Is it just me, or has the 2012 presidential campaign been the most lackluster piece of nothingness since the last season of American Idol? The nauseating spectacle of inane gaffes, pathological fundraising dinners and egregious spray-on-tans has left me more than a little dizzy. National politics has truly become a garish cartoon – a nightmarish caricature of how democracy is supposed to function.
I don’t believe I’m alone in saying this, and if you don’t believe me, you’re not paying attention. Campaigns are now merely backroom auctions with elaborate stage shows. Throughout the entire process, corporate controlled mainstream media simply refuses to ask the right questions, driving us further away from confronting the bleak economic and environmental realities that face us. The untruths are plentiful, and politicians speak in scripted platitudes.
In my estimation, the only moment of real truth in the campaign thus far came with the leak of Romney’s now infamous 47 percent comments. As disgusting as they were, at least you knew they were authentic. For once, his words weren’t meticulously crafted, vetted or read off a teleprompter. This is how Romney speaks to his wealthy, venture capitalist friends – how he speaks when old Mrs. Jenkins from Teledo, OH isn’t listening to every word.
But for all the uproar, there is no longer a party of the American left to address its implications in any meaningful way. The Democrats don’t talk about the poor: they talk about the middle class, they talk about jobs and tax cuts. They avoid addressing the shameful amount of abject poverty that exists in our own communities, the economic inequality, the systemic violence against minorities, women and immigrants. The Democratic party will not take a stand against imperious foreign policy, against the endless drone attacks that kill innocent people, indefinite detention, and Orwellian surveillance at home and abroad. They will not be honest about our unsustainable auto-centric infrastructure, the rapidly melting ice caps, the impossibility of endless economic growth or the collapse awaiting us if the banks aren’t constantly fed. As right-wing pundits and tea-party patriots screamed socialism, the Obama administration actually did very little to deviate from the George W. Bush model. Despite the radically different visions for America the campaigns just love to tell us about, Republicans and Democrats have become two different flavors of the same putrid Goldman Sachs fruit cup.
“Bin Laden is dead, General Motors is alive!” The victory cry of the 2012 Democratic National Convention was pretty far removed from 2008′s “we can do better.” Vice President Joe Biden went so far as to have the audience chant the phrase with him and then everyone cheered. This could have been the death knell of progressivism in the Democratic party, though the actual point of death is debatable. It is possible that the phrase acted as some sort of incantation to trick well-meaning liberals into cheering on imperious foreign policy and the auto-industry that’s killing the planet – I’m not sure – but cheer on death and gas guzzling they did.
The bottom line is that Obama stuffed the progressive platform of 2008 into some dusty filing cabinet. We are at a political moment where the two major parties are beginning to merge into one party of cold-pragmatism at best, tunnel-vision imperialism at worst.
It has even become a procedural impossibility to change either party from the inside – each is actively engaged in squelching dissent within their own ranks. Videos released from both conventions clearly show scripted party platform votes in order to silence non-establishment views (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmaE2Aez_XY). In other words, delegates are now merely a formality. The real agenda items and candidates are hand picked by the party bosses.
So what is to be done come voting day? I have heard from many of my friends and comrades on this issue over the past several weeks. Although I respect the decision of many to vote for Obama to avoid a catastrophic Romney presidency, I cannot bring myself to do it. I’m not even sure what terrorism means anymore, considering the brutality of global capital and its police state apparatuses. If there is any hope that things can change without all out revolution, it will be through a third party. This is where I differ on the “lesser of two evils” rationale: If everyone just took a risk and voted for the candidate they wanted instead of the “not-him” candidate, we wouldn’t be stuck in this two party binary of doom.
Regardless of your decision on voting day, it is important to remember that real change has always been fought for in the streets. Just look at recent events in Quebec, Spain and Greece for an idea of what I’m talking about. We can no longer assume that leaders have the peoples’ best interests in mind. We must force change the way it’s always been done: through community organizing, protest and direct action.
The alarm has been going off for a while now. It’s time to wake up.