Monday, April 7, 2008

Why it doesn't matter whom you vote for...

How can that be possible? The most “sacred” act in a “democracy”, meaningless? Well, let us remember that votes do not decide policy, elected officials do—possibly. And the political discourse in the United States embraces perhaps ten per cent of the questions which should be on the table for discussion.

For example, “free trade” and “globalization” are not under discussion; they are “assumed” to be inevitable and ultimately healthy for everyone. They aren’t.

Even before looking at what is happening to the buying power and the quality of jobs available for Americans (McDonalds or Wendy’s)), consider a very simple example. Capital (money) is mobile, and laborers are not. “Capitalists” will hire labor wherever labor is cheapest, as long as they can sell where they choose (i.e., without trade restraints like tariffs). Laborers do not have the luxury of being mobile, and work for what they can get. “Globalization” benefits the consumer with lower prices (great!), and punishes the laborer by moving the jobs to the least-expensive labor market (ugh!). But—the laborer and the consumer are the same person, and the true buying power of the American wage-earner has gone down substantially in the last three decades. The only one who really profits from this situation is the person with mobile capital, of whom there are fewer and fewer but they are wealthier and wealthier.

This situation is becoming an embarrassment even to (capitalist-minded) physicians, for certain kinds of surgeries can be performed economically (in a high volume setting) by flying several patients to the hospital, performing the surgery, and (after a decent recovery), flying them home. Of course, the surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc. in the patient’s home country (or town) are “out of the loop”, and their incomes go down. Capitalism bites the hand of the capitalist!

But of course, labor-protecting measures are not a serious part of our political discourse. Not serious measures, And haven’t been since Reagan’s presidency, who “defeated” the Air Traffic Controllers’ Union.

Neither is the American Empire part of the political discourse. We have roughly 700 military bases in over a hundred countries (including Japan and Germany, though WW II is now sixty-plus years past).

Harry Truman in 1947 chose to keep the United States on a war-footing, and was told to do so he would have to convince the American people they would have to spend even more to combat a new enemy—the Red Menace. Viola! The Cold War. This is not to say there was not real competition between the two great powers, but our own propaganda greatly exaggerated the threat and prevented our intelligence agencies from foreseeing the demise of the U.S.S.R.

Our government, representing us, has fomented revolutions and/or effected assassinations in Venezuela, Guatemala, Iran, Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti and untold other countries, to support our brand of “democracy”—although if truth be told, most were conducted to support our brand of capitalism. . Iraq is but the most recent (and catastrophic) example, although Iran may be next.

The madness of imposing the will of American policy makers (only the American people if they have been adequately propagandized) on the other peoples of the world is not seriously under discussion, by Democrats or Republicans (the Green Party and Libertarians might be an exception).

Neither is the unquestioned, unchallenged American support—nay, devotion to—Israel part of the American discourse. Every candidate save Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich (a nice spectrum, there!) have sworn obeisance to Israel, even endorsing the need to “contain” Iran, which is inspected by the IAEA and has no nuclear weapons, to protect Israel (which is not inspected by the IAEA and has more than 300 nukes). Moreover, $30 billion in additional armaments will be given to her over the next ten years, paid for with American tax-payer dollars, and enriching American arms dealers.

In our devotion to “democracy”, American presidents have installed and/or supported dictators or “moderate Arabs” (read malleable puppets) in Egypt, Iraq (Sadam was “our man” until he became Israel’s “Hitler”), Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine and Afghanistan. We thought “we” had Lebanon, but are now encouraging seditious elements to destabilize the country and provide a more malleable government which American and Israeli interests can control.

None of these leaders would win an election in their respective countries, with the possible exception of Jordan. They are supported because they acquiesce to American-Israeli hegemony. George Bush is wrong when he said they “hate us because of our liberties”. “They hate us” because of our policies and actions, and in my experience Muslims and Arabs still admire the America people—but deplore our national policies.

These are only three of the many policy issues which will remain untouched by the current political discourse. They are merely part of the spectrum of issues which are outside the “parameters of thinkable thought”, because the military-industrial-media-governmental complex has decreed they will not be discussed.

Until these issues become thinkable and discussable, Giuliani and Obama, Edwards and Clinton will be re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They may advance their political careers, spend our tax money and offer our sons on the altar of Empire. They will not bring substantive change, nor will they bring safety or prosperity to the United States of America.

Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” was right—“we have met the enemy and they is us”…


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