Here in the sunny state of California, the polls have been open for about an hour and a half. NPR news, local news stations all agog with information and news about the coming events for today: who's up for election, what the issues are, who's gonna win, who's gonna make a difference, yada yada yada.
As I drove on one of LA's epic freeways this morning, past gleaming spires of an awakening downtown, I heard Ralph Nader on the radio urging people to vote their conscience. A man had called in yesterday admitting to having voted for Nader 10 years ago but now biting the bullet and voting Democrat in the hopes that they can be pushed to effect the change promised and desperately needed. He said that "if you can stomach it, vote Democrat today." Nader was curious as to what that meant, wondering what people are actually voting for if they ignore their own moral fiber and conscience.
Now, I'm not tooting my horn in the name of Nader over here, but the man made some very good points. To vote for someone in the hopes that they will not fuck you over is not a very firm foundation to stand on. While it can be argued that voting for any other party than the terrible two is a waste of time, I must use a cliche mothers moral here: if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?
Unfortunately, I expect the majority of the American people to take the plunge, running from their own beliefs and opinions, fleeing from the possibility of a minority to the warm, choking clutches of a majority.
I've said many times before that the two party system is dead. Both parties are equally up to their necks in corruption. Both parties heed the call of the dollar far more than the dim din of their constituents.
In 1938, FDR, in his message to congress remarked,
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."
Holy shit! We live in a fascist country! Fuck - that might actually be worse than socialism! Either way it's European which is terrifying, but at least it's not French...dodged a bullet there.
The thing that makes me cringe most in that message is "if the people tolerate..." Indeed. If the people do tolerate...
Don't act surprised when you're coughing up dirt after digging your own grave. The illusion of voting days making a significant amount of difference is one of the few pillars of our original dream of government that we haven't toppled. If people across the country actually did as Nader suggested and voted their conscience, there would be hell to pay in Washington, all the way north to Wall Street. Those ties would be severed by the powerful slice of public opinion and diligence. Birds would sing, trees would whisper in the sweet breeze of freedom.
But as it stands, the races will end today with no more than a figure head change. The faces, the names, the party affiliation, will change. Some might feel a tinge of accomplishment. But in reality, the corporate base on which our current government rests will be unmoved. They will welcome the new members like a fraternity its pledges, and will demand and ultimately gain their brotherly loyalty. And this will continue on, our rights gradually slipping away more and more along with our engagement, giving rise to the apathy that men like Hitler so admired: "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."
...unless, the people don't tolerate...