Voting in the absence of Choice
By Charles Sullivan
Clearing House" -- -- Too many Americans harbor the illusion that
we live in a democracy simply because we have the right to vote.
But let us be clear about something: voting matters only where
real choices are allowed. It is universally understood that
special interest money runs the American political system and
thus defines what the choices will be. So we are left to choose
between candidates who are financed by special interest money,
which any fool can see, is no choice at all.
The system is purposely designed to require enormous expense
from its participants. According to the very mainstream USA
Today, the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics predicts
that $2.6 billion will be spent on Congressional races this year
alone, which thus precludes any third party candidate, as well
as ordinary people, from all but token participation. It
requires big money to win political office and big money comes
from the deep pockets of corporate America. In effect, special
interest money has rendered the political process as we know it
null and void by restricting our choices to candidates that have
been pre-chosen for us by corporate America.
The choice is more illusory than real. Plutocrats and workers
have nothing in common. People of ordinary means can no longer
ascend to the presidency or even Congress. The composition of
both the state and federal governments are very different from
the socio-economic demographics of the populations they are
supposed to represent, and it is no accident. Regardless where
you look the rich are represented and the great majority is
So if the Democrats wrest control of the government from the
hands of the Republicans, it will be because conservative
Democrats won some important races, precluding any progressive
mandate from coming into play. On the whole the nation will
remain well to the right of center, and certainly will not
progress toward the left. The bulk of the corporate money will
reverse direction and flow from the Republicans into the coffers
of the Democrats. The corporations will retain control.
One can cast protest votes, as I often do, for candidates who do
not accept special interest money, but they are rarely, if ever,
contenders. It requires huge sums of money to get media
exposure, and to get on state ballots, yet alone contend for the
prize. The system is designed to preclude challenges to the
status quo, which leaves us to choose between Republicrats
fielded by corporate backers.
Corporate money so owns the political process that voters are
left to choose only between the finer nuances of the capital
system, and between degrees of corruption. Ultimately the choice
is between lesser evils, which speak volumes about the state of
decay of American politics. Good never springs from evil, so we
witness the steady moral decline of a nation mired in corruption
There is nothing benign about corporate financiers who hedge
their bets by supporting candidates of the major parties.
Corporate CEOs are not philanthropists interested in the well
being of America. They are motivated by greed and profits, and
when they finance political campaigns, make no mistake about it;
they are renting or buying politicians who will help them
achieve their objectives.
Special interest money is a malignancy that grows in the bowels
of government, and it must be removed lest it kill the host.
A system in which the high rollers and fat cats feed upon the
bloated corpses of the tax payers and is accountable to no one
should be an affront to all decent people of every political
stripe. Let us see the political system in America for what it
is, and for the cruel hoax that it has always been.
The corporate financing of political campaigns is, in fact, a
capital investment in the status quo that benefits the wealthy
and marginalizes those with neither wealth nor property. That
explains why substantive change is rarely accomplished through
the vote in America. It also explains the remarkable consistency
and homogeneity of governmental policy through the decades;
domestic and foreign, regardless of which party is in power.
Those policies have consistently accrued wealth and influence to
the rich by exploiting the working class, and with disastrous
results for the world. It has resulted in war after war,
occupation after occupation; and the systematic overthrow of
The corporations and their puppets in government are realizing
enormous profits from the system, and they will not allow
significant or radical change from within the existing order.
The system cannot and will not be reformed; the money changers
will not allow it.
Now the great majority of the population is disenfranchised and
left out of the equation. Only those with wealth are allowed to
play. Money talks and those who do not have an abundance of
wealth are without voice in a political system awash in cash and
If working class people were running the government, rather than
wealthy Plutocrats, we would not be in the current predicament
that threatens to engulf us, and we would have avoided many of
the pitfalls that have trapped us in the past. We would never
have experienced a Viet Nam War, there would have been no
invasion and occupation of Iraq; and we would have socialized
health care and decent schools like other industrialized
nations, rather than tax cuts for the rich and massive corporate
There is a huge difference between a government of the people
and corporate ‘for profit’ governance. America would be a much
better place without corporate rule, and unquestionably the
world would be better off and much safer.
I am not sure what the solution is to the dilemma we have
created for ourselves through detachment, indifference and
apathy. I do know, however, that doing the same thing over and
over will assure a similar result to what we have gotten in the
past. At some point we must acknowledge the illegitimacy of the
political process, and see it for the prostitution and the sham
that it is. It is incapable of producing just results or the
change we need in order to become a Democracy.
There are no easy ways out of the morass we have created. It may
be that another tea party similar to the one enacted at Boston
Harbor over two hundred years ago is the only cure for what ails
us. I survive on the hope that eventually enough good people
will arrive at a similar conclusion, and that we will effect
change directly in the streets of America. That is what I would
call participatory Democracy, and it would be a thing of beauty
USA Today 10/29/2006
Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free lance writer and
social activist living in West Virginia. He welcomes your
comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on "comments" below to read or post comments