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John Simkin

Is America a democracy?

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Another poster mentioned our dwindling rights in our democracy.  I certainly would not want to sound cynical but I've felt in my adult years that we have never, by design, been a legitimate democracy.  For a time this was a republic, but our political system has degenerated into an absolute oligarchy.  The assassination is just a good example of this state.  How could we lose what we never had?  The only difference between the old Soviet Union and the United States was that they were honest.  "Life stinks and it'll probably stink tomorrow.  Welcome to the Worker's Paradise."  While our expertise lay in marketing ad advertising.  "Yes, things are not quite right presently, but you get a vote and in four years things will change because of it!"....

Erik, I think this is very much on the mark. There's nothing wrong with sounding cynical when you're stating the truth. I think American democracy to a large extent has been a charade for at least as long (in hindsight) as I can remember.

Dallas and 9/11 are the two most egregious examples of when the oligarchic/MIC beast behind the democratic charade has raised its ugly head to impose basic change. Normally the well-fed beast is content to let the people have their fun and games, vigorously debating about whom to cast their votes for in the next stolen election.

Over the last few months there have been several quotations like those above from Erik and Ron. As an outsider I have long seen America as a flawed democracy. However, our media, portrays America very differently. The impression is given that the American people are not aware of what is happening to their country. This has been reinforced by the re-election of George Bush.

Since starting the JFK Assassination of Forum I have been given new insights into American politics. I know you are not typical but your understanding of the American political process has amazed me. However, your postings have also disturbed me. In the UK we have similar problems with our flawed democratic system as you do. Yet, most of us still feel we can do something about it. Whereas American posters seem resigned to their fate.

I would therefore like to ask two questions: Is America a democracy? If not, can it become a democracy?

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Another poster mentioned our dwindling rights in our democracy.  I certainly would not want to sound cynical but I've felt in my adult years that we have never, by design, been a legitimate democracy.  For a time this was a republic, but our political system has degenerated into an absolute oligarchy.  The assassination is just a good example of this state.  How could we lose what we never had?  The only difference between the old Soviet Union and the United States was that they were honest.  "Life stinks and it'll probably stink tomorrow.  Welcome to the Worker's Paradise."  While our expertise lay in marketing ad advertising.  "Yes, things are not quite right presently, but you get a vote and in four years things will change because of it!"....

Erik, I think this is very much on the mark. There's nothing wrong with sounding cynical when you're stating the truth. I think American democracy to a large extent has been a charade for at least as long (in hindsight) as I can remember.

Dallas and 9/11 are the two most egregious examples of when the oligarchic/MIC beast behind the democratic charade has raised its ugly head to impose basic change. Normally the well-fed beast is content to let the people have their fun and games, vigorously debating about whom to cast their votes for in the next stolen election.

Over the last few months there have been several quotations like those above from Erik and Ron. As an outsider I have long seen America as a flawed democracy. However, our media, portrays America very differently. The impression is given that the American people are not aware of what is happening to their country. This has been reinforced by the re-election of George Bush.

Since starting the JFK Assassination of Forum I have been given new insights into American politics. I know you are not typical but your understanding of the American political process has amazed me. However, your postings have also disturbed me. In the UK we have similar problems with our flawed democratic system as you do. Yet, most of us still feel we can do something about it. Whereas American posters seem resigned to their fate.

I would therefore like to ask two questions: Is America a democracy? If not, can it become a democracy?

For a time this was a republic, but our political system has degenerated into an absolute oligarchy. The assassination is just a good example of this state. How could we lose what we never had? The only difference between the old Soviet Union and the United States was that they were honest. "Life stinks and it'll probably stink tomorrow. Welcome to the Worker's Paradise." While our expertise lay in marketing ad advertising. "Yes, things are not quite right presently, but you get a vote and in four years things will change because of it!"....

I agree, you do get to vote, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything will change. We still have a fascist regime in both houses. Our system of checks and balances have been compromised. And, how about the issue of electronic ballots and the open field it leaves for further corruption of our voting system?

As an outsider I have long seen America as a flawed democracy. However, our media, portrays America very differently. The impression is given that the American people are not aware of what is happening to their country. This has been reinforced by the re-election of George Bush.

The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

Your media and the European media portray America correctly, but the majority of Americans are unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and have been coerced pschologically into believing whatever is fed to them via NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Therefore, the impression that "the American people are not aware of what is happening..." is very much on the mark, but you can add to that, "nor do the majority want to know, but prefer to remain in the dark, as long as they're assured their most basic needs are going to be met." Case in point, I can only discuss what we're addressing here with a few people at my job. Three to be exact, out of fifteen, because the other ten are afraid to make what they believe to be waves in their lives, are fearful of what kind of a can of worms they may open up and find, and consider themselves totally helpless to change the pattern they feel has been allowed to evolve, because they view their vote as an exercise in futility. The two others are not citizens. I have heard only one of my colleagues mention remorse in casting her vote for Bush. And, that's probably because she never really listened to what my two like-minded co-workers and I were discussing until recently, and began observing inconsistencies in the Bush administration that ran counter to what she had been anticipating.

The majority of the American people are more impressed by "showmanship" and the latest fashion, moreso than by content and quality. It's been successfully ingrained into their psyches by the media. Nor will they listen to something not presented as a sound byte, or a catchy slogan. They prefer everything pre-packaged, par-boiled, and easily consumable, with the minimum of effort required to read the fine print, or warnings on the labels. This is what I refer to as the dumbing-down of American, or of western intellect. And, they've bought it, wholeheartedly and accepted it, regardless of the consequences, or recognizing any responsibility their actions [in-actions] may have contributed to what they now find to be so inadequate.

They've allowed themselves to be led down a primrose path, and could care less about government policy, just as long as they're able to afford to send their kids to private schools, in order to avoid the stark and gutted realities of our inner cities' public school system. Those in California, who've voted for Scwartzenegger [sp.?] are finally coming to terms with his worthless promises. There aren't enough textbooks to go around, and the ones that exist must be shared between students. People in California vote to keep their property taxes down, but as a result, shoot themselves in the foot, because their school system ends up taking it in the teeth. What about all those promises of Lotto money and the shot in the arm it would provide for the schools? Probably pocketed by the owners of the Lotto franchises. Let's face it, there's no pie in the sky scheme that's going to somehow miraculously come down and "amnesty" us out of this debacle. If people come to California, hoping to raise a family, they'd be better off looking to Oregon or Seattle to meet the educational needs of their children. Because, unless you're able to afford private schools, you'll be doing your children a grave disservice.

So, if we sound cynical, maybe we should heed the words of either George Bernard Shaw, or was it Noel Coward, or Oscar Wilde [pardon my lapse of memory here] who stated in so many words, "A cynic is not one to be thought of as a negative person, but one who is simply aware of his surroundings." Or, something to that effect. The majority of Americans are totally unaware because they choose to be ostriches and hide there heads in the sand.

A total embarressment before the rest of the world.

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Terry, I believe you've stated the case both accurately and eloquently. The current administration in Washington--I voted for Bush the first time, but not the second--believes in uniformity of thought, as opposed to the New Frontier's encouragement of brainstorming to come up with the most viable solutions. This insistence upon conformity goes counter to my education. I was taught to question authority, and to point out when the emperor has no clothes. These days, that brings on charges of "treason," as disagreement with the administration is translated as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy."

America's response to political situations has always been shaped by the media of the day. The Spainsh-American war was, most likely, precipitated by the Hearst newspapers' coverage of the sinking of the Maine and the public outrage the coverage generated...and it's long been suspected that this was a Northwoods-style operation. So the tactics aren't new.

But the American public is beginning to develop a sense of futility, as is witnessed by the ever-decreasing turnout of eligible voters in national elections. With a large voter turnout, the American republic becomes closer to a democracy; as voter apathy grows, the concept of democracy diminishes until, at some point, it's a mere plurality rather than a majority of voters who end up selecting office holders. And while it would seem that decreasing numbers of voters would make each vote more important, the public perception is that each vote becomes less important. And then factor in the probability of fraud with electronic voting-- if we can't stop hackers from breaching the government's own computers, how can we secure electronic voting machines?--and the entire process begins to show that the individual matters little, while as the moneyed interests can flex their muscles and get exactly what they want.

And why are so many Americans failing to participate in the electoral process? One explanation that comes to mind is the analogy of the man who keeps beating his head on the wall; it hurts a lot less when you finally quit. Another explanation might be in what the youth of today are taughtin schools across America. In my youth, I was taught that voting was a right for which men fought and died, and that my vote makes a difference; today, students such as my own children are taught that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that one vote in a pool of, say, 100 million has negligible significance...so it probably isn't worth the effort.

I have a sister-in-law who is an elected county government official, as well as being an educator. She and her husband no longer watch news on NBC, CBS, ABC, or CNN, and they "protest" the alleged liberal slant in the local news by cancelling their subscription to the daily newspaper. If it isn't heard on Hannity & Colmes, Rush Limbaugh, or FOXNews, they are unaware of what's occurring in the nation and the world around them. And I know a number of folks whose news habits are similar, so they are definitely NOT the eccentrics one might think. On the other hand, I try to access as many news sources as possible; I think that, in the marketplace of ideas, one must first be exposed to ideas before one accepts or dismisses them. I believe that an open mind, as an open window blind, allows the light to come in; but I suppose a growing problem with democracy in America is that an increasing number of Americans are choosing to shut out the light, rather than to examine the light as does a prism, and filter it into hues that they can accept.

But I also believe that, unless America changes its course and does more to encourage participation in the political processes, the democratic republic that we have managed to hold together for nearly 230 years will end up alongside Soviet communism in the "dustbin of history," swept aside for something "more efficient." The current battle against the congressional filibuster, for example, is but one attempt to replace tradition and democracy and moderation with efficiency. If such trends continue, I expect to see compromise and accomodation replaced with strict adherence to the majority party's dogma, and the voice of the individual citizen muffled--and finally snuffed--in the name of security, efficiency, and "national unity."

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Another poster mentioned our dwindling rights in our democracy.  I certainly would not want to sound cynical but I've felt in my adult years that we have never, by design, been a legitimate democracy.  For a time this was a republic, but our political system has degenerated into an absolute oligarchy.  The assassination is just a good example of this state.  How could we lose what we never had?  The only difference between the old Soviet Union and the United States was that they were honest.  "Life stinks and it'll probably stink tomorrow.  Welcome to the Worker's Paradise."  While our expertise lay in marketing ad advertising.  "Yes, things are not quite right presently, but you get a vote and in four years things will change because of it!"....

Erik, I think this is very much on the mark. There's nothing wrong with sounding cynical when you're stating the truth. I think American democracy to a large extent has been a charade for at least as long (in hindsight) as I can remember.

Dallas and 9/11 are the two most egregious examples of when the oligarchic/MIC beast behind the democratic charade has raised its ugly head to impose basic change. Normally the well-fed beast is content to let the people have their fun and games, vigorously debating about whom to cast their votes for in the next stolen election.

Over the last few months there have been several quotations like those above from Erik and Ron. As an outsider I have long seen America as a flawed democracy. However, our media, portrays America very differently. The impression is given that the American people are not aware of what is happening to their country. This has been reinforced by the re-election of George Bush.

Since starting the JFK Assassination of Forum I have been given new insights into American politics. I know you are not typical but your understanding of the American political process has amazed me. However, your postings have also disturbed me. In the UK we have similar problems with our flawed democratic system as you do. Yet, most of us still feel we can do something about it. Whereas American posters seem resigned to their fate.

I would therefore like to ask two questions: Is America a democracy? If not, can it become a democracy?

GLOBALYSTS

They have made of Democracy a perennial fraud

They who first shunned our Constitutional mode,

They sieged faints hearts with brute economic rod

They have set our minds and feet on a global road,

They the creators of chaos, and devious solutions

They the few, Masters of All world conditions!

{c} Harry Dean

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The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

My dictionary defines a democracy as “a government in which the supreme power is exercised by the people directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving free elections… the absence of class distinctions or privileges”.

It is true that both the United States and Britain both regularly hold free elections. However, I would argue that in both cases the people in Parliament/Congress do not accurately represent the political opinions of the electorate. The main reason for this is that both countries employ the “first past the post” system. The result is that in both countries a two party system has developed. This is a major problem in the United States as both parties share a very similar political philosophy. Since the emergence of Tony Blair and the election of his New Labour government, Britain has developed a similar problem. The philosophy of New Labour and the Conservative Party is now the same. It is true that this philosophy is also shared by the majority of the population. However, the system makes it virtually impossible for those who hold different views, to gain representation in the House of Commons.

Understandably, this has resulted in large numbers of people holding views in conflict with the dominant ideology, refusing to vote in elections.

It has often been argued that the “first past the post” is a flawed system but has the merit of keeping “extremist political parties” out of power. Even if this was true (and I don’t believe it is) this viewpoint is completely undemocratic. It shows that the so called “democratic system” is being manipulated in order to deny a proportion of the population representation in Parliament.

Democracies are undermined by the fact that some people can use their power and wealth to influence the result of elections. Of course, the people who pay out this money expect something in return. The United States has suffered from this problem for some time. George Bush is only the latest president to reward his financial backers.

In Britain there has been a dramatic change in the way the Labour Party has been funded. At one time the party was largely funded by the trade unions. It now relies on donations from wealthy individuals. Of course, it is very unusual for wealthy individuals to provide money to political parties committed to redistribution of wealth. It is therefore no surprise that this aspect of the party’s programme has been dropped.

Recently the parliamentary ombudsman forced Tony Blair to disclose details of private meetings he has had with commercial lobbyists. This has resulted in the revelation that Blair had a private meeting with Paul Drayson on 6th December, 2001. Soon afterwards two things happened: (1) Drayson donated £100,000 to the Labour Party; (2) Drayson’s company, PowerJect, won a £32 million contract to produce a smallpox vaccine. The most surprising aspect of this contract was that it was not put out to open tender.

Another company to get lots of government contracts is Jarvis. The company is involved in building and maintaining railways, schools, hospitals and roads and is totally dependent on government contracts. Despite having a chairman, Steven Norris, who is a former Conservative Party minister, Jarvis is a generous donor to the Labour Party.

If this happened in local government the person responsible would be imprisoned for corruption. However, prime ministers can do it without any fear of it having any problems with the courts.

And why are so many Americans failing to participate in the electoral process?  One explanation that comes to mind is the analogy of the man who keeps beating his head on the wall; it hurts a lot less when you finally quit.  Another explanation might be in what the youth of today are taught in schools across America.  In my youth, I was taught that voting was a right for which men fought and died, and that my vote makes a difference; today, students such as my own children are taught that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that one vote in a pool of, say, 100 million has negligible significance...so it probably isn't worth the effort.

This is a very important point. The problem will only be solved when the majority of people believe it is a problem. We must find a way of persuading people that the decline in democracy and an increase in political corruption is inevitable. Obtaining the vote was only the first stage in the democratic process. The power elite was bound to use its power to regain control of the political process. This they have done in the UK and the US. Some European countries, especially in northern Europe, have done a better job in protecting their democracies. Hopefully, some of these measures can be employed in the UK and the US.

I am currently involved with a group of European educators in developing a project that looks at the way that citizenship is taught in schools. We hope to provide ideas on how it should be taught in the future.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=219

As part of this project we are creating debates about democracy. One of these debates is: “Do we live in a democracy?” I would be very grateful if any of your comments that are relevant to this debate, is added to this thread:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=243

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The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

Hi Terry

Since persons of color and women were disenfranchised at the time of the Lincoln administration and for much of the nineteenth century eligible voters were bullied by machine politicians (Boss Tweed etc) or by street gangs, I don't see Lincoln's time or the rest of the 19th century as being a golden age of democracy. Civil rights were an issue during FDR and JFK's administrations so those examples don't really show us democracy at its best either. In fact, in terms of the population eligible to vote, the United States populace of today is probably best able to enjoy the fruits of democracy, although the flaws in the U.S. system with the electoral college and the inability to have a vote of confidence for lawmakers to call an election, unlike the British system, impair the ability to have democracy.

Your media and the European media portray America correctly, but the majority of Americans are unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and have been coerced pschologically into believing whatever is fed to them via NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Therefore, the impression that "the American people are not aware of what is happening..." is very much on the mark, but you can add to that, "nor do the majority want to know, but prefer to remain in the dark, as long as they're assured their most basic needs are going to be met." Case in point, I can only discuss what we're addressing here with a few people at my job. Three to be exact, out of fifteen, because the other ten are afraid to make what they believe to be waves in their lives, are fearful of what kind of a can of worms they may open up and find, and consider themselves totally helpless to change the pattern they feel has been allowed to evolve, because they view their vote as an exercise in futility. The two others are not citizens. I have heard only one of my colleagues mention remorse in casting her vote for Bush. And, that's probably because she never really listened to what my two like-minded co-workers and I were discussing until recently, and began observing inconsistencies in the Bush administration that ran counter to what she had been anticipating. 

The majority of the American people are more impressed by "showmanship" and the latest fashion, moreso than by content and quality. It's been successfully ingrained into their psyches by the media. Nor will they listen to something not presented as a sound byte, or a catchy slogan. They prefer everything pre-packaged, par-boiled, and easily consumable, with the minimum of effort required to read the fine print, or warnings on the labels. This is what I refer to as the dumbing-down of American, or of western intellect. And, they've bought it, wholeheartedly and accepted it, regardless of the consequences, or recognizing any responsibility their actions [in-actions] may have contributed to what they now find to be so inadequate.

They've allowed themselves to be led down a primrose path, and could care less about government policy, just as long as they're able to afford to send their kids to private schools, in order to avoid the stark and gutted realities of our inner cities' public school system. Those in California, who've voted for Scwartzenegger [sp.?] are finally coming to terms with his worthless promises. There aren't  enough textbooks to go around, and the ones that exist must be shared between students. People in California vote to keep their property taxes down, but as a result, shoot themselves in the foot, because their school system ends up taking it in the teeth. What about all those promises of Lotto money and the shot in the arm it would provide for the schools? Probably pocketed by the owners of the Lotto franchises. Let's face it, there's no pie in the sky scheme that's going to somehow miraculously come down and "amnesty" us out of this debacle. If people come to California, hoping to raise a family, they'd be better off looking to Oregon or Seattle to meet the educational needs of their children. Because, unless you're able to afford private schools, you'll be doing your children a grave disservice.

So, if we sound cynical, maybe we should heed the words of either George Bernard Shaw, or was it Noel Coward, or Oscar Wilde [pardon my lapse of memory here] who stated in so many words, "A cynic is not one to be thought of as a negative person, but one who is simply aware of his surroundings." Or, something to that effect. The majority of Americans are totally unaware because they choose to be ostriches and hide there heads in the sand.

A total embarressment before the rest of the world.

I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active. At present, the large majority people in the U.S. populace believe they have no reason to become activists, and so many do not even vote for the same reason.

Best regards

Chris

Edited by Christopher T. George

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I'm with Chris on this, I don't believe the "good ol days" were so good.... My main enemies in our great nation are banking and the government as a human institution. Since I'll end up rambling for 6 or 7 pages I'll fall back on the words of two people.

"Funds and banks I never approved of, or was satisfied with our funding system; it was founded on no consistant principle; it was contrived to enrich particular individuals at the public expense. Our whole banking system I ever abhored, I continue to abhor, and I shall die abhoring...

"I am not an enemy of funding systems...but every bank of discount, every bank by which intrest is to be paid or profit of any kind made by the deponent, is downright corruption. It is taxing the public for the benefit and proft of individuals; it's worse than the old tenor, continental currency, or any paper money....

John Adams 1811 letter to Benjamin Rush

Selected writings of John and Quincy Adams, 1946 p 162-3.

"The right of absolute and irresponsible dominion is the right of property, and the right of property is the right of irresponsible dominion...But these men who claim and exercise absolute dominion over us dare not be consistant, and claim to be our masters or to own us as property. They say they are only our servant, agents, attorneys, and representatives. No man can be my servant, agent, attorney, or representative, and be, at the same time, uncontrolable by me, and irresponsible to me for his acts."

Lysander Spooner

Heretics Handbook of Quotations, 1988, p.35.

This basically sums up how I feel about all of our governments........

The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

Hi Terry

Since persons of color and women were disenfranchised at the time of the Lincoln administration and for much of the nineteenth century eligible voters were bullied by machine politicians (Boss Tweed etc) or by street gangs, I don't see Lincoln's time or the rest of the 19th century as being a golden age of democracy. Civil rights were an issue during FDR and JFK's administrations so those examples don't really show us democracy at its best either. In fact, in terms of the population eligible to vote, the United States populace of today is probably best able to enjoy the fruits of democracy, although the flaws in the U.S. system with the electoral college and the inability to have a vote of confidence for lawmakers to call an election, unlike the British system, impair the ability to have democracy.

Your media and the European media portray America correctly, but the majority of Americans are unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and have been coerced pschologically into believing whatever is fed to them via NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Therefore, the impression that "the American people are not aware of what is happening..." is very much on the mark, but you can add to that, "nor do the majority want to know, but prefer to remain in the dark, as long as they're assured their most basic needs are going to be met." Case in point, I can only discuss what we're addressing here with a few people at my job. Three to be exact, out of fifteen, because the other ten are afraid to make what they believe to be waves in their lives, are fearful of what kind of a can of worms they may open up and find, and consider themselves totally helpless to change the pattern they feel has been allowed to evolve, because they view their vote as an exercise in futility. The two others are not citizens. I have heard only one of my colleagues mention remorse in casting her vote for Bush. And, that's probably because she never really listened to what my two like-minded co-workers and I were discussing until recently, and began observing inconsistencies in the Bush administration that ran counter to what she had been anticipating. 

The majority of the American people are more impressed by "showmanship" and the latest fashion, moreso than by content and quality. It's been successfully ingrained into their psyches by the media. Nor will they listen to something not presented as a sound byte, or a catchy slogan. They prefer everything pre-packaged, par-boiled, and easily consumable, with the minimum of effort required to read the fine print, or warnings on the labels. This is what I refer to as the dumbing-down of American, or of western intellect. And, they've bought it, wholeheartedly and accepted it, regardless of the consequences, or recognizing any responsibility their actions [in-actions] may have contributed to what they now find to be so inadequate.

They've allowed themselves to be led down a primrose path, and could care less about government policy, just as long as they're able to afford to send their kids to private schools, in order to avoid the stark and gutted realities of our inner cities' public school system. Those in California, who've voted for Scwartzenegger [sp.?] are finally coming to terms with his worthless promises. There aren't  enough textbooks to go around, and the ones that exist must be shared between students. People in California vote to keep their property taxes down, but as a result, shoot themselves in the foot, because their school system ends up taking it in the teeth. What about all those promises of Lotto money and the shot in the arm it would provide for the schools? Probably pocketed by the owners of the Lotto franchises. Let's face it, there's no pie in the sky scheme that's going to somehow miraculously come down and "amnesty" us out of this debacle. If people come to California, hoping to raise a family, they'd be better off looking to Oregon or Seattle to meet the educational needs of their children. Because, unless you're able to afford private schools, you'll be doing your children a grave disservice.

So, if we sound cynical, maybe we should heed the words of either George Bernard Shaw, or was it Noel Coward, or Oscar Wilde [pardon my lapse of memory here] who stated in so many words, "A cynic is not one to be thought of as a negative person, but one who is simply aware of his surroundings." Or, something to that effect. The majority of Americans are totally unaware because they choose to be ostriches and hide there heads in the sand.

A total embarressment before the rest of the world.

I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active. At present, the large majority people in the U.S. populace believe they have no reason to become activists, and so many do not even vote for the same reason.

Best regards

Chris

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Terry, I believe you've stated the case both accurately and eloquently.  The current administration in Washington--I voted for Bush the first time, but not the second--believes in uniformity of thought, as opposed to the New Frontier's encouragement of brainstorming to come up with the most viable solutions.  This insistence upon conformity goes counter to my education.  I was taught to question authority, and to point out when the emperor has no clothes.  These days, that brings on charges of "treason," as disagreement with the administration is translated as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy."

America's response to political situations has always been shaped by the media of the day.  The Spainsh-American war was, most likely, precipitated by the Hearst newspapers' coverage of the sinking of the Maine and the public outrage the coverage generated...and it's long been suspected that this was a Northwoods-style operation.  So the tactics aren't new.

But the American public is beginning to develop a sense of futility, as is witnessed by the ever-decreasing turnout of eligible voters in national elections.  With a large voter turnout, the American republic becomes closer to a democracy; as voter apathy grows, the concept of democracy diminishes until, at some point, it's a mere plurality rather than a majority of voters who end up selecting office holders.  And while it would seem that decreasing numbers of voters would make each vote more important, the public perception is that each vote becomes less important.  And then factor in the probability of fraud with electronic voting-- if we can't stop hackers from breaching the government's own computers, how can we secure electronic voting machines?--and the entire process begins to show that the individual matters little, while as the moneyed interests can flex their muscles and get exactly what they want.

And why are so many Americans failing to participate in the electoral process?  One explanation that comes to mind is the analogy of the man who keeps beating his head on the wall; it hurts a lot less when you finally quit.  Another explanation might be in what the youth of today are taughtin schools across America.  In my youth, I was taught that voting was a right for which men fought and died, and that my vote makes a difference; today, students such as my own children are taught that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that one vote in a pool of, say, 100 million has negligible significance...so it probably isn't worth the effort.

I have a sister-in-law who is an elected county government official, as well as being an educator.  She and her husband no longer watch news on NBC, CBS, ABC, or CNN, and they "protest" the alleged liberal slant in the local news by cancelling their subscription to the daily newspaper.  If it isn't heard on Hannity & Colmes, Rush Limbaugh, or FOXNews, they are unaware of what's occurring in the nation and the world around them.  And I know a number of folks whose news habits are similar, so they are definitely NOT the eccentrics one might think.  On the other hand, I try to access as many news sources as possible; I think that, in the marketplace of ideas, one must first be exposed to ideas before one accepts or dismisses them. I believe that an open mind, as an open window blind, allows the light to come in; but I suppose a growing problem with democracy in America is that an increasing number of Americans are choosing to shut out the light, rather than to examine the light as does a prism, and filter it into hues that they can accept.

But I also believe that, unless America changes its course and does more to encourage participation in the political processes, the democratic republic that we have managed to hold together for nearly 230 years will end up alongside Soviet communism in the "dustbin of history," swept aside for something "more efficient."  The current battle against the congressional filibuster, for example, is but one attempt to replace tradition and democracy and moderation with efficiency.  If such trends continue, I expect to see compromise and accomodation replaced with strict adherence to the majority party's dogma, and the voice of the individual citizen muffled--and finally snuffed--in the name of security, efficiency, and "national unity."

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your insightful and thought-provoking reply, of which I'm most appreciative.

As you stated:

"America's response to political situations has always been shaped by the media of the day. The Spanish-American war was, most likely, precipitated by the Hearst newspapers' coverage of the sinking of the Maine and the public outrage the coverage generated...and it's long been suspected that this was a Northwoods-style operation. So the tactics aren't new."

It's quite well-known that the "slogan", REMEMBER THE MAINE, was an exercise in advertisement to sell Hearst's newpapers, with attention grabbing "banner" headlines, in an effort to stoke the popular opinion of the necessity of going to war. Similar to the WTC debacle, maybe? MHO.

"I have a sister-in-law who is an elected county government official, as well as being an educator. She and her husband no longer watch news on NBC, CBS, ABC, or CNN, and they "protest" the alleged liberal slant in the local news by cancelling their subscription to the daily newspaper. If it isn't heard on Hannity & Colmes, Rush Limbaugh, or FOXNews, they are unaware of what's occurring in the nation and the world around them. And I know a number of folks whose news habits are similar, so they are definitely NOT the eccentrics one might think. On the other hand, I try to access as many news sources as possible; I think that, in the marketplace of ideas, one must first be exposed to ideas before one accepts or dismisses them."

I couldn't agree with you more. And, it is for this reason that I choose to view my sources from a foreign news perspective, rather than the via the supposedly, and IMHO, and incorrectly identified by some as "liberal", stance of the American news services. The Fourth Estate, has been co-opted, as well as, corrupted by the "right" from what I've observed, of either of the Times' syndicates out of NYC, or LA. And, as far as American news broadcasting, all of them seem to pale in comparison to those of European offices. Unfortunately, your sister-in-law is representative of just how far to the extreme right the majority of voters seem to have bought into, what I consider to be "backward intolerance", an attitude I consider reminiscent of the old "Dixiecrats" of the pre-civil rights era. Perhaps that's what was really meant by their metaphoric use of the term of the early 1990's, "conservative revolution"?

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Terry, I believe you've stated the case both accurately and eloquently.  The current administration in Washington--I voted for Bush the first time, but not the second--believes in uniformity of thought, as opposed to the New Frontier's encouragement of brainstorming to come up with the most viable solutions.  This insistence upon conformity goes counter to my education.  I was taught to question authority, and to point out when the emperor has no clothes.  These days, that brings on charges of "treason," as disagreement with the administration is translated as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy."

America's response to political situations has always been shaped by the media of the day.  The Spainsh-American war was, most likely, precipitated by the Hearst newspapers' coverage of the sinking of the Maine and the public outrage the coverage generated...and it's long been suspected that this was a Northwoods-style operation.  So the tactics aren't new.

But the American public is beginning to develop a sense of futility, as is witnessed by the ever-decreasing turnout of eligible voters in national elections.  With a large voter turnout, the American republic becomes closer to a democracy; as voter apathy grows, the concept of democracy diminishes until, at some point, it's a mere plurality rather than a majority of voters who end up selecting office holders.  And while it would seem that decreasing numbers of voters would make each vote more important, the public perception is that each vote becomes less important.  And then factor in the probability of fraud with electronic voting-- if we can't stop hackers from breaching the government's own computers, how can we secure electronic voting machines?--and the entire process begins to show that the individual matters little, while as the moneyed interests can flex their muscles and get exactly what they want.

And why are so many Americans failing to participate in the electoral process?  One explanation that comes to mind is the analogy of the man who keeps beating his head on the wall; it hurts a lot less when you finally quit.  Another explanation might be in what the youth of today are taughtin schools across America.  In my youth, I was taught that voting was a right for which men fought and died, and that my vote makes a difference; today, students such as my own children are taught that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that one vote in a pool of, say, 100 million has negligible significance...so it probably isn't worth the effort.

I have a sister-in-law who is an elected county government official, as well as being an educator.  She and her husband no longer watch news on NBC, CBS, ABC, or CNN, and they "protest" the alleged liberal slant in the local news by cancelling their subscription to the daily newspaper.  If it isn't heard on Hannity & Colmes, Rush Limbaugh, or FOXNews, they are unaware of what's occurring in the nation and the world around them.  And I know a number of folks whose news habits are similar, so they are definitely NOT the eccentrics one might think.  On the other hand, I try to access as many news sources as possible; I think that, in the marketplace of ideas, one must first be exposed to ideas before one accepts or dismisses them. I believe that an open mind, as an open window blind, allows the light to come in; but I suppose a growing problem with democracy in America is that an increasing number of Americans are choosing to shut out the light, rather than to examine the light as does a prism, and filter it into hues that they can accept.

But I also believe that, unless America changes its course and does more to encourage participation in the political processes, the democratic republic that we have managed to hold together for nearly 230 years will end up alongside Soviet communism in the "dustbin of history," swept aside for something "more efficient."  The current battle against the congressional filibuster, for example, is but one attempt to replace tradition and democracy and moderation with efficiency.  If such trends continue, I expect to see compromise and accomodation replaced with strict adherence to the majority party's dogma, and the voice of the individual citizen muffled--and finally snuffed--in the name of security, efficiency, and "national unity."

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your insightful and thought-provoking reply, of which I'm most appreciative.

As you stated:

"America's response to political situations has always been shaped by the media of the day. The Spanish-American war was, most likely, precipitated by the Hearst newspapers' coverage of the sinking of the Maine and the public outrage the coverage generated...and it's long been suspected that this was a Northwoods-style operation. So the tactics aren't new."

It's quite well-known that the "slogan", REMEMBER THE MAINE, was an exercise in advertisement to sell Hearst's newpapers, with attention grabbing "banner" headlines, in an effort to stoke the popular opinion of the necessity of going to war. Similar to the WTC debacle, maybe? MHO.

"I have a sister-in-law who is an elected county government official, as well as being an educator. She and her husband no longer watch news on NBC, CBS, ABC, or CNN, and they "protest" the alleged liberal slant in the local news by cancelling their subscription to the daily newspaper. If it isn't heard on Hannity & Colmes, Rush Limbaugh, or FOXNews, they are unaware of what's occurring in the nation and the world around them. And I know a number of folks whose news habits are similar, so they are definitely NOT the eccentrics one might think. On the other hand, I try to access as many news sources as possible; I think that, in the marketplace of ideas, one must first be exposed to ideas before one accepts or dismisses them."

I couldn't agree with you more. And, it is for this reason that I choose to view my sources from a foreign news perspective, rather than the via the supposedly, and IMHO, and incorrectly identified by some as "liberal", stance of the American news services. The Fourth Estate, has been co-opted, as well as, corrupted by the "right" from what I've observed, of either of the Times' syndicates out of NYC, or LA. And, as far as American news broadcasting, all of them seem to pale in comparison to those of European offices. Unfortunately, your sister-in-law is representative of just how far to the extreme right the majority of voters seem to have bought into, what I consider to be "backward intolerance", an attitude I consider reminiscent of the old "Dixiecrats" of the pre-civil rights era. Perhaps that's what was really meant by their metaphoric use of the term of the early 1990's, "conservative revolution"?

I've been rereading Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and caame across this. Please let me know if this speaks volume to you all as well:

"I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. Though unlike most Germans I had daily access to foreign newspapers, especially those of London, Paris and Zurich, which arrived the day after publication, and though I listened to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press, checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often mislead it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian state can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a café'. I would meet with the most outlandish assertions form seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was to even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Gobbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were."

-William Shirer

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America is a democracy all right. And Americans vote on the wallets just as soldiers march on their stomachs.

Life is good here. Maybe it is a Matrix-like existence and maybe it isn't. But evena modest school teacher like myself can afford more than I should and live in calm and security.

Americans have the power to change their government whenever they wish. Here in America you are considered a bore if you harp too much about politics. We generally learn about politics as things go wrong and react in outrage if the mood suits us.

I don't believe in the Matrix and a range of other ongoing conspiracies. People are just too inept to have a master ring of control over everything. Look at how accurate the CIA was about Iraq and then rethink its ability to shape the world the way it wants to.

We are a complacent people. We need to see real damage at home before we will react. We like short speeches, and Americans react a lot more strongly to "let's nuke 'em and turn it into a glass desert" then we do to "In order to stave off terrrorism for the long run we need to better understand 'why they hate us'. It is far easier to paint the threat as evil and leaving it ill-defined.

But make no mistake about our political system being a democracy. Just because our first past the post system makes it difficult for smaller voices to be heard, does not mean that populism cannot shake people out of their seats in Washington.

We are also a capitalist system, and as in any other society I can think of, people with lots of money have an inordinate impact on the policies of our country.

Complacency lets the milionaires club rule through influence peddling. The people get the governmnet they deserve. That is democracy.

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Working with John's definition of democracy: A government in which the supreme power is exercised by the people directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving free elections… the absence of class distinctions or privileges; then no. If "the absence of class distinctions or privileges" is part of the definition, no reasonable person could define America as a democracy.

America is more accurately defined as a capitalist society (for better or worse). Money buys political influence, favors, and power. This is true on both sides of the political aisle in America- left and right, democrat and republican. Though we elect our officials, they are/become subordinates of corporate wealth and desires. Money talks. Protest all you want. Vote with your head and your conscience. But have no illusions, your voice, the will of the People and the good of the population buys rhetoric and lip service. Money buys legislation. Money buys action. Money buys policy decisions.

I hate to sound so cynical, but even if an elected official starts out as an idealist with higher values and a broader, more enlightened vision, he or she quickly learns who signs the checks in America.

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The people get the governmnet they deserve.  That is democracy.

I basically agree with that statement. But there's the rub. The American people are getting the government they deserve, and it may be too late to do anything about it.

In considering whether America is a democracy or not, I think it is instructive to look at the corporate/military coup attempt against President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. This conspiracy was the work of wealthy businessmen, what today is often called the power elite, or what would become (with the permanent armaments industry borne of WWII) what President Eisenhower warningly called the military-industrial complex (MIC). (The MIC is also called, in its more fascistic light, the national security state.) How much has really changed in the American political system since the power elite power play of the 1930s?

The biggest players in the plot against FDR were the du Pont and J.P. Morgan financial empires. Obviously this power elite did not really believe in democracy. It didn’t believe in it then, so why should the power elite believe in it now? In the 1930s they were open admirers of fascism, as were some elected officials in Washington. In May 1932, David Reed, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, stood on the Senate floor and said, “I do not often envy other countries and their governments, but I say that if this country ever needed a Mussolini, it needs one now.” Such honesty changed, of course, during and after WWII, as the power elite could no longer openly admire fascism after fighting a highly profitable world war against somebody else’s brand of it.

The plot against FDR was simple. FDR would be given an ultimatum, to resign for health reasons, turning his duties over to a new position to be created, which would of course look out for the interests of the power elite. If he did not resign, he would be removed. And the coup probably would have succeeded, given the power of this fascist elite, had they not chosen the wrong man to lead it. They chose a retired Army general, Smedley Butler, because of his popularity with the troops, who might be needed if FDR did not resign. But the conspirators probably should have gone with their second choice, General Douglas McArthur, because while Butler, a two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor, may have been popular with the troops, he did not share the undemocratic views of the plotters. Butler for a time pretended to go along with the plot, but foiled it by betraying it to the Congress.

But though the plot was foiled, two significant things happened that tell us how much things haven’t changed. First, the Congress did not have the guts or independence to stand up to the power elite. Not a single one of the wealthy plotters was called to testify before Congressional investigators, except for the go-between Gerald Maguire of Wall Street, who had represented the plotters to Butler. The Congress protected the power elite after its attempted high treason. And second, the mainstream corporate media even in the 1930s was so controlled that it didn’t really cover the story. It was all supposedly nothing but rumors and gossip; the power elite, as far as America’s “watchdog” media was concerned, hadn’t really done anything wrong.

There was a successful MIC coup in 1963 in Dallas, against an independently wealthy president who was too far off the reservation, the MIC taking abrupt corrective action to redirect the course of national and world events (with the government and media saying a lone nut did it).

There was another coup in 2000, when the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which hardly anyone had even heard of, but whose members included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, and whose published agenda of world domination through “the transformation of warfare” represents the MIC run amok, took over the federal government and promptly brought us 9/11, the PNAC’s wished-for “new Pearl Harbor” (with the government and media saying that a nut in an Afghan cave did it).

And do you know what? Five years after the PNAC coup, most Americans still haven’t heard of PNAC! Viewers of Fox News, for example, listen to regular news commentator William Kristol “of the Weekly Standard,” without even being made aware of the fact that Kristol is Chairman of PNAC. In other words Kristol is among the leaders of the current administration, he just doesn’t hold an official administration position. And Americans sit and listen to him as an “objective” commentator on what the administration is doing!

But I digress (though not really, as the ignorance of the American people, whatever the cause, is a major factor in the demise of their democracy). I see only one big difference between the power elite that wanted to set up a fascist government in America in the 1930s and the power elite today, which could set up such a government at virtually any time (all it would take is another 9/11 and martial law). The difference is, the power elite today, with the Pentagon (stealing taxpayer money a “lost” trillion dollars at a time) fully behind it, is far more powerful than the du Ponts and Morgans of the 1930s. And it will never be foiled again.

But let’s look at the bright side. Martial law may prove unnecessary, a pretense of democracy may continue to be maintained, thanks to a brand-new menace, masquerading as a boon, to democratic government. It was in 1961 that Eisenhower, in his farewell address, warned the American people of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. It’s too bad that Ike wasn’t around in 2001 to warn us of the dangers of the electronic voting-machine industry. For the advent of electronic voting machines has simply made electoral fraud (which of course has always been with us in various forms) as easy as the click of a hacker’s mouse.

The leading manufacturer of these machines, complete with their software secrets, is Diebold, run by partisan members of the party that is now in power. And of course the Republicans, as the party in power, have the advantage over the Democrats in controlling the electoral process, using (how convenient) Republican-built voting machines. So the Republicans can perpetuate their power indefinitely by hacking out as many votes as they need, as they apparently did (at least in the decisive state of Ohio) in 2004 (the first national election in which there were enough of these new machines in use to make all the difference, no matter how much the Democrats tried to steal votes in old-fashioned ways).

I suspect that the Democrats consequently elected their last president, from here to eternity, in 1996. The Democrats know this but can’t do anything about it, so they don’t let on, because it’s not nice to fool with the Cheney regime (with or without Karl Rove). Hillary is already running for 2008 to keep America’s “democracy” show on the road, with Democratic office holders like Hillary thus always assured, in their role as the loyal opposition, of getting crumbs that fall from the Republican table.

And the American people don’t bat an eye at all this. To the people these newfangled voting machines (do they have them in Britain yet?) are just more wonderful signs of modern progress (no more old-timey paper ballots and hanging chads!), making it so much easier than in the old days to cast their votes and continue to think that they live in a democracy, instead of in a military/corporate oligarchy, functioning for the benefit above all of the power elite.

General Butler, by the way, published a book in 1935 entitled “War Is a Racket.” Here are the first three paragraphs of General Butler’s book, which can be read online:

“War is a racket. It always has been.

“It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

“A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”

http://lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm

Did General Butler have it right or what? The same thought was behind Ike’s farewell warning years later about the military-industrial complex. And it’s what the American government is running right now, a racket, thanks to the PNAC in power and its dream, a new Pearl Harbor, come true. (Talk about a coincidence! How lucky could they get?) And there’s not much that the American people can do about it, were they even inclined to try.

Ron

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Has anyone read "Philip Dru, Administrator" by Edward House? He was an aide to President Wilson and an employee of Cecil Rhodes. I believe the gist of the book was an American 'civil servant' takes over the government by controlling the money supply, instituting a graduated income tax, and controlling both political parties.

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Hi John-

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but IMHO, a more accurate description of today's America would be a plutocracy.

Plutocracy:

1. the rule of power of wealth or of the wealthy.

2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.

3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.

Government by the rich and powerful. "A weapon in that struggle [between democracy and plutocracy] is the Court system, more often than not used to greatest effect by the plutocracy. An example is the series of injunctions taken out by European Pacific to prevent these matters being exposed [in the Media or Parliament]." [PCW p326]

www.embassy.org.nz/encycl/p5encyc.htm

Rule by wealth

wordmentor.placementor.com/vocabulary_powerkit/02.htm

a political system governed by the wealthy people

wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

A plutocracy is a government system where wealth is the principal basis of power (from the Greek ploutos meaning wealth).

Working with John's definition of democracy: A government in which the supreme power is exercised by the people directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving free elections… the absence of class distinctions or privileges; then no. If "the absence of class distinctions or privileges" is part of the definition, no reasonable person could define America as a democracy.

America is a capitalist society and money buys political influence, favors, and power. This is true on both sides of the political aisle in America- left and right, democrat and republican. Though we elect our officials, they are/become subordinates of corporate wealth and desires. Money talks. Protest all you want. Vote with your head and your conscience. But have no illusions, your voice, the will of the People and the good of the population buys rhetoric and lip service. Money buys legislation. Money buys action. Money buys policy decisions.

I hate to sound so cynical, but even if an elected official starts out as an idealist with higher values and a broader, more enlightened vision, he or she quickly learns who signs the checks in America.

The word "democracy" has come to be nothing more than a corporate marketing buzzword employed by politicians as often as possible, preferably with the flag waving in the background and a patriotic score playing in the throughout. And the masses gobble it up like crack-flavored pringles, slapping American flag bumper stickers all over their cars and basking in their self-righteous, ethnocentric world view.

Of course the alternative would be to turn off the TV for awhile, start thinking critically and independently, and face the today's realities with a more educated and open-minded world view. I frankly can't see that happening.

Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Karl, meet today's entertainment industry (television, Hollywood, professional sports, consumer electronics). The greatest ally the plutocracy has had, aside from the media, is the distraction, errrr... entertainment industry. We're sheep. Sheep who have become all too comfortable and do not wish to be inconvenienced by today's political and economic realities.

Of course, that's just my opinion. Sorry about the rant.

;)

Edited by Greg Wagner

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But make no mistake about our political system being a democracy.  Just because our first past the post system makes it difficult for smaller voices to be heard, does not mean that populism cannot shake people out of their seats in Washington.

We are also a capitalist system, and as in any other society I can think of, people with lots of money have an inordinate impact on the policies of our country. 

Complacency lets the milionaires club rule through influence peddling.  The people get the governmnet they deserve.  That is democracy.

The current view of the world is that the capitalist system provides the best balance between economic efficiency, freedom of expression and democracy. Other systems such as military dictatorships, the Soviet-style state communist model and German-style fascist dictatorships have all had a poor record when it comes to freedom of expression and democracy.

We therefore seem to be left with capitalism. However, this system has serious drawbacks. For example, it creates a great deal of inequality between individuals and between countries. This leads to conflict and in some cases, wars and recently, acts of terrorism. It also results in large numbers of people dying because they lack food, clean water and access to basic health-care. If unchecked, the capitalist system, because of the way it functions, will also destroy itself and the world.

It seems to me that the only way we are going to live in a harmonious society, let alone survive, is to use the democratic process to shape the economic system that has so much influence over our lives.

Some countries seem to have been more successful than others in this regard. For example, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Although all these countries still have serious problems to deal with, they have managed to place certain restrictions over the power of the wealthy elite.

For a democracy to function effectively, it is necessary to control the amount of power that comes with wealth. Ever since the early days of democracy, wealthy individuals have sought to control the political thoughts of the electors. This has mainly been done by controlling the media. In the 19th century, it was very important for the power elite to control the content of daily newspapers. In the 20th century they also had to do the same thing with radio and television.

Over the last 100 years it has become clear that it is not enough for the power elite to control mass communications. It became vitally important to control the politicians and the political parties that governed the country. In some cases this was done legally by funding the political parties. In return for this money these wealthy individuals expected certain policies to become the law of the land. For example, a low-rate of income-tax and a deregulated economic system. In times of crisis, illegal activity has been necessary. This has usually taken the form of bribing politicians. In other cases, such as with John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, it has involved employing a more drastic strategy.

It seems to me that the best way to save the world is to improve the way democracy works. It means finding a way to make sure we are ruled in the interests of the majority rather than in the interests of a small minority.

At the moment most of the citizens of the developed world appears to be suffering from disillusionment and apathy. Somehow we have got to find a way of activating the world’s citizens. If this happens, it might trigger off the imposition of fascist-style dictatorships, however, if we don’t try, we will never know what is possible.

We have one thing going for us in our favour. That is the change taking place in the field of mass communication. As a result of the web the multinational media corporations are losing control over our minds. This forum is just one example of this important development. Hopefully we will be able to use this new form of mass communication to create a truly democratic system.

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