Voter grumbling, rage and cynicism is rampant heading into the mid-term elections on November 8th. Add the flattering, flummoxing and fooling of voters by many corporatist politicians to the mix and we have the makings of an election-day disaster.
Set the above aside and reflect on the unused citizen power, given wholesale, to 535 members of Congress. Our sovereign power starts with the preamble to our U.S. Constitution—that is “We the People.” Not “We the Congress.” Not “We the Corporations.” As a Republic, we then delegate power to Congress to define, enable and fund the activities of the Executive and Judicial branches.
If you don’t like what your senators and representatives are doing, elections are supposed to give you a chance to say “Stop, Go, Listen or Leave.” The problem is that the monied interests corrupt our elections, from pressing their own choice of candidates, financing them, directing them and backing them with nonstop television/radio/social media propaganda, and using front groups to promote lies and coverups.
Year after year, this assault has ground most voters into—Republicans and Democrats under varying degrees of corporate encampments. Too many voters put these labels on themselves and never look back.
Here’s the nub. Most voters who do not do their homework about “politics” “elections” and their “voting strategies” end up either passively voting for their family’s long-held party choice or staying home. Not voting helps powerful interests have a field day because voters are not even on the playing field. There are an estimated 120 million eligible voters who will not vote in this election.
Voters who don’t spend the time don’t realize that candidates go back to Washington and work actively and often furtively against people’s most immediate livelihood interests, as does Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Such lawmakers aid and abet your worst fears about “politics” unless you’re quite rich.
For example, when you delegate (with no accountability attached) your voting power to Congress, you are entrenching corporate power to keep your wages down, allow price gouging and crumble your public services in favor of more destructive weapons for an Empire and needless wars we don’t want. The corporate Congress renders our country unprepared for pandemics, climate violence and the corporate crime wave running amuck. Moreover, Congress sends your tax revenues as subsidies and bailouts to the grossly under-taxed super-rich and big businesses.
Whenever you hear your friends say “I’m not into politics—they’re all crooks” signifying dropping out of voting and civic engagement, you can tell them, “But politics is into you in all kinds of impactful ways. Since you can’t escape, quitting is only hurting you.”
To be sure, our two-party duopoly restricts choices and opens the door wide to con artists—candidates with bulging campaign treasures. They specialize in grand lies, fake versions of what they call reality (as with “Covid-19 is fake” and “global warming is a hoax”). They make grandiose promises, then betray you and always blame someone else. Voters who don’t do their homework become rigid believers and do not reconsider what political tricksters have done to them.
For example, did you know that the greatest wealth in our country is owned by the people, but controlled by corporate power? These powerful assets of the people include our vast public lands, public airwaves and government R & D that founded most of the modern industry (e.g., the internet, computers, aerospace, drug, biotech and nanotech industries) and trillions of dollars in money market savings and pensions. Who allowed corporations to control what you own and turn these assets against your legitimate interests? The politicians. Do you still want to drop out of politics?
In your own private moments, ask yourself whether you are spending as much time studying the candidates vying for your vote as you do when choosing to buy a car or a house, or playing a month’s worth of bridge or video games.
Voter withdrawal is allowing the dangerous extremists in the GOP to think the unthinkable—taking away what you already have by corporatizing Medicare, cutting Social Security and repealing consumer, labor and environmental protections. They’re saying things that fifty years ago would have been political suicide for their notorious careers. Such cruel assaults on the people’s well-being reflect their sense of what the passive voters will let unscrupulous candidates get away with.
If you want recent evidence, read the report by GOP Senate Re-election Chairman, Rick Scott (R-FL)—who once presided over a large hospital corporation fined $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare. The report’s misleading title “An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America” demands that your existing protections and economic security be terminated and up for congressional grabs every few years.
Other GOPers want to eliminate the minimum wage altogether—never mind just holding it at its present frozen federal level of $7.25 an hour.
With voters reading, thinking and acting, our country can turn around and benefit all the people, their children and grandchildren. It’s in your hands, people. Pursue your legitimate interests and you will find Thomas Jefferson’s “pursuit of happiness” goal on its way as never before.
If you’re waiting until election day to vote, take a look at the website winningamerica.net and my little paperback Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.
Then do your duty and cast an informed vote!
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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future” (2012). His new book is, “Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All” (2020, co-authored with Mark Green).