(Article changed on October 6, 2013 at 12:53)
Ragnarook by Wikimedia commons
From time to time an established societal order gives way to something fundamentally different. Such a transformation is occurring all around us right now. Long established political, economic, and societal stability is rapidly breaking down in America. This process of fast change will have dramatic effects upon not only this country, but upon the entire world system.
Right now in the US the most audacious crime against electoral democracy in the entire history of the US--aside, possibly, from southern secession at the start of the Civil War (First Civil War?)--is underway. Think about it: a numerically inferior faction of one party, in one legislative chamber is effectively demanding that the entire American legislative process, which has generally worked fairly well for the past 224 consecutive years, be disregarded. In doing this, they claim that they are only following the will of the majority of the American people, and so, are therefore, entitled to subvert the centuries established legislative process.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 ("Obamacare") has been the law of the land already for the past THREE YEARS. It has survived intense scrutiny from the US Supreme Court. Its provisions are in effect right NOW. Despite this, a minority faction of one political party refuses to accept the outcome of this legislative process. A law passed by Congress, signed by the President, upheld by the Supreme Court must be invalidated according to this faction, or else the US government will not be funded.
The Constitutionally correct process to remedy or strike down an undesirable law would be to win sufficient elections in the House and the Senate, while also capturing the Presidency, to change, or eliminate the unwanted law. To do this a party would need one essential ingredient: mass public electoral support. It's called "democracy." The 2012 US Presidential election was largely fought out over "Obamacare." Obama won by over 5 million votes. The Democrats actually increased their representation in the Senate by several seats despite having many more seats facing election. In the House, Democrats received 1.4 million more votes overall that did Republicans. Only massive gerrymandering allowed them to hold on to an unrepresentative (of popular will) majority in that chamber.
An inescapable conclusion is that mass popular support for repeal of Obamacare by any means very clearly DOES NOT EXIST among the American electorate. Not only is this reckless Tea Party faction running roughshod over our democracy, worse, they are doing so at the bidding of a lawless minority. So, what is REALLY going on?
I see two factors in play:
1) Rapid demographic changes which are making it impossible for generally uneducated whites to provide a basis of electoral victory for the Republican Party. If the 2012 presidential election had occurred in an America with the demographics it had in, say, 1992, Romney would have won easily. With 2012 demographics, victories are always very improbable. This situation only gets worse for Republicans at an accelerating rate throughout this century. Despite revived neo-Jim Crow laws throughout the red states, the tide of demography is inescapable and unrelenting.
2) Rapid concentration of wealth into ever fewer hands. The 400 wealthiest Americans possess greater net wealth than do the bottom 155 MILLION Americans. Concomitant with this, electoral laws designed to limit the role of money in politics have been eviscerated by the Supreme Court's Citizens United and FreeSpeechNow.org decisions. For all intents and purposes, the USA is now rapidly transforming into an oligarchy.
Note that these two trends do not pull in the same directions. Demographic change is pulling in the direction of greater inclusivity, enhanced social welfare, and Democratic Party electoral dominance overall. Concentration of wealth is pulling in the direction of greater concentration of political power, to be wielded increasingly for the benefit of the wealthy few, at the expense of the less well-off many.
I note that BOTH political parties have thus been captured by elites in this manner. However, the elite billionaires who bankroll the Republicans in general, and its Tea Party faction specifically, are distinctly different from those elites who support Democrats. Simply put the Tea Party supporting billionaires are far greedier than their Democrat supporting counterparts.
Therefore we can see what is driving the present government shutdown: greedy billionaires who feel that they have a God-given right to all of their wealth, without having to share any of it, via taxation, for social welfare programs such as universal health care, use front groups to inflame sentiment among frightened working class whites to the effect that lazy, non-whites, augmented by "white trash," are scheming to tax them (non-elite whites) so that they can get something, undeserved and unearned, for "free."
Given that our electoral system is still functioning despite the ever growing power of money to affect it; and also given that there are less greedy billionaires, who support modest taxation increases for general welfare purposes such as health care, what we are now observing is a clash between what remains of our electoral system functioning as a popular democracy, and naked oligarchy.
The will of the people expressed through the legislative process, and Supreme Court review is being willfully assaulted. The concentrated power of a tiny, avaricious elite minority is actively subverting the institutions of governance: Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. If it succeeds, democracy will have definitively failed in this country. We will henceforth be a full blown oligarchy. Just as the Roman Republic eventually gave way to the Roman Empire, the American Republic will have finally given up its ghost and been relegated to the history books.