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November 2000

Shopping For Democracy

By Frank Scott

This is written before the November election takes place , but a few easy predictions can be made. First, the new corporate president will be chosen by a minority of Americans. Sadly, and shamefully, millions of our children live in homes in which neither parent votes, and once again, stay-at-homes will join the opposition in casting a majority vote against the winner.

Second, most who vote will lose, because they won't get what they thought their vote would achieve.

And third, no matter who wins, little will change for most Americans, especially the middle class and working poor.

The wealthy minority will remain wealthy, the debtor majority will stay in debt, and the poor will continue to be the shame of a nation that is richer than any in history. The inequality gap between the top 2% and the rest of us will continue to grow, and workers will still put in more hours to make less money, when inflation and debt is subtracted from their wages.

None of these issues were mentioned in the corporate campaigns , while the anti-corporate Nader-LaDuke team was almost blacked out of public consciousness.

Our shameful system of democracy for those who can afford to buy it prevails, and will continue until the movement for social change is large enough to do something about it. Meanwhile, the corporate candidates offered almost nothing of substance, in a media circus atmosphere that treated the election as if it were a horse race or a boxing match.

Our corporate commissars of capital mealy-mouthed about the influence of big money in American politics, but none had any problem with big American money influencing foreign politics, as in Yugoslavia. And while they differed on some foreign policy matters, they generally agreed that unarmed Palestinians were attacking armed Israeli soldiers with their bodies, and threatening U.S. taxpayer financed bullets and missiles.

The corporado tickets proposed tax policies to benefit their financiers. One offered even more to the rich, while the other scattered a few more dollars to the middle, but both saw to it that private capital remained in control. The same global monopolies that threaten our social environment and our food supply will go on abusing our disabled democracy.

And both Gorberman and Bushney avidly support the death penalty, even putting our electoral system on death row by keeping Nader and Buchanan out of the public debates. This, while we lecture - and often murder - people in other countries, to teach them how to create democracy.

There were mumblings about prescription drugs for seniors, and murmurings about having national health coverage, "someday". But only Nader proposed a single payer program for the nation, which is the way to guarantee equality in health care and assure some fairness in the pricing of drugs.

Americans who travel to Canada, which has single payer insurance, can purchase prescription drugs at one tenth their cost here in the states. Uncontrolled U.S. pharmaceutical firms charge outrageous prices to make billions of dollars, some of which they invest in purchasing shares of the corporate parties. That is why we see such obscene profits for our legal dope dealers, and why we need a system for all Americans - not just children - to have equal access to health care.

Even the candidate's differences on abortion ultimately mean little to millions of women who either live too far way from the dwindling number of providers - 86% of American counties offer no abortion services - or have no insurance coverage to pay the hundreds of dollars needed, even for the new pill.

A Supreme Court that protects the rights of minorities is what we need, but a court that protects a minority that has more money than the majority is what we have. And whoever the corporate winner is, we can be sure that minority wealth will remain in control , with the legal stamp of approval provided by a Supreme Court that will remain strongly pro-choice, for the wealthy.

We may have gained in this election, but only if more Americans showed disgust at having an anti-choice selection for our highest office. Our people might riot if they were limited to only two choices of dog food, automobiles or movies at a film-plex. Yet, voting for lesser evils, out of fear, has become a habit among citizens lead to believe they will return to the past if the greater evil wins. They haven't noticed that our political economics have already gone back to the 19th century, and that this happened while the nation was under the control of a supposed lesser evil.

The revival of ancient beliefs in the market as final arbiter in all human affairs was started by Reagan, but finished by Clinton. The assault on welfare begun by republicans has ended with the democrats, and the social safety net has almost disappeared.

Under pseudo-environmentalist control , the average miles per gallon of our autos has decreased, while traffic, congestion and pollution has increased.

The economy has more people working, but they put in more hours for less money. And they carry physical debt burdens that finance the metaphysical profits of the electronic economy. All this, under the reign of "lesser" evil.

A social structure based on growing consumer debt , more mental and economic depression , bigger threats to the natural environment, and all these to create more investor profits , was unquestioned by the representatives of corporate wealth. Until we have an election in which that issue becomes the focus of a major discussion among the citizenry, we will have no more democracy than the corporations agree to sell us.

The lesson of this election should be that we can no longer buy the shoddy product corporate capital sells us under the brand-name "democracy", unless we seek moral and political bankruptcy.

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