The Democratic Illusion
By: Solomon Comissiong
The illusion of democracy within the illegitimate borders of America continues to psychologically obfuscate masses of US citizens. Just as people who are strung out on opiates begin to hallucinate imaging a “reality” that simply does not exist, so too are most Americans as they continue believing that their country is some sort of utopian democracy. Many Americans believe that their country is the gold standard when it comes to democracy. They believe that in their day-to-day lives they are making well informed decisions, from politics-to-entertainment-to-education, predicated on a robust platter of options. Unfortunately, they could not be further from the truth.
Webster’s dictionary defines democracy as: “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” It also lists democracy as, “political or social equality; democratic spirit.” Those definitions, regarding democracy, reside only within the seedy elitist hamlets scattered throughout America. For it is the disproportionately wealthy (the one percent that control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent) that have redefined the term “democracy”. The United States is much more of a Plutocracy (a government or state in which the wealthy class rules) than it is a democracy. The wealthy (upper class) consistently make decisions on behalf of the lower classes (middle, lower, and working). Because the wealthy are economically rich it is they who ultimately control every power generating mainstream institution within America (media, education, and politics). Unfettered control of these institutions allows the wealthy ruling class to inculcate their amoral ideals and interests to the disengaged masses. Their interests are, as they have been since the unscrupulous and unequal founding of America, to maintain control. The so-called founding fathers very much wanted to keep control of America in the hands of people like themselves—rich white men. An engaged and politically educated populous would represent a formidable threat to their power structure within any legitimately democratic society. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have such a society in the US. The media, healthcare, politics and education are all controlled, more or less; by the same elitist class that, by and large, controls America.
Legitimate democracies do not methodically omit and marginalize large pockets of information simply as a means toward the mass programming its populous. Despite the hollow promulgations by corporate backed government officials, that America is the world’s greatest democracy, it is not. Control over institutions where most Americans receive their information (schools and the media) has allowed these capitalist minions to manufacture a most perfect illusion of democracy. The US government, corporate media, and myriad educational institutions are in the business of false propaganda; and they do it ever so well. Without false propaganda and the strict control over the flow of information, and the mediums that carry it, they would not be able to systematically convince most Americans to faithfully follow their one-sided agenda. From cradle to grave Americans are taught to obey their government as well as to question very little about its actions, no matter how deleterious they may be. This is how and why many Americans seldom stand on the side of justice when their government is illegally occupying other countries, inciting imperialist wars, or supporting oppressive nations. They are told, day in and day out, that their government’s actions are ultimately making them safer. Yes, the US government also uses fear to effectively mass control its population.
When innocent civilians are destroyed is it not called murder or state sponsored terror; it is simply collateral damage and a means to a justified end. Iraqi or Afghani lives are not thought of as being equal to that of American lives, their lives are considered expendable. This mentality is irrefutably xenophobic in nature and supported in everything from civic courses to the halls of congress. Meanwhile the corporate media hides the fact that over 1.3 million Iraqi civilians (www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq) have perished as a result of the US occupation and scores of Afghanis have been slaughtered by the indiscriminate actions of US drone attacks. They also will not discuss the hundreds of thousands of children who have lost their lives by way of brutal US sanctions in countries like Iraq and Zimbabwe.
Americans have been desensitized from understanding, caring about or fully grasping the ramifications of their government’s foreign policies. Like an overprotective parent, they have been sheltered. However this parent (the US government) cares much more about its contrived reputation than it does the overall and long term well being of its obedient children (US citizens). Americans have been taught and told who their enemies should be and who they should support as allies. Much like the white children of racist parents, they are taught who to love and who to hate. These justifications are often as limited as the purveyors of those same destructive ideologies. They are taught to hate countries like Cuba because they are allegedly run by so-called dictators and that they are somehow a threat to the American way of life. Most Americans imbibe this psychologically limiting cocktail without ever examining the historical and factual context. If they did they would discover that those countries are often hated by the US government simply because they had to audacity to liberate themselves from white colonization and to reject capitalism. The American government never gave a damn about the masses of Cuban people who were oppressed and destroyed by the government of Fulgencio Batista. The US government loved him because he allowed the US to have unfettered reign over much of Cuba’s resources. The Cuban Revolution put an end to all of that and ushered in socialism, thus putting an end to US monopolization of Cuba’s natural resources. This is a significant reason why the US, to this day, programs its citizens to mindlessly hate Cuba. The great irony is that America was stolen by white “settlers” who were trying to escape an oppressive government and system within England. However, the America democratic illusion even prevents this irony from ever surfacing.
A legitimate gold standard for democracy facilitates an atmosphere in which a wide array of thoughts, perspectives, and historical accounts publically surface. Alternative thoughts, perspectives and historical accounts are routinely suppressed everyday within America. Freedom of choice is supposed to be something that runs freely and openly within the body of any legitimate democracy. However, within the US, even cultural art forms are suppressed. Many American youth into Hip Hop have a limited understanding of rap music, without evening knowing that their comprehension of that musical genre has been methodically limited. Their favorite rappers are not really their favorite rappers; they are simply the ones that the corporate media finds acceptable enough to play and to therefore popularize. Artists and songs that encourage audiences to think outside of their governmentally manufactured “boxes” are systematically prevented from ever becoming as popular as their mind numbing corporate backed alternative. Racially stereotypical and socially regressive rap music is eagerly supported by the corporate media (radio, TV, and record labels). Can they really be one’s favorite rappers if the selection from which to choose has been carefully and cautiously predetermined?
In the same fashion that rap music is popularized within the US so too are the political parties and candidates that the vast majority of Americans routinely support. In 2010 it is by no accident that American politics are controlled by two corporate financed political parties. Both parties (Democrats and Republicans) are heavily financed and supported by the capitalist elite whether they may be on Wall Street, Silicone Valley, or within the Healthcare and Military industries. Even the corporate media outlets which are mistakenly thought to be the medium that informs and educates the US masses are frolicking around in bed with mainstream politicians. They are the tail that wags the dog, the elephant and the jackass. However, it is often hard to distinguish who is wagging who since the corporate world is much bigger than the actual government. They clearly control the politicians’ actions far more than people who they were elected to serve.
The Democratic and Republican parties are systematically beholden to the corporations that supplement their incomes as well as finance their campaigns. Sadly, most Americans have been duped into believing their votes actually matter or that they are voting for candidates that best represent their interests. This is often not the case. Routinely, as in the 2008 presidential election, alternative party candidates are structurally kept from equally participating in elections. Green Party nominee (www.gp.org), Cynthia McKinney (http://mothball.runcynthiarun.org/node), was not permitted to participate in any of the nationally televised presidential debates. Tens of millions of eligible voters were not “democratically” given the opportunity to even hear her platform, ideas, or perspectives, despite the fact that she won her party’s nomination.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (www.debates.org) mission, as stated on their website, is: “…to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates.” As stated in their mission they “produce” debates and “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners”.
In other words they manufacture debates as well as provide the best possible batch of “acceptable” information to potential voters. They understand that there is very little difference between most Democratic and Republican candidates therefore if they limit alternative parties and their nominees; they significantly limit most Americans from even imagining a better political structure. Alternative candidates, like McKinney, represent a bold potential threat to their sheepish voting blocks. Even though the Commission on Presidential Debates claims they are a non-partisan non-profit organization, they are supremely influenced by both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as the corporate media that televises the debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates is controlled, operated, and sponsored by a wide array of big businesses, former Democratic and Republican politicians, as well as vastly wealthy individuals. Grassroots organizations and working class citizens are clearly not welcome to participate, unless they support the mainstream agenda. This “commission” is simply part of the larger system that continually limits the range in which Americans could be engaged politically. This system does and cannot support alternative views to the manufactured mainstream corporate financed political structure in America.
America’s version of “democracy” continues to be one of the most perfect illusions created by man. Americans are born into a system that is driven by exploitation and greed, by any means necessary. The system robs, destroys, and plunders, all in the name of “democracy” and its citizens. Because most Americans were mentally cultivated by this limited and illusionary form of democracy, they support it with blind faith, regardless of the fact that it significantly hurts their quality of life. Ironically their government’s relationship and loyalty to the corporate world (sounds like fascism to me) is a significant reason why they (the American working class) continue to trudge along in a quagmire of unfulfilled potential. Political fornication between Capitol Hill and the corporate world have prevented millions of Americans from having everything from a single payer healthcare system to heightened access to a college “education” to a world class public school system. Unfortunately, none of the above exists within America. However, most Americans strongly believe that the US is a beacon for freedom, justice, and equality and, yes, even democracy. They are protected by the painless bliss of ignorance that looms large within the mythological world that has been created for them by their own government. It is one thing to not know and it is another to not know what you don’t know. Most Americans truly have no idea as to how many decisions they think they are making for themselves have in fact already been made for them.
Most public schools are filled with history and social studies courses laden with misinformation training American youth to start thinking a certain way about themselves and the world they live in. That “certain way” often consists of a narrowly framed perspective thus limiting most Americans from becoming good world citizens. Americans are taught to worship and glorify murderers, war mongers, and racists. Americans are not supposed to critically think about how their government uses its military within the dangerous parameters of aggression. They are not supposed to be able to connect the dots between the fact that more than 40 percent of their tax dollars are spent for military purposes yet never wondering why thy may never have universal healthcare. They are ultimately well trained to unconditionally support manufactured systems that abrogate their own freedoms and civil liberties. As was said in the cult classic, The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Not knowing how they are systematically repressed prevents a great many Americans from demanding a truly radical and tangible change in this system to something that places human needs first and the quest for capital last. Until a well mobilized and organized social revolution of poor and working class people successfully fruits, Americans, by and large, will continue to aimlessly wander about within the illusionary land of democracy—America.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program (www.blogtalkradio.com/Your-World-News).