#132 So Now that You Can't Vote, What Can You Do? (2005)

All Rights Reserved © 2005 Thomas W. Day

I predict that the violence this country suffered during the 1960's will return.  In fact, I predict that political assassinations and kidnapping will begin to occur at a state level in Florida and Ohio.  Since Florida and Ohio suspended voter rights to further the neocon Republican agenda, it only seems logical that the violence would begin there.  I could be wrong, maybe people won't care which state politicians they attack, but I think it's inevitable that politicians and the government will come under attack. 

For all practical purposes, Republican power mongers have eliminated the right to vote in the United States.  In most states, Republican radicals have physically taken over the voting machinery and, now, the act of voting is an unnecessary and pointless exercise.  The outcome is predetermined and there is, politically, nothing individual citizens can do about it; nothing democratic. 
Voting is a non-violent, relatively painless way to affect political change.  When fair and honest elections are unavailable, the only method left to affect change is civil disobedience violence.  L.B.J. and Tricky Dick created a similar non-responsive political system in the late 1960s and their political ineptitude spawned the Weathermen, Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Revolutionary Army along with a generation of political activists who often considered violence along with traditional political action. 

The problem with non-democratic political systems is that they have to be totalitarian and viciously self-protective.  The mythical benevolent dictator is an impossible fantasy.  As Phillip Dick wrote, "Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane."  I suppose that explains suicide bombers.  When citizens have no way to change their political system other than through violence, violence becomes a valid and effective political option.  If you can't vote with a ballot, you can always voice your opinion with a bullet, a bomb, or by kidnapping the nearest politician's family members. 

Of course, whoever the powers that be, who are The Powers That Be, will call that response "terrorism."  Terrorism is defined as " the use of violence, or the threat of violence, to create a climate of fear in a given population."  When the "given population" is a group that wields a grossly disproportional amount of power and controls an overwhelming portion of the nation's assets and has worked hard to create a "climate of fear" in the general population, the definition still stands but it doesn't elicit anywhere near as much sympathy for the "terrorized" population. 

The response of many Americans to the Oklahoma City bombing was surprisingly neutral, until the media focused on the injured and murdered children of the federal employees who were attending the government-provided childcare in the federal building.  I was regularly surprised at middle-Americans who felt sympathy for "the kids" and apathy toward the adults who died in that act of terrorism.  These were not just right or left wing extremists, but unbelievably ordinary, middle-class working folks from all areas of life.  Americans, apparently, are incredibly disassociated from their government and the people who work for that government.  So isolated, in fact, that we have a hard time deciding who to root for, the bomber or the bombed, when a U.S. government is blown to bits. 
The current political system is creating an atmosphere ripe for revolution.  In forcing the middle class to carry the weight for the rich, our government is destroying the economic system that created the nation's wealth.  David Cay Johnston, the author of Perfectly Legal, The Covert Campaign to Rig Our tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everyone Else and a New York Times reporter, describes how we suffer under "the only government in the world that is pursuing a low wage strategy."  Our tax system is designed to export middle class jobs, to transfer wealth from the middle class to the rich, and to provide economic security only for the rich; especially the inherited rich. 

If there is a perfectly worthless, deadbeat class in America today, it's the inherited rich who believe they have a right to their sloth and destructive traditions.  You'd think that Americans would be repulsed by the existence of a class of citizens who are "royal" and powerful simply because of their parentage.  We aren't yet, but that doesn't mean we won't get there damn soon.

Without the bright lights and sparkly distraction of television and video games, I suspect that we'd be in the middle of a revolution today.  As it is, most Americans haven't noticed that their children are sliding into an international third-class status as uneducated, unskilled, minimum-wage laborers.  With the deadly combination of religious hallucinations and credit cards, they can distract themselves from the painful facts that should be faced, sooner or later.  But that doesn't mean those distractions will put food on the table or a table under a roof or a roof over a family. 

Society's usual canaries in the mine are already beginning to show the strain, though.  Revolutions are not carried out by the masses.  Only 1% of the population participated in the American Revolution.  Fewer than 1% of the 1960s kids fought against the Vietnam War and Nixon's corrupt administration.  The overwhelming majority of every population is cowardly and conservative, but change doesn't depend on the majority's participation.  Change is driven by a innovative, energized, creative few.  The rest of the human sheep simply follow the flow or hide and watch.  When one mechanism for change is removed (voting rights, for example), another will take its place.  If the United States' government no longer interested in guiding and protecting democracy and freedom, another entity will take its place.  This country's power comes from the middle class and the energy of the middle class won't be contained as easily as the Bushies hope.  Bush should be careful about dismantling the systems of democracy. The tools for change won't vanish, but they will change.  Sometimes, when the tide changes, more than just sandy beaches are washed away.

March 2005

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