Our struggle is to bring social, political, and economic justice to our nation. This is an effort of the Chicano/Mexican American Digital History Project. https://sites.google.com/site/chicanodigital/
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Disinterested Voters, Is It Apathy or Manipulation and Gridlock?
by Jimmy Franco Sr. Latino Point of View.
The November mid-term elections are now approaching and a political debate and divide is developing among many disgruntled voters as to whether to cast a ballot to support the continuing gridlock in congress and the governmental inaction that has resulted from this situation or abstain. California’s recent June electoral primary had the lowest proportional turnout ever as only a quarter of the voters even bothered to cast a ballot. For many Latinos who are disillusioned with the unprincipled Democrats and their disrespect and empty promises, a decision must be made whether to continue
A Latina activist ponders whether to support Democrats who retreated on immigration reform
following them in a slavish manner after being continually taken for granted or simply sit this one out. Many elitist pundits and die-hard Democratic Party loyalists lament the low rate of voter turnout at election time and tend to label and fault the voters as being either apathetic of even worse lazy and not caring. In reality, the majority of working-class voters, minorities and women do care about their jobs, wages, children’s education, rights and the continual rise in consumer prices. What these frustrated and angry voters have experienced and still observe is a government that takes their taxes while talkative politicians continue to break their campaign promises by not enacting any concrete laws to improve economic and social conditions for middle-class and lower-income people. This is particularly true at the federal level and even locally within the Los Angeles Unified school District where chaos and dysfunction dominate an educational system that is run by incompetents. Distrustful voters have witnessed a situation of ongoing political gridlock among the US Congress and the president for close to four years now. This legislative stalemate, name calling and inaction on pressing issues is what creates cynicism and non-voting among the electorate especially those who are low-income, minority and young. People no longer want to hear rhetoric, but want to see real changes occur within the real world in which they live. During the 2008 presidential election a ‘messianic’ Obama campaigned as the people’s anti-war candidate and he preached and enthralled voters with his idealistic messages about hope and peace, a new type of government with real representation, a reduction in military conflicts and nuclear weapons, and an improvement in the well-being of working people’s lives. This type of revivalist campaign talk and lofty beliefs particularly inspired the hopes of the young, minorities and women and energized them to turn out in large numbers to support and vote for his promise of change and the building of a new society.
The 2008 ‘politics of hope’ and ‘yes we can’ have been dissipated by reality
Obama’s messianic rhetoric from the 2008 election has now been submerged by the actions of the military-industrial complex with a wave of new and constant wars, a growth in social and economic inequality, spiraling student debt, a broken immigration system and a political paralysis which allows the quality of life for the
The pattern of constant war & military spending
continues while social needs lack funding.
majority to consistently erode. This has occurred despite majority control of the federal government by the Democrats from 2008 through 2010. Domestically, the passage of the Affordable Care Act was a small step forward, however, middle and working class people have continued to face cuts to social and health services, educational funding and a
Educational funding &
achievement are down while tuition &
student debt are up.
lowering of their standard of living. Meanwhile, college tuition, the deterioration of high school education, dropouts, unemployment among young people, the price of housing, food and police abuse have all continued to rise along with a growth in poverty and a widening gap in the distribution of wealth. In foreign policy, the promised ‘anti-war’ president is engaged in bombing over seven Arab countries and involved in undeclared wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, all of which are unconstitutional, financially unsustainable and which will result in even more anti-US hatred and extremism. In addition, an antagonistic US relationship has continued toward the majority of progressive governments in Latin America while another hostile Cold War with Russia is developing and a decision to aggressively encircle China militarily is being actively pursued. The decision by the US to be the world’s policeman and continue these hostile policies with the ‘right’ to interfere in the affairs of other countries and wage undeclared wars requires the maintenance of an annual military budget of over to 800 billion dollars. This is an amount which has more than doubled over the last decade. This wasteful use of taxes is being spent on constant military actions, weapons production and over 150 US military bases located around the world. Obama’s past campaign promise to reduce nuclear weapons has been permanently shelved as the Pentagon and Congress have approved the purchase of a new generation of hydrogen bombs, missiles, nuclear armed bombers and submarines. Over a trillion dollars will be spent within the next twenty years or more to build this new nuclear arsenal whose intent is to intimidate any rivals and maintain an imperialistic global hegemony. Meanwhile, the pouring of this enormous amount of tax resources into an unproductive part of our economy is profitable for the arms industry, but is a totally irrational and irresponsible policy that ignores our human resources and siphons away precious funds which are desperately needed for our social needs.
A growing plutocracy is strangling the growth of political democracy
Our history books describe how during the early 1900’s a growth of corporate monopolies developed within our society and how their unethical and often criminal actions eliminated competition, raised prices, busted unions and lowered wages, bribed politicians, controlled elections and corrupted our political system. The growth of these huge economic monopolies led by the wealthy ‘Robber Barons’ also created poverty, inequality and militarism which eventually led to our 1917 involvement in World War One and a post-war social upheaval in the form of widespread race riots, strikes and government repression of unions and immigrants. This events were followed shortly by the Great Depression of 1929. Our traditional history books have superficially explained the early rise of US
A flow of wealth upward
results in an increase in
political & military power.
imperialism and justify its past aggressive actions against Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba and other countries of Latin America which resulted in territorial annexations and domination of those countries. With the passage of time and the official use of historical amnesia these two political-economic trends of monopoly capital and imperialism seem to have magically disappeared from any public discussions or history books as if these harmful social problems have been quietly resolved. However, minus any governmental regulation, these two trends have continued to grow over the decades and are now stronger that ever as they have merged into a present de facto system that constitutes a plutocracy or a government controlled by the wealthy. This merging of our economic and political systems is not new as the foundation for this present situation was laid back in 1787 with the framing of the US Constitution which was created by a group that comprised the 500 wealthiest men within the original thirteen states. A restricted constitutional convention was held in Philadelphia by a hand-picked oligarchy that excluded Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and other radical Republicans from participating. Behind closed doors, this convention of elite wealthy white males created the structure for the new US Republic as they appointed a military man and conservative slave owner George Washington to be the new US president based upon his ability to maintain order among the lower classes in society. These oligarchs set strict rules within the new US Constitution which reserved the right to vote and hold political office solely for white males with property and disenfranchised the majority of poor white men, all women, African-Americans and Native-Americans. Presently, the lack of strict governmental regulation permits the merger of our economic and political systems to proceed forward and this trend becomes ever more visible with each high-priced election. We can observe the steady growth of PACs, unlimited campaign donations allowed by the Citizens United decision, lobbyists flush with corporate cash to donate and bribe with, and a growing scenario of millionaire presidents and congresspersons. There is also a growing monopoly over the media within the country as six major corporations now dominate and control the realm of ideas and political persuasion. The accelerating pace of this present integration of the economic and political systems and legalized buying of elections by large financial interest groups is an anti-democratic tendency that financially and realistically denies normal working people the right to run for higher office or be truly represented as their economic and political interests are generally set aside in favor of those of wealthy campaign donors and lobbyists. Even being elected to a local part-tine school board seat such as that of the Los Angeles School District has cost most winning candidates over a half-million dollars each in campaign funds and the selling of their loyalty to whichever financial group bankrolls them. This amount is symbolic of the growing financial trend that politically denies most honest and capable community members the democratic right to successfully campaign and win a seat on this board and represent their community.
The two parties: unity on foreign policy and differences on domestic policy
An inherent feature of our economy is the constant rise in prices that are charged for necessary consumer goods and other necessities as these expenses continue to surge upward regardless of which party is in power. This characteristic of monopoly capital is fueled by its incessant drive for maximum profits which eventually results in less competition, a rise in consumer prices, less unions and a decrease in the quality of products and services. The deterioration of the public’s standard of living and quality of life are a key aspect of this corrosive economic trend that increasingly affects people’s families and undermines democracy. These objective conditions and negative effects continue to develop despite the rhetoric and hollow promises made by politicians to take action and improve people’s lives. From the 1970’s to the present, real wages for the majority have slid downward in a steady pattern while profits for Wall Street have continued upward in most years
We must demand of politicians quality jobs & schools, not wasteful spending on wars.
regardless of whether liberal or conservative policies were in place. In real wages, the poor in our society are actually poorer today than they were during the 1980’s. Also, during these last thirty years military conflicts and spending have steadily expanded under the direction of both political parties while funding for education and investment in our human resources has generally declined. The growth in the economic relationship between monopoly capital and its related imperialist foreign policy that is supported by both political parties continues to accelerate. This is evidenced by an avalanche of billions of dollars being provided to the two parties by corporate interests in the form of PACS, wealthy individuals, Citizens United ‘donations and the bipartisan support for incessant wars’. This flow of money into the political system has the effect of contributing to its corruption and the undermining democratic input, participation and real control by the majority. Domestically, this massive amount of corporate money either gravitates to the Democrats who tend to be a bit more liberal on social issues or to the Republicans who continue to move further to the political right. However, both parties generally agree on an aggressive and financially draining foreign policy and continuing to play the role of being the world’s policeman through the constant use of undeclared wars and unilateral military interventions.
Our diminishing economic and social prospects and what needs to be done.
The steady economic transition to huge monopolies along with the expansion of an expensive military and constant conflicts are detrimental to the general interests of the public. The immense flow of money upward to these huge corporations that comprise this military-industrial complex continues to erode the foundation of political democracy as well as the quality of people’s lives. Contrary to this anti-democratic trend, the majority of people have struggled hard for the historical right to vote and we should continue to defend and use this right as it is under political attack by right-wing courts and Republicans who have spent vast
Monopolies are anti-democratic & are trying to limit the right to vote & civil rights.
amounts of corporate money to support anti-democratic voter-suppression laws in a growing number of states. However, people should not continue to slavishly vote for Democrats like loyal peones and be strung along with hollow promises and taken for granted as is presently being done. Our votes need to be used in a tactical and conditional manner that support and politically educate people on key issues and reward and punish certain politicians depending upon their positions and actions. People also need to use their voting power and voice as an independent and flexible political instrument in order to constantly evaluate, pressure and hold elected officials accountable in local, county and state elections. This can be done at public meetings, through the internet, by emailing massive numbers of messages that either support or protest an issue and through the use of community articles that are critical of their actions. Voters need to demand that politicians fight and vote for a progressive platform that implements positive and concrete changes in society and in people’s lives. If these politicians refuse to do so, then we should criticize and expose them publicly and withhold our votes as punishment until they produce some concrete actions and results. As a part of this resistance we must also build support for campaign finance reform and a system of public financing of elections which is utilized in various European countries. Such a system will democratically level the political playing field by eliminating PACs, corporate funding and the buying of elections and allow individuals to run for office without the need to possess millions of dollars in campaign funds. In addition, highly paid corporate lobbyists need to be abolished as this is essentially a form of legal bribery which provides special political access and influence for the wealthy which is denied to the rest of us. Lastly, we must not allow the right to vote to be repressed by powerful financial monopolies and the anti-democratic sector of our society who are attempting to limit it. Instead, we must resist and defend this hard-won civil right and use it independently for our own tactical advantage and to strengthen the forces of democracy .
Reprinted with permission. http://www.latinopov.com/blog/?p=10994
Copyright,October,2014: Jimmy Franco Sr. Facebook: Jimmy Latinopov Twitter @xicanomc