political correctness. As a progressive that did not drink the Democratic
Kool-Aid I remain skeptical about what will now happen. To begin with, the
revolution has NOT arrived! Bush is still president. The corporate state
is safe. The Upper Class has little to fear. Lobbyists will be writing
different names on checks. Winning Democrats will entertain more than they
will produce historic restorative reforms. Did Republicans deserve to
lose? Of course! Was there a set of promised political and policy reforms
by the Democrats to justify enthusiastic voting for them? No. Appropriate
rejection of Republicans should not be conflated with passionate embrace
Those Americans who thought their votes
would bring much needed systemic change to our political system lost. They
just don't know or admit it yet. As usual, the third-party movement lost,
because the two-party duopoly maintained its stranglehold on our political
system. Populists and true progressives lost. Who or what was the biggest
winner? The short-term and delusional tactic of lesser-evil voting won
On the liberal left, millions of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war voters held
their noses, repressed the truth about cowardly and compromised Democrats.
They rationalized why beating Republicans was the most important goal.
They did not focus on how Democrats in congress enabled the Iraq war, and
that many voted in favor of the worst new laws that have given Bush
Fake, neo-progressives, little more than
embarrassed Democrats, finally showed their true blue commitment. They
drank the Democratic Kool-Aid; in fact they slurped it up in massive
amounts. Most still remain intoxicated, even as Democratic leaders shunned
impeachment of Bush.
On the right, millions of fiscal
conservative, pro-life, and evangelical voters blocked out many facts,
disappointments and scandals, and rationalized why keeping Republicans in
power was the most important goal. They wanted to stay the course. Many
spiritual libertarians given no Libertarian Party candidates went red.
Spiritual greens went blue. Many independents, centrists and moderates
unable to vote for None of the Above, went lesser-evil. Self-delusion ran
rampant as placebo voting ruled the day.
Mainstream media and Internet sites whipped up
sports-like-beat-the-other-team enthusiasm masquerading as civic
responsibility and patriotism. Political pundits, negative ads, and
bloggers kept us entertained. The recipients of some $2 billion spent on
campaigning made out like bandits. The postal system benefited. Landfills
filled up faster from all the political junk mail. Despite all the hoopla,
however, the majority of eligible voters were not motivated to vote. Do
not ignore this sobering fact: It is estimated that national voter turnout
was slightly over 40 percent, compared to 39.7 percent in the 2002
midterm. Two-party dominance does not bring out voters, and many Americans
reject lesser-evil voting. Low voter turnout defines the opportunity for
renewed new third-party efforts.
This much is clear: Voting has become more of a distraction from dealing
with real problems confronting ordinary Americans, than a means to solving
them. Voting should mean more than helping your side win. When it only
comes down to defeating one party so that the other one wins, lesser-evil
voting produces a different color of evil.
Two-party partisan change is not about attacking the status quo; it is
about preserving the worst status quo of all: two-party control.
Transferring power between the two major parties creates the dangerous
illusion that our democracy works. The winner gets more money from
corporate interests and their turn at pork spending, easier corrupt
behavior and self-serving legislation.
Visualize this: Over decades our democracy has been sliding down a cheese
grater. Stopping the slide and putting the pieces back together will
require a mighty effort. Our wicked, unjust economy now uses consumer
spending to destroy working- and middle-class Americans, increase economic
inequality, and turn us into a two-class society with Upper and Lower
Classes. Our government is an embarrassment, justifying global hatred of
the USA. With so many voters unsure that their votes on electronic devices
would be accurately counted, our electoral process is a joke. Hypocrisy
This year, lesser-evil voting vented considerable anger, frustration and
despair over the worst presidency in our history. In their hearts,
however, the majority of Americans, no matter who they voted for, know
that our nation will most likely remain on the wrong track. If political
dissent becomes muted, then this election has cost us dearly. If anything,
we still have dissent deficit.
In a Jeffersonian sense, we the people lost this election. Our delusional
democracy with its delusional prosperity has survived. Our culture of
lying and corruption has prevailed. Campaign promises will now be either
forgotten or converted into deception and lies. We recently heard a
disgraced evangelical leader admit he was a "deceiver and a liar." Our
winning and losing politicians, especially President Bush, will not make
that same confession, though they should.
We should not be surprised that we have a delusional president; he suits a
delusional democracy. Some do get the government they deserve, but most of
us do not.
Power to the people remains a distant political goal. We now move on to
the next cycle of lies and lesser-evil voting -- the 2008 presidential
campaign, that the Republicans are now more motivated than ever to win.
Worse than not admitting the emperor has no clothes is not seeing a whole
democracy without trustworthiness, accountability and credibility.
You are thinking: "What a cynic he is." But I see it as reality based,
anti-delusional thinking. I take small comfort in knowing that I am not
alone. Despite being anti-Bush, I could not become an enthusiastic
supporter of Democrats. After decades of lesser-evil voting I found my
inner conscience and commitment to political dissent, to what I call
progressive civil disobedience.
Decades of empirical evidence had shown me that neither Democrats nor
Republicans would ever deliver quality to our democracy and justice to our
economy. Yes, I went and voted, for third-party candidates that were
uniformly more qualified than the major party candidates, and on ballot
measures. I asked for a paper ballot, but was told it was not an option.
Long live delusion. May it protect the millions of Americans without good
paying jobs or job security, without health insurance, without confidence
that they will be able to keep paying their mortgages and credit card
debt, without hope that global warming will be effectively addressed,
without confidence that social security will be there when they need it;
and without hope that their children will have a better, higher quality of
life than theirs. And surely few believe that political corruption and
scandals are now gone. If all politics are local, so is all corruption.
Lesser-evil voting has brought us here, to a lesser-quality democracy with
a lesser-quality government, lesser-quality economy, lesser-quality health
care system, and lesser-quality education system.
Under two-party rule, we have arrived at the sorry state where nearly 75
percent of Americans believe the nation faces a leadership crisis,
according to a new survey. It also found evidence of an epidemic of
self-delusion. People think that among the top 32 industrialized nations
the U.S. ranks 10th for citizens' life expectancy, when it really ranks
24th; that is ranks 15th for economic equality and mathematics literacy,
when it actually ranks 30th and 25th, respectively. Being the only
superpower is one thing. Being the best democracy is something else
Despite widespread delusion, pain seeps through. So the pharmaceutical
industry will make bigger profits from even greater demand for
anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and new anti-obesity drugs. Shopping,
eating, Internet surfing, pornography and gambling will keep feeding
distraction. The rich and super-rich will keep finding ways to spend their
super-sized wealth, and avoid taxes. American soldiers will keep dying in
senseless wars. Globalization, pushed by sycophants like Tom Friedman (who
lives in a $9 million house), will keep sucking the lifeblood out of our
nation, as will hoards of illegal immigrants. Americans have no nearby
richer country to flee to, so we must numb our pain.
Long live delusion. Our new congress will surely keep us entertained.
Behind the scenes lobbyists will create new, less visible ways to corrupt
our elected MISrepresentatives. There will be much talk about our lame
duck president, but not about our lame duck democracy.
Tell me, to begin a Second American Revolution, when will millions of
clear-minded dissenters unite behind a new centrist or populist party and
take back our nation?
You will decide, through attention or distraction, through truth or
delusion, through action or passivity.
Let us not forget that a MAJORITY of Americans did NOT speak with their
votes. They rejected both Democrats and Republicans. That only 40 percent
bothered to vote, especially this year, shames our nation and confirms
that we have a delusional democracy, and that most rational Americans
truly believe that both major parties are just a bunch of lying crooks.
And remember this wisdom: The more things change, the more they stay the
same. Our behind-the-scenes Ruling Class remains; they will now speed dial
Joel S. Hirschhorn
is author of the new book,
Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.
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