Then again, when faced with the grim, seemingly hopeless reality of the American police state, it's understandable why Americans might opt for escapism. "Humankind cannot bear too much reality," T. S. Eliot once said. Perhaps that is one reason we are so drawn to the unreality of the American political experience: it is spectacle and fiction and farce all rolled up into one glossy dose of escapism.
Frankly, escapism or not, Americans should be mad as hell.
Many of our politicians live like kings. Chauffeured around in limousines, flying in private jets and eating gourmet meals, all paid for by the American taxpayer, they are far removed from those they represent. Such a luxurious lifestyle makes it difficult to identify with the "little guy"--the roofers, plumbers and blue-collar workers who live from paycheck to paycheck and keep the country running with their hard-earned dollars and the sweat of their brows.
Conveniently, politicians only seem to remember their constituents in the months leading up to an election, and yet "we the people" continue to take the abuse, the neglect, the corruption and the lies. We make excuses for the shoddy treatment, we cover up for them when they cheat on us, and we keep hoping that if we just stick with them long enough, eventually they'll treat us right.
People get the government they deserve.
No matter who wins the presidential election come November, it's a sure bet that the losers will be the American people.
As political science professor Gene Sharp notes in starker terms, "Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones." As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the Establishment--the shadow government and its corporate partners that really run the show, pull the strings and dictate the policies, no matter who occupies the Oval Office--are not going to allow anyone to take office who will unravel their power structures. Those who have attempted to do so in the past have been effectively put out of commission.
So what is the solution to this blatant display of imperial elitism disguising itself as a populist exercise in representative government?
Stop playing the game. Stop supporting the system. Stop defending the insanity. Just stop.
Washington thrives on money, so stop giving them your money. Stop throwing your hard-earned dollars away on politicians and Super PACs who view you as nothing more than a means to an end. There are countless worthy grassroots organizations and nonprofits working in your community to address real needs like injustice, poverty, homelessness, etc. Support them and you'll see change you really can believe in in your own backyard.
Politicians depend on votes, so stop giving them your vote unless they have a proven track record of listening to their constituents, abiding by their wishes and working hard to earn and keep their trust.
Stop buying into the lie that your vote matters. Your vote doesn't elect a president. Despite the fact that there are 218 million eligible voters in this country (only half of whom actually vote), it is the electoral college, made up of 538 individuals handpicked by the candidates' respective parties, that actually selects the next president. The only thing you're accomplishing by taking part in the "reassurance ritual" of voting is sustaining the illusion that we have a democratic republic. What we have is a dictatorship, or as political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page more accurately term it, we are suffering from an "economic-elite domination."
A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay involved, whether that means forgoing Monday-night football in order to attend a city council meeting or risking arrest by picketing in front of a politician's office.
It takes a citizenry willing to do more than grouse and complain. We must act--and act responsibly--keeping in mind that the duties of citizenship extend beyond the act of voting.
Most of all, it takes a citizenry that cares enough to get mad and get active. As Howard Beale declares in the 1976 film Network:
"I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell, 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more.' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it."
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).