Oct 9, 2006

Reform is Possible Only if the Public Wants it. Apathy & Cynicism Works Against Us!

Question: Who Owns Our Government?

The majority of Americans now give the Democrats the advantage on major issues. Will this translate into a serious victory in a few weeks time? By serious, I mean a change of the Republican guard in the Congress. It took a major scandal like Congressman Mark Foley’s pedophilia and the Republican cover-up to make many Americans pay attention. This scandal is simple and torrid, unlike the Abramoff [learn more about it here] scandal/bribery/Republican corruption, which is “boring” and with too many details.

Most of our citizens don’t pay attention, even if they end up being screwed by those they elect to power. If both chambers of the US Congress change over on November 7th, it will definitely be a momentous event and a significant change. Yet, despite the importance of this and the inflated rhetoric surely to follow, most Americans won’t be part of this decision, won’t exercise their right to vote, because they don’t know or care enough. I’m willing to bet, that fewer than half of eligible voters will cast ballots in this midterm election. Some of them will base their vote on false impressions & inadequate information, while others will vote against their own interests--when they can least afford it. Multi-millionaire Bill Clinton can afford to vote against his own economic interests for example, but I'm disappointed in that the majority of Americans want to give Paris Hilton a tax break--one that will only benefit the top 1%, the super rich.

At any rate, like the Electoral Vote poll tracking [updated daily, check on left sidebar] indicates, the Dems are ahead slightly. Of course, with a great deal of gerrymandering in the redistricting, the “safe” congressional districts may be immune to even a wide national popular uprising. Democracy can produce non-democratic results; our Congress today is not a democratic institution. Dennis Hastert--the disgraced Speaker of the House (and his former Majority Leader Tom Delay who faces serious criminal charges)--has said that he only cares about the majority of the majority! The other party, representing half of the country, doesn’t matter to him! Sometimes, even his own party doesn’t matter if it wants to produce legislation that the Speaker doesn’t like!

Currently, on the War on Terror, Dems have a +7 points advantage. (This has changed since another recent poll that had given the Repubs the edge) Interestingly, the students I polled at the university where I teach, favor Repubs over Dems as the party with better ideas & policies to deal with terrorism! It's alarming that the young generation is not aware of past historical events regarding threats to democracy, and is not sensitive to the importance of safeguarding our civil liberties.

Anyway, on the Iraq War, the Dems have an advantage of +7 points. On Moral Values, they have +6 points; on Immigration, +9; on the Economy, +22; and, on Healthcare, +33 points advantage! But, don’t count your eggs until they hatch on the night of November 7th. I’m not a pessimist, on the contrary, but two years ago, while working for the Kerry campaign in Ohio, we were elated to see negative numbers (admittedly not like these) against Bush and his prospects for re-election. Unfortunately, Bush won the approval of the majority of the voters. It was of little comfort that only a few months later, most Americans began to realize that they had been misled into a war of choice not of necessity. And, it is the people who keep paying for this mistake in large sums of money and blood.

The Republicans have failed to produce policy that would benefit most of the people—
if this is the aim of representative government. The enablers and "the decider" have led our country into dire straits whose negative consequences will be felt for many years to come. We’ve paid dearly for the mistakes and the incompetence of our elected leaders. We deserve better, but we don’t deserve anything if we are not willing to put some effort towards improving our commonwealth. Reform is indeed possible but only if the public wants it!

The Republicans like government despite their rhetoric! They use it to accumulate power and redistribute our nation’s wealth, usually from those who don’t have much to those who already have a lot. And, the government's size has increased under Bush. Ronald Reagan once said that the scariest thing for Americans to hear was, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Well, I’m sure the energy giants (including oil), and the pharmaceutical companies, for example, are very happy to hear this announcement, because it was the government that gave them huge benefits—never mind the talk about the marketplace (free competition) economics! The persons who wrote our national policy on energy and Medicare reform came from those industries! Many went back to work for those industries. Where do you think Rice, Rummie, Dick will go after they leave their posts? It’s a revolving door of corruption and our Congress is totally dysfunctional and unwilling to fulfill its role in our checks & balances political system. We’re not paying attention either. At least we should fire those who act in our name and not in our interest, but before we do that we have to know what's going on!

For many people life isn't easy, I do understand this. Daily pressures may not leave us much time or energy to devote to politics. However, the fact is that we bear the consequences of the bad decisions made by those we hire to take care of our nation's affairs. We simply cannot afford to be ignorant and apathetic. The scammers have been laughing behind our backs for far too long.

You see, Republicans and all those who want to scam the public love the status quo of ignorance and people not paying attention. It's no accident they foster the dumbing down of our society. As proof I offer the horrible quality of the political discourse, the bumper-sticker mentality, and the pushing of the emotional buttons by many politicians. They want to perpetuate cynicism and apathy. This makes it so much easier for them. Sadly, collectively we comply.