointed at Obama for not wanting to prosecute the architects of that war and the practice of torture. But, what is natural for the agents, functionaries and servants of the corporate Empire to do and which is therefore expected of them to do, can’t be disappointing. What’s disappointing, rather, is the disappointment some feel over Obama’s refusal to prosecute. Obama never, in 6 years of his presidency or even while he was a candidate, had any illusion as to what he would or wouldn’t do as president, or whom he would answer to. The only ones with the illusion were the people who voted for him. Obama’s campaign wasn’t financed by billionaires so he could bring change in US policies. It was financed to appear to bring change, while continuing the same policies as his predecessors, and he took that mission, knowingly and seriously. The continuity of policies that the US system of governance has achieved through its two corporate parties can’t be matched even by one-person dictatorships with absolute power.
Obama understands full well the ramifications for himself were he ever to prosecute Bush and Cheney. But aside from such ramifications, pardoning his predecessors is as much a part of his job as is ordering drone attacks in several countries, the bombing campaign in Libya, his support for brutal terrorist groups like ISIS to try to overthrow the Syrian government, regularly sending hefty aid to Israel, agreeing to deregulate large Wall Street banks, defending companies like Monsanto against farmers, etc. What we must understand too is that the question of pardoning or prosecuting those in US government responsible for war crimes and torture is nothing personal. It’s not about the person George W. Bush or Dick Cheney or others or the consequences of such prosecution for them, personally. It’s not out of personal affection when Obama goes out of his way and pushes for thousands of documents and photos implicating the previous Administration officials to be not released. Similarly and on the other hand, the decision to punish, and punish severely, those, who feel more loyalty towards justice and human decency than the interests of the corporate class and who, out of compassion and integrity, refuse to remain silent and despite tremendous risks, decide to blow the whistle on government wrongdoings, is also never personal. As it has become clear to many recently and as Glen Greenwald recently wrote in a piece for The Guardian, the U.S. criminal justice system is indeed “two-tiered”, but it never is about a person but always about the class and their collective interests, which those hired must “protect and serve”.
To not understand these connections is to not understand the military industrial complex: the function and duties of its president, the wars it wages or the way it trains its urban police to deal with the working class. A change in the relations between the police and the public will only come with a fundamental change at the top, which will also be required if there can ever be a change in the policy of endless wars or in the systemic unemployment, poverty and institutional racism. As we protest the police for killing innocent black men, it helps to keep in mind that the problem runs deeper than requiring the police to wear video cameras or to have them trained better. They are trained pretty well. In fact, they’re trained, too well!
So why are things so twisted and so upside down that a conscientious 20 year old private (Chelsea Manning) gets 35 years in prison, after being held in solitary confinement for three years in conditions that according to human rights organizations amounted to torture, for blowing the whistle on government atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a former CIA agent (John Kiriaku) is jailed for years for revealing that the government tortures people, which later the government itself comes forward and admits to, while those committing those atrocities and violations of human rights are never punished? And isn’t this also related to the fact that billionaire bankers who defraud people to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars are never charged with any crime and police officers who commit murder in front of witnesses and go free, while thousands of people who don’t belong to the owners’ class or their protectors and servants, especially African Americans, are hauled to prison for the most petty violations, such as drug possession? Are these all separate and unrelated phenomena or are they emblematic of one overarching reality, which is that the class of billionaires and corporate bosses have a lock on the government, the media, the courts, the military and the police and are doing everything to keep the power and keep the rest of us leashed like dogs? Under these circumstances, the only hope for change is a massive, ongoing, nonstop and nationwide campaign of protests. Everything else is a distraction and a fraud.
Yesterday, as it’s happened many times before, it was revealed that the US government has been torturing people. And as always, liberals are outraged and disappointed. Not only at the fact that the CIA has been holding people in their dungeons around the world and torturing them, including people who later turned out to have done nothing wrong and happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, but at the fact that those responsible for it will not be prosecuted. But, neither the torture, nor not holding anyone responsible for it is anything new. Every president has refused to prosecute those the US government hires to commit vile and barbaric acts for the military industrial complex. President Kennedy did it. The first President Bush did it. Clinton did it. Bush Jr. did it. And so President Obama, too, is refusing to hold anyone responsible for the latest round of torture. And how could they not pardon the murderers and torturers who are hired by that same government that they lead and represent? It’s part of the president’s job to have murders and tortures committed, as is to pardon those who actually do those acts. And yet we hear again and again, from politicians and news reporters alike, all reminding us over and over, that “this is a nation of laws”. Doing all that this violent and criminal government of gangsters and mass murderers does around the world is neither surprising, nor news, and is in fact to be expected of such a government of psychopathic billionaires. But, telling us that despite all that, this is a nation of laws is an insult to our intelligence and unbearable. What the liberals, including those who supposedly mean well, are also “disappointed” about is that President Obama, too, like the ones before him, is refusing to prosecute those who engaged in torture, just as they were disappointed when he refused to hold responsible billionaire bankers who got away with what would have sent a common person to jail for life. Disappointment here either stems from a total lack of understanding of the realities and facts about the nature of this government or it’s fake and disingenuous and is expressed for the public’s consumption to continue the mass deception.
Rachel Maddow had a good and informative show tonight, but she finished it by asking: “How can this be?” How can what be? That this “nation of laws”, “model of democracy”, an “exceptional” nation and “the leader of the free world” committed torture and no one has to answer for it? How can that be? You see, once they establish and ingrain into people’s minds the narrative that this is a country built on high moral values, freedom, democracy and justice for all, trying to do good in the world, it becomes easy to label such vile acts as mere errors in judgment or mistakes or the straying from the norm by some rogue individual officers or commanders, who should have known better than to damage the credibility of this “great nation”. Just as the invasion of a sovereign nation and killing or causing the death of about a million people was swept under the rug and called a “mistake” or resulting from “bad intelligence” or the work of a war monger like Dick Cheney. Was Dick Cheney also responsible for arming and funding the barbaric ISIS fighters, who have been killing the Syrian people in the thousands, while the US looked the other way because they were trying to overthrow a government the US found uncooperative with their imperial agenda and only began fighting them when they started beheading Westerners? That and many other atrocities like that aren’t even discussed or admitted to.
First, when the act is about to take place or is already taking place, such as torture or a coup or an assassination or supporting some murderous force like ISIS, we either don’t hear about it or, in the case of bombing or invading a country, we read in papers and see on TV why it’s the right thing to do. Then, the revelation of the atrocity itself becomes an opportunity to conduct some public relations for that same evil government responsible for it and using that same evil act, which should have never been committed, hammering into people’s heads that “this is not who we are”! And so the lie continues as during every generation, liberals come out and repeat: “We’re better than this” and that “this isn’t who we are”! Of course not! This is the nation where not only billionaire bankers who defraud individuals and governments to the tune of billions of dollars are never brought to justice, but also where white police officers shoot or choke unarmed black men to death and walk free. This is a nation where the FBI “investigates” itself and every single time, without an exception, finds it did nothing wrong when its agents shot and killed someone, including when they shoot an unarmed 27 year old immigrant seven times, including twice in the back of his head, in close range and closing the case, not allowing anyone to review or investigate it because they “investigated” themselves. This is a nation where it matters not what the Constitution says, but what the government finds convenient or expedient to do. The law is clear that there shall not be torture. The law is also clear that the Congress is the one that has to decide on if and when there should be war. The law is also clear about warrantless surveillance of the citizens, as is about what not to do to prisoners of war. The US is also a signatory to international laws, such as the Geneva Conventions. But, when did such laws ever get in their way? The existence of the laws is nothing but for pretense and appearance. If the existence of the laws was enough to call a nation a “nation of laws”, then every nation on Earth, regardless of what its government does is a nation of laws.
The point is not that shadowy government agencies that answer to no one break the laws and do just about anything they want for the empire of the billionaires. That’s a given. It has been going on and it will continue to go on as long as the government is owned and controlled by those psychopathic billionaires who push their corporate interests around the world. It’s never too difficult to find some low-life unprincipled and immoral lawyers and call them into the White House and ask them to “legally” justify torture, or “legally” justify holding prisoners in Guantanamo, indefinitely, shoving tubes into their noses twice a day, just as it’s not that hard to explain “legally” why those bankers should not face justice or why a white police officer killing an unarmed black man in bright daylight and in front of several witnesses or despite the existence of a video footage showing the entire incident should not be indicted. After all, the law is one thing and its interpretation and enforcement quite another. This much should be clear and frankly, if it isn’t, I don’t know what is. But, to continue to insist that this is a “nation of laws”, as did Obama again, yesterday, followed by pundits that do the speaking on behalf of their billionaire bosses is, as I said, insulting.
Have you ever met an intelligent gun and bible toting “patriot”? The policy of endless wars for the corporate empire and control of the world resources for the 1% requires and feeds on mindless and uncritical patriotism and the belief in “American exceptionalism”. The only thing that’s “exceptional” about the U.S. however is its militarism and penchant for imperial wars of conquest. Nor is someone like Sarah Palin an exceptionally stupid and ignorant individual, who somehow went through the U.S. education system without learning or understanding much. The corporate media and to a large part the education system have been developed and shaped through generations to meet the needs of an economic system that has no need for a population that thinks critically, and on the contrary can use the mindless patriotism and religious fanaticism of the likes of Sarah Palin.
But, while she’s typical of a large sector of the white population in the US, who lend their support to the policy of endless wars and aiding Israel, she’s not at all typical of the ruling class or someone who would be seriously considered to be a leader by the ruling class. They could have chosen her or someone like her from the political fringe, but instead they gave their support to Obama, who would much better than someone like Palin pacify and deceive the working poor, especially among poor blacks and other minorities. Who better than Obama to give a speech to calm the much justified anger of the African American community over cops killing unarmed young black men and getting away with it? Certainly not the likes of Sarah Palin.
November 20 was the 25th year anniversary of the UN Convention for children’s rights that was adopted by the General Assembly, in 1989. Three countries have not ratified the convention that sets out to protect the rights of a child everywhere, making those rights a part of international law: South Sudan, which became a country in 2011, Somalia, and the U.S.
A month before the 2008 presidential election, candidate Barack Obama said: “It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land. I will review this and other treaties to ensure the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights.” Not only has he not acted on that pledge, he never pushed the Senate, which has been controlled by Democrats, to ratify it, and 10 days ago, on the 25th year anniversary of the Convention, which provided the occasion for many heads of states to give eloquent speeches on its significance, his Administration did not say a word.
It’s important to understand the reasons why the US, which claims to be a champion of human rights and frequently criticizes, for not respecting human rights, those it considers its adversaries, such as Russia, China, Iran and Cuba (but not Saudi Arabia or Israel or Jordan or Egypt or Turkey and many others it considers friendly), has not ratified it. The convention “sets standards in health care, education and legal, civil and social services for children.” It also prohibits torture and long prison sentences in criminal cases. “The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be used only as last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” it says.
Not only are the bylaws of the Convention in regards to providing healthcare and social services to children problematic for the U.S., so are its stipulations regarding treatment of children within the criminal justice system. According to UNICEF, as many as 70,000 children are imprisoned each day in the US, the majority of them for minor offenses. Others are imprisoned for what are known as “status offenses”, such as dropping out of school, running away from home or alcohol use. Before the practice was rendered unconstitutional by the U.S. High Court in 2005, 22 states used to even execute prisoners younger than 18. And although in 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled against life without parole for crimes other than murder, it did not ban life sentences for children, which the Convention deems illegal, for any crime, including murder. Thus, the Court has left the door open to incarcerating children for life, which makes the Convention all the more vital for children living in the US. According to Human Rights Watch, U.S. law also still permits children as young as 12 to be hired in agriculture “under dangerous conditions in violation of the convention’s prohibitions on the economic exploitation of children.”
Incidentally, HRW and other rights organizations have also reported on Israel imprisoning and torturing Palestinian children as young as 12 years old and with the new law just passed about a month ago, which increases prison sentences for throwing rocks at occupation soldiers or police cars to 20 years in prison, many more Palestinian children are bound to end up incarcerated for long periods of time. When it comes to Palestinian children, no convention or international laws ever reaches or covers them, as they remain under the brutal occupation, isolated from and inaccessible to the “international community”.
And, as the U.S. continues its move towards a bonafide police state with increasing rights for the police, while those of its citizens shrink and their surveillance is expanded, the government of the corporate elite figures it has no use for international laws that might tie its hands in dealing with and crushing any resistance that might and will erupt as the grossly unjust distribution of wealth continues, widening the income and wealth gap and pushing more and more of what’s left of the middle class into the ranks of the poor, while those at the bottom are pushed to the breaking point. Opposition to such basic common sense international conventions that just about every other government agrees on, is one more indication as to how low the uninhibited corporate rule has sunk the society and how badly and urgently a fundamental change in governance, policies and priorities is needed.
As the militarization of the police continues in lockstep with economic degradation of the working poor, especially among African Americans, the white supremacist government of the 1% anticipates and prepares for and tries to stay five steps ahead of Ferguson type eruptions. Every year, millions of dollars are spent on equipping the police departments throughout the nation for heavy and fierce battle, including the use of heavy weapons, armored personnel carriers, tanks and attack helicopters, in anticipation of not thousands or tens of thousands on the streets, but millions. That alone should tell all there is to know.
The Grand Jury decision to not indict Officer Wilson for shooting Michael Brown 12 times, including even when he was injured and had his hands up, has brought to surface facts about the criminal (in)”justice” system in America that should have been clear a long time ago. One of these facts that have come to light is that prosecutors, especially white prosecutors, who are assigned to present a case against cops who shoot and kill unarmed citizens, especially if they’re white and the victim black, often do the opposite and act as the officer’s defense attorney, with the complete silence, complicity and even cooperation of the presiding judge. That’s what the Assistant District Attorney did in the case of Grand Jury investigation of Officer Wilson’s shooting and killing of Michael Brown. She basically told the jury that, according to an old Missouri law, which has long been reversed and deemed unconstitutional, a police officer had the right to shoot a suspect, if he runs or won’t comply with the officer’s orders or is belligerent. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1985 against that practice, which used to result in cops executing people on the streets for minor violations or just the suspicion of a violation, on a regular basis, making that practice illegal. She clearly must have known that when she was citing that old defunct law to the jury. In fact, after telling the jury that blatant lie, she vaguely added that the Supreme Court had issued a different opinion about “part” of that law, which was another lie, even while trying to not be too obvious about what she was trying to do in that courtroom. The Supreme Court deemed the entire law unconstitutional, not just a part which she didn’t even elaborate What part she was talking about. And, when a juror asked if the Federal law overrides the Missouri law, instead of telling the truth, which was an obvious and unambiguous “yes”, she said: “don’t worry about that”! One could have expected such immoral falsification of the truth from a defense attorney, who wants to win at all costs, even if it takes lies and trickery, but not from the prosecutor. On the contrary, the prosecutor’s job is to prevent such duplicitous defense, when the defense team resorts to it.
Let’s say it as it is: this was not negligence or incompetence or a “mistake”, as Lawrence O’Donnell, who, to his credit, discussed it on his show on MSNBC, called it, but rather, a conspiracy to mislead the jury and was an obstruction of justice meant to shield the officer from facing Justice and therefore is a crime. But, we’d be naive to think that this was an isolated case. In George Zimmerman’s trial for shooting to death Treyvon Martin, both prosecutors and the judge deliberately made the erroneous point that the case had nothing to do with race or racism, when it clearly had everything to do with it. In fact, it was the motivating factor.
What also should be clear to us all is that it took protests to even arrest George Zimmerman and took even more protests to form a grand jury to investigate Officer Wilson. Meanwhile, while we protest the injustice in Ferguson, none of the New York police officers who killed Eric Garner, a black father of six, with an illegal chokehold, have been indicted. And, just yesterday the police in Cleveland, Ohio shot and killed a 12 year old boy who was playing with a toy gun. They shouted at the child to show his hands (what child would immediately understood such a command and comply in less than 2 seconds?) It took a mere 2 seconds for the officers to open fire on the 12 year old!
After the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, in 1992, it took massive riots to make even some limited and superficial “reforms” in the LAPD. During those riots that continued for weeks, the entire Los Angeles police force went into hiding and not a single one dared to stay in the streets. But, while “a riot is the language of the unheard”, as Dr. Martin Luther King pointed out, it isn’t enough. What’s needed is a nationwide and protracted movement with nonstop and militant protests like the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s that will combine the demand for social justice with the struggle for economic justice that will also include the demand to put an end to US crimes, acts of terror, wars and massacres overseas, against the poor of the world, for the enrichment of the .1%, at the expense of the vast majority of the population of the world and our environment.
A post on a friend’s FB wall displayed a quote from Pete Dominick saying: “If you’re more outraged at poor black folks in Missouri looting stores than you are at rich whites on Wall Street looting your future, you’ve been duped.” I’d add that if you’re a “news reporter” on MSNBC or CNN or other pro-Wall Street corporate networks, more concerned about riots taking place across the country in reaction to the Grand Jury decision not to indict the killer cop Darren Wilson than you are about Justice or about cops shooting and killing unarmed black teenagers and going free, then you’re an unprincipled corporate hired hand selling yourself to your corporate bosses who use your mouth in return for the high pay you receive. So, please, cut the BS about you being a “journalist”. You know what you are.
In 1992, in reaction to the acquittal of the police officers who kept beating Rodney King, while he was lying down motionless, Los Angeles exploded in a riot the likes of which had not been seen in decades. During those riots, too, poor black folks looted stores, some taking home baby diapers and other household items they had a hard time buying. Those who could afford not to worry about baby diapers, did a more effective thing: they burned down over 3,000 buildings and destroyed or damaged hundreds of businesses.
It was that riot and the fear it put in corporate bosses that brought about the so called “reforms” in the LAPD. Conclusion: no riots, no change. But, obviously, the “reforms” were grossly inadequate and ended up to be like the “change” Obama promised to people. Yesterday in Chicago, Obama criticized and admonished the protesters for their “violent” protests and instead advocated voting to bring about change. Of course, When it comes to selling oneself to corporate bosses, Obama sets the standard. But, such comments and statements, especially by a black servant of the corporate Empire and imperialism, are not uttered at random. They’re the calculated words of large capital, trying to channel people’s outrage and energy towards a sham that does nothing for people. It never has and never will: not for abolishing slavery, not for women’s right to vote, not for voting rights for blacks, not for ending the war in Vietnam or any other change that has been implemented. They all took riots and large protracted protests on the streets to achieve.
So let’s be clear: the reason the LAPD “reforms” were superficial and inadequate after the 1992 riots was that only 3,000 buildings were burnt to the ground.
Paraphrasing the quote above, if you’re more concerned about riots than police shootings, you’ve been duped.
After the Senate and gubernatorial elections, in which Democrats lost the control of the Senate and several state governorship to Republicans, some are asking what it all really means. How significant is it that the Senate goes from the control of the Democrats to Republicans? How will it change or affect people’s lives? If you listen to the victory speeches of those who get more votes than their opponents – sometimes by a mere one or two percentage points – you’d think a brand new era is about to begin in the country and that Washington is about to be changed, completely and forever. It’s like a basketball team winning a game by scoring a shot in the last second and then proudly proclaiming this was a historic and significant win that changes everything! Interestingly enough, they all admit that “Washington isn’t working”, and everyone who gets on the podium, after his or her victory, promises to change it, claiming that a new era has just dawned, just because he or she managed to get some more votes than his or her rival. Media personalities, like Chris Mathews of MSNBC, keep telling us about “the sanctity of the vote” and how it’s what “democracy” is all about. The losing candidates graciously give a concession speech and tell us that this is democracy, which we must respect, accept and embrace with all its consequences.
Democracy is usually defined as the rule of the majority. It sounds simple enough, but often, simple sounding concepts are not so simple, within the realities and complexities of human societies. The rule by the majority, in theory, often changes, in practice, to the rule by a minority – a very small minority at that – who can convince the majority to vote for them and thus becomes “democracy” in name, only. Convincing the majority, through lies, false promises and misrepresentations, to vote for a representative, who does not represent them, is not real democracy. At the very least, that’s not the intent or purpose of democracy. The fact that a government, which is wholly owned and controlled by a class of rich and powerful individuals, organizes elections isn’t necessarily democracy and doesn’t necessarily mean rule of the majority. The (class) nature of those in power has much more to do with the outcome – as to whether it is fair and it can be called democracy or not – than organizing and counting votes. The voice of the majority matters only if it benefits the majority. If the voice of the majority only benefits the minority, then there is something terribly wrong with the process. Ends may not necessarily justify the means, but are usually a good indication for their fairness or rightness. At the end of the day, what matter are people themselves – their lives, their needs, their problems and issues and their future – not just the process or some abstract principle we are told we must accept as the right way. The fairness of the process should be judged by the fairness of its outcome. A drug company can’t claim its drug should be consumed because they followed kosher methods in developing it, even if it kills those who use it. A democracy that leaves a tiny minority in charge of making laws that benefit them only is not democracy.
Elections in capitalist societies are one of two varieties: they are either fake and fraudulent, as is the case in underdeveloped societies ruled by a dictator, who uses fake elections to legitimize his kingdom or permanent “presidency”, or it’s made into some kind of game, a competition, like a sporting event, where candidates compete with one another, based on their appearance, their personalities, their connections, and, most importantly, their financial prowess. People’s lives and future, and in fact, the future of the planet and issues of war and peace, are thus made to depend on the result of a superficial competition, affected and determined by a number of superficial factors that neither have anything to do with people’s or society’s needs, nor with truth and justice. People go and vote and then wonder: what happened? Why does nothing change? Eventually, that question needs to evolve into: “why our votes don’t change anything?” Maybe then, the process itself, which is sold to people as “democracy” will be put under the microscope, as it should.
Elections can and often are manipulated, candidates can and often do misrepresent themselves and often make promises they cannot or never intend to deliver. Even the act of counting the votes is subject to so-called “irregularities” and “fraud”. People’s lives should not depend on how well a candidate runs and manages his or her campaign, how many people in high places he or she knows, how many campaign workers he or she can afford and whom he or she can hire to lead the campaign. People’s lives and future should not be up for sale. Democracy, as defined as the rule of the majority, only has meaning with an informed and aware population.
Even the very act of governance and law making in a capitalist society, after the votes have been counted and candidates have taken their offices, is defective and fraudulent, subject to manipulation by “special interest” groups and their lobbyists and through the sheer power of money, and therefore have nothing to do with people’s real issues and problems. The vast majority of candidates, who “win” and take office, know and care nothing about the people they pretend to represent. Not only often, but regularly, those representatives are handed the written laws already written for them by corporate bosses and lobbyists and without any change or even as much as understanding the issue or its consequences, they bring it to the legislative body and push it through, making it law.
A judge of a political system is how well the lower classes and the disenfranchised are represented. This is where the system really shows its crude and unjust nature. Instead of empowering the powerless and giving voice to the voiceless, those at the bottom of the society are ignored and left powerless and voiceless, despite their large numbers and despite the fact that they ARE the majority. It’s not a surprise that rich white males are vastly over-represented and dominate the political scene, with women and minorities and especially the poor grossly underrepresented. The political and governing process, as well as, the economic results, speaks volumes of the power, influence and dominance of the privileged sectors of the society. This can’t be democracy, no matter how you massage it and present it.
The corollary to the unrepresentative bodies of the Congress, whose main job is to give the rule of the minority the look and feel of a majority rule is the corporate media, which is tasked with convincing working people that their vote makes a difference, that whatever policies are enacted are really theirs because they have the “power of the vote”. They’re even told that if things don’t go their way, it’s their fault, if they didn’t vote! And those who did vote are told fair is fair. Their side lost fair and square! Speaking of the media, the only sensible thing that was uttered last night was by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, who said: “People ask me: ‘so what’s going to happen now’, as if the Senate was a functioning body”. Actually, the Senate does have a function, just not for the ordinary people. The Empire State building lit up last night with red lights, instead of blue, to indicate a Republican win. So, it wasn’t totally meaningless.
But, as meaningless as the Senate changing hands might end up being for people, nothing beats the TV networks’ panels of political pundits and talking heads, in spewing out nonsense, which start a day before the elections and continue, for days after. The media of a society says much about the political process it operates in. Shallow and meaningless media coverage of elections, complete with statistics and odds and forecasters, as if it’s a horse race, is a good fit for superficial elections it covers. But, it doesn’t just “cover” meaningless elections; it also covers the truth about a system that makes such fraudulent and shallow media possible, in the first place, which in turn makes the continuation of the system itself possible, through lies and deception. A media this corrupt can only exist and thrive in an equally corrupt economic system, which produces and uses such media. In this dialectic, they both need and reflect each other, perfectly well.
A system that’s designed to keep the corporate Empire and their owners in power, with all the wars, devastation and injustices it causes overseas and the poverty it leaves people in at home, is not real democracy. The only way real democracy can rule is by the presence and participation of an informed and politically aware population, who don’t just passively vote after watching politicians’ ads on TV, but have an organic relationship with their leaders, who rise through and with the help of the people, by tirelessly fighting for and along with them and gaining their trust, through struggle, and who, with the help of the people, fight side by side with them to wrest power from the small minority of super wealthy and powerful, who hold the state power and govern for their own interests. That would be real democracy.