Saturday, February 12, 2011

Herbert nails it: America's sham democracy

I don't know whether the New York Times' Bob Herbert is channeling me or I'm channeling him. Maybe a few thousand of us are channeling each other. It's about time.

Will events in Cairo trigger our own "Hundredth Monkey"?

Herbert begins today's column, "As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn’t help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the United States. I think it’s on the ropes. We’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only."

Actually, it's worse that that, as he points out. We ARE a democracy in name only.

He concludes, as I have, that we need our very own bottom-up leadership from the streets.

We need a Tahrir square. Where will it be? And when?

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Anonymous Peter J. DeCrescenzo said...

The Egyptians had essentially a single rallying cry, "Mubarak must go!"

Most Egyptians understood exactly what that phrase meant, and how achieving that goal would shake their country to its core.

I believe a revolution can't happen without a similar singular rallying cry. But to be effective, the goal embodied in the demand must be understood by the majority of a country's citizens.

With some exceptions, Egyptians knew what they were asking for and what they were getting themselves into by demanding Mubarak's resignation. Whether ensuing developments eventually deliver to them a healthy democracy remains to be seen. I hope it does.

The challenge for Americans is to figure out what our rallying cry should be. To be effective, it must unite the majority of Americans.

That's why the tea-baggers, bankers, monopolies and their ilk haven't completely succeeded in their attempt to destroy America: It's because they haven't found the singular rallying cry understood and supported by most Americans.

To be successful a rallying cry must be understood on an emotional level at least as strongly as on an intellectual level.

For example, a demand for "Justice!" or "Repeal Obamacare!" by themselves won't work, whereas in it's own time and place rallying cries such as "Give me liberty or give me death!" were literally revolutionary dynamite.

So, my question is, what's America's rallying cry for the Revolution of 2011, the one demand that most Americans understand and support?

I don't have the answer. Is there is an American who does?

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Peter J. DeCrescenzo said...

On the topic of why American politician's are, to a varying degree, "bought and paid for" (there really isn't any other name for it):

I suspect that more than half of all political campaign money, whether raised legally, illegally or somewhere in-between, is ultimately spent on producing political advertising for television and TV airtime.

Television advertising is relatively expensive to produce, and TV airtime in it various forms (traditional over-the-air broadcasting, cable-TV & satellite broadcasting) is _extremely_ expensive.

When people talk about hundreds of millions or a billion dollars being spent nationally to meet just one American political party's national campaign expenses, the answer to the question: "Where does all the money go?" is, probably, most of it is spent on political ads on TV.

"Bribes" such as luxury vacations for politicians and their families (or mistresses), banquets fit for emperors, free use of private jets and fancy cars, and such almost certainly don't add up to hundreds of millions or a billion dollars. Not even close.

So, maybe one way to at least somewhat decrease the insane unsustainable corruption in American politics would be to outlaw _all_ forms of political advertising on TV.

I don't know anyone who would be sad to see political ads disappear from their screens for months preceding every election, other than the TV network & station owners themselves.

Of course, if not spent on TV, where would the political advertising money go?

Unfortunately, probably many more forests worth of trees would be cut down so more political ads could be published via print media. For better or worse, it could save newspaper publishing or at least keep it on life support for a bit longer.

But I bet most of the money would be poured into internet advertising and "fake" (sham, paid-for) political commentary online.

As bad as the above alternatives are, they probably would require vastly less money than buying TV ad time.

Ironically, most of the money spent on internet ads would be completely wasted. Internet advertising doesn't work. See:


11:06 AM  

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