Freedom to Choose

There was a group of people huddled in a dungeon, prisoners for reasons long forgotten. They were chained together, unable to move about. It was the only life they knew and there was a comfort in the routine of it. Every morning, the guard would pass by to unlock their cell and serve them slop. Then each night, the same guard, always wearing steel-toed boots, would come into the cell to kick and beat them, until they cried out for mercy, locking their cell closed again. A few malcontents begged him to stop, pleaded that this treatment was not fair, was not deserved.

One among them went so far as to speak inspiring words of fairness and justice. Such loose talk usually earned even more bootings to the skull and ribs. Today was different. The guard was in a kind mood. He said he would listen to their complaints but he warned them that all he heard was a bad attitude from a bunch of losers. He explained he had worked hard to gain his position. It took years of study and training to become a guard. The locking mechanisms of the cell alone required advanced knowledge. And that was only one among hundreds of other locks that needed to be maintained to keep the prison secure and operational.

It was no easy job and a thankless task, but he took seriously his duty as a guard and his responsibility to the prisoners he cared for. Order needed to be maintained for the good of all. The world needed guards and those with the ability to do so would fulfil that role. What right did they have to question what he had earned and accomplished? What right did they have to raise a voice against the very prison system that fed and sheltered them? They had only themselves to blame for their situation, he carefully explained as he fiddled with the keys at his belt.

Anyone with the talent and intelligence could follow his example. There is nothing stopping you, he told them, from also working your way up. In fact, he wanted to retire soon and so there would be a guard position opening up, but he couldn’t step down until there was a replacement. Otherwise, he would continue on in doing his job. He made a deal with them. They could nominate two of their own as candidates in electing a new guard or keeping the one they had. They would be free to choose. That way they would be represented and could no longer complain. It was a fair deal.

This was the best opportunity they had ever been given. They took it. The two nominations were a tough guy and the egalitarian idealist, along with the option of re-electing the old guard. The tough guy was allowed to speak to the other prisoners and had all the airtime he wanted on the prison loudspeaker. Meanwhile, the social justice advocate was placed in a separate cell where he couldn’t speak to anyone, but nonetheless he was given total free speech, even if no one could hear what he had to say. That is how free speech works, after all.

The other prisoners quickly forgot about the preacher of equality. In hearing only the tough guy, they became swayed by his rhetoric and parroted his words as if they were their own thoughts. They wanted someone who, as he assured them, could stand up to the prison system and fight on their behalf. Compared to the old guard, he was the lesser evil and stating otherwise, obviously, made you a spoiler. Besides, this tough guy told them that he used to work in this prison system — he knew how it worked and would get things done. He would bring prison reform! They resigned themselves to promises of hope and stopped rattling their chains. The tough guy was elected with little contest.

The newly elected guard was immediately unchained from the group and taken away. Later, when he returned, he had on a set of steel-toed boots, the exact same boots the old brutal guard used to wear. He immediately began kicking the shit out of the prisoners. The idealist, having already been brought back to the shared cell, shared in this round of abuse. When he spoke up against yet more injustice, demanding the abolishment of imprisonment and the tearing down of the prison, the other prisoners told him to shut up with his extremism, that he would only cause trouble. It’s better the evil we know, they said to him, because something worse might replace it. Progress happens slowly. We must be patient.

The original guard, now retired, came in. He explained that they got what they voted for and they must accept the results. They may only have had limited choices, but they did have a choice. That is what freedom means, having a choice; no matter what are those choices, how they are determined, or who controls the outcome. The other prisoners couldn’t argue against such solid logic. Moral of the story: Don’t be resentful of your betters. They know what is good for you. Freedom is submission. Submission is freedom.

Democracy: Rhetoric & Reality

The federal bureaucrats, think tank leaders, and congressional staff members they surveyed, Ginsberg said in an interview with VICE News, “have no idea what Americans think and they don’t care. They think Americans are stupid and should do what they are told.”
~ Alex Thompson

The US political system is functioning as designed. From early on, the Federalists envisioned a government controlled and operated by a paternalistic ruling elite of rich white men — some combination of plutocrats, technocrats, bureaucrats, and disinterested aristocracy.

The ‘People’ was intended to be a meaningless abstraction to placate the dirty masses. When the general population actually tried to assert their authority, they were violently put down. Over time, the ruling elite found less violent ways to keep the public in line, such as the increasing spectacle of elections.

If we are to take democracy seriously, we need to understand the kind of system we have. Then we should consider the alternatives.

The following includes two passages from a book. Below that are numerous links to articles. I wanted to share some views on democracy, elections, sortition, representation, oligarchy, technocracy, etc.

* * *

Democracy Denied: The Untold Story
by Arthur D. Robbins
Kindle Locations 492-523

In addition to participating in the debates occurring in the Assembly (the ekklesia), the Athenian citizen could be called upon to serve as a juror in one of the many legal actions involving private or public suits, to serve in an administrative capacity as magistrate overseeing some government function (such as water or grain supply, building projects, or trade), or to serve on the Council (the boule). The boule was a body of five hundred members and was responsible for drafting preparatory legislation for consideration by the Assembly, overseeing the meetings of the Assembly, and in certain cases executing legislation as directed by the Assembly.

The members of the boule were selected by a lottery held each year among male citizens over thirty years of age. Fifty men would be chosen from each of the ten Athenian tribes, with service limited to twice in a lifetime. There were ten months in the Athenian calendar, and one of the ten tribes was in ascendancy each month. The fifty citizen councilors (prytanies) of the dominant tribe each month served in an executive function over the boule and the ekklesia. From that group of fifty, one individual (the epistates) would be selected each day to preside over the boule and, if it met in session that day, the ekklesia.

The epistates held the keys to the treasury and the seal to the city, and he welcomed foreign ambassadors. It has been calculated that one-quarter of all citizens must at one time in their lives have held the post, which could be held only once in a lifetime. Meetings of the boule might occur on as many as 260 days in the course of a year.

The third element of the Athenian democracy was the system of jury courts known as the dikasteria. Jurors were selected by lot from an annual pool of 6,000 citizens (600 from each of the ten tribes) over the age of thirty. There were both private suits and public suits. For private suits the minimum jury size was 201; it was increased to 401 if a sum of more than 1,000 drachmas was at issue. For public suits there was a jury of 501. On occasion a jury of 1,001 or 1,501 would be selected. Rarely, the entire pool of 6,000 would be put on a case. No Athenian juror was ever subjected to compulsory empanelment, voir dire, or sequestration, nor was any magistrate empowered to decide what evidence the jury could or could not be allowed to see.

Jurors could not be penalized for their vote— unless it could be shown that they had accepted bribes. But the practice of selecting juries randomly on the morning of the trial and the sheer size of the juries served to limit the effectiveness of bribery. The Athenian court system did not operate according to precedent. No jury was bound by the decisions of previous juries in previous cases. This is a striking difference between Athenian law and more familiar systems such as Roman law or English common law. Such a system of justice was consistent with the Athenian opposition to elitism and the oppressive effects of received wisdom in matters of justice. Each citizen used his own common sense to make judgments based on personal belief and prevailing mores.

Some crimes had penalties predetermined by law, but in most cases the choice was left up to the jury.

Kindle Locations 2960-3046

Choosing by lot is the most democratic procedure of all. It establishes political equality by allowing anyone to govern, based on a chance event. There is no opportunity to buy the election or manipulate votes. However, the pool of candidates itself can be open-ended, as it was in Athens, or, for the most part, confined to the upper elements of society, as it tended to be in Florence. The same applies to elections. The pool of candidates can be open to anyone or it can be restricted by membership in a particular party, by property qualification, or by wealth. Voting itself can be restricted— by race, sex, social status, wealth, and so on— or suffrage can be universal. But, no matter, because the means of selecting the governors is independent of the form of government. A society can elect an aristocracy or an oligarchy or even a monarch.

At the height of his career, Napoleon Bonaparte was probably the most powerful person in Western Europe. He enjoyed great popularity at home, if not elsewhere. In 1804, he had himself crowned emperor. He held a plebiscite to confirm his authority and received the enthusiastic support he was seeking. In other words, Napoleon held an election to determine if he would be supreme ruler. Let us imagine that there was universal suffrage and that the election was scrupulously fair. Let us also imagine, just for the sake of argument, that the choice was unanimous, that not a single vote was cast to deny Napoleon the title of emperor. Thus we have a completely democratic, honest election with a unanimous outcome. What kind of government do we have the day after this democratic election? Clearly, an autocracy.

Charles V— who made his home in Spain— presided over an empire that was ten times the size of the Roman Empire. He ruled over the Burgundian Netherlands. He was King of Naples and Sicily, Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans (or German King), and Holy Roman Emperor. It was his empire upon which “the sun never set.” “Spain” was not the Spain of today, but many separate “Spains,” something like the city-states of northern Italy. Charles needed to be declared King in Navarre, Valencia, Aragon, Castile, and Catalonia. In 1516, at the age of sixteen, he was elected King of Aragon, a “republic” with an elective king. The assembly gave notice that “we who are as good as you, make you, who are no better than we, our king. And we will bear true allegiance if you observe our laws and customs; if not, not” (Barzun, 93). Despite these noble sentiments and stipulations, the day after the election the people of Aragon lived under a monarchy.

Thus, there is no causal relation whatsoever between the means of selecting one’s governors and the form of government that results from the selection process. In fact, for obvious reasons, any time you have an election as a means of selecting the governor( s), you automatically will have an oligarchy/ aristocracy or an autocracy/ monarchy. Why? Because the many select the few or the one. Thus, voting in which elections are fully democratic and fair is in fact anti-democratic. One cannot have voting and have a democracy at the same time.[ 140] Remember, it’s a numbers game. The many choose the few. It is the few who govern, even if we choose them at election time.

“But,” you may say, “we choose them. They are beholden to us.” Neither one of these propositions is necessarily true. In his book The Ruling Class, Gaetano Mosca [141] observes:

The fact that a people participates in electoral assemblies does not mean that it directs the government or that the class that is governed chooses its governors.[ 142] It means merely that when the electoral function operates under favorable social conditions it is a tool by which certain political forces are enabled to control and limit the activity of other political forces. (Mosca, 98).

In other words, it seems as if we choose and control, but we don’t.

As Mosca points out, the deck is always stacked. “When we say that the voters ‘choose’ their representative, we are using a language that is very inexact. The truth is that the representative has himself elected by the voters … that his friends have him elected” (italics in the original). We end up voting for those who are preselected by virtue of their “moral, intellectual and material means to force their will upon others, take the lead over the others and command them” (ibid., 154) (italics in the original).

Thus, in practice, in popular elections, freedom of choice, “though complete theoretically, necessarily becomes null, not to say ludicrous.” The voter, for his vote to have meaning, ends up having to choose from among a very small number of contenders, the two or three who have a chance of succeeding, “and the only ones who have any chance of succeeding are those whose candidacies are championed by groups, by committees, by organized minorities” (Mosca, ibid.) (italics in the original).[ 143]

The relative handful who are selected to speak for the citizenry are rarely, if ever, a random selection. They are rarely, if ever, demographically representative of the population at large. And they are rarely, if ever, open to the wishes of their constituency. Instead, those selected to represent speak not for their constituency but for the organized minorities who put them in power, minorities with certain values in common, “based on considerations of property and taxation, on common material interests, on ties of family, class, religion, sect or political party”( ibid., 155). Thus, the preselected minority speaks for an even narrower minority who sponsored their candidacy based on a specific set of goals at odds with the needs and wishes of the vast majority. Mosca was writing in the 1930s. What would he say if he knew that it now takes millions of dollars to get elected to the House of Representatives, tens of millions to be elected senator or governor, and close to a billion to be elected president? He would probably say, “I told you so.”

“But,” you may argue, “we in the United States have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that protects our civil liberties.” Yes, true. However, the Constitution simply guarantees that we live under an oligarchy,[ 144] one that seems to be drifting toward monarchy. As for the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, they are critical to our civic democracy (C.D. +)— our rights to self-expression and freedom of movement— but, as important as they are, they do not determine the form of political government we live under.

“Yes, but,” you may ask, “didn’t Madison say that the people had the last word, that they were sovereign?” Yes, he did say that. On several occasions he said that power is derived from the people (F.P., No. 37, 227; No. 39, 241; No. 49, 314). He also said that the “ultimate authority … resides in the people alone” (ibid., No. 46, 294), that the people are “the only legitimate fountain of power”( ibid., No. 49, 313), and that they are “the fountain of authority” (ibid., No. 51, 321). These are examples of what I call rhetorical democracy (R.D. +, P.D.–)— democracy of words, not deeds, the most frequently encountered kind of democracy in a world dominated by those who oppose true popular government.[ 145]

Once we clear away the mist of myth and rhetoric, we discover that the American government was established by men who needed to placate the people while setting themselves up as arbiters of the new nation’s destiny. In a 1991 book entitled The Rise and Fall of Democracy in Early America, 1630– 1789, Joshua Miller speaks of “the ghostly body politic” and declares that “despite the explicit anti-democratic statements of the Federalists, Americans persist in describing the government they designed as a democracy” (Miller, 105). This confusion, he maintains, was deliberately created by the Federalists, who used “pseudodemocratic rhetoric” (ibid., 106) to make it appear as if “popular sovereignty” was the same thing as “popular government.” “The Federalists ascribed all power to a mythical entity that could never meet, never deliberate, never take action. The body politic became a ghost” (ibid., 113). By ascribing all power to “the people”— an empty abstraction— and transferring that power to a strong central government, the Federalists were able to assume power for themselves while appearing to do just the opposite. “Popular sovereignty would give the new government the support of the people and, at the same time, insulate the national government from the actual activity of the people”( ibid., 121).

Democracy is a form of government in which political power is equally distributed among the citizen population. The people are sovereign not just in principle, but in fact. Aristotle declares, “Private rights do not make a citizen. He is ordinarily one who possesses political power” (McKeon, 550). In other words, our civic rights (C.D. +) do not make us citizens. Our direct participation in government (P.D. +) makes us citizens. “A citizen is one who shares in governing and being governed,” according to Aristotle (ibid., 604). “What, then, is democracy?” asks Max Weber. “In itself it means simply that no formal inequality of political rights exists between the classes of the population” (Weber, 275). In a democracy, political equality prevails.

I believe that for those of us living in the Western “democracies” the concept of political equality, as opposed to social equality, has simply disappeared from our lexicon, from our thoughts, from our utterances, from our struggles. We want a better deal for ourselves and our neighbors. Perhaps we even want social justice. But it never occurs to us that without political equality, our wishes cannot be fulfilled.

This was not always true. Once independence had been declared and fought for in the United States, just about everyone was aware of the issue of power and its distribution. Political equality represented a conscious choice for many. This was the case, as well, in the early Italian city-states, to a degree in the Roman Republic, and, of course, in ancient Athens.

Currently, as governments abandon even the pretense of serving the common good, there is a resurgent interest in political equality as a means to gaining some degree of control over the affairs of state. In the process of learning to govern we begin to unfold as individuals in ways that we didn’t know that were possible. We begin to understand that government shapes us just as we shape it.

* * *

Sortition: Democracy
Wikipedia

Election is not synonym of democracy
Le Message

A Citizen Legislature
Stretching our thinking about how we govern ourselves

by Ernest Callenbach & Michael Phillips, Context Institute

A Real Democracy Would Use Sortition
by Virtually Yours, Disinfo

Sortition and Direct Democracy
by Yavor Tarinski, New Compass

Against elections
by Davd Van Reybrouck, Policy Network

Anxieties of Democracy
by Hélène Landemore, Boston Review

Democracy without Elections
by Brian Martin, University of Wollongong

Imagine a Democracy Built on Lotteries, Not Elections
by  Terrill Bouricius, et al, Zócalo Public Square

How Selecting Voters Randomly Can Lead to Better Elections
by Joshua Davis, Wired

Is It Time to Take a Chance on Random Representatives?
by Michael Schulson, The Daily Beast

Why elections are bad for democracy
by David Van Reybrouck, The Guardian

And the lot fell on… sortition in Ancient Greek democratic theory & practice
by Paul Cartledge, Oxford University Press

Allotment and Democracy in Ancient Greece
by Paul Demont, Books & Ideas

Ancient Athens didn’t have politicians. Is there a lesson for us?
by Tom Atlee, P2P Foundation Wiki

Ancient Greeks would not recognise our ‘democracy’ – they’d see an ‘oligarchy
by Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge

The Sortition Option
by Jon Roland, Constitution Society

* * *

They don’t like you.
by Alex Thompson, Vice

Washington ‘insiders’ snub their noses at US public
by Jill Rosen, Futurity

Study: Washington officials see public as largely uninformed
U.S. Capitol Dome
by John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun

Washington’s ‘governing elite’ think Americans are morons
by Jeff Guo, The Washington Post

How dumb does Washington think we all are?
by Kyle Smith, New York Post

The political clout of the superrich
by Chrystia Freeland, Reuters

Surprising Studies Find DC Does What Wealthiest Want, Majority Opposes
by Dave Johnson, OurFuture.org

Stark New Evidence on How Money Shapes America’s Elections
by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Stacked Deck
by Lauren Strayer, Demos

The Political Roots of Inequality
by Nolan McCarty, The American Interest

Is America an Oligarchy?
by John Cassidy, The New Yorker

Testing Theories of American Politics:
Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

by Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page, Princeton University

First Chapter: Affluence and Influence
by Martin Gilens, Ash Center

Under the Influence
by Martin Gilens, Boston Review

Economic Inequality and Political Power (Pt. 2 & 3)
by Martin Gilens, Monkey Cage

Critics argued with our analysis of U.S. political inequality. Here are 5 ways they’re wrong.
by Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page, The Washington Post

A new study says politicians don’t favor the rich. That’s debatable.
by Dylan Matthews, The Washington Post

Trans-Pacific Trade Pact Highlights the Political Power of the Affluent
by Brendan Nyhan, The New York Times

One Big Reason for Voter Turnout Decline and Income Inequality: Smaller Unions
by Sean McElwee, The American Prospect

Why U.S. Politicians Think Americans Are So Conservative When They’re Not
by Philip Bump, The Wire

* * *

Political Elites Disconnected From General Public

Wirthlin Effect & Symbolic Conservatism

The Court of Public Opinion: Part 1

US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism

If being a US citizen was like being run over by a car…

If being a US citizen was like being run over by a car, this is how elections would break down.

Republicans would say we must not punish the car driver who was doing important things and, anyway, it was probably the pedestrians fault for not leaping out of the way in time. Besides, one day you might be a car driver who runs over people and so the only way to defend your interests is to support the liberty to run people down, ya know the type that deserves it.

Democrats would offer some kind words and give an inspiring speech. If lucky, maybe the victims would get a crutch to hobble around with for the rest of their lives, although even that’s not guaranteed. The Democratic politician will make sure to get a photo-op with the victims. After they get your vote, you’ll learn that the Democratic candidate was getting donations from the car driver association and the car insurance companies. Of course, nothing will change.

As for the genuine reformers, they’d first make sure the victims got the healthcare they needed to heal. After that, they’d promise that we’re going to get that sonabitch who ran those people over. Then, once bringing the guilty to justice, they’d implement new laws and build infrastructure (sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, road signs, etc) to prevent future accidents.

Democracy?

I’ve previously written about stolen elections. The first election I voted in, 2000, happened to be the most blatant stolen election in US history. It went to the highest levels of power, involving a pivotal state governed by the brother of a major candidate and a partisan Supreme Court that decided to bypass democracy itself in order to declare the new ruler.

I don’t know what to make of it all. It really is messed up. Just another thing to make me despair. And heading into the new century was a time of my life when I didn’t need more despair.

It was my mid-twenties. Depression had hit me like a ton of bricks starting in my late teens. Leaving home for the first time, I was a lost cause and a lost soul. I dropped out of college and wandered aimlessly for a number of years, having endlessly contemplated suicide and one time attempted it. I eventually settled down, having permanently returned to my childhood home. At that point, I was in a slightly better frame of mind.

The turn of the century got everyone excited, with threats of the Y2K bug. It was a new century and a new millennium. We survived that with a sigh of relief, but the worst was yet to come. The coming decade of the aughts would not be a happy time. Even so, many looked to the new millennium with optimism, the Cold War having ended more than a decade before and the intervening years having seen a tech boom. The threat of terrorists and economic recessions weren’t yet on many people’s minds. The future seemed bright and ripe for change.

I remember that moment in time. I heard Nader give a speech on his presidential campaign. He gave me hope, as naive as that may sound. I can’t explain what an amazing thing hope can be when it has been lost for so long. Listening to Nader, it was beyond refreshing. It was inspiring. He was a politician who actually gave a damn. And the cynical partisan Democrats attacked the likes of me for voting my conscience, a silly thing to do considering that I wasn’t a Democrat and neither were most of Nader’s supporters, but that is always how partisan politics trumps all else, even democracy itself.

Following the Florida fiasco, the strangest thing in the world happened. Democrats rationalized it away, as their candidate rolled over and played dead (Kerry in 2004 followed Gore’s example, handing Bush a second term). The fullest recounts ever done showed that Gore won Florida (even more troubling developments happened in 2004), but no one wanted to know, especially not Democrats. To know the truth would mean having to admit the dark reality before us. And here we are still afraid of the truth.

Maybe there were good reasons for that fear. The powers that be were nothing to sniff at. I was reminded of this in coming across Clint Curtis’ allegations about vote rigging. What really caught my attention was the ‘suicide’ of an investigator, Raymond Lemme, who supposedly was about to bring info out to the public. There was also the suspicious death of a high-level Republican consultant, Michael Connell, after having been subpoenaed in a vote rigging investigation.

I don’t know what to do with this kind of thing. To most people, this is the territory of conspiracy theorists, ya know crazy paranoiacs. It should, therefore, be dismissed from thought and banished from public debate. The problem is that I’m psychologically incapable of ignoring inconvenient and uncomfortable facts. Call it depressive realism. I just can’t turn away, as if it doesn’t matter.

The whole thing is highly plausible, even though proving specific connections is difficult. I do know that a lot of unusual activity happened in the 2000 and 2004 elections. All of this comes back to mind during this campaign season, watching all the strange things going on with the Democratic caucuses and primaries: voters being purged, voter status being mysteriously switched, exit polls not matching voting results, etc.

The failure of our system isn’t necessarily what can be proved. Rather, it’s what can’t be proved that is problematic. Our present system is designed to lack transparency and accountability, to leave few if any paper trails and any other traceable evidence. I’d be glad if we could simply verify nothing illegal or immoral happened, nothing anti-democratic was involved, but that is precisely what we can’t do. The one thing democracy can’t overcome is secrecy, as that makes corruption inevitable.

I can’t help thinking that future generations will remember the beginning of this century as one of the darkest times in American history. It will be known as the era when the enemy within became more dangerous than any foreign power.

If you are one of the rare courageous individuals who wants to know what is going on in the world, then read Democracy Undone by Dale Tavris or one of the many other books about the topic. Or if you’d rather not read an entire book, you can find some info in the videos and links below. Your mind will be blown, your heart broken, and your sense of justice outraged—the proper attitude of any freedom-loving American.

This leaves us all with one question: If we don’t have a functioning democracy, what kind of country is this? Don’t just pass over that question. Let it sink in. Let yourself feel despair, to mourn what has been lost. Stop for a moment and consider what this all means. Look at what is before you with eyes wide open.

* * *

Did Expert Witness, Activists Thwart a Rove Ohio Vote Plot?
by Andrew Kreig

Who’s Stealing Your Vote? A Documentary
by John Wellington Ennis

How to Rig an Election
by Victoria Collier

How the GOP Wired Ohio’s 2004 Vote Count for Bush to Win
by Steven Rosenfeld

New Court Filing Reveals How the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election Was Hacked
by Bob Fritakis

New Evidence Of Vote Hacking Emerges In Ohio 2004 General Election Lawsuit
by Karoli Kuns

Why Was Uncertified ‘Experimental’ Software Installed on ES&S Tabulation Systems in 39 OH Counties Just Days Before Presidential Election?
By Brad Friedman

 

Clint Curtis
Wikipedia

Tom Feeney: Clint Curtis and vote fraud
SourceWatch

Michael Connell
Wikipedia

Mike Connell
SourceWatch

Programmers weigh in on vote-rigging idea, some details confirmed
by John Byrne

Death of Democracy
by Brad Friedman

Clint Curtis Investigator’s ‘Suicide’ Case Reopened By Georgia Police!
by Brad Friedman

The ghost of rigged elections past: New revelations on the death of Michael Connell
by Bob Fitrakis

These People Kill People You Know
by zapdam

Suspicious Deaths of Those Who Knew Too Much Under Bush’s Watch
by Diana Lee

You will know them by the trail of dead
Xymphora

Investigator’s Murder Cover-Up Straw That Broke Plot
by John Caylor

Global Eye
By Chris Floyd

 

 

 

2010 MidTerm Elections: My Liberal View

Here are some videos and commentary about the Midterm election results:

That is interesting. The two most shared videos were a video that was for Democrats and a video against the Tea Party. That further corroborates my own intuition. Polls also show Republicans have less support than Democrats. Twitter data seems to show two things (although it’s not entirely clear from the video): 1. the Tea Party is unpopular with most people (or most people using Twitter, i.e., a younger demographic); and 2. many people were voting against rather than for something.

That confirms everything I was thinking. Most voters are voting against (Democrats mostly) than are voting for. This is shown by polling of Americans who say they support Republicans less than Democrats. So, Republicans being elected is far from being a mandate of anything.

It’s not surprising the Tea Party is unpopular on Twitter. The Tea Party is an older demographic and people using Twitter is a younger demographic. Look to social media like Twitter if you want to see future trends.

I’m a liberal with a civil libertarian bent. The above video expresses my own views perfectly. The polls show Americans hate Republicans more than they hate Democrats. They were voting out Democrats. The voting in of Republicans was just an accidental side result. It’s pretty stupid. Americans gave the popular vote to Obama because many of them were voting against the unconstitutionality and ineptitude of Republicans. Now, Americans vote back in those they voted out previously. Americans are sheeple.

The election of Republicans certainly wasn’t a mandate of anything.

Some defenders of Obama will say that a lot has been accomplished and that Americans are misinformed/uninformed and just plain impatient. As Jon Stewart summarized it in his interview with Obama, defenders of the Obama administration are saying “Please baby, one more chance.”

It’s true that the Obama administration did accomplish a fair amount, but it’s also true that the Obama administration failed to communicate those accomplishments and the mainstream media mostly just played up the narrative of Obama as weak and incompetent. Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around and Americans aren’t completely stupid.

I understand all that. Still, much of the frustration Americans feel can be blamed on Obama and Democrats in general.

Here are some comments from that video:

  • gothatfunk obama inherited such a mess, its unreasonable to expect striking results after 21 months. but there IS a lot of stuff he’s compromised on he didnt have to, and campaign promises that have been not just ignored, but he’s done the opposite of what he said. like for example he should have repealed the Patriot Act. but he’s instead drawn more power to the executive than did GWB. so yeah, acknowledge the good, criticise the bad. its not all or nothing.
  • CiphersSon @gothatfunk i here ya its very gray area i voted for obama but he’s just doing the same old thing. lockstep with special intrest as they all do. Change? but the one good thing is getting health care particaily implemented. When it comes to the dept… even the next prez is still oging to be head deep in that shit. There all lies im just so disillusioned buy the hole ide of it all theres this idea of ” the land of the free” but its more land of the money and power. Not the citizenry.
  • CiphersSon @gothatfunk not to mention back room deals on ATCA and net neutrality.
  • jakluk4 @gothatfunk yes indeedie.
  • onlywhenprovoked @gothatfunk those promises you mention…. to undo the unconstitutional, privacy rights violating, humans rights violating, power expanding bullshit that bush did – was all i wanted from obamas long list of unfulfilled promises.
    apparently i wanted too much.

Here is what I’d say along these lines.

Obama could’ve tackled economic problems in a way that would’ve helped average Americans. As long as economics creates societal unrest, the population will tend toward conservatism and so vote against Democrats. That is just plain commonsense. The economic stimulus that Obama did pass mostly helped big business just like the healthcare reform he passed helped insurance companies more than the average American. Most Americans wanted healthcare reform. Most Americans wanted public option. What Americans got was change, but it wasn’t all that impressive.

I don’t like Ed Schultz that much, but I agree with his assessment of Obama’s halfhearted hope for compromise (does even Obama still believe what he says?). Rachel Maddow shows why compromise is such a joke. And I always enjoy Michael Moore’s take on things… courage of convictions instead of weak compromise? Imagine that.

To be fair, I don’t think Obama’s message of compromise is a complete failure. In some ways, Obama’s sticking to the bipartisan message has helped him win the narrative war or at least hold his own. I think Obama could be given credit for the results of Republicans being even less popular than Republicans. Most Americans admit that Obama doesn’t deserve primary blame for all our problems, that the problems started before he took office.

My point is that our entire political system has become a compromise with corporate wealth and power. Who cares if Obama wins the narrative war if the narrative that wins turns out to be propaganda and spin.

If for some reason you want to know the analysis of a Canadian anarcho-capitalist, here you go:

So, who are the real winners in these elections?

Even on the local level of my home state of Iowa, big money from out of state was victorious over judges defending the Iowa constitution.

But let me end on a different note. Here is an interesting take on the election results. His conclusion is that the Tea Party, as represented by Sarah Palin, can hardly be seen as victorious. Quite the opposite, in fact.

To the extent Republicans might merit their victories, the credit certainly can’t be given to Palin. As a politician, she is a failure and a quitter. As a campaign promoter, her support is the kiss of death. Palin is just another celebrity.