Saturday, October 30, 2010

A one-page guide to Understanding Politics and the 2010 American Election

By Bill HonerThis guide is designed for those Americans who, by necessity or inclination, do limited reading and analysis of social and political conditions within the United States. Point 1. America has only one political party with two wings, the Democratic wing and the Republican wing. Discussion: The Democrats campaign from the left and govern from the center; the Republicans campaign from the right, then govern from the center-right while pursuing a pro-business agenda that does little to elevate the quality of life of ordinary people in America. As a result, there is only a modest range of potential change in policy that occurs between the center and center-right positions, resulting in a frozen democracy and the continuance of the status quo desired by the politicians’ masters. The latter include influential members of the financial sector, the Republican and Democratic party leaders , and owners of the media. Lewis Lapham and Walter Karp refer to this group as “the permanent government” in America. Congress and the Presidency constitute the provisional government, where the morality play of social and political issues unfold; however, the real decisions are made by their masters. Point 2. Congress is clearly the largest house of prostitution in the nation, with ordinary American’s experiencing the illusion, not the reality, of representative democracy. As one Republican Congresswoman was bold enough to say, “if you want access, you have to pay for it.” The five member conservative majority on the Supreme Court demonstrated its corruption in the Gore decision after the 2000 election by reversing their long-standing respect for states rights while indicating that this decision was an exception. It was a politically motivated act to aid the Republicans to whom they owed their appointment to the High Court. The Court declined to allow a recount in the State of Florida, where there were numerous flaws in the election process, including a system that fraudulently denied certification to eligible voters and police roadblocks in Volusia County designed to limit Black turnout in the election. Presidential Obama, like his predecessors, campaigned for change, but has largely promoted a continuance of government policies in many areas. Moreover, in the healthcare debate, he could have submitted an administration backed bill that included a comprehensive single-payer plan. Instead, he avoided a contentious debate where he could potentially lose political points, leaving it to the corrupt Congress to pass a watered-down version of health care that still excludes millions of persons from healthcare coverage to this day. On a personal level, it is not inspiring that he bought his house in Illinois at below market value from a man subsequently convicted of bribery and extortion. Point 3. The American Electorate is divided into two groups. The first includes the majority of conservative White voters, along with a smaller percentage (10% of Blacks, 33% of Asians, and 33% of Latinos) of minorities. The second group is comprised of roughly 40% of progressive White voters, along with 90% of blacks, 67% of Latinos and 67% of Asians, and smaller populations. The Conservative White Majority constitutes the poison that permeates American society through its promotion of 19th-century rugged individualism, anti-intellectualism, and racism. Discussion: The rugged individualism is cast in modern-day society as “personal responsibility”, the name the Republicans gave to the 1995 welfare Reform Act. Under their view, each individual is responsible for himself; it is a form of social Darwinism that rejects collective responsibility and mutual support. Although they fear socialism, they have no idea that government subsidies to oil, agriculture and other industries constitute socialism. Indeed, as the late economist John Kenneth Galbreath observed, America has long had socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. This is beyond their meager understanding. The anti-intellectualism is manifested with George Bush prancing around the stage and 2004 throwing out clich├ęs such as “you can run, but you can hide.” and the success of Sarah Palin, despite her intellectual implosion on national television in her interview with Katie Couric. The racism is reflected not only in the placards from the tea party march in Washington depicting the President as a monkey, but in Sarah Palin’s vice presidential campaign when she said, in addressing a White audience, that “ it is good to be around real Americans”. How likely is it she would refer to a gathering of people of color by that term? The so called “American Dream” is a pathetic one of a job, house and a car, with no discussion those basics being simply a point of departure for enriching life through the arts, music, literature or other pursuits that enhance the human experience, rather vthan the basics serving as the end point. The dreams of the White majority are individual ones; mutual sharing and support are rejected. Point 4, Under these conditions, is it a good idea to vote? One reason to vote for a different party is to deny legitimacy to the one party system of Democrats and Republicans. At the same time, a good reason to vote Democratic is, if one is not wealthy, to block the Republicans and their disregard for the quality of life of ordinary people.