To Vote Or Not To Vote
I cannot help but notice that the American public is as confused about politics. The politicians appear to be representing the best interest of their constituents, but are they really ? It appears to be a relationship of mutual disrespect. Politicians seem to obtain their office through campaign contributions from moneyed interests, or by some sort of inside dealings, while the constituents are limited to selecting the lesser of two evils at the voting booth. With all of the potential ways available for politicians to gain inside information, profit on them, and hide their lush and privileged lifestyles from the general public -- the general public remains in the dark; and one in three Americans rather prefer it that way. One need not know the laws of electricity in order to enjoy the benefits of an electric lightbulb.
Not voting and the indifference of the American population seems to be an epidemic. The Statistics Brain website reports that with over 200-million eligible voters in the 2008 presidential elections, only 64% bothered to show up and vote. That doesn't speak well for democracy; a participation-sport that requires every citizen to voice their opinions. Over 13% of those not voting listed "not interested" as their reason; 12.9% didn't like the candidates or the issues; 11.3% listed "other" as their reason and 17.5% said that they were just too busy.
In Australia, one of 23 countries that make voting mandatory, voter turnout is 95% of registered voters. The reason is elementary - It's the law.Those who fail to vote are fined for their failure to participate. If eligible Americans were fined $20 for not voting, it could amount to nearly $150-million towards campaign reform efforts, and It's a sensible way to ensure that elections reflect the will of the people. Only 67% of American registered voters bothered to show up on Election Day in 2000; it took SCOUS to appoint a president. Disregarding the Constitutional requirements, the popular-vote was ignored when recounts were suspended. That is no way to run a Democracy, but then a third of us didn't care.
The consequences of choosing not to vote is that we must live under the government we deserve. Now that just makes me Grumpy. Over one-third of the eligible voters simply don't care enough to find the time and make the effort to assure that our democracy, rights and freedoms continue. The message sent to Washington was a green-light to proceed in stripping away individual rights, bankrupting the country at taxpayer expense, privatizing the commons and let the moneyed-interest have their way with us.
Sigmund Freud would point to the Pleasure-Principal as a reason people don't vote. If they don't like the candidates, the issues, or if they are inconvenienced in some way - they will choose the immediate pleasure found in television or the movies rather than facing the painful ugly truth of the situation they allowed to happen. Eric Fromm called it an "escape from freedoms". People really choose to deny themselves the freedom to choose.
Sadly, we are living in a culture that depends on Comedy-Central to explain the issues to our dumbed-down-disinterested society. And the bankers simply sit-back and laugh at the stupidity of those financing their corruption.
Television and Hollywood are busy creating our culture, while telling us that their shows are merely a reflection of the culture. How much money was spent by our government in influencing the American public to enter WWII ? Director John Ford and actor John Wayne made fortunes, while the Defense Department wrote and edited the movie scripts; allowing Hollywood to film our great war-machine in action ... at taxpayer expense.
One of the CIA's first missions was to promote propaganda against Benito Mussolini and the fascist party of the Italian government. It worked well and set the stage for today's current climate of propaganda-disinformation. The press was enlisted to support National [In]Security and the current government maintains control over what is and what is not reported. We celebrate Condi Rice (a war criminal) for breaking the barrier against women members at a prestigious golf club and condemn Julian Assuage as a terrorist who simply reported the truth to the public. As a society, our values are in great peril; and the incompetence displayed in the government's negligence, allowing financial-crimes to continue and go unpunished, is a clear example of the state of our collective ethics.
Our culture has lost interest in the workings of government. Schools no longer teach Civics as a standard high-school required class. Few citizens know the difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate, -even fewer know the process behind passing a new law. Americans don't realize the impact of special-interest groups writing laws that protect their profits at the expense of taxpayers. They simply don't care until such time as the law is used against them. Then they scream and go on rampages over the rights they believed they had, but never bothered to defend. They are simply clueless. They are authoritarian-followers that "escape their freedoms" by letting others rule over them.
Politicians, are, of course, the authoritarian-leaders. Just as the leaders on the religious-right expect their flock to follow their lead and do as they are told, politicians don't expect the need to explain their actions. Politics has become a religion, asking for faith, trust and an unquestioning following. But politicians have proven themselves to be Janus, the two-faced mythical Roman god, controlling the comings and goings of everything in Washington, especially money. The answers to the questions presented them are different depending upon who is asking the questions. Ethics be dammed; for the fox is guarding the henhouse and accountability is easily denied.
The intriguing question endures; why do Americans allow politicians and government representatives to ignore the best interest of their constituent's ? The obvious answer is because of the vast amounts of cash spent convincing them that they are voting for the best possible candidate (or policy issue), while withholding full disclosure of the consequences. Television produces "Reality" shows that are scripted and anything but real-life situations. The Entertainment industry is chasing around the beautiful people - the famous and wealthy, giving the illusion that ->in America everyone can be a star -even you. The string of commercials are endless on television. They all promise more than they can deliver. Both consumer products and politicians promise the illusion of a better life for the viewer sitting in front of the television set. And it works. We purchase more goods and services than we can afford, we run up our credit cards with wants rather than needs. It's all the result of the great propaganda machine, getting us to act against our own best interest and enjoy the pleasure of instant gratification over the painful reality of what lies ahead. Kick the can down the road for future generations to pay the price. We live in communities surrounded by storage facilities in which we place our precious goods that we can no longer fit in the house. We vote, or don't, for politicians which are the lesser of two evils, never demanding a better choice. We do as we are told, selecting from the meager choices placed before us. "Sir, thank you sir, ...please may I have more".
The Moneyed Interest in propaganda.
Politicians continue to tell us that the federal deficit is out of control.We need to balance the budget and cut-back on our spending.The truth is that this is only an issue when the Republicans try to regain power while a Democrat is in power. Supported by moneyed interest, they tell us we need to cut funding for anything that regulates an industry; we need to de-fund inspection agencies, and end the social safety nets that keep the un-wealthy alive. But spending money on the endless sinkhole of the war-machine is not in our national interest (or profitable to their sponsors). They try to convince us that it is necessary through propaganda. Money is seldom an issue when there are wars to be fought (and, like tax-cuts, these don't need to be paid for).
As an example of the powerful influences of commercial television and the consequences of doing something against one's best interests, I would like to reference a pharmaceutical; Duloxetine. It represents Big-Pharma's solution -in search of a problem, much like politicians create a fix for problems that don't exist (i.e. voter fraud).