We are not as democratic of a country as we think. There are nine more months before any votes are cast and already we are down to three bad choices and possibly Ron Paul, and it will soon come down to two bad choices who will inevitably get almost all the votes because of overly restrictive ballot access laws and the impossibility of anyone getting to participate in a televised presidential debate unless they are a Democrat or Republican. Not to mention the fact that your vote doesn't count at all unless you vote for the person who wins your state. Then there's the fact that there are no term limits for Congressmen and many mayors combined with gerrymandering which results in many elections having only one person on the ballot. What kind of democracy gives you only one choice?
"Voting will not alter the corporate systems of power. Voting is an act of political theater. Voting in the United States is as futile and sterile as in the elections I covered as a reporter in dictatorships like Syria, Iran and Iraq. There were always opposition candidates offered up by these dictatorships. Give the people the illusion of choice. Throw up the pretense of debate. Let the power elite hold public celebrations to exalt the triumph of popular will. We can vote for Romney or Obama, but Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil and Bank of America and the defense contractors always win. There is little difference between our electoral charade and the ones endured by the Syrians and Iranians. Do we really believe that Obama has, or ever had, any intention to change the culture in Washington?"
First with the Chris Hedges quote, I would advise people to put a little thought into what they say, no matter how profound they think they are being. Maybe he should ponder why folks in Iran, Syria and Iraq are clamoring to get out of there if things are just as oppressive in the places they flee to. Or maybe he should ask what would happen to him if he tried to open up an office for his magazine in one of those countries. Basically, morons like Chris Hedges are either liars or cowards. He either doesn't actually believe what he's saying, or he's a giant coward in that he sits idly by in our fascist nation. He should be leading an armed rebellion like the French Resistance if this is the oppressive nation he really thinks it is.
In any event Tim Robbins states what Hedges is actually saying in a much more eloquent way.
Beyond Chris Hedges' ipse dixit, all of the so-called problems you talk about have nothing to do with whether we're really a democracy or not. No term limits for Congressmen or city officials. Well, shouldn't people be allowed to vote for the same person if that's what they want? There are many good reasons for term limits, but they have little to do with popular representation, i.e. what I think you're referring to when you talk about democracy. No one likes gerrymandering, but it's actually a quite natural result of democtratic rule. That is, so long as elected officials draw congressional districts, they're going to try and tilt the playing field in their favor as much as possible. Otherwise, you have to rely on unelected officials to do so. But I'm sure you'll find an all-wise sage who will be able to draw fair electoral districts who's really above politics.
The electoral college, meh. Once a century you get the anomaly where the guy who got the most popular votes (not a majority I'll note, since Gore only had a very small plurality).
And really, the only laws that perpetuate the two party system are campaign finance laws, which restrict political speech and make it very hard for newcomers to unseat incumbents. And no, I don't think that third parties should be publicly financed. I don't want my tax dollars to pay for the Lyndon LaRouche's presidential campaigns just so he can put a few ads on the air that no one is going to watch anyway. I also don't know how you intend to get third-party candidates into debates. Are you proposing a law that forces private institutions to allow people onto a debate based on the opinion of a government bureaucrat? And would it even make a difference? New York allows basically everyone to participate in the gubernatorial debate, but where are all those third party candidates that have actually been elected, or who have actually received anything significant in terms of votes?
Edited by Daniel, 05 February 2012 - 12:11 AM.