Democracy in the United States? Fugetaboutit!
by John Spritzler
June 15, 2007
The fundamental problem in the United States is that we are not a democracy--not at all, not even a little bit.
Yesterday the State House politicians of Massachusetts (virtually all members of the Democratic Party) voted to NOT allow the public to vote on a referendum question opposing same-sex marriage (currently legal in Massachusetts due to a court ruling.)
The main argument that the "don't let them vote" crowd used was that "It is wrong to vote on rights." The theory is that it is a right for any two consenting adults to marry each other.
Nobody, of course, (not even the folks who pretend to) actually believes in such a right. Who believes, for example, that consenting adult siblings have the right to marry each other? Children of siblings are at a greater risk of genetic disorders, so society says no to sibling marriage, and it is not even controversial. Laws restricting marriage are about protecting children. Should the public have no say on this?
Our government and corporate elites say, "Yes, it is wrong for the public to have a say about whether society should endorse same-sex marriage. The public's concerns about the consequences for children who will get conceived by anonymous sperm donors and be raised by "two mommies" without ever having a normal bond with their father (or mother in the case of children being raised by "two daddies") count for nothing. Ordinary people are unfit to democratically decide such fundamental social policy questions."
But wait a minute! Is the idea of democracy--that ordinary people ARE fit to rule society--wrong?
Our new oh-so-liberal governor, Deval Patrick, formerly a big Coca-Cola corporate big shot, used every ounce of his power to prevent the public from having a say on this marriage question. He is 100% anti-democratic.
What about the Left? No difference. The Massachusetts Green Party's candidate for governor came out 100% against allowing the public to vote on the marriage question. So much for the Left's pretensions to being for democracy.
Our recently departed Republican governor, Mitt Romney, who overtly supports "One Dollar One Vote" democracy with capitalist inequality and tax cuts for the rich, tried to gain a little legitimacy for the GOP by putting on a show in support of the right of people to vote on the marriage question. It was just a show.
Let's face it. When it comes to real social policy questions, we are just plain out of the loop:
Marriage laws? Fugetaboutit!
War? The real reason our government invaded Iraq is a national security secret.
Taxes? Yeah, right, everybody is just crazy about our nifty tax code that results in the top 5 percent of Americans owning more than half of all the wealth.
Public schools? Nobody except the Business Roundtable crowd wanted the high stakes standardized tests, like MCAS in Massachusetts, but we got them crammed down our kids throats, like it or not.
Affordable health care? For decades most of us have been telling the opinion pollsters that we want a single payer universal health care system, but the politicians don't even take the idea seriously.
A foreign policy that supports ethnic cleansing by Israel? How convenient that most Americans don't even know about Israel's ethnic cleansing because our corporate-controlled media never mention it--never!
NAFTA? Clinton knew none of us wanted it so he said he was against it when he ran for office, and then fast-tracked it into law after he was elected.
Immigration? We may differ amongst ourselves on this, but one thing virtually all ordinary Americans agree on is that we don't think Mexican peasants should be kicked off of their land and forced to migrate north to support their families. Yet that is exactly what our politicians did. They wrote into the NAFTA law a provision that required Mexico to abolish the clause in its constitution (from its revolution in 1917) that gave peasants rights to the land. Then they gave government agricultural subsidies to American agri-business so they could flood Mexico with corn (.pdf) that was super-cheap, thereby forcing the peasants off their land and forcing nearly two million [according to CBS Evening News, July 1, 2006] of them to enter the U.S. looking for work.
Boy, isn't it nice to have our very own representatives making laws of, by, and for the people?
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
Isn't it time we started talking about the commonsense solution to this problem? It's obvious, isn't it? Revolution. That's what it's called when people living under the undemocratic rule of a wealthy and privileged elite turn the tables and establish a genuinely democratic society.
None of our problems will be solved in isolation. They are all symptoms of the fundamental problem: we don't have democracy. The first step towards solving this problem is to talk about it openly and candidly, without mincing words.
We who want a more equal and democratic society are the vast majority. There is no reason for us to feel hesitant about speaking our minds and talking revolution to our friends and neighbors, our co-workers, and even people we meet in the course of shopping and so forth. Try it, and you'll see for yourself, as I have many many times, just how much revolution for real democracy--on the job and everywhere else--is what people really want.
When millions of Americans feel that they are not alone in wanting a revolution, that's when things will start to change. That's when people will start to think creatively and concretely about how to make it happen. Until then, we'll remain on a treadmill to nowhere, with everybody feeling that they are just one lonely person who "can't fight city hall." The choice is ours.
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