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With the Presidential election weeks away now and the country rigidly polarized—people violently divided on matters rooted deeply in their moral and cultural biases and unreconcilable—an urgent call is made from true believers in the democratic process, liberals mainly, to vote.
While this is nothing new, the pressure this cycle is more intense than ever. The mantra goes like this: if you don’t vote for their candidate, the other will win, and that will be the end of America. By voting, you act to preserve our great democracy, hence not voting is unthinkable. It would sully your citizenship and spurn your priceless birthright.
“Try to recall the last legislation that socio-economically benefited the American people at large. Stumped? That might be because it was before you were born. Two bills have passed that were indisputably for the public good: Social Security, in 1935 under FDR, which also provided for unemployment and aid to mothers with dependent children; and Medicare/Medicaid, under LBJ in 1965. That’s it. ”
Two elements in the mantra need revision. First, we don’t have, have never had, a democracy; at best, a hamstrung republic. Second, not voting won’t end America and whatever you wish to call what we do have. America is ending itself fine on its own, regardless of voting, campaigning, and all the Dada imbecile trappings of our polity.
So, what drives this persistent, passionate adjuration? Why are so many so certain of its critical importance? The idea of democracy, at its origins, was to entrust governance to the Demos, the People. It was a noble concept that, when implemented, was quickly subverted by brute economic power and has been, when tried, ever since.
Human history, as far back as we can trace it, has been a tale of the tyranny of economic power in various forms, and the struggle of the people for equity, endlessly waged and endlessly defeated. Until very recently, power had no need to disguise itself because its mandate was said to be divine. Only in the last few hundred years has a rising tide of popular discontent forced power to camouflage its cruelty and corruption. Democracy—the idea of it—has been its very best cover.
A rank simplification here… If I have an unstable power over you and your group while taking all that is yours by force, to obtain security I need you to accept my theft as justified. So I create a system that lets you endorse me by voting. If necessary, I allow a rival to oppose me. If he’s a flunky, he loses graciously. If not, my election bureau will find that he was beaten legitimately but your voice was heard.
hat’s the primitive model of the “democracy” ruse, employed by all absolutists: caudillos, dictators, military capos. Nations claiming to be democracies refined their methods to disguise their predatory nature. The fact that every one is an exploitative Capitalist Tyranny obviously required a more subtle, persuasive masking.
The method was creation of a multi-party system, each one founded on specific principles, theoretically presenting a range of options, left to right, with radical outliers at the extremes. None, regardless of tint and tilt, could be seen to be acting against the interest of the people.
Allowing choice conceals the fact that “democratic” government, just as all others, serves only its economic elite. People have to be convinced this is not so, that they are sovereign, that by voting they control the policies of their nation. Thus, the intense effort nations invest in sacralizing the vote, and the plea that we do our civic duty. We are all enjoined to act in this barefaced, shopworn charade.
A century ago, battling the monstrous power of rampant Capitalism, Emma Goldman said, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” She saw that the core purpose of “democratic” government had nothing to do with improving the lot of its people, and everything to do with maximizing profit for the Capitalist juggernaut. No country on earth has greater government/Capitalism symbiosis than America.
Most Americans, after life-long indoctrination, can’t believe they have been deceived about their government, bytheir government. A short exercise can address that inability. (If your net worth is $10 million, or your annual income $1 million, stop reading. Nothing for you here.)
Try to recall the last legislation that socio-economically benefited the American people at large. Stumped? That might be because it was before you were born. Two bills have passed that were indisputably for the public good: Social Security, in 1935 under FDR, which also provided for unemployment and aid to mothers with dependent children; and Medicare/Medicaid, under LBJ in 1965. That’s it.
Take that in. Digest that. There has been, in 55 years—the better part of a normal lifetime—no legislation to significantly socially and economically benefit 300 million ordinary American people. None.
One would think that a raging flame from that titanic betrayal would burn great, ragged holes in the smothering blanket of propaganda under which our government hides its crimes. One would think that, like the Finch character in Network, Americans would all be roaring, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more!”
But, no. Instead, the public—passive, deluded victim of this cynical abuse—is urged to vote, to preserve the desperately dirty, spiritually sick racket that has deceived, defrauded and impoverished them.
When you live in a false, rotten Capitalist “democracy” in which there is no hope of reform; when the same vile crimes and depredations will continue at home and abroad under either contemptible phony; when nothing of value to people or the world is even considered by either dead soul, then engaging in fine gradations of imposed evils is a lunatic’s exercise. Emma got it. We keep hoping for a different result.