This upcoming presidential election, I believe, will truly be a remarkable experience for all Americans. What will be the pinnacle of the season has yet to be seen. Will it be the triumph of the “good guys” over the “bad guys?” Will it be the campaign machines, now with virtually endless supplies of money (thanks to Citizen’s United, a decision by the Supreme court to allow corporations ability to fund campaigns unrestricted by the government) to bombard… sorry… “inform” the public to make the best decisions? Or will it be the largely televised talking-head debates where politicians will lie to Americans… sorry… discuss their platforms and solutions and promise a world so comfy voters’ glands salivate at the thought of such an outcome? I mean, empirically, any of these outcomes can plausibly be the pinnacle of America’s presidential campaign and voting season, but looking at what such a system reaps and sows financially, socially, politically, spiritually, militarily, and environmentally, every year, I’d be a liar if I said I would enjoy four more years of do-nothing moderate policy making.
As I was discussing the upcoming primary elections with a friend of mine, one sentence of our conversation sticks out like a sore thumb: “Yea, Alex, I know voting is important, if we don’t vote, we lose our right to complain.” The right to complain? I thought I had the right to contribute in my nation’s democracy! To voice my opinion, to be heard, to act! How dare he speak down to my rights as a citizen in such a way, I am an American, and I deserve to be heard. But, then again, when was the last time Americans agreed on anything completely in the political sphere? It was at this moment every motor, gear, and capacitor in my brain began firing up, turning, and roaring, it was true enlightenment, a remarkable experience. My epiphany concluded with with a worldview more bizarre than any “Twilight Zone” rerun or Stanley Kubrick film could embody; what if it all didn’t matter! WHOAH THERE MR. REVOLUTIONARY, LET’S CALM DOWN… But just imagine a nation where there were no elections, and government officials elected themselves (rather reminiscent of our good ol’ nemesis the U.S.S.R, Fascist Germany, and of course some African countries only an eighth of Americans could pronounce and locate on a map). And this oligarchy was a set of mostly elder white-Anglo-Saxons with large sums of money in the stock of the nation’s industries. They would enact law after law limiting our freedoms of speech, of religion, to organize, to reproduce, to strike, sexual freedom etc. etc. to protect their own financial situations. (I mean if you’ve got the power to do so, with no one stopping you, why not!) If this were to happen, I’d be safe to say a large majority of us would get our muskets and revolutionary gear together and march down to Washington to fight for our rights as citizens, as people, and as plain old human beings!(gosh darnit!) We wouldn’t care about who leads the movement and who doesn’t, we wouldn’t worry about Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians and Socialists, Anarchists and Communists, because there is one thing which would bind us, our humanity; and this humanity we must respect if there is going to be any kind of sustainable existence on good ol’ mother earth.
Now lets look at our current system. Pretty awesome in comparison right? Everyone votes, they have their say to choose the politicians they like, we can organize, lobby our congressmen, run around like maniacs during protests (well as long as we’d like until the police get all fussy), and light candles to hold vigils for politicians to change their mind. It’s great! What does that guy who says we only “complain” know? We have it pretty good here in the U.S. Or do we? Going back to the statement I declared after my epiphany: “The election process doesn’t matter.” The meaning of this statement is rooted in the fact that: in a nation by and for the people, resting supreme executive power in a group of self-interested capitalists with their sticky fingers in everyone’s businesses, lives, and even well being (a shot at privatized healthcare, haha!) is intolerable! THERE I SAID IT. I hate Capitalism! A society paid for and based around one culture is a scary situation, and even scarier when it’s a society of pure consumption. We’re taught, through societal conditioning, the culture which arises from media, the political sphere, and in schools, how consumption, elitism, assimilation, police force violence, and conformity, are all good for us, and how the poor became poor because of their lack of hard work. In reality, these are manufactured assumptions forced upon us to stop us from questioning the establishment.
So what exactly is wrong with capitalist-driven politics? Whether you’re for the Democrats or the Republicans, you subscribe to a system of capitalistic imperialism controlling our very lives (how dare I accuse you! You’ve always done as you were told!) If I said we were all free to choose the right candidate whom we find to have the best policies for the nation, I’d once again be lying to you. When was the last time you knew a presidential, congressional, or even a municipality candidate for office before they were running for office?
Even if you did, do you think the rest of America knows? American politics to me is less about freedom of choice, and more of like faction choosing. You can either be on the red or the blue team, they’re both going to screw you over because they’re owned and lobbied by so many capital seeking corporations, your vote is inconsequential to a check for a million plus dollars. These political parties rely on these companies to continue their dominance over the voting population, and these companies rely on the political parties to fulfill each others’ agenda. Forget just Crony-Capitalism, Crony-Politics is like it’s evil twin brother sent from hell. It’s come to the point that virtually any suggestion a citizen has on the political process will be burned in front of them and then the ashes spread over a hypothetical cemetery where once living natural personal rights have gone to their final resting place. The “suggestion box” is getting smaller and smaller and we’re forced to sign our lives away to these political cliques if we want any voice at all. Thanks to a yearly spending of over 9 trillion dollars on political lobbying (the system of payment to politicians from corporations, non-profits, and unions, to vote in a specific way in crucial congressional decisions, or to continue and grow a political campaign) we can kiss even our “right to complain” away. The existence of political freedom in the U.S. is a fallacy and a lie. So what do we have? We’ve got a comfy oligarchical system (behind the mask of a representative democracy) which enacts law after law reducing our most basic rights (Patriot Act, Stop and Frisk of New York 2010, state enacted limitations on same sex couples, the list goes on and on), which works only on self interests, and which has the largest standing army and police force in the world (talk about paranoid). Ring any bells? Well, it should. Before you vote this upcoming election, do your part and let your voice be heard. Instead of only pushing a button, why not join an organization, activist group, or community service group to go out and truly make a difference.
No ideas? Check out the movement Amend 2012 at http://w
Alex Hickman is a fourth-year student majoring in political science with a concentration in International Relationals. He can be reached at AH728435@wcupa.edu.