We have been conditioned since our formative years to believe that we live in the world’s greatest democracy. Our Republic, it is said, is one that represents the will of the American people and runs by the consent of the public. Yet, as time elapses and we keep witnessing the dysfunction of our government, more and more people are realizing that we are living in a kleptocracy where the influence of the wealthy outweighs the will of the people.
The other day, Richard Blumenthal, the Senator from Connecticut, was being interviewed on CNN as he was bemoaning the state of our union. With news of Trump firing Attorney General Jeffery Sessions, Senator Blumenthal was feigning indignation and sounding the alarm that “our democracy is under attack”. Wish it were so, our supposed democracy has been invaded and annihilated by self-seeking politicians and their rapacious corporate benefactors a long time ago—we are a Republic in name only.
The inversion of our government from public providers to private abettors was accomplished way before January 20th, 2017. The only thing different now is that Trump’s boorish behaviors, megalomaniac pathology and insidious rhetoric has lifted the government’s veneer of authority and exposed it for the carnival of gluttony it truly is. Democrats and Republicans are not opposing parties but colluding factions, their infighting and bickering is carefully stage crafted theater that masks over how both parties are conduits of the neo-aristocracy.
It is fitting that Senator Blumenthal was the one decrying the assault on our democracy given the infiltrators are mercenaries of corporatocracy. Our boy Richard, after all, is a man who belongs to the same gentry who rule our country with their bank accounts and capital extortion. The senior Senator from Connecticut has a net worth north of $100,000,000 and lives in a massive mansion in Greenwich that has two acres of land and thirteen rooms. His top campaign contributors are law firms and financial investment companies and counts private hedge fund company Blackrock as his number one briber.
Make no mistake about it, legalized bribery and extortion is exactly what takes place in our nation’s capital on a daily basis. Cash is exchanged for favors between politicians and plutocrats in ways that make North Korea look like a bastion of integrity by comparison. Senator Blumenthal is not an outlier but the norm; politics has turned into a cash cow for professional hustlers who seek public service to enhance their private fortunes. How fitting then that we have a supposed billionaire residing in the White House; we are being represented by people who live like sultans while grounding their constituency into the salt land of poverty and dependency.
If we had a truly free and open press, journalists would be working overtime to expose this rank level of graft that has subsumed our governance. Sadly, the same virus of ego and avarice that has eviscerated our government has likewise felled mainstream media. Moreover, corporations have stealthy taken over every mainstream media outlet and turned would be journalists into Wall Street public relations experts. Instead of covering the corruption and nepotism that has become endemic of our political system, they spend their time churning out stories of sensationalism as they salivate over the blathering of our Neanderthal president.
Turn on the news right now and most likely you will hear stories of election shenanigans in Florida and recounts taking place in Georgia, Arizona and beyond. Depending on which channel you turn to, pundits are most likely broadcasting stories of “democracy under attack” from a purely partisan perspective. Fox News and their cohorts on the right focus on voter fraud and the hijacking of our elections while CNN, MSNBC and their ilk focus on voter suppression. But all these stories have one thing in common, they pit the fight between Republicans and Democrats without discussing the broader narrative of how elections are effectively monopolized by these two political parties. The absence of competition from true outsiders is disenfranchising more than 50% of Americans who don’t identify as either Democrat or Republican.
Last Tuesday, Tim Canova lost his bid to unseat Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He knew already that the odds were stacked against him from the outset; running as an independent against the racket of the Broward County Democrat party is akin to running against Usain Bolt with your legs in shackles. But even by the standards of gamed advantages that typifies the duopoly, last Tuesday’s election results from Florida’s 23rd Congressional district were laughable. Canova, who lost to Wasserman Schultz by only 13 points in the 2016 in the Democratic Primary and has ran a campaign that caught the attention of disaffected Democrats throughout Florida and beyond, was only given credit for less than 5% of the votes.
Joseph Stalin once supposedly said that it’s not the vote of the people that count but the people who count votes—he would have made a fantastic Democrat or Republican. Just this year, Canova won a lawsuit against Broward County after he filed a request to examine the ballots of the 2016 primary results only to be stonewalled for a year and a half before it was discovered that the primary ballots were illegally destroyed. The Florida State court ruled that the destruction of ballots was unlawful, as was the failure of the county to produce the ballots so that Canova could inspect them.
When it comes to public life, illegal behaviors beget consequences. In politics, however, illegality is par for the course and lead to zero repercussions. Brenda Snipes, the same county supervisor of elections who oversaw the 2016 Democratic primary, was overseeing the election last week. Yet again, we were treated to stories of ballots being shipped off mysteriously as the Democrat party delved in the same vote rigging that doomed Bernie Sander’s candidacy and gave the nomination to Hillary Clinton.
A 2014, a study conducted by two professors from Princeton and Northwestern, compared the influence of average Americans to that of the most affluent in our nation. They concluded that the American public has nearly zero representation in our government while the richest 1% have a near total monopoly on the policies that are implemented on national, state and local levels. Two of their main conclusions were as follows:
- Compared to economic elites, average voters have a low to nonexistent influence on public policies. “Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions, they have little or no independent influence on policy at all,” the authors conclude.
- In cases where citizens obtained their desired policy outcome, it was in fact due to the influence of elites rather than the citizens themselves: “Ordinary citizens might often be observed to ‘win’ (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.”
Although Canova lost the battle against an entrenched politician, I commend him for trying to take on the establishment. After he saw the lurid business of the two major political parties and came to the realization that corruption was baked into their ecosystem, he decided to buck the party instead of being a party to deception. We need to stop being fooled by optics and the slick talking points, we can’t fix our broken politics by changing faces without addressing its foundation of fraudulence.
Media magnifies rarities and warps reality; even though we are led to believe that America is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, the truth is that the vast majority of Americans, when you include people who are not registered or don’t vote on a regular basis, belong to neither party. There is a vast desire by most Americans for a change from the status quo. There is a quiet rebellion of people who don’t want anything to do with these two corporate owned clubs who pretend to speak for us. Establishment voices only go along with the charade of a nation split down the middle between two parties because there is money to be made in splintering the citizenry and perpetuating political strife among us. When we have a critical mass of Americans who refuse to be snookered by crooked politicians and duplicitous media personalities, we can one day have a government that works for us instead of one that works us over.
This is not a representative democracy but a reprised corporatocracy. The median net worth of Congressmen and Senators is just over $1,000,000 while the White House is a who’s who of Fortune 500 robber barons. We are being led by millionaires and billionaires while more and more Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. To hide this inconvenient fact, mainstream media and politicos on all side keep manufacturing outrage and train us to fight over red meat issues. Until we get money out of politics and break up the two party cartel that has subverted the constitution and rule of law in Washington DC, we will keep getting a government that gives ‘we the people’ platitudes while transferring our resources and livelihood to plutocrats.
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.