Radical Measures

Dashiell

One of my favorite bloggers, and in fact one of the top political blogs out there, is Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque. He understands the big picture, is consistently informative, and his writing has that quality of righteous indignation at the corporate state that is a prerequisite for political sanity in our time. He doesn’t see all the evils of our system as caused by Bush-Cheney, but regularly points out the complicity of both parties in the misbegotten drive for American empire. (The most recent example of his work along these lines is here, but you can find this penetrating insight throughout his blog.)

Regarding the Bush administration’s various operatives and other functionaries, particularly in the contexts of appointment and confirmation, Floyd is fond of pointing out that anyone who is willing to work at high levels for this blood-soaked regime is by definition assenting to its criminality, and is therefore unfit to serve our country. I agree with him, and I think it’s important to grasp the principle involved here if one is to maintain a realistic view of the political situation. It is one thing to say that so-and-so is a bad president, or attorney general, or whatever—or to say that one disagrees with the policies of a given administration or party. It is quite another to say that so-and-so is a criminal, that the administration is a criminal operation, and that (in the only possible conclusion that follows from this) said administration or government is illegitimate.

The list of abuses is a long one, of course. The case for impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors has long ago been made thoroughly and convincingly. Prior to all this, however, even prior to the grave crimes against humanity committed in the name of a phony war on terrorism, this administration is essentially illegitimate because, I would argue, of the deliberate perpetuation of fraud and abuse in the electoral system. Any persons or organizations that take away the people’s suffrage by either falsifying or suppressing the vote, has violated one of the most basic values of our republic. If the state cheats on the vote, so that the voting public may no longer trust that the announced results of an election are true, the most basic element of legitimacy, the connection between the people and the elected public servants, is completely severed. This is not to say that the voting process hasn’t already been compromised, manipulated, degraded, and trivialized to an incredible degree over the years. But there’s a yawning gulf between the perception of general decadence in the electoral system, as serious as that is, and the perception of outright fraud and illegality reversing the actual objective results of a given vote. The former represents corruption; the latter goes further into dictatorship. In other words, it is truly subversion, and in my view is tantamount to treason because it completely invalidates even the appearance of government legality.

Now, this subversion occurred not only in the 2000 election, but in the 2004 election as well. And the crime of 2004 was actually more serious, since it was perpetrated by the administration in power in the White House, and thus indicates an even more dangerous incursion. The media has maintained an almost universal, deathly silence on the fraud of 2004, precisely because the implications are so frightening. For the Bush administration to have criminally re-elected itself would clearly identify it as an illegitimate government, thereby raising the bogeyman of a “Constitutional crisis” for which the establishment and its media have no stomach. Perception of the fraud on the part of the public is, however, widespread, and especially damaging to public trust. Furthermore, underneath the recent scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys is the greater scandal that the administration sought to use the Justice Dept. to subvert the electoral process. This is of course not as well known by the general public, but it is known by the Democratic leadership. In their own self-interest, then, the Democrats pursued that investigation, at least to the point of forcing the Attorney General from office, but it’s not clear if things will go any further at this time.

Which brings us back to Chris Floyd’s point about appointees and confirmations. You may note that even Russ Feingold, one of the more principled progressive Democrats in the Senate, voted to confirm Michael Mukasey to replace Gonzales as AG, even while expressing misgivings. Mukasey, of course, refused to say whether waterboarding is torture, and that’s what got the headlines. But in general he’s been an advocate of the police state, and his history includes a close relationship with crypto-fascist Rudolph Giuliani. Floyd’s principle applies, as always. Anyone who would be willing to work for Bush is by definition unfit to serve the country. But the principle is considered unworkable in the context of Congressional politics. Democrats, even liberals like Feingold, are afraid to oppose Bush in everything, because they are afraid of being painted as unprincipled obstructionists. On a deeper level, the Democratic Party must believe—or at least must publicly appear to believe—in the legitimacy of the government. To admit that we are being governed by a criminal outfit would constitute, once again, a “Constitutional crisis,” which in the mind of a politician is feared as a dangerous disturbance of the peace, a stepping out into the dread unknown. Better, they think, to bide their time and elect a Democrat to the White House in 2008.

This is assuming that the election of 2008 would be fair. But wait—that’s exactly the problem. We can no longer make any such assumption. This is precisely the most basic underlying reason for the illegitimacy of the present regime. There is no assurance that the vote will not be falsified again. It’s sheer foolishness for Democrats to continue to postpone their opposition to an illegitimate regime by putting their faith in an electoral process already subverted by said regime.

Having said all that, we come to the much more serious crisis, which is a crisis that predates the ascension of Bush and his friends to power. Both political parties are complicit in a long-term imperial project, a drive for world hegemony that goes back, at least in its most threatening form, to the end of World War II and the beginning of the so-called “Cold War.” That’s the paradigm that is strangling us. The crisis of Bushism is serious enough, since it threatens a takeover by what is, in effect, a neo-fascist cabal that would destroy what vestiges of freedom we have left. But even if the neocon and rightist Republican movement is defeated domestically, the imperial project remains in place, regardless of which party is in power. Those putative progressives who expect the struggle to relax when (if) a Democrat occupies the White House, are living in a fool’s paradise indeed.

The correct political strategy in the long run is to oppose the Bush administration in everything. Bipartisanship has been dead a long time, and it was killed off quite deliberately by the Republican Party. Those who still believe in it and try to practice it will lose every single time because they’re playing by defunct rules. Those who support the Bush administration in anything, regardless of party, need to be opposed in regards to that support. If my representative in the House is a Democrat, and she votes to keep going in Iraq, or to confirm some crackpot Bush appointee, or whatever, she needs to know that I oppose that, and she can’t take my vote for granted. More significantly, we need to oppose imperial policies regardless of which party supports them—in this respect we can see how it makes perfect sense for people to stage protests at Nancy Pelosi’s office, and for Cindy Sheehan to talk about running against her. I don’t give a damn who is annoyed about it. The times are too serious for half-assed measures.

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~ by cdash on December 5, 2007.

11 Responses to “Radical Measures”

  1. i can see a knoll — and it has some grass.
    😎

    i agree there is a whole status quo/dumbing down of the american populace thing.

    i just think the endemic fraud thing is hard thing to pull of time and time again in a nation with 300,000,000 divergent interests. it would mean every relevant party (media, voting machine makers, etc.) be complicit every single time — and constantly have the same interest in mind. that is tough to see happening

    i do believe there was true fraud in 2000 and 2004. voters were either “dropped”, disenfranchised or the like — there is no doubt that once in power, bush and co would do anything to stay in power — and that is why in the back of my mind i dont see him easily walking out on 1/20/09 (tho this new NIE report makes them go back to the drawing board). and i also will agree the dems are not entirely different.

    there have been electoral watershed moments in the country – 1932, 1976, 1994 and to a small (very small) extent 2006 — which throws wrinkles in the whole “absolute power” theory.

    we have a pretty sucky electoral system — it is unworkable, it is antiquated, it is corrupt. it sucks people in, even principled people and changes them. i would change in a heart beat, but i cant help believe that no matter what system we have — it cant stop bushes and others from tinkering and abusing to stay in power.

    i hope some of this made sense at 455am

  2. Wow. You make a powerful and depressing case for why we need radical change in this country if we are going to get back our true form of government.

    I’m worried that we are, as a nation, incapable of radical change. I just don’t see people interrupting the perceived comfort of their lives to make those radical changes.

    I think most of us are more inclined to just grab the remote and pretend that we aren’t drowning in debt and our own body fat.

  3. We’re not capable of radical change. Gas would have be $10/gallon, there would have to be an endless stream of bloody photographs on the news, and politicians would have to decide, nearly en masse, to not be whores to corporate America. No offense intended to actual whores who work for a living.

    As long as there is shit on the TV because the populace is brain-dead through a combination of garbage education, lack of curiosity, high fructose corn syrup and various other ailments, nothing will be done.

    Because of what Dashiell said: we assume. And we know what that makes. Oh, how I hate them all.

  4. Re: distributorcap. There is one practical step that would help reform elections–eliminate the Electoral College. You notice that there are no politicians from either party working to do that. That’s because the college makes it much easier for politicians. All they have to do is focus on key states. Without it, they’d have to focus on everyone.
    Meanwhile, if you live in a state where the polls say so-and-so is a lock to win, your vote literally counts for nothing. So of course voters are apathetic.
    Establishment politicians don’t want an energized citizenry. It’s hard enough as it is for them to appear responsive to us while doing the bidding of those who actually own them.
    Dash

  5. This is a compelling and important post. Reading this and the comments here remind me of what I have been thinking about lately. What I should say is thinking about but not yet talking about.

    Is any real change possible short of a true revolution? I am not sure. That may sound either hippy-dippy hopeful or just plain stupid. But I think that trying to fix a house in which the foundation is so cracked, the structure so fouled and the destruction so deep is inane.

    However, and yes are hearing me say this aloud… I don’t want to have to do that.

    However, and I commit to nothing here – I, forget I- we probably all need to think about how and what we would do.

    And live with the knowledge that we may not see the outcome.

    No, I have not been drinking. I wish I had been.

  6. dashiell

    i did a whole post over at DKos about eliminating the electoral college — which is among the WORST electoral systems on the planet. i have to find it

    i so agree it has to be junked — but it wont be not because of the candidates but because it would take 3/4 of the states to change the constitution and as long as those 13 small states retain in inordinate amount of power over the big states in the electoral college — there is NO way that is gonna happen

    California with 36,500,000 people has 55 electoral votes — one electoral vote for each 663,000 people

    Wyoming, with 1/72 the population (515,000) has 3 votes — one vote for each 172,000

    who has the power?

    yes you have to win more little states that big ones — but whole system is so rigged in favor of the small states….

    bottom line — the electoral college really sucks

  7. Dashiell:

    I had quite a sense of dread and hopelessness while I read your magnificent post. Then, I remembered that I don’t live in the United States anymore. I thank a merciful god that with regard to my little corner they were just as brazen has they have been with Iran. If I had a smidgen of a choice I might have stayed and convinced myself it was all cool, that once the Democrat got elected things would be different.

    There’s really no way out of this except for some extreme measure. It will come as a matter of course because the status quo will lead to a complete beggaring of the US economy and at some point peoples’ collective anger will unite instead of divided them and they will place the blame where it properly belongs. It will be hideous. Slow motion holocaust.

    I’m not a revolutionary, not hardly. I’m glad to be away from this.

    With regard to Feingold, et. al., all I can say is that no matter whom you vote for, the government always wins. That’s fine in a country with history, an educated populace, or both. They can laugh off the little episodes of “honest graft” knowing that the baseline isn’t going to change and the baseline isn’t so bad. In the USA, it’s a recipe for disaster. There is no baseline and there are no limits to what can happen.

  8. Saw this first over on Dashiell’s own blog. An excellent, and depressing post. Fran, I too am beginning to feel nothing short of a revolution can fix this but it is very disheartening to feel that way.

  9. Another well written post, Dashiell. I’m not sure when my last hope for positive change died but I was very energized by the Nader campaign in 2000 and even though a win was out of the question the idea of a strenghthening Green Party was intriguing. Naderites were blamed for Al Gore’s loss but that wasn’t close to the truth for several reasons. Al Gore then wasn’t the same person who returned as our resident harbinger of global warming and environmental destabilization but he should have won – would have won if not for the mess in Florida and the polite refusal of the Democrats to raise bloody hell. Essentially Nader was proven right in his analogy about one beast with two heads and I don’t see it changing without revolution. As Kelso says it will be slow and hideous..

    The problem there is that no matter where in the world one lives there’s going to be fallout. This country has too many weapons and more than enough crazies ready to light the fuses. Never mind the worldwide consequences of any kind of financial meltdown and that’s progressing right now.

    Parliamentary democracy appears to be a better medium for stable governments but there’s so much rampant greed and desperation extant everywhere that there’s little point in raising the topic now. Maybe after the revolution and after the fascist regime that will likely follow.

  10. It sounds to me that Democrats are always right. They have never been wrong, simply because they were Democrats.

  11. […] bookmarks tagged assenting Radical Measures saved by 2 others     mutseflutsje bookmarked on 12/31/07 | […]

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