My Thoughts on the Election

It’s a little strange being in Turkey when I know that so many of my friends back home are either celebrating Obama’s victory or downplaying its significance (more likely because they are to the left of Obama rather than to the right). I hate to be a downer to those who fall somewhere on the spectrum ranging from elated to relieved — but I feel neither. It’s not just because I am far away in Turkey — everyone knows that U.S. policies affect just about everyone on earth — it also has to do with the unavoidable truth that this election will change nothing. There was plenty to be excited about in 2008 just by virtue of seeing the first non-white present take office, but this is no such historical occasion. I would like to think that the next four years will be better than the first if we ‘give him time,’ but this is the same thinking that led to costly complacency (and very little improvement) in U.S. policies during Obama’s first term.

Obama said almost the same thing in 2008 that he said this morning: something to the effect that it’s up to the American people to make change (as they ‘made change’ by putting him in office). I wish people would take this to heart and not reduce political activity to a vote every 2-4 years. I have said this plenty, but I will say it again because I, myself, need such a reminder whenever I get caught up talking about elections, the two-party system/double-headed monster, and democracy in the more general sense. The United States still sees itself as the paragon of democracy — and, of course, Obama took the occasion of his victory to repeat the tired, arrogant assertion that the United States is the ‘greatest country on earth’ — but If democracy (or ‘greatness’) is merely the continual replacement in government of one group of elites by another, then I want a different form of governance.

And no, Mr. O’Reilly, it’s not because I want “stuff.” I want justice. Your analysis doesn’t even take into account people like me — white people who are not part of the establishment. It also leaves out the simple fact that Obama IS the establishment. The only real difference between him and Romney is that he pretends to care about those outside of it. As cold and crass as his ‘47%’ statement was, Romney made it crystal clear who his real constituency was.

Neither major party represents me or the majority. The third party candidates, while in some cases quite noble and articulate (Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson in particular), were so marginal as to be irrelevant in the sense that the only people who knew about them were likely those who already agreed with their positions. They did not have the opportunity, due to media neglect and the Democrat-Republican collusion to keep them out of the debates, to shape the views of the people and effectively challenge the status quo. I consider this a shame and regret that I do not have an answer to it.

I prefer revolution to reform — and I made this clear to my classmates — this is a broken system that cannot be repaired. It has actually gotten worse over the years — if we recall the substantial influence of Ross Perot in the 1990’s as a third-party candidate. Even if the system were expanded to include more parties in a meaningful way, the questions still remains: Would this change the fundamental core of our country? Would capitalism and militarism be significantly challenged? I’m skeptical because I believe that Obama’s ascent represents an elite experiment — a trial balloon — to determine how (we) the people respond to a minor concession (i.e. a black president). It would be naive to think it represented a real shift toward a new beginning for the United States. Based on the renewed excitement for Obama, it’s clear that the elite can rest-assured that we remain more complacent than outraged and that the strongest challenge to the status quo still comes from the right (and not the left) despite the fall/co-optation of the Tea Party.

The point is this: As a people we still refuse to control our own political destiny. This is in spite of, or perhaps because of, our over-privileged place in the world. This is the underlying contradiction of each election between Coke and Pepsi/Freddie Krueger and Jason/Evil One and Evil Two. We spend most of our days saying we’re better — that we don’t want empire or, at least, a benevolent empire if we’re going to have one — but in the end we vote for four more years of it, and we say very little about a new system, a new party, or a new revolution (1776 was a very long time ago!)

What will we do when this system comes crashing down under a tidal wave of debt, violence, and blind optimism? Vote for the other guy?

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. Patty Courtney said,

    November 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Yes! Yes! Yes! When will we stop looking for Mighty Mouse to come along and save the day?

  2. Cay said,

    December 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    major discussion needed on this one!
    1) EVERY presidential election is a historical occasion
    2) the American people did NOT change ‘make change’ by putting Obama in office — because, as you said, if people would take it to heart, they would not reduce political activity to a vote every 2-4 years
    3) MOST democratic nations sees themselves as paragons of democracy and repeat the tired, arrogant assertion that their nations are the ‘greatest country on earth’
    4) ALMOST ALL governments are historically merely predicated by the continual replacement of one group of elites by another…
    5) but I want a different form of governance too, in that case — though that may require a fundamental change in the nature and/or the socialization of the human animal
    6) O’Reilly’s analysis DOES even take into account people like you — white people who are not part of the establishment — as you qualify demographically as a single male under 30: unmarried “youth” vote
    7) how do you define revolution versus reform? and what exactly is the broken system that cannot be repaired? and how exactly is it broken? and, most importantly, what do you propose? what would justice be?
    8) was the influence of Ross Perot in the 1990s as a third-party candidate really so substantial? and how so? by giving us candidates like Corzine and Bloomberg? and overtly influencing/expanding the role of money in politics?
    9) i believe, based on the systemic mechanisms in place for expanding to include more parties in a meaningful way, that should it happen, then the fundamental core of our country would ALREADY have changed. now, does that mean capitalism and militarism would be significantly challenged? i’m not sure — it depends on the context/s of the affirmation — but i believe a viable third party would be progressive or, more likely, from the middle, if only because centrist/moderate values would have been consciously reaffirmed in an increasingly radicalized body politic. but, to counter your sarcasm, should this current system come crashing down under a tidal wave of debt, violence, and blind optimism, voting for the other person is EXACTLY what peoples historically do — after creating that person’s party
    10) “Obama’s ascent represents an elite experiment — a trial balloon — to determine how (we) the people respond to a minor concession (i.e. a black president). It would be naive to think it represented a real shift toward a new beginning for the United States.” — is that skepticism or cynicism? not that i disagree, necessarily


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: