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The Illusion of DemocracyPosted Thursday, August 28, 2008, at 11:16 PM
There are three points of view when it comes to the federal government.
1) Everything is more or less going along just fine. Sure we have some problems but we'll work them out.
2) It's too cumbersome and intrusive, taxes are excessive, the national debt is a disgrace, and our foreign policy is long on machismo and short on goodwill. The Democrats and Republicans got us into this mess and probably can't get us out.
3) If you ignore it, it will go away.
The presidential election will take place in November.
As usual, our so-called democracy gives you two choices.
The Democrats want an extensive, intrusive federal government to engineer social change by redistributing wealth. Higher taxes and more government programs, thereby suffocating the economy and diminishing individual freedom.
The Republicans want a strong, powerful federal government to nurture big business by supporting a vast military-industrial complex. Increased military expenditures and more self-appointed international police action, thereby contributing to global strife and tarnishing our relationship with the rest of the world.
Both of these philosophies are extremely costly. Democrats and Republicans have driven our national debt up to nearly $9 trillion, and it continues to rise. Future generations will bear the burden for this insane federal spending recklessness.
If you're enthusiastic about one of these two options, by all means stay the course.
But if you're stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to choose the lesser of two evils, perhaps it's time to unscrew your head back out of the sand and seek an alternative. Even though the media will try to convince you that a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is a wasted vote, there are other alternatives.
The election process is meant to give the voters the illusion of a free democracy without actually having one.
The two major candidates for president, one Democrat and one Republican, are basically chosen by a handful of small states (the New Hampshire Primary, the Iowa Caucuses, etc.), then each of the candidates personally selects their respective running mate and potential successor.
To maintain their position of power and control, the two major political parties enacted election laws that have given them a decisive advantage over any emerging alternative philosophies.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress have awarded matching campaign funds to the two major political parties (themselves) while making it difficult for third parties to qualify for them. The candidates of these two parties are automatically placed on ballots in every state, while third party candidates must contend with legal quagmires on a state by state basis to get on ballots.
To anyone with a brain larger than a pinto bean this doesn't seem like much of a democracy.
To make matter worse, the mass media focuses only on the two major political parties, as if they're the only two points of view, further diminishing a free democracy.
There aren't many choices when there are only two alternatives.
This unbalanced, unfair system wasn't the result of evil intent. But government operates on endless compromise and those in power tend to manipulate the system to favor those in power. And the mass media goes along with it to maintain a positive relationship with those in power in order to obtain access.
Basically, the system is rigged.
The two parties in power have made it difficult for a third party to compete and the mass media has become their ally by promoting an illusion of a democracy, encouraging everyone to participate in the process under the mistaken premise that the public is apathetic rather than disgusted.
So the masses turn out every four years to do their civic duty and vote for the lesser of two evils.
But a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil and an illusion of a democracy is only an illusion.
A two-party system is not a democracy -- it's a closed system tightly controlled by the two parties in power.
Anyone who enthusiastically supports such a system is perpetuating a narrow, unjust form of government.
Every citizen has three choices.
1) You can participate in a rigged system, giving legitimacy to that system, by voting for one of the two major candidates as usual. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for doing your civic duty.
2) You can vote for a third party candidate, sending a message to the two major parties and the mass media that politics as usual is unacceptable. Be sure to pat yourself on the back for having a mind of your own.
3) You can choose to stay at home on Election Day and bang your head against the wall. Be sure to pat yourself on the back so you don't swallow your gum.
Choose wisely. The fate of eternity is in your hands.
Quote for the Day -- "Everybody knows that the boat is leaking.... Everybody knows that the captain lied.... Everybody's got this broken feeling.... Like their father or their dog just died...." Leonard Cohen
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.