Analogies are a great way to break down deceptions. Since the analogy of water with ice or a lit candle worked so well last week in showing the insanity of binary thinking, I’m going to take another bite of the apple and use the analogy of a buffet to reveal the sham of our supposed “democracy”. Imagine you just moved to a new city, you decide to go sight seeing and all the sudden get a pang of hunger in your belly. You pull out your handy, dandy smartphone to see which restaurants nearby you should eat at.
You see that two blocks away is a buffet restaurants that proudly advertises itself as the best eatery in town. Since you are famished, you decide that a buffet is exactly what you are in the mood for. You walk over and enter the restaurant and you are impressed by the aura of the place. Beautiful paintings on the wall, the atmosphere is not too stuffy and your waiter is friendly. You can’t wait to get at the buffet and throw down like you are Joey Chestnut in a hot dog eating contest. You walk over to the food bar and that is when it hits you! The buffet is limited to Ramen Noodles and Spam sandwiches. That is when you realize you have been duped and bamboozled—an all you can eat smorgasbord that only has two choices is not a buffet but a shakedown.
Well my friends, in that same way, our democracy is not a democracy at all. Let me address the nitpickers who always retort with a version of “well we are not a democracy, we are a republic”, each time someone rightly points out that we don’t have a democracy in America. For the record, a republic is a representative democracy. Moreover, the establishment holds up America as the shinning example of a democratic government and brags how our system is one to be emulated by every nation. But to be honest, arguing about the technicalities of what we are is superfluous, the point is we don’t have representation in Washington DC irrespective of what we call our system of governance.
That is unless you are a millionaire or a billionaire. In that case, you not only have representation, you have a near total oversight of legislation that are enacted by the politicians you control with your donations. Politics are for the feeble, policies are controlled by the powerful. As the bottom 90% wrangle about ideologies and bicker over personalities, the neo-aristocracy are able to mandate their preferred policies and dictate laws that best enhance their fortunes. Not even the most brutal tyrants had complete control over governmental decisions the way that corporations and their plutocratic overlords have in our nation’s capital. What we want is inconsequential compared to the demands of the oligarchy.
It seems almost too exotic and conspiratorial to say that we’ve been indoctrinated into believeing that we the people are in charge of the affairs of our nation. Voting is held up as the ultimate check on power and a way for the citizenry to have the last say. In theory, democracies are the best way to prevent concentrated power from morphing into a kleptocracy. By ensuring continual turnover and a government made up of the people, power can be decentralized and kept in the hands of the people.
Sadly, theory is blown apart by the reality of what we have become. Our Republic died the minute two parties formed against the counsel of some of the wisest founders. John Adams, in particular, warned about the perils of two parties and what that could deliver for America:
There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
George Washington likewise realized what would occur if factions took root and jockeyed for power:
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
What men like Adams and Washington foresaw was that parties by their very nature would destroy the fabric of our nation. When people form tribes, which is what a party is, the number one priority becomes the sustenance of the tribe and the ensuing power grab that comes with it. Loyalty to party is elevated above the needs of the citizenry and pays second fiddle to the welfare of the nation. Consolidating power among two institutions effectively eradicates all other choices as the two dominant factions collude to keep others from encroaching on their turf. If this sounds like I'm describing a gang, that is because that is exactly what Democrats and Republicans are—they are Bloods and Crips in expensive suits who have divided America into red and blue turfs. Click To Tweet
What we have is a federal enterprise that is really a legalized mafia; the parties are two families who have an understanding between them that power shall forever remain between the duopoly even as they go on national TV to declare war on each other. All of it is scripted, both parties are in fact working for themselves and to enrich their wealthy patrons. That is the most insidious aspect of our “democracy”, corporate interests and the 1% gentry have weaponized their wealth to buy up every Democrat and Republican in DC, this is what happens when two parties have a choke hold on government.
The amazing thing is that so many of us have been convinced to blame voters instead of placing the onus on the political establishment. There is a reason why nearly 70% of Americans don’t vote, they realize a racket when they see one. If the outcome of a vote is limited to two equally malignant parties, we can have 100% voter turnout and the outcome would still be the same. Saying things will change if more people turnout to vote and not addressing the way two parties have effectively monopolized the ballot boxes is the height of absurdity.
At least with a Ramen Noodle and Spam sandwich buffet, you can eat and get a modicum of nourishment. Not so with our toxic political system, ingesting the poison of the duopoly leads only to further poverty and destitution for many. As the 1% keep making out like royalty regardless of who is in charge in DC, the rest of us keep being fed hope sandwiches and being given promises of changes that never get delivered. Voting for either party in this paradigm is not only useless, it is a form of self-harm—voting for the status quo is a vote against our collective interests. #SpammyElections
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire
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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.