Saturday, August 15, 2015

We Get What We Want

    Your buddy, Dale, would make a better president than anybody who is currently running for that office. He doesn’t toe anybody’s party line. He looks at each issue on its own merits; uses logic and common sense to make his own decisions on those issues. He thinks, rather than simply putting the pegs into the holes where he is instructed to place them. This is why Dale would make a better president; and this is why he will never hold that office.

    Who can trust a guy like that? Who can afford to lay out all that money, just on the off-chance that every decision he makes will coincide with their financial interests? Purchasing the office of President – or any national office, really – is expensive business. Any potential contender who doesn’t have virtually unlimited cash behind him/her doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.  With the restrictions on campaign contributions all but gone, it’s not the people of this country – you or Dale – who decide who’ll be at the helm, it’s the money. The money tells the minions what to think, and for whom they should vote. And the minions believe them – because what choice do they have? And when somebody gives you lots of money, they’re going to expect something in return. No. Not something. Everything.

    Corporations are people.  Young people – since their inclusion into that category only came about with Citizens United in 2010 – but people, just the same. So says the Supreme Court. These young people are very rich, which makes them very powerful in our current political system.  They pick candidates who can (and promise) do the most for them, and pour their money in behind those candidates.  It’s a bit of a gamble. If their guy wins, they’ll get their cash back, many times over.  If their guy loses, it’s not really a big deal because somebody else with money had to have made that happen. That other young person’s financial interests couldn’t be that much different.  Money wins.  Money makes more money.  Everybody’s happy. Well, except maybe the little guy, who aligned himself with one of these young citizens; fought in the trenches for them; gave them his vote, his blood, thinking, somehow, his life would be better for the effort. It rarely is.  So, not knowing what else to do, the little guy licks his wounds and tries to survive until the next election, when he will have an opportunity to make a better choice. He rarely does.

    Here’s where it gets complicated.  There are a whole damn lot more little guys than there are big corporations.  If all of the little guys banded together to watch out for their own interests, like the corporations do, their collective voice could be even louder.  But it’s hard being a little guy.  Somehow, somewhere up the food chain, practically all little guys are tantamount to servants of the corporations.  Little guy is afraid to step out of line for fear of retribution from his master.  He doesn’t have a golden parachute to break his fall, so he abides.  And the cycle continues.  And the rich get richer.  And the little guy ultimately accepts his role on the chess board and surrenders.

    Big money has many faces: business, religion, the war machine, to name a few. But, make no mistake, all of them are big money – the kings and queens and the bishops and knights who serve them directly – expecting, demanding, that you little guys get out in front of them and clear the way. When you fall, there will always be more little guys to take your place when the next battle commences. Even though you’re laying off the board in a little pile on the table, you get about a 50/50 shot at saying your side won. So, you’ve got that going for you. 

    There is no such thing as a democracy, in the context of world governments. We used to consider our form of government as a “representative democracy.” For quite a while, the United States has actually worked in what can best be described as a “constitutional republic.” The tint of that republic changes from election to election, as various faces of big money persuades the pawns to vote for big money’s benefit.  In the last few decades, we have moved closer to what could only be described as an “oligarchy” – where, in essence, a few (big money) govern over many (the little guy). Some big money is more transparent than others.  If Trump, or Walker (aka Koch Brothers) – the business face of big money - should win the next election, the republic will temporarily take a giant step toward a “plutocracy.”  This is a government controlled by a few wealthy people, and many will argue that we are already there. But with these guys, the mask is off, and we can quit pretending to be anything else.

    Huckabee and Cruz rely on another face of big money. Their election would undoubtedly move us toward a “theocracy.”  This is a government by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided – meaning the Church (the Christian Church and nothing but the Church) would essentially be making our governmental decisions. After all, it would take a divine miracle for either of them to get elected. The question then would become which branch of the business of Christianity would make the calls. The answer would be Southern Baptist.

    Bernie Sanders is a self-described Democratic Socialist. That term scares the hell out of a whole lot of people in the United States who only hear the “socialist” part, bringing to mind the evil empires of Russia and China we all grew up learning to hate and fear.  Here’s the actual definition:  Democratic socialism is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy with social ownership of the means of production. Sometimes used synonymously with "socialism", the adjective "democratic" is added to denote a system of political democracy similar to that found in existing Western societies.

    Take that as you will, but it means Bernie would move the country, if even slightly, toward that socialist boogeyman.

    Frustrated that nothing we’ve tried before has actually given us the government we think we should have, no matter which side we sit on, judging from the polls, Americans are faunching at the bits for some kind of dramatic change in our particular directions.  The right wants to go way to the right (Donald Trump, Scott Walker). The left wants to go way to the left (Bernie Sanders). Everybody pretty much assumes that the election of Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush would just keep us in more or less the same place we are now.  The truth is, no matter which direction we go, we’ll come back toward the middle the next time, and we’ll remain a Plutocracy, ruled by one face or the other of big money.   This is, until the little guys rise up and demand that we reform our political system back to exclude big money; where each flesh & blood human’s vote actually matters and we’re not all bombarded by dollars on the airwaves and the newsprint and the internet telling us how to vote.

    Until then, we get what we vote for. Meaning we get what we want. What do you want? You’re not as radical as you’ve been told you should be.

        ©2015   Rick Baber

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