Sunday, August 5, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Democracy in America: Going, going, gone!

                       By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
Democracy has always been a messy process, but somehow it’s managed to work for 236 years.

That streak looks like it’s coming to an end. Pervasive partisan polarization is crippling our political system today.This polarization is only part of the reason our system of government is slowly grinding to a halt. Another factor is the power of the wealthy and corporations which has eroded the rights of most Americans and essentially created a caste system reminiscent of India.
The signs have been there for years. Perhaps the final blow was the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision that said corporations have the same rights as individuals. This “corporations are people” mindset was the most recent blow to democracy.

Once upon a time, Americans suspected money played a major part in our political process, but the idea of “buying” one’s way into office was considered criminal, or at least bad form.
With the creation of Super PACS this year, politicians can openly buy their way to victory.

Quick example; look at what happened in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker outspent his opponent seven to one during the June recall election, with 70 percent of his donations coming from out of the state.
What should have been decided by residents of Wisconsin, was essentially decided by millions of dollars pouring in from wealthy individuals, following a national party line.
It’s apparent to most Americans - according to numerous polls - that our Congress is full of partisan clowns. Its approval rating has plummeted to historic lows for good reason. Anyone who bothers to follow the inept attempts to pass any meaningful legislation, knows that partisanship trumps serving the people.

America is so divided today that unless the current course of no compromise changes, democracy is doomed. Our infrastructure is crumbling. States are drowning in red ink. Our education system is slipping into third world status and homelessness is a national disgrace.
The National Republican Party is busy destroying unions and attacking women’s rights in an all out assault of ideology versus common sense and real world challenges. The National Democratic Party tries to claim high ground by showing more interest in the middle class while packing their coffers with Super PAC donations from wealthy individuals and unions.
As far as I’m concerned, these two major parties are driven by ideology and money. Not by a desire to serve Americans. Just look at what’s happened to our country in the last decade. Have we ever been more divided - since the Civil War? Has money ever been so blatantly used to gain influence?

Look at the power of the major lobbies in Washington DC. Each has an agenda that has nothing to do with helping the common man survive this recession. Lobbyists with bulging pockets have influence on everyone in government, including the president and the lawmakers.
The minority rules over the majority in America today. I challenge anyone to dispute my contention with facts that show otherwise. Sound bytes and rhetoric have kept Americans divided and their sense of nationalism has slipped away.
Many are held in an ideology thrall that becomes more important than reality. There’s no denying this country is in need of real leadership, but frankly I don’t see it coming from either side of the aisle.
What I do see is a steady advance of Imperialism as we send out combat troops around the globe to “protect our interests” while draining our treasury of money that could be spent at home.
I see nothing but more of the same, as we continue to “police” the world. Could it be that both parties actually agree on this? I think so. Both sides are protecting the war machine and feeding it with sacrifices from the majority of Americans.
As It Stands, we’ll probably continue to call our system democratic for many years to come, despite proof to the contrary.

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