Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Group Therapy: Citizens Can?

“The system’s excesses will pass without opposition, first subtlety, and then not so subtlety,” said attorney, William Kunstler. “And there is a chance that at some time, somewhere, in the future we will suddenly wake up one sad and tragic morning and hear those same boots at the door that the Germans began to hear after 1934 and say to ourselves, ‘My God, did it happen? Where did we go wrong? Why cant we fight back?’ But by then it’s much too late. . . And you and I may have to live out another nightmare.”

While it was a relief to see frustrated middle class Americans grow tired with government’s lack of responsiveness and start demonstrating – the so-called Tea Party movement -- the failure of America’s middle class to see their interests represented in government made yesterday’s election results a fait accompli. Without any knowledge of civics, or experience in coalition-building or democratic political activity of any kind, this displeasure with unresponsive government was easily usurped by corporate/political money. The resulting Tea Party movement, characterized by a group of unsophisticated political neophytes, parroting right wing radio broadcasters slogans, won senate seats, governorships and helped the Republican Party take control of the US Congress.

Convincing Americans that Barack Obama was a community organizer, rather than a corporate lawyer, during his rise to prominence within the right wing of the Democratic Party, is one example of its power to bring about results. Americans, desperately seeking a reversal of policies following eight years of George Bush Junior, joined in support of Obama, rather than choose a candidate that represented their interests. The same thing happened yesterday.

Mass media’s swaying of elections has long been central effect of the corporate agenda dominating ‘democracy.’ Almost every newspaper in the US fought hard against Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection in 1936, but Americans could still differentiate a labor candidate from a corporate spokesman back then. Today, American citizens are more accurately characterized as consumers. Voters are television viewers. And almost every Democrat could run as a Republican, and every Republican could run as a Democrat. Hence, yesterday’s Republican avalanche is the result of a melding of the two parties into a permanent governing coalition and two wings.

Unfortunately, when corporations become government, a country enters a dark period, similar to Mussolini’s long reign or Hitler’s conning the German working class into supporting his corporate sponsors. Unless the Tea Party phenomenon leads to America’s middle class beginning to trust in its own common sense, instead of media’s poorly reasoned pronouncements, the character of America can sway further away from its original promise as a democratic beacon, and lead its allies in the wrong direction for decades to come. Much weight has been placed on American citizens’ shoulders to correct this. The power to do so is still with them.

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