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No Change for me: I want Bills
US Election Circus Awash in Cliches
Synopsis: US observer Daniel Patrick Welch writes on the farcical atmosphere of the US election season. The same media that prevents open discussion of the war and the middle east waves its wand over candidates' debates--and poof, the ones with the most to say disappear.
In the runup to this year's political circus, the buzzwords of hope and change are being bandied about like the cheap currency they are. Divested of any real meaning by their repetition and cynical misapplication, they quickly become the empty slogans that make "election" season all the more depressing. Newspeak, long the vernacular of a self-perpetuating media coroporatocracy, has rendered the worst year in Iraq into proof that "the surge is working." By continually culling the arguments, adjusting the lens, and narrowing the field of discussion and inquiry, the media run by a shrinking oligarchy has assured the US electorate that up is down: while creative if misleading permutations of 'hope' and 'change' clog the airwaves, there is virtually no chance at all that we will see anything but more regurgitations of the status quo.
The most recent and depressing, if predictable, variation on this insanity comes with the decisions to exclude Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul from various debates in the New Hampshire primary: Paul from a Fox-sponsored debate, and Kucinich from one hosted by ABC and Facebook. But you can see the point: for years the major parties and their allies in the media have worked hard to exclude "fringe" candidates from third parties or other wackos from foisting their dangerous opinions on unsuspecting voters. Consequently, voters have been well protected over the years from loony proposals such as the eight-hour day, abolition of slavery, and an end to whatever imperialist adventure we may have been involved in at the time.
Not only have malcontents like Paul and Kucinich managed to get elected under the tent of the major respective parties and hold these elective offices for years; they have the audacity to try to move up the chain and hold the parties to their core values. For shame!
While one may argue that, having poked their noses under the fumigation tent of their respective wings of the War Party, these men get what they deserve. Why shouldn’t they choke on the same poison used to sanitize the field of public debate to which all other politicians are subjected?
I can’t mount a defense that rises above simple logic, a kryptonite to which the system has obviously proved itself increasingly impervious. But why candidates who are obviously competing in the arena set out by the gatekeepers should be excluded in the very first contested primary is simply beyond the pale. Who the hell are they to restrict access to our airwaves in this way? It is wise to remember that: they are controlling our airwaves with the people’s permission. Yet emboldened by their successes in squelching debate in recent years, the media kingmakers have determined that they can go the extra mile. And the parties, co-conspirators in every crime against humanity wrought by this criminal administration despite their weak protests, are quick to tighten the noose. Liberals have had no real voice in the Democratic Party in a generation, so protests will be feeble. At least the New Hampshire Republicans had the integrity to withdraw their co-sponsorship of the Fox debate in protest.
So US voters have no need to hear the only candidate who embraces single-payer health care, a solution adopted to some degree by almost every developed nation on earth, and an answer to a crisis of enormous proportions. Likewise, we have no use for the only candidate who steadfastly opposes the expansion of US empire. All the other candidates will keep us in Iraq for a very long time. None will speak up for the Palestinians in any meaningful way, or challenge the unspoken ban on open discussion of issues in the Middle East. None will face up to the dragon in the room, which is the disastrous and resource-devouring war machine that is quickly sucking the life and spirit out of our democracy and society.
Leftists—or what passes for such in the US today—wrinkle their noses at Paul; I, for one, take him at his word that he has a lot in common with someone like Kucinich. And really, who is to say what society might be formed over the rotten carcass of the War Party? Paul himself has said that there is a lot of common work to be done before he gets to the parts of his program where left and right diverge—and that is a hell of a long way from where we are today. Who is to say what taxes we would want or need, what government programs we could afford, once the trillions in The Skim are redirected away from the bloated military and arms manufacturers. We in the US face an anomaly faced by no other polity on earth, spending as much on war as all other nations combined. There is simply no discussion either possible or necessary before this monster is tamed, and true distinctions of left and right seem almost impossible.
And as for the welfare state, Libertarian Paul agrees with the left argument that much of it is consumed by the corporate welfare state: handouts to corporations dwarf any money spent on humans, and always have. In addition, this cozy relationship between business and government is quickly leading to a proto-fascist restriction of civil liberties that all conscientious revolutionaries predict. And the next president had better be prepared to lead a post-imperial America, whether advocates of dismantling that empire are excluded from debate or not. The whole world already knows what US politicians can’t seem to grasp. Reality around the world will catch up to us while candy-coated sound bites about This Great Nation, Our Destiny, and all the other triumphalist crap is still ringing in our ears.
I don’t endorse Ron Paul, or Dennis Kucinich, or anyone else involved in this farce. Neither will have much effect on a system so rotten and rigged as to make real change anathema to the system, and therefore out of bounds for polite discussion. And before the cynics call me cynical, I believe firmly that hope springs eternal, and that true and lasting change is the only real hope for our country and our world. It is the peddling of false hope that constitutes a war crime. Both the Japanese and Nazi empires peddled such hope to the end, and had their people firmly convinced that victory was around the corner. So perhaps I’m still a bit naïve after all. Still, and contrary to experience, I continue to be shocked at how brazen the agents of the system will be in their attempt to drive citizens toward the cattle chute of ideological pablum. And until Americans shake off their political rufinol and realize that the excluded candidates speak for them more often than the approved ones, we can forget any improvements to a system driving us into bankruptcy and financial slavery: the only real change we can count on is the dwindling few coins that jingle in our pockets.
© 2008 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to
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Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia
Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School. Translations of articles are available in over two dozen languages. Links to the website are appreciated at