Four More Years – U.S. Democracy in Memorium

November 3, 2004 Off By leigh

CNN notes that when Kerry called Bush to concede “During the phone call, Bush and Kerry agreed that the divided nation needs to heal, officials said”.

CNN notes that when Kerry called Bush to concede “During the phone call, Bush and Kerry agreed that the divided nation needs to heal, officials said”.

This is new-speak for “lest popular opposition to the war become a unifying issue that threatens the two party system.” I just finished the late Dave Dellinger’s 1971 book “Revolutionary Nonviolence” which puts into historical context how the two party system has repetitively frustrated real democracy by mouthing platitudes towards popular demands, and then squirming their way out of obligation to functionally address them. The words and actions of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon in reaction to the Vietnam war echo through the years until today.

Most illuminating and portentous is independent candidate Ralph Nader’s concession speech. C-SPAN has an incomplete portion of the speech, indicative that even supposedly unbiased non-commercial coverage can’t even recognise the value of alternatives to the plutocracy represented by the artificial contest between two faces of the same (corporate) coin. Perhaps it was an encoding bug and they will present the full speech. I’m trying to track down a full copy. It is one of the most clear sighted assessments of the complicity of the two major parties to leave off the agenda issues of corporate dictatorship and places the Iraq invasion within the context of the wider world.

As the sound poet Chris Mann noted “Sport and politics are the good-cop/bad-cop routine of public spectacle”. The notion of spectacle, of politics as a sport between duelling elitists that use issues of the population as mere arrows in their quivers, has never been more apparent.

Cheney’s acceptance speech introducing Bush claimed a popular mandate for future Republican policies. Now that independent observers have become quite adept at decoding the messages of the administration, it is hard to see this statement as anything other than sounding the clarion call to open the floodgates to a radical, corporate, imperialist agenda.

Some issues will impact Americans. These, as McGovern noted today on Democracy Now! will be the personal (not “social”) issues of gay marriage and abortion options, and civil liberties including the right not to be “disappeared” as has happened to over 5000 South-Asian Americans and the right not to be drafted in an impending war against Iran. So the question that must then be raised and addressed is what drives the U.S. voter to make a decision to support a government which has failed so miserably in it’s foreign policy adventures and economic strategies?

Clearly the jaundiced message conveyed by the corporate media has bounded debate to exclude any fundamental questions of U.S. politics. The fear button has been pushed effectively, the “October surprise” of bin Laden popping up just at the right time to make all the clowns in the mid-west believe their quickie-mart will be bombed next. “Moral values” was found to be a substantial issue at exit-polls, again new-speak for a desire for Christian fundamentalist authored social control.

Finally I think there is a reaction of the wider voting population typical of earlier populations facing a proto-fascist state – acquiescence. This is the hope that, in facing an increasingly naked display of state brutality and control, by conforming to the apparatus of the state there is a belief that unitary self-preservation and even self-profit can be achieved, cowering within the authoritarian structure without question. I don’t believe that is a fully formed concept as it was when there was a rush by the German population to join the Nazi party once it was realised exactly how totalitarian the German state had become, but I think it is a submerged reflex in voting behaviour, an adulation for Bush’s restated “triumph of the will” heard in the chants of “Four More Years”.

Of course, the U.S. population ultimately bears little real price for their vote. Few Americans will be tortured by the U.S. military and CIA, few Americans will step on landmines. The outcome of the vote is most comprehensively felt by persons other than Americans: by immigrants, Iraqis, Afghans, Venezuelans, Haitians, Cubans, Palestinians, Koreans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, Iranians, El Salvadorans, Chileans, Granadans and Panamanians, to name just a few peoples that have directly felt the onslaught of successive American governments voted in by their docile, self-absorbed population.

As Nader noted, this is not the end, it is the end of the beginning of the struggle to define democracy independent of the corrupt machinery of corporate-owned politics. It is to continue to focus and identify the machinery of state, to improve our analysis of systems of power and better develop our descriptions of them. There is much to do.