Sunday, May 18, 2008

Democracy in America: The Monsters under the Bed & in the Closets

Bill Moyers has written a book about democracy in America and the excerpt that I have read is quite frightening...... and true. The things that he points out are things that many of us have either noticed or talked about, but are becoming more and more powerless to do anything about. Especially since our systems of electing the people, that we think will make the change, is not really doing anything for any of us.

"Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. A sense of political impotence pervades the country -- a mass resignation defined by Goodwyn as "believing the dogma of 'democracy' on a superficial public level but not believing it privately." We hold elections, knowing they are unlikely to bring the corporate state under popular control. There is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has not been translated into new vistas of social possibility or the political will to address our most intractable challenges. Hope no longer seems the operative dynamic of America, and without hope we lose the talent and drive to cooperate in the shaping of our destiny."

I have never seen an election year where more people are thinking of just "throwing in the towel". Too many to count are talking about not even voting. They ask,"why bother" or "why should I"? There seems to be such a pervasive feeling of malaise and giving up. The people that have these feelings seem to also be more of the middle class like myself. Others are students and regular working class folks. Most conversation has shifted away from politics, in the coffee shop circles, and gone on to gas and food prices. The feeling and obviousness of the separation of classes is evident.

"The earth we share as our common gift, to be passed on in good condition to our children's children, is being despoiled. Private wealth is growing as public needs increase apace. Our Constitution is perilously close to being consigned to the valley of the shadow of death, betrayed by a powerful cabal of secrecy-obsessed authoritarians. Terms like "liberty" and "individual freedom" invoked by generations of Americans who battled to widen the 1787 promise to "promote the general welfare" have been perverted to create a government primarily dedicated to the welfare of the state and the political class that runs it. Yes, Virginia, there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it."

One of the better things that Mr. Moyers points out is that the media , as if we did not already know this, is terribly screwed up! Yes, he points out, there are a few who actually take the risk and try to tell/write the truth, but they are few and far between. They are actually the pawns of those corporate giants that own them.

"I wish I could say that journalists in general are showing the same interest in uncovering the dangerous linkages thwarting this democracy. It is not for lack of honest and courageous individuals who would risk their careers to speak truth to power -- a modest risk compared to those of some journalists in authoritarian countries who have been jailed or murdered for the identical "crime." But our journalists are not in control of the instruments they play. As conglomerates swallow up newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and networks, and profit rather than product becomes the focus of corporate effort, news organizations -- particularly in television -- are folded into entertainment divisions. The "news hole" in the print media shrinks to make room for advertisements, and stories needed by informed citizens working together are pulled in favor of the latest celebrity scandals because the media moguls have decided that uncovering the inner workings of public and private power is boring and will drive viewers and readers away to greener pastures of pabulum. Good reporters and editors confront walls of resistance in trying to place serious and informative reports over which they have long labored. Media owners who should be sounding the trumpets of alarm on the battlements of democracy instead blow popular ditties through tin horns, undercutting the basis for their existence and their First Amendment rights."

This book is definitely one that is going on my short list of new books that I will try and read this summer. I highly recommend that you check out the article, over at AlterNet, and see for yourself.

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