At the end of the documentary on the Freedom Riders (see video), one of the riders said that an effect of the Freedom Rides was that they shattered the myth of Black impotence before Whites. The rides demolished the idea that Blacks were powerless in the face of White oppression. Well, guess what. Impotence is on the mend and it is no longer respecting color line. It is coming after you and me and everyone who is not part of the 1%, metaphorically speaking.
The impotence that is on the mend is a political-economic one, rather than a racial one. This impotence charges that those who are not rich enough to own a lobbyist or politician are unable to connect with their government. And though there has been a certain degree of electile dysfunction for a while, the powerlessness of the people to move their representatives is almost in full blossom today.
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When did this happen and who was President? We can't say precisely but we can note important milestones. One such milestone occurred during the campaigning for and passage of NAFTA. Up until the 1992 election, NAFTA was used as a political football by the Bush campaign team. They thought that NAFTA could split the Democratic party between the unions, which opposed NAFTA, and Hispanic voters as well as make candidate Clinton appear to be indecisive. In fact, unions had to govern their opposition to NAFTA because of fears of Hispanic members. In addition, environmentalists also opposed NAFTA because of pollution fears--that polluters would move South of the border. But what was significant here was that when Clinton embraced NAFTA, he began to cement a closer relationship between the corporate sector and the Democratic Party. And as these two became more tightly joined, there was no political party to represent those feeling pressed on by the business world.
The next tipping point came with the advent of the Iraq War. Millions here and across the world protested in perhaps the largest prewar antiwar demonstrations in history. But it was all to no avail as President Bush went ahead and invaded Iraq. Initially, Bush had the patriotic support of the people. But after he lost that support, a loss that cost his party control over Congress, he continued prosecuting the war as if there was no opposition at all. Though Obama followed by withdrawing many troops from Iraq, American security contractors stayed behind on America's dime. In addition, the majority of Americans now oppose the same Afghanistan War that Obama has spread into Pakistan through the use of drones. And though Obama can claim partial credit for the death of Bin Laden, he can take the same amount of credit for all of the side effects that come with both staying in Afghanistan and fighting a drone war against Pakistan.
On the domestic front, both Presidents Bush and Obama have furthered business interests through the bailouts and Healthcare. Both Presidents presided over huge bailouts to our financial institutions and the auto industry. And though some, and I think correctly so, can argue the necessity of the bailouts, they were given with virtually no strings attached in either paybacks or subsequent regulations. Again, this is a bipartisan favoring of the business community leaving the public without a voice. What has just been listed is a partial list of acts of deliberate deafness exercised by leaders of both parties to the American public. This refusal to listen makes any popular protest practically moot. Plus, Obamacare garnered more business for the Health Insurance Industry making his healthcare plan unsustainable because of the costs.
Besides turning a deaf ear to the public, Obama's Administration has outdone Bush's in term of squelching whistleblowers and protesters. In fact, it has been pointed out that President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton combined. So far, the count is up to five (see article
). In addition, it is under President Obama's tenure that the Occupy encampments were violently attacked and destroyed. And it is by Obama's Justice Department that both protesters and activists have been subpoenaed or indicted for trying to further peace. Finally, Obama signed the 2012 NDAA that gave the President unprecedented powers, removing all necessary burden of proof responsibilities, to detain American citizens.
But perhaps what incapacitates the political ability of the people more than hard of hearing elected officials are the choices we (don't) have. Martin Luther King once stated that there was no difference between a Black person in South not having the right to vote from a Black person from the North not having anyone to vote for. With the capitulation of the Democratic Party to Big Business, Americans, feeling infringed on by Big Business, have no one to vote for. The Citizens United case and the Clinton sellout of the Democratic Party has made almost carte blanche support of Big Business a bipartisan affair. With the virtual lockout of 3rd party candidates at almost every Federal office, the electoral choice for Americans has been reduced to being between Thing 1 and Thing 2. And despite that, we have convinced ourselves that voting for anyone else is a wasted vote.
We are currently a political impotent nation. Money and marketing is now controlling who are leaders and representatives are and what their policies will be. And unless we stand up and change, this trend will continue until our nation collapses.
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