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Stuck in the Gears of Dead-End Democracy

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So much of being a successful presidential candidate (and by successful, I mean, winning the nomination) involves being able to simply talk. A presidential candidate’s electability rests on his or her ability to just say whatever to woo the masses and ease the uneasiness in the audience at the rallies and forums that presidential candidates host. If one can reassure and string words together that evoke memories of JFK, Truman, or FDR, one can expect to get high ratings among the crowd for having the capacity to compare his or herself to a great politician in our history. It doesn’t matter what kind of record the presidential candidate has. As long as he or she can make one forget he or she has a record, the people will fall head over heels for the man or woman who says all the right things and has the swagger that all future presidents are expected to have.

The media bears a major responsibility for the easiness with which presidential candidates can conduct themselves without having to face their past track records or do as they say they will. Too many candidates have the freedom to use ambiguous language and high-brow rhetoric that has double meaning because the public has not a clue what that other meaning may or may not be. The media will report quotations from campaign events without clarifying meaning or accurately portraying the quote to the American people. Without a context of how that quotes fits into the candidate-who-said-it’s record, the American people are left with the responsibility of investigating who is telling the truth and who isn’t.

Americans are proven to be scientifically lazier than all other humans around the globe. Having lived under the umbrella of a hegemonic power for years, in fact, decades, and perhaps now one could say, a century, the American people will not do their homework and do the research necessary to accurately understand candidates. The American people do not know what it means to stand up and fight for their rights. The American people take months to act to defend their freedoms.

Think about it. The movements protesting in D.C. today are protesting a war waged on false pretenses that began four years ago. And torture, wiretapping, and other civil liberties’ infringements under the PATRIOT Act are still being protested. That goes back five or six years. Don't even bring up expansions on the PATRIOT Act like the Military Commissions Act because Americans haven't a clue what that is. Had Americans staged a coup or on a less extreme level, flooded the streets the day after these outrageous events happened, than “dead end protests” like the ones happening in D.C. today would not be going on. Had they inundated the mailboxes and email boxes of leaders with letters lined with logical reasoning, civil and social discourse would have reached our leaders and a path towards respect would have been initiated.

But Americans don’t realize that it’s that time elapse that gives politicians and corporations the freedom to move on and continue to advance their agendas and interests that infringe upon the lives of Americans. The outsourcing of jobs, the stripping away of unionization rights, the way that corporations and politicians cooperate to maintain a stranglehold through health care, the manner of which corporations casually pollute the environment we live in while the politicians turn a blind eye to them, the method by which they “teach” America’s children to grow up and become “good Americans”, and the act of hegemonic power by which our top men in foreign policy wage wars and incite conflicts through instruments of power, economic, political, and military, are all courses that Americans could have prevented their leaders from pursuing had they the wherewithal to stand up and defend themselves the day after plans were set in motion to pursue this course and not when the problem rears its ugly head.

It seems that standing up for peace and civil liberties has lost its trendiness culturally. Or rather, the Americans living today cannot seem to create their own era of civil and social discourse with their own culture and must constantly reach back into the days of the 60s and early 70s when civil and social discourse proliferated throughout America. Americans living today draw upon the art, music, movies, journalism, television reporting, and anti-war rallies that occurred in those days to motivate themselves to act. They sport corporate sanitized peace symbols on their clothing and quasi-revolutionary phrasings on their shirts that detail to the world their passion for peace and no war. But follow them home, and you will find these same Americans in a world of virtual reality giving themselves over to the television or video game system that for some warped reason bears more importance to these Americans instead of taking steps to reclaim their country. Just ask yourself, why is it that the guy speaking out against the Iraq war always is a Vietnam War Veteran and not a college-aged student put off by current American policies?

Granted, there are people out there advancing a new wave of culture into the world of Americans and by way of doing so are having an effect on the minds of young adults who will be future leaders of America. From Rage Against the Machine to Nine Inch Nails to Bad Religion to Megadeth to System of a Down to Pearl Jam to Michael Franti & Spearhead plus other underground rap acts like Paris, Dead Prez, and Immortal Technique, there exists a robust catalogue of music to be played as a soundtrack for revolution. Occasionally, even mainstream acts dedicate a song on their forthcoming album to change. And slowly but surely, movies, such as In the Valley of Elah and Redacted, are embracing civil discourse and social discourse and taking on American policies with bold stories that work in histories, events, and sentiments that have been glossed over or flat-out ignored. Yet, this culture fails to eclipse the video game worlds, FM radio worlds, and television worlds that sanitize, corporatize, and prey upon the minds of potential freedom fighters in America.

The protests of today have a nice rebellious edge to them. In fact, over a thousand Americans will be participating in a “die-in” today. At first, I admire this “die-in” idea for its intention because if Americans want their freedoms and respect, showing police beating the living sh*t out of Americans is one sure way of doing it. This has been proven time and time again to work. It worked for black people; so why not the American peace movement? But wait, black people pursued civil disobedience peacefully with such things as sit-ins where no violence was involved. One can expect cussing, lewdness, and rudeness to emanate from these protesters today. These people are angry, incensed anti-war people who aren’t progressively pursuing a future of peace with logical reason and instead are pursuing a whiny negative approach to ending a war that refuses to get behind any one politician that supports peace even if that man exists.

These angry Americans, who can be found in World Can’t Wait chapters on college campuses and cities all across America, promote impeachment and ending a war with blind alley mentalities that don’t provide us a way out of the mess America is in. America is trapped in a cyclical path that began with Nixon but upon resignation led to a savior Jimmy Carter, who didn’t do so well and led to the election of Ronald Reagan. Reagan took America back to Nixon and built upon past atrocious policies. That lasted twelve years and then, Clinton stepped in and “saved America”. But then, Democrats failed to fight the atrocious policies and corruption of power the other side has been pursuing for years, and America was back to pushing and building upon atrocious policies of Nixon and Reagan with Bush in power. Twelve years in just over three decades have brought “sunshine” to Americans’ lives, but Americans haven’t been able to do away with the darkness that lurks in the shadows and comes out for each election to woo the masses into propping them up and being subservient.

A picking of candidates who are acceptable and unacceptable regardless of who is running goes on in the inner workings of America right under the noses of Americans before they can stop it from reaching an apex pointy enough to puncture a future of democratic reform. Without a realization that those at the bottom or those being kicked aside are the answer as opposed to the ones at the top who are there for a reason (and not because Americans “support” them), Americans move like hamsters on wheels pushing this nation further and further along the path of atrociity and negative policy.

As the wheels turn, parties begin to meld with each other. The two parties left now accept policies that are Democrat and Republican policies. Republicans and Democrats pursue the same foreign policy but dress it up to suit the intentions of their own party or better, dress it up so it can be sold to the populace that supports them. The primaries become devoid of necessity as candidates are already weak “bipartisan” people who come out of the chute in the summertime before November looking the same, which signals it is time for Americans to pick the lesser of two evils.

The Americans willingly submit to this morally bankrupt game of picking the lesser of two evils as if picking the right one will win them money in a lottery. Americans go to vote in elections for the person expected to win and not the candidate who should win. That’s how Americans get stuck with the lesser of two evils. Americans would rather boost their ego than do what's right and possibly vote for the loser.

The “people’s choice” loses to the “other people’s choice”, but it does not matter because that person carries a 1% edge in winning with maybe 100,000 more votes than the other. Either one could have been accepted by Americans.

And why can either of them do just fine for Americans outside of the fact that they are essentially the same? That’s because in this democracy Americans only know how to enact change in elections. Our leaders look at protests and laugh walking away entertained at the disorder Americans propagate instead of smartly or logically finding progressive solutions for reform. Our leaders shred mail and eat the shreds for lunch by applying it like lettuce to a sandwich of their choice. As they eat that sandwich, they enjoy the taste of American ignorance and powerlessness that seeps through the letters they receive. They sit in comfort at night sipping vodka and smoking cigars with their legs propped up knowing Americans aren’t going to read the bills, policies, and doctrines that keep them locked in this cycle which brings them astronomical riches daily.

All the while, Americans keep listening to politicians talk and wag the dog. And until Americans realize what that dog is wagging, our leaders have nothing to fear but fear itself.


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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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