Monday, August 22, 2005

Corruption in the Republic


Almost four in ten Americans find politics and government "too complicated to understand," and a similar number believed their families "had no say in what federal government does." They're right, of course, but it's nobody's fault but their own.

So who cares if politicians hand out hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare to the boys down at the club while one in five American children lives in poverty? Nobody in America is paying attention anyway, even as the vultures continue to circle overhead. It is a mainstay of our political culture -- and the greatest victory that powerful corporate interests have ever achieved -- that we consider government as something apart from ourselves, and that we are powerless to change it.

And if you think the prescription is to elect more Democrats, as so many progressives do, the last week of business in the House should dissuade you of the perception. Forty-one Democratic members voted for President Bush's energy bill, about which the Washington Post carried the following headlines during the last week of July: "Energy Bill Raises Fears About Pollution, Fraud," "Energy Deal Has Tax Breaks for Companies," "Energy Tax Breaks Total $14.5 Billion" and "Bill Wouldn't Wean U.S. Off Oil Imports, Analysts Say."

here for the rest.

Okay, I agree that the dissolution of American democracy is ultimately the fault of its citizens, but there are mitigating circumstances. That is, the forces of corruption have been trying as hard as they can, marshalling vast resources, in order to lull Americans into their current Wizard of Oz style poppy sleep-trance. The structural model for public schools, originally adopted in order to create a compliant workforce, teaches children to do as they're told and to not question authority. The rise of the mass media has hit the nation with a double whammy of lulling entertainment and brainwashing propaganda known as advertising, both of which condition people to focus on their own personal circumstances without considering the bigger picture. Wealthy elites and massive corporations use always present loopholes to virtually buy politicians, doing an end run around the electorate. And the mainstream news media...well, they lie and distort all the time, and increasingly focus on celebrity scandals and missing white women. It's our fault, yes, but 21st century Americans have to deal with obstacles so sophisticated that they make good old fashioned tyrants look like school yard bullies. It is our fault for allowing this to happen, but how the hell could we have stopped it? How will we end it? Somehow, scolding people for not being more politically involved just doesn't seem to cut it.