Frank da Cruz
2 November 2010 (election day)
In NY we have something called the Working Families party that endorses progressive candidates. NY law lets a single candidate run on more than one line. So typically a Democrat will also appear on the WF line. When a candidate gets a lot of votes on the WF line instead of on the Democratic line, they get a message that people want them to stand up for working people and against Wall Street. This way, progressive voters can express their feelings without having to vote for a third party candidate who hasn't a prayer of winning, thus splitting the vote and handing a victory to the Republicans. It's not much, but it's something. Of course the new media never report the Democrat/WF split because they want us to buy into the fiction that the US is composed only of center-right Democrats and far-right Republicans.
So today I held my nose and voted for all Democrats on the WF line, except for Charles Schumer, a very good friend to Wall Street. Our other Senator, Kirstin Gillibrand, is very nice, she is the only candidate who never said a bad word about anybody in the whole campaign. (Showing my age, I remember when there actually used to be Socialists and Communists on the ballot...)
Anyway, the depressing part is that nobody ever learns and nothing ever changes, except for the worse. Party A runs on some platform promising A Lot Of Things, gets elected, does the opposite, the people get disgusted and vote for Party B next time, which promises Lots Of Things, gets elected, and then does the opposite. The “opposite“ in both cases is whatever it takes to further enrich Wall Street and the big corporations at the expense of ordinary people, to the extent they are willing to sacrifice lives and livelihoods and the future of the country and the world to please their already obscenely rich patrons. To divert the attention of the voters from this, they busy themselves with setting up false enemies (Communists, welfare cheats, Muslims, Mexicans) to keep us frightened and preoccupied.
So I'm sure my little trip to the voting station this morning was a complete exercise in futility, no matter who wins, because it is a choice between the really bad Democrats and truly awful and scary Republicans, neither of which question the causes for our national disgrace – our ignorance, wars of agression and conquest, racism, and the unbridled, voracious, and utterly unscrupulous greed of our capitalist class and its blatant ownership and control of our government.
If we ever had a government of, by, and for the people we certainly do not have one now. The “American way” is a sick joke, nobody wants to copy it any more, they run the other way screaming. Think of it: a country that has exported all its good jobs, attacked its own working people and destroyed their unions, with a government that can function only on behalf of the oligarchy and never for the benefit of ordinary people; a country therefore entangled in endless senseless wars because our foreign policy is controlled by oil companies and the “defense” industry, and which has created its own caste of “soldier ants” who fight and kill and die and fight and kill and die again and go crazy without end while the rest of us become obese zoning out on Dancing with the Stars; a country full of angry people because they are losing their homes and their jobs and drowning in debt because every family is working two, three, or four jobs to support not only themselves but the unseen hordes of investors who do no useful work and serve no social function; a country building walls on its borders like the one that President Reagan told Premiere Gorbachev to tear down, with some 12 million undocumented immigrant workers that we can't live with and can't live without, and with the biggest prison population on earth; a country with rampant racism and poverty, a failing public school system and the cost of higher education in the stratosphere; a country where medical care is a privilege of the wealthy; a country hostage to big oil and coal companies wrecking the environment beyond repair, with a mass media that is practically devoid of actual news and one major network that is nothing more than a vicious hate and fear machine, and where most people will believe any silly lie they are told because they don't know how to think for themselves. This is a system designed by and for the super-rich; it has taken them sixty years to recover from the New Deal, but the result is a thing of beauty to behold, it works perfectly for its intended purpose; Americans who are suffering as they haven't suffered since the 1930s buy completely into the most outrageous propositions and vote consistently against their own interest, truly believing that Social Security and affordable housing and secure employment with benefits are evils that must be struck down, that public employees with unions and decent salaries and benefits and pensions (like most American working people had only 2-3 decades ago) are un-American, and that ideas such as universal health care, a living wage, and a secure old age are threats that must be fiercely resisted. It's surreal, but I have to admit it's a stunning achievement.
Suppose, one day, the people wake up and wonder if perhaps the government should be oriented more towards promoting the general welfare of the population and the economic self-sufficiency of the country. What would the people do to bring this about? That is the Question of the Twenty-First Century. Because in 2008 they thought they were doing exactly that by voting for progressives and what happened? They got pretty much the opposite.