CHOICE AND SYSTEM FOR THE PLANET
A Holistic Common Sense Structure for
Liberation of All
without War Through the New Foundation for the New World Vision
by Dr. Daniel Ellsberg
Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming attack on Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at a recent American University symposium. What follow are his comments from that speech. They have been edited only for space.
Let me simplify . . . and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It’s not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9-11. That’s the next coup that completes the first.
The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution . . . what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years as a model and experiment to the rest of the world—in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of impeachment.
There have been violations of these principles by many presidents before. Most of the specific things that Bush has done in the way of illegal surveillance and other matters were done under my boss Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War: the use of CIA, FBI, NSA against Americans.
All these violations were impeachable had they been found out at the time but in nearly every case the violations were not found out until [the president was] out of office so we didn’t have the exact challenge that we have today.
That was true with the first term of Nixon and certainly of Johnson, Kennedy and others. They were impeachable. They weren’t found out in time. But I think it was not their intention, in the crisis situations that they felt justified their actions, to change our form of government.
It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out, that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had precisely that in mind since at least the early 1970s. Not just since 1992, not since 2001, but [they] have believed in executive government, single-branch government under an executive president—elected or not—with unrestrained powers. They did not believe in restraint.
When I say this, I’m not saying they are traitors. I don’t think they have in mind allegiance to some foreign power or have a desire to help a foreign power. I believe they have in their own minds a love of this country and what they think is best for this country—but what they think is best is directly and consciously at odds with what the Founders of this country [and the Framers of the Constitution] thought.
They believe we need a different kind of government now, an executive government essentially, rule by decree, which is what we’re getting with ‘signing statements.’
Signing statements are talked about as line-item vetoes which is one [way] of describing them which are unconstitutional in themselves, but in other ways are just saying the president says: ‘I decide what I enforce. I decide what the law is. I legislate.’
It’s [the same] with the military commissions, courts that are under the entire control of the executive branch, essentially of the president—a concentration of legislative, judicial, and executive powers in one branch, which is precisely what the founders meant to avert, and tried to avert and did avert to the best of their ability in the Constitution.”
Now I’m appealing to that as a crisis right now not just because it is a break in tradition but because I believe in my heart and from my experience that on this point the Founders had it right. It’s not just ‘our way of doing things’— it was a crucial perception on the corruption of power to anybody, including Americans.
On procedures and institutions that might possibly keep that power under control because the alternative was what we have just seen, wars like Vietnam, wars like Iraq, wars like the one coming.
That brings me to the second point. This executive branch, under specifically Bush and Cheney, despite opposition [even] from most of the rest of the branch, even of the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran, which, even by imperialist standards, [violates] standards in other words which were accepted not only by nearly everyone in the executive branch but most of the leaders in Congress.
The interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our need to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is consensual in our establishment. …
But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that quietly, I don’t mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it’s not only aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime, but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.
Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn’t; it doesn’t even make it unlikely.
That is because two things come together that with the acceptance for various reasons of the Congress—Democrats and Republicans—and the public and the media, we have freed the White House — the president and the vice president—from virtually any restraint by Congress, courts, media, public, whatever.
And on the other hand, the people who have this unrestrained power are crazy. Not entirely, but they have crazy beliefs.
And the question is what then, can we do about this?
We are heading toward an insane operation. It is not certain. [But it] is likely.… I want to try to be realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what we must do, what is needed to be done with the full recognition of the reality. Nothing is impossible.
What I’m talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on Iran, is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.
And . . . we will not succeed in moving Congress, probably, and Congress probably will not stop the president from doing this. And that’s where we’re heading. That’s a very ugly, ugly prospect.
However, I think it’s up to us to work to increase that small, perhaps—anyway not large—possibility and probability to avert this within the next 15 months, aside from the effort that we have to make for the rest of our lives.
Getting back the constitutional government and improving it will take a long time. And I think if we don’t get started now, it won’t be started under the next administration.
Getting out of Iraq will take a long time. Averting Iran and averting a further coup in the face of a 9-11, another attack, is for right now, it can’t be put off. It will take a kind of political and moral courage of which we have seen very little.
We have a really unusual concentration here and in this audience, of people who have in fact changed their lives, changed their position, lost their friends to a large extent, risked and experienced being called terrible names, ‘traitor,’ ‘weak on terrorism’—names that politicians will do anything to avoid being called.
How do we get more people in the government and in the public at large to change their lives now in a crisis in a critical way? How do we get Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for example? What kinds of pressures, what kinds of influences can be brought to bear to get Congress to do their jobs? It isn’t just doing their jobs. Getting them to obey their oaths of office.
I took an oath many times, an oath of office as a Marine lieutenant, as an official in the Defense Department, as an official in the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. A number of times I took an oath of office which is the same oath of office taken by every member of Congress and every official in the United States and every officer in the armed services.
And that oath is not to a commander in chief, which is not [even] mentioned. It is not to a Fuehrer. It is not even to superior officers. The oath is precisely to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Now that is an oath I violated every day for years in the Defense Department without realizing it when I kept my mouth shut when I knew the public was being lied into a war as they were lied into Iraq, as they are being lied into war in Iran.
I knew that I had the documents that proved it, and I did not put it out then. I was not obeying my oath, which I eventually came to do.
I’ve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada—who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war—is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously [the matter of] upholding his oath.
The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. [All the personnel] under him who understand what is going on — and there are myriad — are violating their oaths. And that’s the standard that I think we should be asking of people.
On the Democratic side, on the political side, I think we should be demanding of our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate—and frankly of the Republicans —that it is not their highest single absolute priority to be reelected or to maintain a Democratic majority so that Pelosi can still be speaker of the House and Reid can be in the Senate, or to increase that majority.
I’m not going to say that for politicians they should ignore that, or that they should do something else entirely, or that they should not worry about that. Of course that will be and should be a major concern of theirs, but they’re acting like it’s their sole concern. Which is business as usual. “We have a majority, let’s not lose it, let’s keep it. Let’s keep those chairmanships.”
Exactly what have those chairmanships done for us to save the Constitution in the last couple of years?
I am shocked by the Republicans today that I read [about] in The Washington Post who threatened a filibuster if we … get back habeas corpus. The ruling out of habeas corpus with the help of the Democrats did not get us back to George the First it got us back to before King John 700 years ago in terms of counter-revolution.
I think we’ve got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the time for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth struggling for in part because it’s only with the power that the Constitution gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world from madmen in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran.
And the current generation of American generals and others who realize that this will be a catastrophe have not shown themselves —they might be people who in their past lives risked their bodies and their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere, like [Colin] Powell, and would not risk their career or their relations with the president to the slightest degree.
That has to change. And it’s the example of people like those up here who somehow brought home to our representatives that they as humans and as citizens have the power to do likewise and find in themselves the courage to protect this country and protect the world. Thank you.”
The Illusion of Voting
The Grand Delusion
By Joel S. Hirschhorn
an endless, futile and costly Iraq war, a stinking economy and most
Americans seeing the country on the wrong track, the greatest
national group delusion is that electing Democrats in 2008 is what
the country needs.
Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy -- Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government that presents many electoral and other reforms. Formerly, he was a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association. He can be contacted through his website: www.delusionaldemocracy.com.
By Joel S. Hirschhorn
Fast forward to Election Day 2008: Network anchors, cable pundits, and state and local election officials are going nuts as evening hours pass and voter turnout is hardly approaching 20 percent nearly everywhere. “What’s going on?” everyone is asking incredulously. TV and computer screens all over the planet show Americans in streets celebrating and shouting things like “We’ve had enough political corruption. We’re not going to take anymore!”
In contrast, news anchors are grim and aghast with little help from spin-fatigued and stammering Democratic and Republican spokespeople. At 2 A.M. on NBC Brian Williams sits with Tim Russett and Keith Olbermann, and sums up: “Americans have spoken and American politics have changed forever.” “It’s like the nightmare of entertainers: nobody shows up for their event,” says bemused Olbermann. Russett grimly observes, “We should have seen this coming; people have been fed up with both parties for a long time.” Meanwhile, the Internet is buzzing with talk of voiding the presidential and congressional election results, that President Bush may declare a national state of emergency, and that the Supreme Court might step in again. Did anyone think that the Constitution required a minimum voter turnout to make elections legit?
America’s political system is a large and complex criminal conspiracy. Most voters enable it without benefiting from it. Voting is a ploy of the two-party power elites to keep the population docile, delusional and duped. Our government has been hijacked in plain sight, despite elections. We cannot get it back by voting. All the main candidates are part of the conspiracy. Voting only encourages them. In our fake democracy corrupt politicians use doses of voting as a political narcotic. We must free more Americans of the addiction. Otherwise they will keep hallucinating that some Democratic or Republican President or controlled Congress will actually give us the changes we crave for.
Attempts to hold the government accountable have failed and will continue to fail. The system is rotten to the core. It sustains itself both by preventing major political reforms and undermining those that get passed to temporarily placate the public. Arrogant power elites feel no obligation to be accountable to the public. Elections are not a threat to the status quo. Elections are distractive entertainment, a political narcotic.
Voting became a political narcotic when it stopped working to improve government and became used to legitimize a corrupt, two-party failed government.
Voting – especially lesser-evil voting – sustains our fake democracy more than any other citizen action. It lets politicians claim that they represent the sovereign people. It tells the world that our elected government has public support. Voting sends the wrong message to everyone. No matter who you vote for, voting says the political system is fair. It is not.
Power elites own the government and use it to serve their interests and protect a corporate plutocracy. Though a numerical minority – probably about 20 million Americans – an Upper Class easily manipulates the remaining 280 million by controlling the consumer economy, the distractive culture, and government policies and spending.
This is what America’s political freedom has morphed into: Dissidents free to protest (to make us feel good). Elites free to control (to maintain corruption). Conned citizens free to vote (to keep the system looking democratic). And most Americans free to borrow, spend and consume (to stay hooked on work, antidepressants, sleeping pills, alcohol, sports, computers, religion, gambling and illegal drugs). Where do you fit in?
In our drugged fake democracy, Americans replace objective reality with illusions. The US does not excel in nearly any statistical measure of democracies. Our voter turnout is a disgrace. We imprison more people than all other nations combined. We do not provide universal health care or affordable prescription drugs. Our primary education system is mostly awful. Economic inequality is incredible – with the top one percent owning 21 percent of the nation’s wealth – and getting worse. People are made addicted to consumption and borrowing, then left to suffer from crippling debt. Painful economic insecurity blinds the submissive middle class whose belief in the American dream is akin to expecting to win a lottery.
In a nation that supposedly prizes competitiveness there is no real political competition. The two major parties maintain a collusive stranglehold on our government. Third party candidates are purposefully disadvantaged. Incumbents can thwart opponents. Worse, though the two major parties shout their differences, they are merely two sides of the same coin, two heads of the same beast, two servants of the Upper Class, and two protectors of the corporate plutocracy. They are criminal co-conspirators. Superficial differences between candidates keep voters entertained, manipulated and rooting for “their” team in the political game that the mainstream corporate media (more co-conspirators) make tons of money from.
In this charade minor, maverick primary season presidential candidates contribute to the illusion of a competitive system. Their loyalty to party trumps their commitment to major political reforms. They do not tell their supporters that if they do not receive the nomination “stay home” rather than vote for one of their opponents. No, those they opposed in the primary season are seen as lesser evils than anyone from the other party. This protects the two-party system.
In America’s fake democracy citizens are fooled by personal freedoms. It is a fake democracy because the will of the people is not respected by those elected to run the government, the rule of law is routinely violated by those in power, the Constitution is regularly dishonored and disobeyed by elected officials and judges, and all but the wealthy are sold out through government-assisted corporate globalization.
No wonder that America is a joke to much of the world’s population. Foreigners envy our materialism, not our government. With horrendous hypocrisy we use military power to impose democracy abroad despite having a flawed democracy at home. Foreigners’ disgust with our government is one thing, but they like Americans. Yet Americans enable and sustain the detested government by voting, then blame those elected rather than fix the broken system. A few crooked politicians and corporate bosses go to jail. But the criminal system remains. Nothing but token reforms are made. Corruption continues.
Few Americans are dissidents. Many more block the painful truth that their cherished democracy is a fraud. The land of the free is no longer the home of the brave. Foreign enemies are used to keep people from bravely fighting domestic tyrants.
Like magicians using slight of words and misdirection through lies, politicians (and those that own them) have trivialized the fact that about half of the electorate does not vote. Nonvoters have been blamed when the corrupt system is at fault. Rather than see nonvoters as apathetic we should see them acting rationally because voting is unproductive. Nonvoters should never feel guilty, only proud to have sent a none-of-the-above rejection message.
But voter turnout has not been sufficiently low to forcefully discredit, dishonor and de-legitimize American democracy. Though low, it has become an accepted norm, allowing the manufactured myth to continue – that we live in the world’s greatest democracy, though nothing could be farther from the truth.
With false hope, voters believe that the right Democrat or Republican will do what none of their predecessors has done, and that campaign rhetoric and promises will actually translate to post-election action and policy. Voters fail to understand the depth of our culture of dishonesty that has also invaded the voting process.
Held secretly in private hands is proprietary source code that instructs the voting machines on to how to count the vote. More than 1/3 of all votes cast in our nation are made on touch screen machines driven by proprietary source code and 90 percent of all votes cast are counted by software that’s unverifiable.
No sane American should trust the political system, the politicians, and the voting process. And when you cannot trust all three, you have a fake democracy. Many of us thirst for major change, but mainstream politicians simply exploit this and lie. By voting for any of them we ensure no serious change. The way to shake up the system is to boycott voting.
In sum, despite personal freedoms we also have political tyranny as oppressive in its own way as any authoritarian, dictatorial government. Americans have lost the revolutionary spirit of their ancestors. Americans are unable to revolt, despite revolting conditions. They have accepted the tyranny of taxation with MISrepresentation. The political criminal conspiracy has successfully used cultural genetic manipulation to replace the DNA of revolutionary courage with the DNA of distractive, self-indulgent consumerism. Our primary freedom is to borrow and spend. Our currency should read “In Greed We Trust.” We have populist consumerism, not populist politics. Divisive politics keeps people fighting each other rather than uniting against the rotten system.
Delusional prosperity is what our delusional democracy creates for the majority. Many millions of Americans are hurting from loss of good jobs, crippling health care costs, staggering debt, unaffordable college education, imminent foreclosure or bankruptcy, rising economic insecurity, working two lousy jobs, time poverty, dependence on food stamps and charity. Millions more are angry about endless political corruption and bipartisan incompetence, the inability to get a new 9/11 investigation, uncontrolled illegal immigration, and our national debt. The rebellion needs all of them. And they need the rebellion.
True, we have plenty of passive nonvoters, a good head start. Now we need active, vociferous nonvoters – proud protestors and dissidents urging others to join the civil disobedience to reach the tipping point for revolutionary change. After we achieve major political reforms we should pursue mandatory voting – when voting once again has civic meaning.
Massive, unprecedented nonvoting has the power to produce systemic political reform by defiantly discrediting, dishonoring and de-legitimizing America’s fake democracy. When I choose not to vote I do not make the votes of others more important. Their votes already serve an evil system. The critical choice is to vote or not vote, not picking a particular Democrat or Republican. When I choose not to vote I embrace an honorable, patriotic rebellious act of civil disobedience. I no longer buy the BIG LIE that there still is an American democracy worth participating in. As James Madison said, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”
Mass nonvoting sends the message of rejection – as powerful as using guns. The Second American Revolution begins with this recognition: We must work together to drive voter turnout down to abysmal levels – so low that everyone gets the rejection message. We must let the world know – and America’s power elites fear – that we sovereign Americans intend to take back our government. But how?
It begins with a boycott of voting. See it as a populist recall of the federal government that makes our Founders proud. It is followed by demanding what the Founders gave us in our Constitution for exactly the conditions we now have: an Article V convention of state delegates that can propose constitutional amendments, especially ones to reform our political system to make it honest and trustworthy. Learn more at www.foavc.org.
Why have we not had one in over 200 years? Why has Congress been allowed to disobey – actually veto a part of the Constitution and violate their oath of office? There is only one logical explanation: An intensely watched convention could wreck the political status quo and take away the power of those running and ruining our nation. That so many Americans fear a convention just shows the success of the social conditioning and political narcotics the elitist plutocracy has imposed for decades. Imagine an amendment that required at least 90 percent voter turnout for federal elections to produce a winner.
When it comes to our nation our choice is not to love it or leave it, but to accept the painful truth and take responsibility for restoring American democracy – because we love it. Let’s move forward with this slogan: “Don't vote--it only encourages them.”
First Woman, First Black, First Latino, or First Honest President?
Most Dishonest Politicians Have a Better Chance of Winning
[Joel S. Hirschhorn was a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association, and is the author of Delusional Democracy – Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. Reach him through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]
The phrase honest politician has become an oxymoron. We should not be impressed by the prospect of having the first woman, first black or first Latino president. What would be far more radical would be to have the first honest president, if not ever, certainly in a very long time.
Presidents in recent memory have been excellent liars, contributing mightily to our culture of dishonesty. Bill Clinton had the audacity to look right into the TV camera and blatantly lie to the American public. George W. Bush has probably set a record for official lying, though it might take many decades to fully document them. Carl M. Cannon saw the bigger truth: "posterity will judge [George W. Bush] not so much by whether he told the truth but whether he recognized what the truth actually was."
Things have gotten so bad that hardly anyone can even imagine an honest president. But if we don't expect an honest president, how can we expect to trust government?
Don Nash made these insightful observations, "If America was ever faced with a politician who spoke truth to the people, no-one would know what to make of the oddity. This politician could probably not get elected to office. Sadly, Americans can't handle the truth. ...Lies, then, are the consequential destruction of American democracy. Little by very little, the lies and lying politicians have chipped away at America's Constitution and the American form of government."
Rampant lying by politicians is a major reason why so many Americans have stopped paying attention to politics, stopped hoping for political reforms, and stopped voting
Lying politicians probably tell themselves that the public cannot take the truth. Many convince themselves (lie to themselves) that lies of omission are not really serious like lies of commission.
Just how bad things have become is shown by the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the state of Washington that lying politiciansare protected by the 1st Amendment. They are free to lie as much as they can get away with. Free speech apparently is a green light for lying, even though it leads to rotten, dishonest government.
During this primary season it is worthwhile to look at Republican and Democratic candidates from this honest-president perspective. A truly honest president would have the greatest loyalty to honoring the rule of law, the Constitution and the needs of the public, rather than what we have grown used to: greatest loyalty to their party and the moneyed interests funding it. If the nation really wants a change president, honesty should be a requirement.
On the Republican side, Ron Paul looks like the most honest candidate. Straight-talk John McCain still seems to have better than average honesty, and Mike Huckabee seems relatively honest, except when he talks about his record on taxes as governor. On the Democratic side, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel look the most honest, with Bill Richardson running close. Among third party presidential candidates in recent history, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan stand out for their honesty, which clearly was not sufficient to prevail against liars.
Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney are pretty comparable big-time, gold-medal Republican liars. And with Romney we might get the first Mormon president, but not an honest one. If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, then the most dishonest Democratic candidate will have prevailed. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that only 34 percent of Americans view Senator Clinton as honest. As to Barack Obama, viewed as 50 percent more honest than Clinton in some polls, his statements about his upbringing, universal health care, and campaign funding cast doubt on his honesty. Still, he seems successful in selling himself as honest. Liars are bad, but liars claiming to be honest are worse. Odds are that there will be no honest Republican or Democratic presidential candidate to vote for in 2008.
An honest president would threaten the corrupt, dishonest and rigged two-party political system, so one getting a presidential nomination is improbable. How could an honest person obtain financing for their campaign? How could they get diverse groups to support their candidacy? Candidates tell different groups what pleases them, and eventually contradict themselves. Flip-flopping sounds bad, but is even worse when the new position is a lie.
Some may suggest that a candidate does not have to be honest during campaigning, but only be honest once elected president. But can someone with real character find it easy to lie repeatedly during campaigning and then have the ability to stop lying once elected? I think not. Besides, how can citizens detect the potential honest president if that person is behaving like all normal lying candidates during campaigns? A truly honest person must stand out and be seen as exceptional by the public because of their habitual honesty. Much of the appeal of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich is their perceived honesty. But the candidates most likely to succeed attract supporters for their policy positions, promises or ability to win, despite not being seen as honest. That makes their supporters delusional. They lie to themselves to justify their support.
This means that most people reject choosing a candidate on the basis of their perceived honesty. They knowingly choose dishonest politicians. Why?
Lies entertain. Honesty disturbs. Honesty produces painful truths about the nation, government, and failed public policies. Truth-telling politicians usually say things that people would rather not hear and or think about.
Meanwhile the mainstream media and pundits, promoting confrontation and horse races to entertain and keep their audiences, are reluctant to call lying politicians liars. Instead, they use oblique language and euphemisms to conceal the truth about lying. They are as dishonest as the politicians they talk about. How interesting it would be to have media people ask candidates something like: Are you being the most honest person you can be in this campaign? I don't think the majority of dishonest ones would not say "yes." Instead, they would dance and blabber.
Tragically, Americans have become used to lying politicians. Can our democracy survive when most people believe that an honest president is both impossible and unnecessary?
Of course, honesty by itself is no guarantee that someone will be a great president. Nor is it by itself sufficient reason to vote for someone. But imagine if we insisted that it be a necessary, minimum requirement for supporting politicians.
In the end, without honesty, every reason we use to vote for someone is a joke. Delusional thinking about candidates has produced our delusional democracy. Time to stop voting for liars. Better to not vote at all. Voting for liars only encourages more lies.
[Joel S. Hirschhorn can be reached through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]
totally uninitiated, or those on narcotics: the odds are astronomical.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
I could not
blame any sane person for not voting, for non-participation in a process
that is so obviously fixed. We need to devise better and more
imaginative strategies through which to express our dissatisfaction, our
outrage with the process. A good beginning might be to wash our hands of
that system entirely.
the solution is to get the special interest money out of politics. But
how can the people achieve such an ambitious objective against such
tremendous odds? Those who benefit from the system effectively own it,
and they are not going to voluntarily dismantle it. It is too lucrative
for them to let it go and erect a genuinely democratic system in its
Participation in a sham system, while pretending that it is legitimate,
will only prolong the prostitution and continue the corporate feeding
frenzy at the public trough. We must do something different than what we
have always done in the past, if we are to get a different result.
of undermining the system may be to boycott the 2008 elections by not
participating in them. Since the outcome is already predetermined by the
selection of only pro corporate candidates—war mongers and disaster
capitalists all, there is really nothing to lose. The system is rigged
to keep the war profiteers and corporatists in power, by keeping genuine
public servants out of contention. The appearance of democracy and
citizen participation is just window dressing, more facade than real.
democracy craving citizens in an ever more dangerous emerging fascist
state, our energy would be better spent denouncing the electoral process
that only masquerades as a democracy than participating in it and giving
it the appearance of legitimacy to the outside world. We have an
obligation to expose it for the sham it is and say, “No more!”
be accomplished by boycotting all federal elections until the special
interest money is coerced out of the process, and the playing field is
leveled; where outcomes are determined by ideas and commitment to public
service, rather than access to huge amounts of capital and cronyism.
Perhaps then Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader might have a legitimate chance to win office, or even your next door neighbor. Public service could be put into the political process thereby legitimizing it by making it democratic.
boycotts could be conducted by large numbers of public spirited citizens
turning out not to vote, but instead to protest, which if widely
publicized would be too large and too controversial to be ignored even
by the corporate media—democracy in action indeed. We really have
nothing to lose.
As it is
now, government is nothing more than a revolving door between political
administrations and business. Corporate lobbyists are running the
government rather than the people.
one of the sacred cows that symbolize a democratic republic but it does
nothing to actually create such a republic, especially in the absence of
strategy of boycotts is low risk to the individual and it is legal. It
requires very little physical effort and little personal sacrifice.
Everyone can participate, regardless of political knowledge, income
level, age and party affiliation. It could potentially become a grass
roots movement toward real democracy and it could begin immediately. If
conducted on a large enough scale, it could provide real results too.
The idea of
political boycotts does not originate with me but I believe the
initiative has merit. Perhaps we should give it the serious
consideration it deserves. How such boycotts might be organized will be
left in more capable hands than my own. The first step is to widely
publicize the idea and to generate serious discussion about it. Let the
A Note about Reform and Revolution:
what we are talking about here is not reform but revolution. Voting in
the absence of meaningful choice is a poor substitute for real
democratic processes. It is an exercise in self-deception and futility
designed to keep the working class people servile and marginalized.
boycotts are one of many tools available to us as we plant the seeds of
revolution and create the atmosphere for a major paradigm shift sometime
in the future. Boycotts are a peaceful way of hastening the change that
will eventually make a more just society possible; a world in which just
people, not wealth and privilege, decides the future.
political system should belong equally to every citizen, rather than to
the moneyed gentry that have locked most of us out. No one is going to
give us the keys. We must take them because they rightfully belong to
is possible only with a broad awakening to our predicament in a sham
democracy that is subservient to immense wealth and power. Awakening
must be followed by enlightenment through self-education and
comprehension of the problems we face as a people. It will grow by
having serious discussions amongst ourselves and by putting everything
on the table.
is a word that scares some people because it conjures images of armed
rebellion and chaotic violence. But it does not have to be so. India was
transformed by non-violent resistance to horrible tyranny. The people
and their detractors will decide what form it will take.
do not just suddenly erupt. They are grown slowly and over increments of
time, beginning from seeds that are carefully sown and nurtured. Sowing
seeds are an act of faith; an expression of hope that there will be a
future worth living.
should only frighten those who hold the keys to empire. We are only at
the very beginning of a long journey of transformation. We are laying
the foundation stones of fundamental change and redistribution of wealth
and power that must be based upon justice and equality.
Charles Sullivan is a nature photographer, free-lance writer, and community activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
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