The debate between our right wing rulers and their slightly less right wing opponents has sunk to depths lower than a sewer in hell. It could bring complete despair to a knowledgeable population, so our general ignorance of what goes on in the real world may help us survive a dreadful time.
While one side’s double-talk calls for change in Iraq by sending in more, or less, troops, lowering, or raising the death tolls, and greater victory, the other claims that staying the course doesn’t simply refer to golf, and instead of a cut and run policy, we must be very bold and firm, but simultaneously cautious and limp.
Courageous incumbents vs. cowardly opposition, or courageous opposition vs. cowardly incumbents, whichever ad campaign we succumb to finds the same shoddy product behind the label. It perpetuates a program for murderous destruction that offers supporters a way out of Iraq before (choose one): the arrival of Armageddon, the ecstasy of the Rapture, the triumphal return of the children of Israel, or the gift and profit laden visit from St. Nicholas. Pick your legend, say your prayers, then duck and cover.
Democratic strategies for victory are based on hopes that Republicans suffer defeat. Their best argument is that they are not the ones who got us into this mess, but they will keep us in it with policies more palatable to citizens who may no longer be able to differentiate between the taste of steak, lobster or feces. Treated like a used dishcloth by the Republican majority, Democrats can do no better than whine that they are too weak a minority to affect anything until they are returned to majority power. Under similar circumstances, Republicans would be screaming in front of any available camera or microphone that the nation had been taken over by monsters who were destroying our legendary liberties. What is a victim of an alleged two party political system to do? And the next election may prove that things could get even worse.
Those feeling despondent by the dimming light here might find hope at glimmers of illumination elsewhere. Since we are a nation founded by immigrants, we might as well try learning from foreigners who have something to teach us about democracy. And not only in Latin America. There, the electoral victories affected by majorities with far less means at their disposal than we have here in the USA should give us pause. And concern at our relative helplessness, but ultimately, hope.
Despite dreadful propaganda from our media that has innocent citizens believing the worst about Venezuela and Chavez, that nation is setting examples for many others in South America, which have seen victories for true majorities at the polls. Bolivia, Brazil and Chile are run by social democrats who are hardly revolutionaries, but who make what we call liberal look fascistic by comparison.
And the victories of Islamic fundamentalist parties in Iran, where they govern, and in Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, where they participate in governing, rather than spelling doom as our mind managers would have it, gives many Islamic people some hope that has been denied by repressive regimes under our indirect control. Somewhere in the world, the voice of the people is being heard, and their demands are at least being put on a governing agenda. While it is still no more than a murmur here, muffled by the millions of dollars that far outnumber voters in America, there are signs that we are showing our disgust with this political system.
The rising number of voters who identify with neither party is a hopeful sign, even if it is characterized by a non-party, independent registration. The American glamour of individualism can lead critics of the status quo to simply drop out of politics rather than join in creating new parties with relevant platforms. But change begins when people decide that what prevails isn’t only not good enough, but a danger to the future of the nation, and humanity itself, and growing numbers are doing that. It will take many more, and they will have to move beyond simply showing disdain for two-party, one-class rule.
Whether this election will help add to despair, bring hope to those so far down that anything looks like up, or prolong a crisis in American political economics that could lead to further life threatening chaos, is only a matter of time and action. We have little control over time, except to understand that action is needed before it runs out, and that there is no time like the present.