Thursday, March 3, 2011

When Democracy Silences the Voice of a People

S. Paul Forrest

Image: Red Witch Silenced Mixed Media by Lakota Phillips

Many Americans are beginning to awaken to the reality that corporatism is infecting every aspect of this once great Nation. They are now desperately seeking for the renewal of the Dream most of us no longer enjoy while politicians serving their own needs have gone on the road to push their personal or rather, politically aligned agendas in the effort to become the representatives of We the People. Some of these politicians have won their elections by decisive margins while others, with very slim ones. The question comes to mind of whether an election won by the smallest of margins can truly represent the desires of the majority or whether it stands as an example of Democracy in this nation fading toward corporatism where election campaigns are funded by corporate interests.

Currently, many stand and protest the results of one particular election in Wisconsin and the agenda of its victor, Governor Walker. Though the anti-Union stance of the Right has been well known in the past to many, others seemed to have missed it and now are dumbfounded by the attack on Collective Bargaining. Though the actions of this Governor are indeed a direct attack on the voice of the Union people, this election result is a prime example of how corporate money and their interests have been served before the people. This should serve as a wake up call to all Americans to become better informed on the issues, to research not only the candidates but their political affiliations and get out and participate in the democratic process in the next election. Corporate interests are planning for them to protect their profit margins are secure and so should voters be armed with information to ensure the voice of We the People is heard else face more and more of these types of results.

Democracy Now
The former mentioned election exemplifies voter disinformation and brings to mind questions about the effectiveness of the democratic process. His 51% victory represents what currently stands as an example of how the slimmest of voting margins can usher in the type of change that only some of the people desire. In his campaign, he promised to balance the budget and to make Wisconsin a more competitive State by creating jobs by attracting corporations to set up base there. Governor Walker vowed to work for the people by bringing jobs but his targets were clearly the Unions to complete this task. In his campaign promise, Walker takes a very clear stand on this issue:
“Of all the reasons a business may have for not creating new jobs, bureaucratic hassles should never be one of them. Regulations should be science based and predictable; should be written in simple, easy to understand terms; and employers should have a one-stop-shop for understanding the regulations that affect them. With new rules in place, I will demand that state employees end their “gotcha” mentality and instead focus on helping job creators comply and get their applications approved.

…These reforms will put the government’s focus back on encouraging job growth instead of stifling it.”
If one would only exercise a bit of intelligent reasoning, the “bureaucracy” and “gotcha mentality” is referring to the Union force imposing restrictions (fair wages) on the corporations.

The Right has been blaming Unions for their contributing role in driving industry out of the United States since the great recession began to take job after job. Because of this, Unions have come under rigorous attack and as a consequence of their all or nothing mentality of the past, are now dying. If we are to change this reality, peaceful, intelligent protests are important to disarm those who would use it to further denounce the rational basis of the argument and dismiss these protests as an insurrection or a “pack animals that are inevitably dispatched when socialists run out of other people’s money, and those other people finally notice”.

To be fair though, the right is not the only political faction to attack Unions or who have led to their current demise. In 2001, made the following observations:
“While Reagan launched the attack on PATCO, the previous administration of Democrat Jimmy Carter prepared the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under Carter conducted a management campaign of harassment against union controllers. And 12 months before the government's contract with PATCO was set to expire, Carter formed a "Management Strike Contingency Force" to prepare for a walkout--including the use of scabs.”
Union Busting is not exclusive to Republicans but they are currently blazing new trails in the attempt to complete their destruction and it is entirely funded by corporate money.

Corporate interest and the future of America
The fascist element of American corporatism is growing by leaps and bounds. There is real concern that corporate backing of politics will lead to the elimination of environmental oversight, thereby freeing corporations like Massey energy to irresponsibly pollute our landscape without fear of governmental backlash; the privatization of our Educational System, setting up a Caste System where only those with money will receive a good education and thereby allow the promulgation of wealth to the rich or even the Christian demonization of any religion that would worship God in a different form will rod this country of its identity. But these fears are not reason enough to threaten the life of a fellow American or stand in the way of the Democratic fiber of this Nation. To take this tack would be the same action that created such horrific action in Arizona last year.

The election of Governor Walker stands as a victory for corporatism and it has all but sentenced Union collective bargaining to the death penalty in that State. As he enacts his plan for economic revival, he has become determined to strip the Unions of any power in order to encourage corporate investment. That was the reality of his campaign and that is what the people voted on. The issue though is not of the election but what happened when the people finally awoke to what he stood for during the 14 months of his campaign.

This should stand as a call to all those who do not support his vision that voting in the American system of Democracy should not be taken for granted. Many people sit and contemplate their navels while others, especially those empowered by the Tea Party and their chants of Taking Back Our Nation, take to the polls as if their very lives depended on it.

The reality is very simple; corporate America is too entrenched in politics and is using the vast wealth at their disposal (some of which was granted to them by the current White House Administration) to create a system that favors them. The ultimate goal for some of these corporations is to eliminate the EPA oversight costing them millions in pollution controls, eliminate Labor Unions who protect workers and the most dangerous of all, the elimination of truth in the news media from who most Americans gather the information from which they measure their futures. But this is just one man’s opinion based on in depth research and the observation of today’s political circus.

I am not alone in these findings, though. In a recent post on Notes from the 21st Century, the following argument was stated:
“Big corporations are strip-mining the nation of everything valuable or dear, and reporting record profits and cash reserves, the middle class is disappearing fast. Meanwhile unemployment, denial of health care, drug prohibition, the prison-industrial complex, and misdirected immigration enforcement are the current vehicles of oppression in 21st Century America.”

Even more relevant in the discussion of Corporatism overtaking America, a recent article by Pat Garofalo of ThinkProgress brought to us the following factoid:
“The American Petroleum Institute, the Big Oil industry’s chief lobbying organization, will start directly backing political candidates in the second quarter of this year. API, whose membership includes oil giants like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, already spends tens of millions of dollars every year on lobbying, advertisements and Astroturf campaigns to support the oil industry agenda. As CAP’s Dan Weiss wrote, API “wants to drill in fragile, sensitive places, keep government tax breaks, expand offshore drilling without reforms, and block global warming pollution reduction requirements.”

This is an example of the kind of reform some political parties and their representatives want to bring to our Government and by proxy, to We the People; the denial of environmental responsibility by industry to encourage growth. Ridding themselves of the hassles of Union representation of workers and their demands for fair compensation is merely one step in this plan.

Unions fading into history
There is no denying that Unions have had an vital role in the history of this great country and were absolutely necessary in protecting the rights of American workers during the Era of Robber Barons but now that there is legislation in place to carry that protection forward, some say they are no longer needed for worker protection so why does the Left cling so tightly to them? The answer may lay in their symbolic importance rather then their functional use in the fight against corporate entitlement.

The Heritage Foundation has taken the stance that the “modern realities (of Unions) are colliding with problems that have long turned off workers--corruption, unaccountable leadership, and members' dues funding union bosses' lavish salaries. Not to mention excessive political activism. Unions have announced plans to spend $300 million to defeat John McCain. That's great news if you're a partisan Democrat--less so if you're a rank-and-file worker whose dues foot the bill.” They also point out that “Unions naturally want to reverse their decline. But rather than reform to become relevant, unions want to take away a worker's right to vote on joining a union.” With this argument, one could easily surmise that right don’t matter to the Union either.

What is troubling in this whole debacle though, is the reaction from the protesters, many whom are Left aligned. These are the same people who condemned the Tea Party protesters for racial and derogatory signs during the 2008 Presidential Elections and the 2010 midterm elections but now stand in Wisconsin doing the very same thing. To compound the problem, in reaction the Citizen’s United case heard in the Supreme Court, some protesters called for putting Clarence Thomas “back in the fields”. This action is only hurting the Liberal cause by confirming the stance by the right that they are hypocrites and racist themselves. It is not solving anything as much as adding to the media driven, political divide of this country.

A person who I recently had a conversation about this issue had the following to say about the American Liberal:
“Liberalism is a Totalitarian world view and whether you think of it as a political or religious belief system, the end goal is the same. There will be an attempt to enforce their dogma on society, on the universities, on the political process, and even on our churches. If it takes mass protests in the streets to achieve this, then it will be done regardless of it requiring violent or non-violent means. The Democrats love for bureaucracy to enforce their ever encroaching regulations ought to tip us off as to their true desire and lust. A free and open society is not compatible with this Party’s aspiration to dictate what are and are not acceptable expressions of religion and thought. When they appeal to justice in order to gain support for their cause, such speak is a cover for their desire get power.

To get power over your wealth in order to redistribute it, to get power over health care in order to redistribute it, to get power over your carbon footprint in order to dictate how you live is the Liberal credo. I suspect that what is happening in Wisconsin will soon spread to other states and if it does we may finally see what the Democratic Party is all about: power and control.”

Is this how the Liberals who stand against tyrants want to be viewed: As a people who despite their reasons for resisting the corporate take over of America, dismissed as raucous animals by their own lack of reason? Maybe they are merely standing for the rights of Americans and will do so with whatever force or threats they deem effective but reason is still needed lest the point be dismissed.

The Right suffers from the same dysfunction. The weakness of those who watch only politically biased “news” stations aligned with their personal views, is the fuel that feeds the fires of ignorance and its associated intolerance of anyone who does not agree with them. In the exercise of this dichotomy of reason, they tune out the polar opposite news channels and bury their heads in the propaganda that suits them best. This approach serves only to inflame the polar separation between parties and lessens the chance that voters will know what candidates stand for and to what future they will truly lead the country.

Democracy in America’s Republic
The results of Wisconsin’s Gubernatorial election and the plan initiated by its victor surprised many but for those of us who research the candidates and familiarize ourselves with the stance of their affiliated parties, it was an inevitable outcome. At the very least, I hope it will serve as a wake up call to those who decide to sit at home in front of mind numbing programs instead of educating themselves on the issues or deciding not to vote in an election.

The issue that must be discussed is whether those 51% who voted Scott Walker into the Governorship in Wisconsin and who now stand poised to destroy the collective bargaining process of the in-place public labor union process, is enough of a representation of the desires of the majority especially when said election now stands as a great irony in the Democratic process. Democracy is the voice of the people but this election now stands ready to quiet the voices of labor. Is that truly representative of a Democratic Republic?

In Congress, in order to pass a Bill that would override the President’s ability to veto, requires a 2/3 majority vote. This super-majority requirement in some elections, especially if minority rights can be changed, is important to bypass a President who may be acting against the interests of the people. This vote margin exists to ensure that they cannot stand in the way of a Bill that is overwhelmingly supported by We the People through our elected representation. It is especially important in the case of Constitutional Amendments which would affect the freedoms of the People guaranteed by it. What has broken down in our system however, is the ability for a person to be elected into office by a slim margin and then enact sweeping reforms that directly attack said freedoms albeit Union granted ones.

Fair enough but what if the vote was the affect of a distorted reality purposely propagated by those who would deceive us all in the interests of profit or the pursuit of the desire to redefine what it means to be American to change all that we stand for? Is it still a Democracy then? What if terrorism is infecting the process? Would the right join the Left the in the battle against fascismor would they continue to cling desperately to their standard of Leftist hate just to prove a point? When is it that the death of democracy becomes recognized? How much will it take to wake all the people?

The End Game
Many who are viewing the protests in Wisconsin and also thinking the walk-out of the Democrats from their posts need to understand a few important factors in this debate.
1. Corporate interests are infecting our Democratic process and eroding the Republic that so many people have died for. They will stop at nothing and spare no expense to achieve their profits and enrich their investors.

2. Voting has been taken for granted in this country and the lack of participation in the process is allowing corporatism to succeed. The Tea Party is turning out to support their candidates; the republican voters are turning out so why are Liberals sitting on their hands? Regardless of your affiliation, voting is what counts. I wonder how many people protesting in Wisconsin actually cast a ballot.

3. If you did not vote in the elections in your area then sit down and shut up. The Tea Party supports its movement vehemently and so should Liberals. If you don’t like the system, the only way to change it is to exercise that freedom.

4. To the Republicans I can only say that being a Right Wing supporter does not ensure that your “rights” will be protected under the regime that is so quickly eroding the foundation of this Nation. Being a victor in an election does not make your liberty any less threatened.

If this country is ever going to heal and begin the arduous climb back to even the slightest semblance of the American Dream again, we must all gather together and find compromise. The time has come for the immovable stances of solid political ideology to become liquid. The time has come for all of us to realize that if we continue to battle each other in this Nation, the rest of the world will be moving forward without us. I don’t know about you but I would rather be able to have a future than cling to old standards of excess and risk not having one at all. True champions plan for future success not today’s singular battles and their short sighted results. The time has come to move forward and reclaim this Nation for We The People.


  1. thanks for crediting the painting! have also posted a link to your article on my facebook for any of my readers who may want to pop over and check it out. - best regards - Kota

  2. You are a very talented artist, my friend. :) Thanks for reading and posting...we must all stick together through this

  3. We don not live in a democracy and have not since the Constitution came into effect. We live in a Republic. I do agree that corperations are a malignant tumor in the market place. They exist to make money and consolidate power. They are governments in minature operating within our society and ultimately not answerable to the people whose lives they effect but to their shareholders.

  4. Anonymous...I think at this point in our history, the intelligent among us understand that our Republic operates on a Democratic election process. In that sense, the word Democracy when used in reference to the American system, is a good enough word.
    (That and the reality that most Americans haven't a clue what a republic is.) Whenever I use this word, I mean the process not the state of a pure democracy. It is good to know you are not numbered among the mindless masses and recognize that we are a republic.

    Thank you

  5. Nice post!
    I agree with a lot of it but I don't think we live in a Republic or a Democracy now, if we ever did. I see this nation as a Corporate Dictatorship of sorts. They are doing everything they can to consolidate their power and silence dissent. I'm sure there is another name for it but I'm to lazy to look it up.
    Oh I love Lakota's work and would like to note a link if you want a print at:
    Hope that's OK.

  6. It is called corporatism and is akin to fascism...

    to the last question...of course....Kota is a talent

  7. I'd have to call it Neo-feudalism. As evidenced by the recent popular uprisings in the middle east a fascist can be brought down from power by popular, peaceful protest. As evidenced by history a fuedal lord (or lady) is so divorced from reality and convinced of their own sense of superiority it takes violent actions to get through to them. Thanks to the underfunding of our public education system. These fuedalist ensure that their progeny will keep power and create a permanent under class of the increasingly ignorant. How many corporate executives, or politicians even, send their children to public school? This has created an undeclared aristocracy in our "classless" society. WIth these "elite" at the helm of our once great nation and it being against their own self intrest to change the course of things to come, I hold great fear for the future generations of this country. No choice but to become a corporate drone (if they're lucky) or starve.

  8. @Anonymous #2...I am currently writing a piece on the subject of defunding education and the caste system becoming real in America...Your words are poignant but very on point. Thank you - SPaul

  9. I wanted to believe the reason businesses were moving overseas was because of restrictions and regulations. However, as time goes by i see greed and cheap labor using slave labor as the true reasons. Huge profits are the result. In the meantime unemployment in America continues to rise. America is a huge corporation and the middle class and poor aren't members.


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