Americans like to say we love democracy. Theoretically, we love the idea of having our voices represented; we like having a say in government… in theory. But unfortunately, in practice, we find ourselves ”represented” by politicians who repeatedly choose the side of their donors and themselves—not of working people. Some politicians are not even on the side of hungry children.
For instance, speaking of the Child Tax Credit, one notorious West Virginia
villain senator outlined his reasons to attack it: ”There’s no work requirements whatsoever. There’s no education requirements,” complained Senator Manchin, manchinesquely. ”Don’t you think if you want to help the children, the people should make some effort?”
One wonders if he can hear himself. Does he think children choose whether their parents are employed or not? Or that we should withhold aid from hungry children whose parents aren’t educated enough? Maybe it’s that he believes threatening their well-being will better control their parents? Is that the American dream… ?
No. No one thinks that. No one except for cartoon villains—and politicians who think like cartoon villains.
But he doesn’t have to believe it to say it. By repeating this propaganda, he’s signaling publicly that he’s willing to oppose programs that will help working people if donors pay him enough. He’s holding his metaphorical hand out to billionaires.
For every $1000 that top companies give to “representatives” like Manchin, those companies get an average of $76 million back.
We say we love democracy, and that we hate politicians who are liars and takers—yet here we are.
The solution, of course, is to vote for public servants, not politicians. But that’s easier said than done.
Candidates all claim to be public servants, whether they are or not. Billionaires want the politicians they’ve bought to give them that huge return on their investment, and the dirty politicians want to be able to drown out the voices of public servants running against them with their propaganda, so they can fool as many voters as they possibly can. (And worse, corporate campaign donations can sure buy a lot of propaganda.)
As Mark Hanna—former U.S. Senator, former RNC president, and campaign manager for President McKinley—said famously: ”There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.”
Studies show that even when voters can see that an otherwise-aligned candidate is pushing anti-democracy policies… only about 3.5% of voters are willing to defect.
Americans, when it comes down to it, are not really that attached to democracy after all.
We like it in theory… but most voters value their party more than they value democracy.
What about you?
Whose side are you on, anyway?
Are you pro-democracy?
- Are you voting for people who are focused on accomplishing worker-centered policy goals, and voting rights?
- Are you voting for those who are trying to change things for the better for a vulnerable group of people?
- Are you voting for those focused on finding solutions in order to make a better world in the future?
If so, congratulations: you might be in this fight for the right reasons.
Alternately… are you willing to lose our democracy?
- Are you voting for candidates who say one thing, but do another? That means you’re buying the propaganda lobbyists are planting—or that you don’t care if the folks on your own side are dishonest.
- Are you voting for a candidate because s/he is ”viable” by virtue of being personally wealthy? That means you’re voting for an oligarchy. Oligarchy is not democracy.
- Are you voting simply to support (or oppose) a party? If so, consider that while you may claim to love democracy… you’re not willing to vote for it, much less fight for it. You’re choosing to pursue kakistocracy: government by the worst people, by folks who, say, are fine with using hungry children as a political tool, or with encouraging a violent mob to try to overturn the results of a democratic election.
Choosing the side of working people, protecting voting rights, creating just and equitable laws, opposing gerrymandering, working to protect people from exploitation, developing beneficial programs/services, and more: these are harder goals to accomplish than just repeating empty corporate talking points and maintaining the status quo. And they will only happen if we fight for them.
So ask yourself this: Do you seek out information about candidates’ platforms—to make sure the villains aren’t drowning out the good guys—and when you look at candidate’s statements and postitions, can you tell the difference between pro-democracy policy and anti-democracy policy? Do you really care about preserving democracy, or do you just want your own party to ”win,” no matter the cost?
Voters who love democracy as much as they claim to will make the effort to discern the difference—and will vote accordingly.