Sunday, September 09, 2012

Making America Safe from Democracy


The Presidential elections now loom large in the thoughts not only of Americans, but of the world. The pageantry and splendour of the respective party conventions, with their cheering crowds and glittering venues give every appearance that American Democracy is alive and well. But as Chris Hedges has pointed out in “Death of the Liberal Class,” politics has been reduced to spectacle. People hold up professionally printed signs, or wear Styrofoam boater hats sporting cockades, oblivious to their Revolutionary symbolism. No authentic voices will be heard. Gone forever are the Minute Men and the blue-coated Citizen-Soldiers in breeches, with their tri-corner hats and muskets ready, gently reminding the people to be vigilant against Tyranny. All the scruffy activists and Occupiers are safely caged in their “Free Speech Zones”, guarded by an overwhelming militarised police presence. The streets are clean. All the homeless were bussed out of town days ago.

The candidates are no longer flesh and blood men in this spectacle. They are as flat in real life as they are on the big monitors. They are carefully crafted abstractions, polished to a high lustre. They appear to represent opposing ideologies, but even that is an illusion. “Engagement” and “issues” are as unwelcome here as free speech. Journalists cover the event like some Hollywood awards night, attempting to inject some drama into the proceedings, even though everyone already knows who will win. Mistakes and bloopers are eagerly seized upon and dissected, to see if the candidate might reveal some hint of human foible, or divulge some secret deviancy. They are inevitably disappointed. The show stays on script all the way to the third act. A “liberal” is ritually sacrificed to appease the corporate sponsors. The ceremonies conclude when heroic celebrities announce that once again, popular culture has triumphed over the dangerous and brooding masses.

Obama: "The war in Afghanistan continues, Iraq is
still occupied, the Great Recession grinds on. "
Whoever wins, when the last voter votes, and the last curtain in the last voting booth falls, the elites will have their man regardless. Promises are for the gullible. Obama, who campaigned on “Hope” in 2008 did almost none of what he promised, betraying half the country; Guantanamo Bay remains open, the Patriot Act has been renewed and expanded, the war in Afghanistan continues, Iraq is still occupied, the Great Recession grinds on. Millions of Americans rely on foodstamps, while Wall Street and the Military-Industrial Complex have transcended all accountability. The Department of Justice considers there is no case to answer for the near-destruction of the US economy, or for CIA officers accused of torture. Billionaires boast how a paltry million dollars is all it takes to buy a seat in Congress. This is America's brain on the drug of corporate money.

If the incumbent candidate, Barack Obama is elected, he will probably have to work with another Republican Congress, meaning he will be hamstrung, unable to push any serious policy agendas. The next four years will be a repeat of the last four; long-term stagnation, continued structural decay, continued erosion of the purchasing-power and the liberties of the bulk of American society, uninterrupted asset-stripping on a massive scale, accompanied by the rapid militarisation of domestic law enforcement for the purposes of repression. Longer kill-lists, more drones, more lies, more secrecy, and more dissembling. This is the Democratic Agenda as evidenced by the actions of the Democratic President.

Romney: "Policies that would roll back all of the social progress
made in the last 70 years, and establish the Great Recession as
 a permanent condition for the bottom 57%."
Mitt Romney, for his part, is an unembarrassed Neo-Liberal who makes no secret of the fact that he will serve the interests of the rich to the best of his ability. Wealthy in his own right, he is a true member of the 1%, a genuine 21st Century international capitalist. He mouths patriotic distortions of traditional American values; homilies about fighting for freedom are used to attack trade unions, and “Democracy” is held up as a talisman against medical social security. But he is betrayed by his own actions; by his avoidance of military service, by his record as an enemy of the American worker, and by his insistence on moving his personal fortune out of the United States to avoid paying tax.

Were Romney to win, he would likely walk into the White House with a Republican Congress solidly behind him. He would have a mandate most leaders could only dream about. He would go to work immediately, paying off his campaign debts, implementing policies that would roll back all of the social progress made in the last 70 years, and establish the Great Recession as a permanent condition for the bottom 57% of the population. This is the Republican Agenda in practical effect.

Mitt Romney is the real-life analogue of Gordon Gecko. As head of Bain Capital, he loaded up some of America's most successful companies with debt in order to asset-strip them, workers be damned. Faced with the current financial crisis, his natural instinct as President would be to do the same to the United States, lumbering the country with even more debt, selling its assets, dumping a small army of government workers onto the street, privatising government services, slashing taxes for the rich, shipping American jobs overseas, gutting social welfare programs needed by millions just to survive, and possibly steering the US into another military disaster.

That such a thing is even possible, that such a man as Mitt Romney could even make it this far, speaks volumes about the cynicism of the elites, and the complete inversion of civic virtue which has taken place in American politics in the last thirty years. The citizenry are no longer considered to be a credible threat to the powerful interests which profit from the political process. The democratic institutions of the United States no longer function for the benefit of the “People”. The war is won; America has been made safe from democracy.

-Linda M, SA

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