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Yes, We Have No Democracy

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Six Factors in the Right-Wing Takeover, in Defiance of the American Body Politic

Thom Hartmann has it right:  Government in the USA is no longer responsive to the will of the people.  But his focus on money in politics is misdirected, distracting attention from factors that are more important, more shocking, less discussed.  There are six ways in which our democracy has been sabotaged, and only two of them can be discussed in polite society.   The most-discussed and least controversial one is the focus of Hartmann's article.

The six factors:

  1. Media consolidation / press censorship
  2. Secrecy in government
  3. Assassination of charismatic populist leaders
  4. Direct, electronic corruption of the vote count
  5. Restricted access to the polls
  6. Money in politics

Perhaps there is no need to point out that all six pull in the same direction, that is, to the right.

  • away from populism, toward concentration of power
  • away from wealth distribution, toward wealth accumulation
  • away from equality , toward privilege
  • away from human rights and freedoms, toward repression
  • away from corporate responsibility, toward corporate license
  • away from cooperation, toward competition, toward dominance
  • away from peace, toward war

Without these six factors, America would be a very different place indeed, politically and in every other way.  In fact, the two political parties are both to the right of the American people, and far to the right of where American popular opinion would be if we all knew the truth about war and the truth about what goes on in Washington.

In reverse order:

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6.   Money in politics.  The most discussed and least controversial of the six.  Hartmann has done a great job with this one, and I will say no more.  But this story is not as important as the others.  Money generally makes only a marginal difference in electoral outcomes, as politial advertising never sways more than a few percent of voters; and there are steeply diminishing returns when saturtion ad campaignis are re-intensified.

5.   Restricted access to the polls.  This, too, has been covered in the media.  Voting rates among minorities and poor people and students and people with disabilities are way below voting rates in the Republican suburbs.  It is easy to see that this is by design of the Republicans, who have played dirty tricks, propagated disinformation, and promoted fraudulent legislation to keep Democratic demographics from the polls.  What is harder to see is why the Democrats have so frequently gone along with this plan.  Not since the LBJ era have Democrats aggressively pursued expansion of the franchise as a way to establish and maintain their majority.

4. Direct, electronic corruption of the vote count.  This is the crudest, the most overtly criminal of the six factors.  There has always been vote theft in America, but until the introduction of electronic voting, it was labor-intensive and local.  Ballot-box stuffing was practiced by both parties, and had to be organized at the local level.  Since about 2000, it has become easy to steal elections remotely, efficiently, with only a few people privy to what has happened.  This new era in vote theft has been almost exclusively a province of the Republicans.  In a few extreme cases, huge chunks of votes have been switched to alter the course of an election, as with Diebold's Rob Georgia campaign in 2002, and the 2010 nomination of Alvyn Greene for Senator from South Carolina.  Far more commonly, close races have been altered by shifting a few percent of the vote from D to R.  (Ron Paul and Howard Dean also lost their presidential primary bids to corrupted elections.)  This process has become institutionalized and now constitutes a thumb on the scales of American democracy.  We know this primarily from election statistics, but there have also been a few cases where electronic vote theft was documented firsthand, with direct, physical evidence.  The 2004 Presidential race in Ohio and the Florida Congressional district that whistleblower Clint Curtis was hired to fix are prominent examples.

There is a blackout in mainstream American news channels on the topic.  Thom Hartmann covered electronic vote theft in 2005, when his operation was smaller and more independent.  Now he won't touch the issue.  You can read more about electronic election theft at these web sites:  

3.  Assassination of populist political leaders.    The stories we hear are about the "lone nutcase" who got lucky with his gun, or a mysterious plane crash.  Monuments and public buildings are named for these heros, after they are taken out of commission because the CIA has deemed too dangerous to the direction of American politics.   Huey Long .  John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and possibly John, Jr.  Martin Luther King.  Malcolm X.  John Lennon.  Paul Wellstone.  

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Don Siegelman and Eliot Spitzer escaped with their lives, but were politically neutralized by trumped-up "scandal".

2.  Secrecy in Government.  When elected officials live in glass boxes and ordinary citizens are secure in their privacy, then we have democracy.  But when the government knows everything about the private lives of individuals while the people know about their elected representatives only what those representatives want them to hear - then we have a self-perpetuating totalitarian state.  Thus "terrorism" has been used as an excuse to shield the Bush and Obama Administrations from public scrutiny.  The Bush White House was the most secretive in the history of the United States - until Obama took office.  No one doubts that legitimate secrecy has been stretched to shield the wrongdoing of people in office and their supporters in Federal agencies and in private contractors.  But the truth is actually far more radical:  Almost none of the secrecy serves a legitimate purpose in deterring attacks on Americans.  Rather it serves to cover up wrongdoing.  "Terrorism" did not arise on its own, but was invented as an excuse for war and repression, which the American people would never have tolerated had they not been manipulated by fear, using real actions and propaganda campaigns.

1.  Media consolidation / press censorship.   Gone are investigative reporters.  Gone are local TV and radio stations that responded to local constituencies and were uniquely familiar with issues and government officials in a particular locale.

"In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S.

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Josh Mitteldorf, an editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at http://JoshMitteldorf.ScienceBlog.com. Read how to stay young at http://AgingAdvice.org. Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there to mathematical modeling in a (more...)
 

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TJ (and countless others) had it right: " "Were it... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 1:22:22 PM
Excellent article. Regarding Point 2, on Governmen... by John Pepper on Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 1:51:54 PM
... by John Jonik on Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 at 10:58:49 PM
That's funny. Where can I get that? ... by Sandra Parson on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 7:56:47 PM
Very expressive drawing, two parties fighting each... by urb musak on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 9:01:46 PM
Observing a dim glow of hope, if you believe the ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 9:23:26 AM
Thanks, smart as always. ... by BFalcon on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:35:32 AM
Yes, voting could bring about change if we could ... by Patricia Gray on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 2:59:43 PM
With such a system in place, the representative o... by John Sanchez Jr. on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 7:42:45 AM
Patricia I think a representative should be an exp... by Pal Palsimon on Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 3:13:59 AM
"Government in the USA is no longer responsive to... by Alan 8 on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:35:31 AM
I'm all for Green Party principles and platform, b... by Josh Mitteldorf on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:14:09 PM
Re.your " it's not obvious to me that if the Gree... by Eric Zuesse on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 4:22:18 PM
-- continued -- Your marvelous and brilliant pro... by Eric Zuesse on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 4:33:52 PM
This is why we should get off our asses, go balls ... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 7:58:16 PM
I don't want gov to bend to the "will of the peopl... by Pal Palsimon on Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 3:17:21 AM
The author greatly underestimates big money in po... by Carmen Yarrusso on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:02:04 PM
I beg to disagree.  If we had the power to vo... by Josh Mitteldorf on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:16:19 PM
Power always comes down to money and military/pol... by Derryl Hermanutz on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 1:29:16 PM
It is not money that is the problem, it is people'... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 8:01:51 PM
Sorry Mr Geery, Francis and I disagree with ur as... by Lester Shepherd on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 8:24:03 PM
True, if we let it. I haven't yet, and, sorry, bu... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:25:41 PM
This, btw, is from my senatorial campaign, found ... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:27:05 PM
I see you haven't let it affect u - nor do I - but... by Lester Shepherd on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 6:31:40 AM
The larger point is pondering why some of us have... by Daniel Geery on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 12:00:36 PM
Playing the role of a philosopher when you are no... by Lester Shepherd on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 12:46:20 PM
Though I am a philosopher* and think every human ... by Daniel Geery on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 1:53:18 PM
But we don't really know when they accept bribes ... by Carmen Yarrusso on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 2:12:51 PM
Bribes are passed between accounts at the same Car... by lila york on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 5:14:21 PM
I agree. ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 1:45:00 PM
You are very naïve Josh.We already know poli... by kappie on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 9:08:34 AM
The reason it's all about who gets elected is that... by Eric Zuesse on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 4:46:21 PM
With reference to your points "5" and "4," I recen... by E. T. SIMON on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:30:15 PM
Let's be careful with the terms. Voter fraud ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 12:44:19 PM
Voter fraud was rampant in Miami-Dade in the year... by E. T. SIMON on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 2:41:32 PM
Good info.  The one that most concerns me is ... by Steve Hudson on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 3:10:31 PM
You have cut to the heart of it, Josh. I hope this... by lila york on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 5:10:17 PM
Please share this article with every website that ... by Catherine McCoy on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 6:24:39 PM
...or perhaps a general strike.  (Since you c... by Jill Herendeen on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 8:17:17 PM
There is a down side to having so much information... by Sandra Parson on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 7:51:53 PM
Yes - exactly right, Sandra.  There once was... by Josh Mitteldorf on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 8:48:08 PM
"Crowd-sourced reporting on the Web"--if only we c... by Kate Jones on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 8:50:29 PM
Don't forget falsification of polling data, exit p... by Stuart Davies on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 9:03:24 PM
Yes - polling methodology has been altered over th... by Josh Mitteldorf on Friday, Apr 18, 2014 at 9:44:10 PM
Stuart - I remember the days when the exit polls w... by Lester Shepherd on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 6:25:02 AM
I think Josh is dead on ..particularly point 3...... by yunus Luebben on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 12:35:16 AM
I don't know where to put this on the list but "te... by Michael David Morrissey on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 2:49:39 AM
We could have had Ralph Nader as a president. But ... by Frank Inbun on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 8:11:40 AM
Thank you. ... by intotheabyss on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 8:34:07 AM
Brainwashed that he was a wasted vote; that's vira... by Pal Palsimon on Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 3:08:40 AM
I find your analysis of "money in politics" to be ... by Tom Wisdom on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 9:22:49 AM
Intellectual integrity of OEN The views expressed... by Josh Mitteldorf on Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 at 1:49:52 PM
Yes, and the deaths of  Huey Long , J... by Pal Palsimon on Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 at 3:00:32 AM