"Unemployment is high. Average income is low and declining, making it impossible for a man to marry and support a family. Anger with rampant corruption in government is palpable and longstanding. One percent of the population lives in the lap of luxury that ordinary people can only dream of. The richest one percent is totally ignorant of the real problems of ordinary citizens. GDP is roughly 5% but the majority of the people have seen no benefit from that. When the president travels in his limousine the roads are cleared in front of him, so he has no notion of how bad the traffic problems are. Elections here are fixed and essentially a joke, as opposition parties cannot run in any effective sense. The people have been accused of lethargy and apathy, and a willingness to tolerate a loss of civil liberties. But everybody has a breaking point. The people are fed up. They have had enough."
That was Ben Wedeman, CNN's longtime Mid-East reporter speaking from Egypt last night. But that could have been Amy Goodman reporting from a march on Washington. As Hillary Clinton urged tolerance for protesters from the Egyptian government I wondered what she would say to the world if 200 million Americans took to the streets to protest government corruption, rigged elections, an absurd wealth distribution, and declining wages in America.
Where is America's breaking point? In a country where both parties in a two-party system are equally beholden to corporate money, where are the opposition leaders? When do Americans demand real elections - elections where there is no money involved and all potential candidates are funded by taxpayer dollars?
Americans are now placed in the absurd position of needing to organize a constitutional convention in order to overturn a politicized ruling by a corrupt supreme court; of needing to prove in every state that a corporation is not a human being. The apathy of Americans is equally palpable - as Congress and the courts behave as though they are enslaved by corporations and ignore the will of the American people most of the time. As Hank Paulsen was in the process of blackmailing Congress into a trillion dollar bailout for his banker cronies, every American adult with a pulse called his representative and screamed "NO". Congressmen reported on the floor of the House that calls and emails were 99% against a bailout. Congressional Democrats buckled to their banker masters and ignored us. And how did Americans protest being ignored? They turned control of the House of Representatives over to the Republicans - whose initial volley was to outlaw public funding for presidential elections. Next on their agenda: outlawing abortion and ending Social Security and Medicare.
Our progressive opposition groups are fragmented and issue-based, as could be expected in a nation so huge and diverse. What is needed is a mechanism for binding progressive groups together to fight - literally - for a new regime: For publicly-funded elections and an end to gerrymandering that would give us some hope of a representative government. What is needed is genuine progressive leadership.