27 Oct

I Guess I Had Some More Words Stored Up

With all the talk and protests lately about distribution of wealth and scope of government, I’ve gotten stuck on one particular point. We Americans call ourselves a democracy, but that is essentially “one man, one vote.” We don’t have that. ┬áTechnically, we have a republic, in which we elect representatives who should vote in our best interest. However, I’ve believed for a long time that what we actually live in is an oligarchy — ruling by an elite class. The American elite class is the monied lobbies which get much of their operating funds from corporations. We think we are voting for who we choose, but who we choose depends on what we know about the candidates, and that tends to be based on ads and exposure, which is ultimately based on the amount of money a candidate has at his or her disposal. I get frustrated when journalists follow, not the candidates’ platforms, but the amount of money they’ve raised; yet the latter is probably a better indication of how they will fare. Of course, the financial influence doesn’t stop with elections — it’s camped out permanently in the lobbies of the House and Senate.

So we follow the money. The top 1% apparently has the most and they use it to their advantage to control the power structure in their favor. Corporations are the evil “They” which run the oligarchy. Career politicians are little better. They spend their time worrying about funding their next campaign instead of passing legislature that would benefit their constituents. But who are “They?” Isn’t the American Dream to work hard and become successful in one’s business? And aren’t corporate boards made of successful business people? I also look at my local senator and representatives, and they seem like normal people, living a pretty regular life, making appearances at local and charitable events, pounding the pavement to connect with the people, working to solve local issues. Weren’t the politicians in Washington once just local ones too?

So my conundrum revolves around this “Us” versus “Them” conflict. On the one hand, yes, we the 99% (my family has a roof over our head, food in our belly, medical coverage, and little debt, so are we “Us” or “Them?”) have far less influence, and appear to suffer far more than “They” do in the top 1%. We talk about corporations running Washington. But aren’t those in Washington just extensions of us (since we voted for the representatives that voted for them, and the representatives are still “Us”)? And aren’t corporations run by people? I could be wrong, but I haven’t gotten any emails from Skynet welcoming our robot overlords. So where’s the disconnect? At what point did “We” become “Them,” or do “They” cease to be “Us?”

I think I have an answer, but it involves basic human nature being about greed and self preservation, with some sour grapes thrown in. But I don’t want to believe I’m that cynical as it goes against my self view of a liberal, reasonably compassionate, person.

5 thoughts on “I Guess I Had Some More Words Stored Up

  1. Dusting off my soap box….Your thoughts have been running in tandem with mine lately. I think the “Them” is whom ever we are not. I think back to the 60’s and my peers out protesting the establishment. The establishment I had to deal with (my parents), wouldn’t let me go, lol! It wasn’t because they didn’t agree about the war, etc. it was because they didn’t think it would do any good. The people they elected into office had the best interests of the community. We knew our Congressmen and were proud of them. Sure, there were kick backs and scratch my back kind of deals back then, but on the whole, I think the elected officials truly wanted to better their communities and the USA. You got reelected if you did a good job, regardless of how much money you through at the campaign. Shame came when you didn’t do your job, not because you got caught doing something illegal or immoral. I feel like I am unwillingly living in a reality TV show and really don’t like the actors or the plot line at all.

  2. Good thoughts, as usual, Kristin. One of the things which annoys me the most is that they talk about “reducing redundancy” and “cutting out the fat.” Well, you’re actually a little bit incorrect about the way our election works….We elect ELECTORS who get together in a big bash and THEY elect the candidates. Some electors are bound to vote as their constituency does and some are not. Often (usually?) this means that the popular candidate doesn’t win.

    Originally, in the 18th century, when communication and travel wasn’t easy, this made sense. It no longer makes sense, except it allows another opportunity for manipulation of the system by the politicians. It is, however, another unnecessary expense and an area many Americans (although less now than in former years) are not aware of.

    I am incensed that the current candidates are talking about cutting education in half, and yet won’t touch this sacred cow. If we are talking about “tens of thousands” counting, then why not here?

    I think that what many people are actually saying is that we need MORE tax divisions rather than fewer. When someone making $200,000 pays the same percentage as someone who makes billions, there’s something wrong. Of course actually thinking about the good of the general public would be refreshing.

    Of course, I would also like to see the general population giving this some real deep thought in addition to unheated discussion and investigation rather than a knee jerk reaction. We have some significant problems which are not easy to solve. Acting as children and calling each other names without being willing to compromise (and that’s on both sides) isn’t going to accomplish anything.

    Remember the old Pogo cartoon? You’re too young, and I admit I was really young when this came out, but as a historian I’ve always kept it in the forefront of my cerebral cortex “We have met the enemy and “them” is us.”

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