Togane, Japan
December 31
I'm teaching English in foreign countries as a way to see the world. I lived in Germany for three years and have been in Japan since August of 2011.


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NOVEMBER 3, 2010 10:31AM

2010 Election: American Masochism

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Well, America, you’ve managed to inflict massive pain upon yourself yet again.  After 2006 and 2008 I thought that we might actually be getting on the right track, but clearly this is still the same country that gave George W. Bush two terms as president.  I still think the majority knows what’s best for the country, but apparently not enough of them care enough to actually vote.

So now we’ve handed control of the House of Representatives back to the Republican Party, and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate to almost nothing.  We’ve let the corporate shills and collaborators keep their seats and let men of principle like Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson be booted out.  We’ve allowed the Big Business interests who’ve spent unprecedented amounts of money to buy these elections succeed in their efforts, thus paving the way for even more giant anonymous donations in every election to come.  Rather than prompt a media narrative that voters want systemic fixes to our broken system of government, we’ve allowed the corporate-controlled media to go with the story they’ve wanted to tell all along: that the Democrats did too much, fought for too much change, and that they now need lay low and protect the status quo.

Good going, America.  I don’t know who I’m more disappointed in—the misguided fools who voted for Republicans thinking they would actually represent the people and not the special interests who fund their campaigns—or the apathetic liberals who didn’t think this election was important enough to get off their asses and vote.  Both are responsible for the disaster that’s coming over the next two years and will almost certainly extend well beyond that.  When historians look back at this election, the first since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, they may very well write that this was our last chance to pull ourselves back from the brink.

Make no mistake—the winner of the 2010 Election was not the Republican Party.  The winner was money.  Mega-rich individuals like the Koch Brothers, giant Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs, and big corporations like private health insurance companies have all discovered that buying elections is now easier than ever.  They had their list of targets, the few politicians like Feingold and Grayson who refused to play ball with them, and poured massive amounts of money into ads attacking them.  The American public was successfully duped, and they went and voted for the candidates spouting the same familiar “smaller government, lower taxes” rhetoric that they fall for time and time again.  Apparently they didn’t get the message that when a Republican says “smaller government” he means “less oversight and accountability for giant corporations” and when he says “lower taxes” he’s only talking about billionaires.

The same goes for Prop. 19 in California, the ballot measure that would have finally put in motion an end to this absurd marijuana prohibition that’s enabled so many criminal gangs to flourish, taken up so much time and resources of law-enforcement, put so many non-violent people into overcrowded prisons, and caused numerous deaths due to the fact that alcohol—a far more dangerous drug—is legal and therefore more accessible.  The Chamber of Commerce poured their money into an ad campaign full of lies and distortions (just because weed is legal doesn’t mean you’d be allowed to drive or go to work while high) in order to protect the profits of the private prison industry, the alcohol business, and everyone else who benefits from prohibition.  The failed war on drugs continues, thanks to Big Money and America’s indifference to actual facts.

So what can we expect from here on out?  In the short-term, prepare for an excruciating two years as the 112th Congress makes the 111th look like the most successful, progressive Congress in history.  There are two lessons Obama could take from the election results, but we already know he’ll take the wrong one.  He’s been sealed inside the Washington bubble for so long that he’ll actually believe the false narrative that Democrats lost because they were too liberal and he needs to follow Bill Clinton’s lead and move “towards the center” (as though he hasn’t firmly lodged himself there already).  The argument that Democrats lost because they weren’t liberal enough—that they accomplished too little—will be dismissed off-hand.  They’ll accept the Fox News narrative, just as they have since the very beginning.  Only now, they won’t even try to push back.  They’ll propose all kinds of compromises with the Republicans in a desperate attempt to finally convince people how bipartisan they are, but they will continue to fail as the Republicans have no interest whatsoever in letting Obama accomplish anything.

The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has already stated quite plainly that limiting Obama to one-term is their top priority.  There are some deluded folks in the media and in the White House who think that because Republicans now control the House they’ll have to take some responsibility and actually work with Democrats to take steps to improve the economy.  This is utter nonsense.  The Republicans know they won big in this election mainly because the economy is still terrible.  Why on earth would they want to lift a finger to improve it before 2012?  Their best chance of taking the White House in 2012 is to make sure the economy remains just as terrible as it is now, and that means obstruct, obstruct, obstruct.

You should expect to see many-a-subpoena handed down to Democrats and members of the administration.  Bogus charges will be trumped up and investigated relentlessly, taking up all of the time in the House and dragging the media narrative with it.  Don’t be surprised if they invent some preposterous reason to impeach Obama.  Even if they fail, it will be a very politically useful distraction for them, and it will undoubtedly please their base.  Because honestly, how many of these Tea Party people really care about the federal deficit?  I’d best that most of them are only out there marching because they personally loathe Obama, and as long as the Republicans are attacking him they won’t give a damn about fiscal policy.

And let’s not even mention the likelihood of a government shut-down.  The Republicans have been itching to try that stunt again, and they have reason to believe that the results will be different this time.

But that’s just the next two years.  Long-term, things look even more dismal thanks to Citizens United.  As I said, the powerful interests who can buy the government have now discovered that buying the government is even easier, and because of their monumental success this time around it’s going to be even easier next time.  Not only will they be far less hesitant to throw money at their preferred candidates (nobody who did this time around suffered any negative consequences), but the politicians themselves will be far more likely to approach fund-raising by soliciting the donations of just a few major corporations they can do favors for, and ignore the millions of people who might give them small donations that are now no longer needed.

It won’t be long before instead of a Senator from Wisconsin or a Representative from Florida’s First district we’ll have a Senator from Exxon or a Representative from Goldman Sachs.  The politicians already care more about pleasing their big donors than delivering on reforms that would help average citizens.  Now they’ll have almost no reason whatsoever to do anything for average citizens.  As long as they do the bidding of their corporate masters, those corporate masters will ensure that they remain in power.

Democracy may have breathed its last gasps in the United States of America.  From here on out, it’s plutocracy.  The rich will make all the decisions, and they’ll do so based purely on their own selfish interests.  The gap between the super-wealthy and everybody else will continue to expand until there’s no more “middle-class” to speak of, and the power and influence the United States once held on the international stage will slowly wane away as foreign interests find that they too can buy a piece of the American government.

Sadly, most of the people who made the mistake of voting Republican in this election will never understand the harm they’ve done.  Fox News will make sure of that.  They’ll continue to insist that it’s the liberals—the people who’ve been desperately trying to make America work for average people again—who destroyed America.  The poor fools will never know that it was them all along, that they are to blame for their struggles, and that when they could have prevented the death of their beloved democracy by simply taking an objective look at the facts and voting accordingly, they were too busy marching on behalf of the very people responsible for their suffering.

I sincerely hope I’m being overly pessimistic, but hope is in short supply right now.

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Amen. I've got nothing to add to that, nor is there anything I disagree with. You called it.
Hear, hear! I believe as you do that this country has been on a slippery slope for the last three decades and our feet are now dangling off the edge.

"The poor fools will never know that it was them all along, that they are to blame for their struggles"

About as accurate as one can get. What a life being, alternately, a pawn and a schill.
LOL, my response here -
Americans always retrench after perceived serious change and particularly during times of high unemployment. I am undeterred: the arc of history is Progressive. r.
“When historians look back at this election, the first since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, they may very well write that this was our last chance to pull ourselves back from the brink”

And how is that Kem? I did vote yesterday (straight democrat if anyone need ask) and nowhere on the ballot did I see a referendum on the Citizens United “decision”. People like yourself, Tom Cordle, and Kent Pittman need to stop crying and put your considerable literary talents to work. Every chance you get direct your comments and posts at the tea baggers and point out to them how they have been duped. As we all know this nation has just taken a right hand turn right into hell this is our big chance, let them drive we will do the talking from the back seat. Do whatever's necessary: infiltrate their blogs, drink in their watering holes, and invite them over for dinner. I will start tomorrow with my aunt up from South Carolina where she moved with her new husband and 4 of my cousins to join a right wing militia group. Come on boys this is a fight sometimes you got to take a beating to give one.
this sounds pretty despairing, but I must say that you're attributing too much power to washington to fix stuff. you're also attributing too much evil to the republicans. face it, they're not a whole lot different from the democrats. but it will take the public another 2yrs to figure that out. or maybe never. the good news is a 3rd party made a decent showing. fantastic. revolutionary.
as for the question of whether Big Money and Corporations won, I would tend to agree with you, but would suggest one would need to analyze it further to see how much influence they had. its not so clear which candidates were mostly corporate shills, and its not so clear that even if elected, the shills would really have done the bidding of their masters....
vzn, you make good points. This is more of a gut reaction to the way it looks on the surface, but if you analyzed it deeper I'm sure there are some candidates who are not completely loyal to the interests of the corporations who fund them. We may yet be surprised.

Jack, you're right. I need to spend more time trying to sway conservatives. The problem is that online discourse is a terribly ineffective way of doing it. I can usually get through at least a little bit when talking to them face-to-face, but it's an entirely different thing when both of us are anonymous. The best one can really hope for with blogging is to solidify opinions that people were already leaning towards, or provide them with facts or arguments they could use in face-to-face interactions with others.
I think many of us on the left are feeling this right now. However, I keep thinking of the Battle of Agincourt--exactly 595 years and 14 days ago today. Throughout history many outnumbered and underdog fighters for justice have prevailed. This is the first election in many years that I volunteered to work with the Democratic campaign, manning phones and pounding the pavement. I think (I hope) the disheartening outcome of this election has strengthened the resolve of liberals who refuse to lie down. I, for one, intend to fight and become more involved. I have never failed to vote, but I admit it's been many years since I volunteered. That's about to change.