Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Call To Keyboards

We are a plutocracy. We ought to face it. A country in which wealth controls.  That may be true of all countries, more or less, but it's uniquely true of ours because of our materialism and the concentration of wealth here. Even our democratic processes are hardly that, because money dominates politics, and we know it. And through politics it dominates government. And it dominates the media.  We really need desperately to find new ways to hear independent voices and points of view. It's the only way we're going to find the truth.
1992 quote from Ramsey Clark,
Former U.S. Attorney General
While it's become fashionable to complain about the role of money in politics and to portray the political process as “bought and paid for,” often missing is a discussion of whom it was purchased from. What we're dealing with here is a version of “seller's remorse,” as it turns out that we have traded away something of importance to us for a pittance, and are now regretting the transaction.

“Our materialism and the concentration of wealth” are not the issue here. It's that most of us don't understand the business of running the country to be ours, or our neighbors. We look to a political class, and attempt to saddle them with the responsibility to look out for our interests, while we go and play Trivial Pursuit. If you simply handed your car over to a stranger and expected them, with no oversight whatsoever, to deal fairly with you, your friends and neighbors would call you a fool, and either shake their heads sadly or point and laugh if you were subsequently ripped off.

Despite the fact, as political scientists John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse point out, that many Americans are very (and correctly) concerned that their active disinterest in the sausage-making that is American politics leaves them holding the bag while the “Plutocrat” class reaps benefit upon benefit at their direct expense, the average American has convinced themselves that the answer to this is an even greater level of disinterest, justified by waiting for a honorable, non-self-interested politician to come along and set things straight. This longing for a Good Shepherd is misguided. Shepherds wear wool and eat mutton, too.

And so the way out is to be more involved. The “ways to hear independent voices and points of view” are to, rather than sitting on our couches waiting for political campaigns to spoon-feed us information, go out and find them. Think that maybe the Constitution Party is to your liking? Look 'em up. They've got a website! Or maybe the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party (odd bedfellows or world's best political joke - you be the judge) is saying something you like. The holy mess that is the World Wide Web has resulted a perhaps too many independent voices to count being out there. Find one you like, and tell your friends. The Two Major Parties don't have any sort of legal lock on power - they rely on the public as a whole being too unwilling to vote for anyone else.

We made this bed. Perhaps, however, it's time to stop just lying in it.

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