One of the definitions of mental illness is when one continues to respond to the similar situations in the same manner despite evidence that the chosen response has not been effective or, in fact, made things worse. Sometimes, this is referred to as repetition compulsion, we rely on responses with which we are familiar and, therefore, more comfortable.
Here we are in another election cycle. Millions of people once again are glued to their radios and TVs following the daily events of primaries, caucuses, speeches, and debates throughout the country.
We have a two-party system and, luckily, we only have to decide between the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate. It’s less confusing that way, so we are told. It may be less confusing but, in the process, we eliminate alternative points of view from being aired. Instead, we only hear the ideas of the corporate candidates.
The U.S. has also established a winner-take-all system. This means that the winner of an election marches into office and the supporters of his/her opponent receive absolutely NOTHING, no political representation, for their efforts. They have to wait ‘til the next election to attempt to elect someone who they think represents their point of view. Is this some sort of a variation of democracy?
In presidential or national politics, the system goes further to compromise the voice of the people. We have the electoral votes, a system which allows the candidate with the least popular votes to win the election. Each state is assigned a certain amount of electoral votes which then allows a candidate who wins the right combination of states to win the election without necessarily winning a majority of the popular vote.
Attempts have been made to introduce third parties that might have completely different perceptions and goals than the two major parties but, since corporate America controls the media and the Republicans and Democrats control the debates, it is impossible for a third party to be heard. After all, we don’t wish to confuse the public with new ideas and new possibilities as well as an agenda that is not approved by corporate America.
The Republicans openly represent the wealthy, the propertied, the corporate managers. The Democrats, on the other hand, also represent the wealthy, the propertied, and the corporate managers but have successfully projected the notion that they are the party of the working class. But wait, a strange thing happens on the way to the election, private donations are made and welcomed to his/her candidacy. What happens to the Democrat who claims to represent the people?
A major variable in how elections are determined is by the candidates’ success in raising money. Newscasters spend more time talking about the candidates success in fundraising than they do on the candidate’s policy positions.
Although this is an abhorrent part of U.S. “democracy,” it has proven to make sense. Candidates say whatever they learn the public wishes to hear and with the money they have accumulated, they can use radio and TV ads to trumpet their messages throughout the country over and over again.
There is a lot of attention paid to party platforms. However, party platforms are not worth the paper they’re written on. Once elected, the politician is indebted to his/her donors and their policies will reflect the desires of the people who contributed to the candidates’ successful campaign. If Goldmann Sachs contributed $50,000 to my campaign and Joe the truck driver contributed $27, who do you think I want to make happy?
It matters not who sits in the Oval Office or the Senate chamber . . . the agenda has already been established by the powers that be and will be carried out by the elected men and women whom the ruling class has chosen. It is an illusion to think that, come election time, we have a real choice. Both Democrat and Republican have already been paid for and the only choice we have is to elect one of them to office so that they can continue our oppression.
Speaking about the Senate, the more powerful congressional chamber, there are two senators elected from every state regardless of population, each with the same ability to exert his/her political power. That means that a state like Wyoming, with a population of 586,000, has the same leverage and voting influence as the senators from California or New York with millions of people. Do you think this structure compromises the power and influence of the people? Again, another form of democracy established by the USA.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are and have been at WAR for decades. It is commonly known as class warfare. The only time we hear the term class warfare is when the working class and poor complain about the huge disparity between their wealth and the elite class.’ Then the rulers accuse us of class warfare and resentment and delegitimize our concerns and complaints.
We, the people, didn’t start this war, the ruling class did. They have exploited our labor, they have structured the tax system in their own favor, they have used our children to fight their imperialistic wars abroad, and they have co-opted the political system and the media.
Despite all of the above, millions of Americans continue to have faith that by voting we can and will effect change. We need only look at the Bernie Sanders’ candidacy to learn that the Democrats, as much as the Republicans, have no desire to change the status quo. Bernie offered a moderately progressive platform that rallied millions of Americans, many of them for the first time, to involve themselves in the political process. How did the Democratic establishment respond . . . they organized to sabotage his chances of winning the nomination so that the war monger, friend of Wall Street, Killary Clinton, could “represent the people.”
But, an interesting phenomenon occurred during Bernie’s quest for the nomination. Many people, trying to denounce Bernie Sanders, labeled him a socialist . . . a label that, in the past, would have doomed him. Bernie, despite the fact that his orientation is far from that of a socialist, never rejected the label. Neither did his supporters.
However, Bernie’s program is one that aims to make capitalism more palatable to the masses who have suffered greatly from the inequities of that system. Bernie has never suggested that he would prefer a socialist economic system.
Another expression that gained popularity among his supporters was Bernie’s comment about a political revolution. .an expression that a few years ago might have resulted in a visit from the FBI. The point is, the electorate has changed, especially the young people. Potential voters are challenging the workability of capitalism, showing an acceptance of government sponsored programs that provide a safety net as well as a fairer distribution of wealth and services, etc. The word socialism no longer frightens them.
To participate in these elections is to add legitimacy to this fraud. It’s not the elections that will create change, it’s the organizing that must go on continuously to establish a movement that will challenge the powers that be.
As long as our system functions under the umbrella of capitalism and imperialism, nothing will change. The best we can hope for under the present system are Band-Aids applied to hemorrhages that will provide temporary relief. It is not the individuals who are elected that are the problem or the salvation, it’s the system that must be changed.
While we keep voting for change, the only change we are guaranteed to get is the privatization of any service or industry that can offer the elite more profits. We have the health care system privatized for profit, we have moved into privatizing prisons for profit, we are engaged in privatizing educational institutions for profit . . . we even have privatized the military by hiring expensive mercenaries to join the U.S. military.
We have accepted the myths fostered by the elite class that privatization is more efficient and more effective and that elections give us a choice of who will govern us.
The truth is we are really governed by those who have bought the men and women whom we have elected.
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.