Corporate elections: Don't buy this bill of goods
Although I'm alarmed at the direction our country is heading under the leadership of the criminal cabal now ensconced in the White House, I don't think any of the politicians, even including Nader, has the guts to really fully challenge the Republicans and their rampant, baldfaced criminality.
Although I'm alarmed at the direction our country is heading under the
leadership of the criminal cabal now ensconced in the White House, I don't think any of the politicians, even including Nader, has the guts to really fully challenge the Republicans and their rampant, baldfaced criminality.
It may have seemed mysterious to a lot of people why Gore stood down so meekly in the face of the 2000 Florida travesty. But I think I know the reason.
I was in Washington in January, 2001, on the eve of the "Inaugurauction" (or "coronation" as some called it), protesting the 5-4 Supreme Court vote that put these SOBs in the White House. I marched in the Martin Luther King parade a few days before, which is held every year on the other side of the river from DC, in Anacostia, the "ghetto" neighborhood (why isn't it held right in downtown DC? good question, and the subject for a whole other story).
I participated in an act of street theater. I was in the retinue of a mock "King George III," who wore a Bush Jr. face mask and crown, and dressed in a long trailing royal velvet robe, which I, marching behind, held up off the ground as he walked in the parade.
I used to hold the stereotype of poor people, including poor minorities, as typically too downtrodden and politically disengaged to be impassioned about politics. But I swear I have never seen such visceral anger among masses of people in this country in my life, as I saw among the poor black residents of Anacostia. While everyone knew of course that this was street theater, and many people did laugh, nonetheless, the sense of rage about the elections and widespread knowledge of the racist tactics used against minority voters in Florida and elsewhere, was overwhelming. The anger was so intense that many bottles were thrown at us, and I was very concerned for our afety. One man chased after us as we marched, yelling in our faces, "George Bush is the devil! George Bush is a racist satan!" You see, there are some things you just can't joke about.
THIS is why Al Gore was silent in the face of the crime that was the Florida vote scandal. The poor folk in Anacostia didn't buy the slick corporate media propaganda about "hanging chads." They knew it was a fraud. The rumors of large numbers of black folk being turned away from the polls spread far and wide well before Greg Palast's masterful exposÚs on the BBC documenting Katherine Harris's fraudulent removal of close to a hundred thousand names of predominantly black voters from the voting rolls by various schemes, or the elaborate rigging of the voting machines in predominantly minority precincts, where the machines were systematically set up to throw away ballots with accidental stray marks or "overvotes," while predominantly white and
Republican precincts were set to spit the ballots back out to voters for correction and resubmittal.
Quite simply, Gore was afraid. Afraid of waking the sleeping giant of popular rage in the heart of the "other" America, the America of the disenfranchised, brutalized, defrauded, and impoverished, and disproportionately minority America. Politicians like Gore remember the LA riots, the Watts riots, and on and on. They are fundamentally afraid to rock the establishment too much, even if that means acquiescing in untold injustice. Afterall, they're part of it and they do pretty well by it. They cherish comfort and respectability more than justice. The Republicans and Democrats both benefit from the existing establishment, and engage in an unsavory, good cop/bad cop alliance.
Look what happened to Jesse Jackson when he started to denounce the Florida fraud, calling for a special investigation. Within days, a classic black-op was launched against him in the media, and he was accused of philandering and fathering an illegitimate child with a member of his congregation! Soon, he was backpedalling, toning down the rhetoric, even calling Bush Jr. on the phone, making nice, and calling for "calm" in the press! He had gotten the message. It was a dizzying climbdown.
Look what happened to Scott Ritter when he took on this regime: the
entrapment, the sealed court ruling throwing out the charges against him, and the illegal leak of this information in the press. Soon, Ritter's image and words disappeared from the corporate press. Senior CNN talkinghead types cited the incident to label him "damaged goods" and excuse their otherwise inexcusable kowtowing to the warmongers. A critical voice of scepticism against reckless militarism was silenced overnight. Politicians like John Kerry excused their prowar votes in Congress, pleading ignorance and claiming they'd been "deceived by the president," even while Ritter had long since exposed the lies for what they were. Only now that the damage has been done is he being belatedly rehabilitated.
I think Nader knew what these people are capable of, and even he was too scared to come out too publicly and strongly condemning these mafia thugs. Though generally very critical of them, he's hardly ever said a word about the crimes that put them in power in the first place.
My conclusion: no prominent establishment person who depends on the corporate media for power and respectability will really stand up and speak truth to power in this country. We need to stop looking for some white knight to help us. Only massive, grassroots organizing can bring about progressive change. The sooner we disabuse ourselves of the illusions promoted by the "society of the spectacle," of which corporate media and corporate elections are part and parcel, the better.
Even as I write this, groups like Bev Harris's Black Box Voting are attempting to launch legal actions in the 39 states that have adopted the same flawed, defective electronic, paper(trail)less voting systems that Florida now uses. A bombshell erupted (all-too-briefly) in the media when confidential memos from Diebold Corp., one of three Republican-controlled corporations making the ballot counting systems, leaked out showing disastrous security defects in these machines, which would allow them to be tampered with and rigged remotely at will, all without a trace.
I'd sooner see people not vote at all, and get out in the streets denouncing the vote rigging, than be seduced into thinking that their votes really count and thinking that merely passively participating in this fraud is an adequate response to the situation. I realize that it's not necessarily a binary, either/or proposition, and one can do both. But I just hope that enough people wake up from the delusions that have gotten us into this state of affairs in the first place.
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