Since the 2008 election, when I still foolishly and naively believed that my vote meant anything, I have become convinced that the U.S. electoral system merely disguises a corrupt, brutal economic/political/militarist system which depends on the continued domination and exploitation of the planet, its people, other species, and resources for its existence, and that my vote only gives this evil system more legitimacy.
Most people I know, very good people, refuse to face the fact that we now live in an evil empire which is not only capable of doing horrible things, but is actually doing those things every day all over the world. They cannot bring themselves to face the bitter truth that the political/economic/militarist system in which we live is essentially and fundamentally evil, based on violence, exploitation (of people & planet), and the commodification/objectification of everything, including life itself. This system will continue as long as the Ruling Class and its two political parties run things, regardless of which Corporate/Militarist/Wall Street figurehead sits in the White House. As Noam Chomsky has said: " If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged. "
Like fish who are unaware that they swim in water, most USans are willfully unaware that they live in such a murderous, evil system because it is their "normality". Every part of our culture, but especially "news" and entertainment media, confirms this perverse, violent "normality".
To pull oneself out of it and see it clearly seems like extremism, exaggeration, and hysteria to most people I know. I realize I am considered by some to be such an "extremist" for seeing things as I do, but 45 years of intense thought and grappling with these basic questions of morality have resulted in my current perspective.
As an "extremist", I now realize that a "moderate" is someone who quietly supports the murderous U.S. global Empire abroad and the corporate state at home which redistributes income from the poor and middle class to the Ruling Class, while saying she or he supports "civil rights" such as women's rights and gay rights. One who truly champions global economic justice and the abolition of war, and especially of nuclear weapons, is considered an "extremist". Sanity is "extreme". U.S. imperialism is "moderate" and "sensible", "practical and "pragmatic", provided you are not one of its tens of millions of victims worldwide.
As a result, I will no longer willingly participate in this system of officially authorized murder and destructive exploitation of people and our only planet, and its continuing preparations for mass murder by the most powerful arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in history. I will no longer contribute to this evil system's undeserved legitimacy by voting in its sham elections and faux "democracy".
Our taxes support murderous dictatorships such as in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and oppressive militarized regimes worldwide as long as they are "friendly" to corporate interests. Because of this greed-oriented foreign policy, d irectly and indirectly, overtly and covertly, economically and militarily, the U.S. has been responsible for the deaths of more than 15 million people, mostly civilians, since 1945, as well as injuries to countless millions more. In Iraq alone, policies of the administrations of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, all supported by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress, have killed more than two million Iraqis and injured millions more, and made more than four million Iraqis refugees. No other terrorists come close to the effects of U.S. state terrorism.
20 years after the end of the USSR and the Cold War, our nuclear arsenal STILL has the destructive capacity to end ALL life on this planet. Nuclear weapons are weapons of omnicide - killing ALL living beings. That is god-like power in the hands of one person with access to our nuclear codes contained in "the football", the attache case containing those codes, a black case chained to the wrist of the President's aide who accompanies him everywhere he goes.
Tell me this is not insanity and the worst immorality.
This worship of the ultimate power over life is reflected in most of our movies and TV shows, where violence is the main way of creating "interest" and "excitement". It has permeated all aspects of our daily life to the point where we simply accept it as "normal".
But it is deeply pathological, not normal.
I refuse to any longer willingly participate in such an evil system of terrorism and domination, or give it any more legitimacy by willingly participating in it.
To offset the amount of my taxes used every year to support this system's military/security state operations, I use the information provided at Visualize Your Tax Dollar - National Priorities Project http://nationalpriorities.org/en/interactive-data/taxday/ to calculate that amount, then donate an equal or larger amount to charities such as Doctors Without Borders, national and local food banks, and organizations helping injured veterans.
I will continue to write and speak in opposition to the U.S. Empire and all the evil it commits at home and abroad, knowing full well that my words will do little to help dismantle such a firmly-established system of terror and evil, supported as it is not only by immensely powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations, including the most successful propaganda system in history, the corporate media, and by the most powerful military on earth, but also by most of its citizens who rarely, if ever, question the existence, let alone the evil, of this Empire.
Chris Hedges is an author and former foreign correspondent for the NY Times who experienced firsthand the horrors of war when he reported from Yugoslavia during the bloody breakup of that country and has been to Gaza, the world's largest open air prison maintained by the cruel, oppressive Israeli blockade. In his most recent essay