I must be a closet masochist. I just completed several hours of watching the impeachment hearings and am amazed at how many times “our democracy” was mentioned, how many times Russia’s threat to “our democracy” was mentioned, how many times the Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression was mentioned, and how many times Trump’s withholding of billions of dollars plus weapons, from the Ukraine, was a threat to our national security was mentioned. This was an effort indulged in, not only by our elected officials, but by the star witnesses as well.
Let’s be honest, if Russia was indeed involved in influencing the presidential election of 2016, they were not very effective. Hillary Clinton gathered approximately, a significant, 3 million voter plurality. It was the electoral college, an institution put in place to moderate and adjust the will of the people, that gave the presidency to Donald Trump, not the Russians. In other words, it is inherent in “our democracy”, that the will of the people not be trusted.
Further, as another example of “our democracy,” this very same electoral college has resulted in millions of voters being stripped of any leverage in the election process. Every state is assigned a value supposedly based on their population. For example, New York State, the third most populous in the country, is assigned 29 electoral college votes. New York is considered a blue state or one in the hip pocket of the Democratic Party. As a result, because I live in New York, my vote is meaningless in this system. Candidates for the presidency ignore New York and have no reason to visit or attempt to influence or convince the people to vote for them. It is predetermined how the state, as a whole, will vote. Several other states experience the same status at election time. The so-called battleground states, where the candidates focus their efforts, are Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, etc. “Our democracy”?
The Democratic Party, that is so concerned with Russia’s role in defeating Clinton, has within its party’s primary procedures, the superdelegates. These are the people who are part of the Democratic Party’s establishment who can overturn the will of those Democrats who have elected a candidate to run for president who is not a favorite of the powers that be. This is another aspect of “our democracy” and another adjustment available to the elite to control the will of the people. This is what awaited the Democrats if Bernie Sanders won the party’s primary contest with Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Another key element to “our democracy” is the decision by the Supreme Court that corporations are people and can contribute to the candidacy of their favorite candidates. As if that is not enough, there is very little control regarding the limits to the personal contributions available to the elite class as well as those of their very same corporations. In other words, the most dangerous threat to the election process and “our democracy” is not Russia, but our very own domestic elite, ruling class, people in a financial position to buy elections.
Still, while viewing the hearings, the continuous message to the American people was the value of “our democracy.” The people delivering this message are not naive. In fact, they are lawyers, professors, people who are well educated and sophisticated. I was left wondering if they are purposefully perpetuating the American myth or whether they truly believe.
For most people, being allowed to vote periodically is the only measure used in determining the value of “our democracy.” The fact that we are limited to two parties and that both parties represent the capitalist class, and is usually not factored in and challenges the “our democracy” myth.
Dear friends, it is time we accepted the fact that we do not live in a democracy. Within the structure of our political and economic lives there are too many restrictions on the influence and power of the people for us to think our system is one of democracy.
Dave Alpert has master’s degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner-city adolescents.