September 20, 2004
(Swans - September 20, 2004)
The pundits will continue predicting the approaching election for six
more weeks. Relying on polls, that appear every few days from various
media sources, their crystal ball will disclose how the swing states
will swing, how ethnic groups will sway, and it will spew out loads of
Issues? No need to consider them. Kerry endorses all of the Bush policies. His campaign could be summed up by changing a word in the title of an Irving Berlin song and adding some new verses. "Anything BUSH Can Do, I Can Do Better" should be his theme song. (1) But if his singing voice is no better than Ashcroft's it will spell trouble. He'd tune out his most loyal supporters.
Every four years the media inundates the public with the same old crapola. It applies it to a new cast of characters who are just as obnoxious as the previous bunch.
Elections determine who runs the ship of state and what government the people get. It's a government that they vote for but not a government that they want!
The results of every election disclose that none (yes, NONE) of the candidates corral a simple majority -- forget majority, not even a plurality of potential voters. The pundits and the polls rarely mention the group that consistently outnumbers the voters for the winning candidate.
I am no pundit and have examined no polls but I am certain that the same group will again clearly surpass the number of voters for either Bush or Kerry.
Who is that group? The non-voters. (2)
The highest voter turnout of the 20th century at 62.8 percent was the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election. The top vote getter, Kennedy, received only 31.2 percent of eligible voters; substantially less than the 37.2 percent who didn't waste their time going to the polls.
In most presidential elections, the no-shows are about 50 percent of voting age individuals. In off years that percentage is even higher.
Why are there so many no-shows? Many reasons are given: not interested; preferred no candidate; sick; family emergency; could not take off from work or school; unable to get to polls; out of town; forgot. While each might be valid it is hard to believe that those reasons should account for as much as 50 percent.
What do you think would be the percentage of no-shows if each voter was given a hundred dollars if he voted? Wouldn't it be substantially less?
I imagine it would drop to perhaps no more than two percent.
What does that say about the various candidates for presidential and legislative offices? Obviously a non-voter must feel that the best as opposed to the worst of the bunch would not provide him with much of a benefit -- certainly not a hundred bucks worth.
Even amongst the citizens who do vote there is no strong support for the candidates. Most of the voters I know invariably state that the candidate they will vote for is "the lesser of two evils." I have heard that "lesser of two evils" phrase as far back as I can remember. Wow, just think about it. If their candidate wins -- what do they get? No matter how they measure or slice it -- and they said it themselves -- EVIL!
Democracy has been defined as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Does the US government fit that description? Are the office holders in its executive, legislative, and judicial departments representative of the diverse 294 million population?
It is obviously overloaded with the affluent. An article in The Washington Post on September 18, 2002 disclosed that one-third of Bush's cabinet were in the $10 million plus range, and another third in the $1 million to $5 million range.
To run for the Senate or the House requires a sizeable war chest. And running does not mean winning. If the candidate is no millionaire to begin with, and even if he is, he must be willing to sell his soul to augment that war chest. Candidates who deviate from the status quo pro-elite party line can forget the party's endorsement -- an endorsement that brings out the party loyalists, the stooges who comprise a big chunk of primary voters.
The White House web site discloses poverty in 2003 at 12.5 percent. (3) That translates to over 36 million suffering individuals. Is there anyone in government who has lived in poverty and knows their problems? Who in the government represents and speaks for them? The best those poor souls can hope for is to avoid trouble and keep out of jail.
You know it. I know it. And an awful lot of other people know it -- though they wish it weren't so and try to deny it. The US government is a government of the elite, by the elite and for the elite.
The elite are well aware of the skepticism and employ various tactics to persuade the lower classes that government really is democratic.
Issues that do not affect their bottom line are played up to divide and distract the public from their corrupt activities. Abortion and gay marriage are a couple of good ones.
A second method of appeasing the public is to reform the system. The results invariably have no effect. Years ago there was an outcry that the candidates were picked by the party bosses in smoke filled rooms. If the public were permitted to select them there would be decent candidates. Have the national primaries brought us good candidates? More recent reforms about campaign contributions have had similar results.
Another distraction technique is to create antagonisms among various groups who should be allies confronting the elite. Racism; blaming the poor, the young and the immigrants for problems in the society are examples.
Universal health care has been batted about for years. Harry Truman discussed it shortly after he became president. It is no secret that the public overwhelmingly wants a socialized system such as the Canadian one. That heresy doesn't play well with the medical and pharmaceutical establishments, however. So while the rest of the developed world has such systems the U.S. will continually find new ways to satisfy their true constituents.
Public facilities that for years benefited everyone are being privatized. New industries to feed off the public trough are devised by the favored elites.
The prison system was privatized some years ago. Wall Street had a bonanza building and running prisons at government expense. To make things even better the government has stocked those prisons with so many inmates that the U.S. surpasses all advanced countries in per capita incarceration.
Public education is being infiltrated by a highly touted private enterprise educational system. As usual, governments are paying big bucks for sub-standard performance.
Had the stock market not reversed its unprecedented upward climb that saw respected analysts predicting 35,000 in the Dow, Social Security would have provided another pot of gold for the financial industry.
But all must take a back seat to the profitable military-industrial complex. The armaments industry is an old as ever patriotic standby. It not only protects the homeland but is always vigilantly searching for potential enemies who deserve to be eradicated. Some new innovations have arrived on the scene to assist the military in its tasks. The GIs no longer prepare meals, drive supply trucks, or perform other mundane tasks. About a third of the cost of keeping troops in Iraq goes to independent contractors. Favorites like Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root rakes in big bucks although it has fallen down on the job and overbills the government. (4)
Meanwhile the ordinary Joe and Mrs. Joe must work longer and harder just to stay even.
Why doesn't the system work better than it does? What is wrong?
It may be a surprise to many but this is the way the system is supposed to work. The founding fathers, the rich and powerful of their day, created a system that was designed to keep the elite in power and wealth. (5) And it's working beautifully.
So don't denigrate the non-voter -- he is aware that the system is rigged against him. The lower he is income-wise, the more likely he falls into the non-voter class.
If more would realize that they have been duped by the elite, a strong movement could arise that would bring the elite down to size. It then might be possible to create a truly democratic system -- a government of, by and for the people.
· · · · · ·
Notes and Resources
1. "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," words and music Irving Berlin, 1946; From the show "Annie Get Your Gun;" Irving Berlin Music Company, New York, NY 10018 (back)
2. The American Voice 2004: "A Pocket Guide to Issues and Allegations" - http://www.americanvoice2004.org/askdave/19askdave.html (back)
3. Economic Statistics Briefing Room - http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/income.html (back)
4. "Some of Army's Civilian Contractors Are No-Shows in Iraq" - http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0731-09.htm.
The Thief of Baghdad; http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/19620/
"Iraq: Nation Builders for Hire," by Dan Baum; The New York Times Magazine, June 22, 2003 - http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=11211
"New Halliburton Whistleblowers Say Millions Wasted in Iraq" - http://corpwatch.org/article.php?id=11373
"The Pentagon's Private Corps" - http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2003/10/we_597_01.html (back)
5. Toward an American Revolution, by Jerry Fresia; Publisher: South End Press, Boston, 1988. (back)
America #1 -- Score Card 2004 - Dossier compiled by Gilles d'Aymery
US Elections & Democracy on Swans
America the 'beautiful' on Swans
Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).
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