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Of Boycotts and Elections

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Message Charles Sullivan
One hopes that at some point the American people will come to the realization that most elected officials these days do not serve the public interest, but their own economic self interests and those of their financial backers. The few who would serve the public interest are filtered out by the insurmountable fortress of capital that is the bulwark of electoral politics, especially at the federal level. Genuine public servants have roughly the same chance of winning a seat in Congress or the Whitehouse, as one has of winning the lottery.

For the totally uninitiated, or those on narcotics: the odds are astronomical. 

It requires unfathomable sums of money to even play the game, and that, in and of itself, precludes the majority of us from meaningful participation. It filters ordinary people possessed of ordinary means from serious contention. Ordinary people overwhelmingly comprise the national demographic, and yet they are wholly without representation in government at virtually every level. Without substantial financial backing, you can play but you cannot win. You are relegated to the outer fringes of the system, a distant planet circling a distant sun in a distant orb. 

A game in which only the wealthy can afford to play assures that only the wealthy will win. The result is that we have a system of electing politicians to serve a very tiny segment of the population—less than one percent, while simultaneously working against the great majority and, accordingly, the public welfare. 

In the rarified lexicon of corporate run politics—profits matter, people don’t; no matter the self righteous proclamations to the contrary. The wonder is that so many people continue to invest so much of their precious time and energy in a system that has so obviously and completely abandoned them. 

Perhaps abandon is not the appropriate word. Betray might be a better choice. Electoral politics in the US is the realm of high rollers and robber barons, not of ordinary people from working class backgrounds struggling for a piece of the much ballyhooed ‘American Dream.’ That system has utterly betrayed them, leaving them out in the cold to fend for themselves as best they can, against the very crooks and thieves who are mortgaging their future to the Corporate States of America. 

The people’s plight is akin to playing the lottery and hitting the jackpot against enormous odds. It is a game of desperation in which defeat and loss are the predictable outcomes for all but a few.  The money system wins, we the people lose; and we look like fools and chumps for having played the game against such tremendous odds. But, as Thoreau said so well, “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” Collectively, we have yet to show much wisdom. We just keep doing what we have always done and keep getting the same sorry results, and wonder why things never improve. 

When the choice is between Hillary Clinton, Rudi Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Edwards and Barach Obama, there is no meaningful choice. The difference between these candidates is primarily a matter of semantics. In each case you are getting essentially the same person representing the same economic self interests, the same policies. All of them are pro war. Contenders are in contention because they are the recipients of serious corporate money, not because they are champions of the people or servants of the public welfare. 

Ron Paul is not the answer either, as so many so desperately want to believe. Like his neoconservative brethren, Dr. Paul seeks to shrink the public domain and privatize everything—including all public lands. Economic self interest is the centerpiece of Paul’s political ideology and that not only does not serve the public interest, it undermines it. Dr. Paul is as much a product of Milton Friedman’s economics as any neocon and equally dangerous. 

We have an electoral system that always chooses between two evils, what Ralph Nader calls, “The evil of two lessers.”  But choosing the lesser evils assures that evil rules and, as we have seen, the evil is deepening with each successive election. 

To my mind, Dennis Kucinich is better suited to represent the people than any of the other candidates in the field. However, the democratic leadership will never permit Kucinich to win the party nomination because he would undermine their authority and threaten the established orthodoxy that controls the system. 

Genuinely progressive candidates are cynically used by the party leadership to create the appearance that the party still has an effective liberal wing when, in fact, it does not. The progressive wing of the party exists but it has been marginalized through lack of media exposure, lack of financial backing, and through the lack of support of the party leadership. 

Candidates with the qualifications of Dennis Kucinich only serve to retain the party loyalty of progressives. It keeps progressives playing the game while also preventing them from doing anything meaningful or revolutionary. 

We saw what happened to Howard Dean a few years ago; and Dean was a very moderate liberal, at best only slightly left of center. Progressives will not be allowed to compete. 

More people already choose not to participate in electoral politics than those who vote. It is not difficult to understand why: because they see elections as the sham they are, riddled with corruption and illegitimate to the core. The people intuitively know when they have been disenfranchised. They know that elections are about profiteering, not about public service or the collective good. 

It must also be noted that the previous two presidential elections were stolen by George Bush and his cohorts. There are serious concerns about the efficacy of paperless electronic voting machines, like those manufactured by Diebold with its close ties to the Republican Party and neo-conservatism. A system in which foxes are the guardians of the hen house is not in the people’s interest; nor is it in the interest of justice. 

As US citizens, we should have enough integrity that we do not allow the public wealth to be stolen with our blessings. We should denounce the process that unabashedly transfers the public domain into the private sector as the outright theft that it is. We should not pretend that it is the pubic interest or that it is a democratic process because we voted for it. It is self-interested greed and nothing more. 

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Charles Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer residing in the hinterland of West Virgina.
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