Monday, March 03, 2008

Reining in the Obama parade

The Obama Craze, by Matt Gonzalez

The mythology of Unitedstatesian democracy is that all citizens, by voting, enjoy an equal share in government. At the time of the country's founding, this idea was not much of a myth. Those who owned the country were the only ones granted a vote, so in reality the voters really did enjoy an equal share in government. This plutocratic system of government worked well enough in the past, because it could rightly be expected that those who owned the country would educate themselves about the country's affairs, and make sure that their elected representatives would carry out the policies they believed to be best for themselves. And so they did.

But as centuries passed, and the right to vote was extended to people (including women and Blacks) who only work for the people who own the country - and the old conception of how political power is shared was not modified - it has now become a myth. (It is this myth that makes Unitedstatesians pat themselves on the back, and look down on other countries where one's share in governmance is determined on the basis of one's military strength or economic sway.) In large part, this conception has become a myth because the people to whom the voting franchise was extended - people who do not own the country - do not educate themselves about the country's affairs. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that they are not educated. Those with a desire to educate themselves will have a terribly difficult time at the task, as the free press (freedom of the press is guaranteed to all those who own one) is not in the business of providing information; it is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers. Such an arrangement is hardly conducive to providing the voting public with the information they would need to make a liberal democracy function as its promoters would have it.

Clearly, and contrary to myth, not everyone's share in governing power is equal. Those with economic power hold Class A shares in the United States Government, Inc., while those without economic power hold Class B shares. Class A shareholders can dictate policy by determining whose campaigns they fund, how they lobby the candidates they have funded after they get elected, and which issues they submit for debate to all shareholders and which issues, by ignoring them in the press, are left essentially undebatable by Class B shareholders. Class B shareholders merely get to vote, every couple of years, for the representatives whom the Class A shareholders have vetted and approved. Candidates who do not receive the approval of enough Class A shareholders - people like Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, Mike Huckabee, Ralph Nader, etc. - simply do not have a chance. The Class B shareholders have little idea of who these people are and what they stand for, because the Class A shareholders' media effectively excludes them.

Obama has received the approval of a critical mass of Class A shareholders, demonstrating they must not think him a hazard to their interests. The article above explains why: a voting record that evinces the kind of subservience to Class A shareholders that they have come to consider a prerequisite for holding public office. Obama has consistently taken anti-Class B positions on issues like the War on Iraq, class action lawsuits, credit card interest rates, limiting "pain and suffering" damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, private profit for mining companies on public land, nuclear industry regulation, energy policy, healthcare, NAFTA, Israel/Palestine - hell, even the fucking Mexican border fence. (Not that the border fence is in the interests of Class A shareholders, but it is a way for them to ensure they get enough Class B support to keep control of the Republican party.) What makes Obama an even more attractive candidate for the Class A set is that the Class B shareholders seem to think that he will represent their interests! What better way to deal with the disgruntled masses than by presenting them with someone they wrongly believe will represent them.

Perhaps, however, the Class A shareholders are wrong - maybe the disgruntled masses who become taken in by Obama's charisma and the hope for radical change that he sells will force Obama to represent them throughout his presidency. Through organization and coordinated effort, the Class B shareholders can match and even overcome the well-organized and highly coordinated Class A shareholders - ultimately fulfilling the now-mythical, but in the future, possible, potential of democracy. The powerless majority of Unitedstatesians organizing and becoming a force to be reckoned with is not an impossibility - and it is the only hope to be found in Obama's candidacy.

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