A little while back my friend greengeekgirl wrote a post expressing her anger and bewilderment as to why all these horrible things keep happening in American politics. I sympathize completely with every sentiment echoed in that post, but my rage is more of one of silent acceptance. I lost my faith in humanity a few months ago, but I lost faith in American politics long before that.
From the standpoint of everyday Americans (those not making $250,000 + a year), things are bad and they’re only going to get worse. You see, the problem is with the very institutions themselves. American style representative democracy does not work.
Ideally the masses would elect individuals to go and represent their interests in government, but nothing in this world is ever ideal. In reality, we create a political caste system. Only the rich can afford to run for political office. In the 2008 election, $2.4 BILLION dollars were spent by the two parties. In the 2010 mid-term elections it was close to $4 billion. People go into government to represent themselves and to get rich. It’s just the way things are. Once they network and form contacts, they leave office to become lobbyists or company executives. Government officials don’t even try to hide it anymore! Perfect example: Meredith Attwell Baker. She was the head of the FCC that regulates telecom companies. She approved a massive merger between two huge companies and then quickly resigned to become the Vice President of the new super company she just approved.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is how the world works. It’s not pretty, it’s not right, but it is reality.
The biggest underlying flaw with the American political system is that it is a one party system. Democrats and republicans are two sides of the exact same coin. They’re both controlled by special interest groups, and both are filled with the elite political caste of the rich. Our one party system is a totalitarian “democracy”.
What do we get to vote on? We get to choose between shit and shit to go to Washington and get rich. We don’t get to vote on important issues like the war, or the bailouts, or healthcare. 70% of the American populace wanted a public option for healthcare. Did we get to vote on that? Fuck no! Big insurance made damn sure we didn’t get to vote more competition into the market. Joe Rogan has a great* bit on all of this. *(Up until the last minute of the video where he goes off the deep end)
If the time between the 1960 and now taught us anything, it’s that change can’t come from the inside the system. It just can’t. What happened to all the idealists of the 1960’s that were going to change the world by going to college, getting degrees, and entering into government to make the world a better place? They all got swallowed alive. The system is too big, too powerful to be altered from within. If you don’t play ball with the blood suckers, then you get black listed and stonewalled. Think “Mr. Smith goes to Washington”, minus the happy ending.
The other day I was watching an a video by The Amazing Atheist on idealists when he said something that blew me away: Skip to 1min 40secs. (The rest of the video is good too, but what I’m trying to get at starts there)
My entire life I always viewed progress as this slow, grinding advance in one direction up a hill. Whenever the conservatives one some legislative victory for their draconian social agenda, I took comfort that the only thing constant was change, and that progress would surely over come them in time. But that’s not how reality works. Change, just like evolution, is not a straight line, a ladder to climb. Sometimes things go backwards. We very well could be entering into a period where that change starts taking us backwards.
But a big part of greengeekgirl’s post was asking “What can we do about it?” Well the short answer is nothing. Unless Americans fight for a parliamentary system, or at least something different than the one party system we have now, nothing will change. Since we know that the people won’t actually act unless they run out of bread and circuses, we can rule that out. My solution? Leave.
You can’t fight it, it won’t get any better. Get out while you still can. For the rest of you, however, I leave you with this song by Alabama 3: