Obama Calls to Democrats to Vote For Them Are Ignored As Senate Goes Back to Republicans
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.