(Swans - March 22, 2010) The need for deep, serious reforms of the American political system is abundantly clear to all but the most ignorant, unintelligent, and brainwashed people. The sinking of the U.S. into second-class status seems clear as the corrupt and dysfunctional two-party plutocracy continues to favor corporate interests and the upper class while letting the middle class become part of a large lower class. One way that political elites maintain control is to let serious reform movements exist but ensure that they are marginalized.
Political reforms are routinely watered down so that the corrupt political structure remains. Giving the illusion of change and reform is what it is all about. Let radicals and dissidents stay busy without any real chance of serious reform. President Obama surely understood this and based his successful presidential campaign on it. The change we have been waiting for remains a fiction, a victim of politics as usual.
Americans seem too dumb, for the most part, to fully comprehend why it is better to have no specific reform, such as for health care and regulation of financial institutions, than to have a compromise, weak, cosmetic reform. The latter only perpetuate the status quo political system while sapping the grassroots energy for reform. Illusion produces delusion.
For serious, even revolutionary reforms, we must let things get worse to build public suffering and outrage, to increase public demand for true, systemic reforms. Illusory and superficial reforms are marketed cleverly by politicians to reduce public anger. They are nothing more than terrible political distractions created by corrupt and dishonest politicians serving special interests.
Weak political reforms are just another symptom of broken government and reflect a public that is largely easily duped.
Incrementalism is always the enemy of effective and necessary change. Politicians who argue otherwise are untrustworthy. They lack courage to fight for what is really needed. They likely have capitulated to corporate and other special interests.
The sure sign that American politics has totally degenerated into an awful condition is that there are so few leaders willing to champion revolutionary reforms that, especially, remove corporate corruption and open up the political system to real competition from independents and third-party candidates. Those who thought that Obama would be such a leader have been sorely disappointed.
No Democratic or Republican presidential candidate is likely to be such a leader.
The strong national disgust with both major political parties is now being hijacked, in large part, by the Tea Party movement that really is just a surrogate for Republicans.
Facilitating sham political reforms is the mainstream media that themselves are part of the corporate structure and constantly hype cosmetic reforms. Few pundits and columnists have the courage to contradict their followers on the left or right and openly oppose outrage-sapping reforms that accomplish so little.
What is now seen in health care reform is the textbook example of reform failure. A simple, several page piece of legislation that opened up Medicare to all Americans would have been sufficient to fix the exorbitant, unproductive, and inequitable health care system now controlled by private insurance companies. It would give universal health care that other advanced nations enjoy.
Sadly, most Americans are so weary, distracted, and suffering so many economic hardships that they fail to see just how useless elected officials really are and that electing different Democrats or Republicans will never save their country. Only a real Second American Revolution will work.
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About the Author
Joel S. Hirschhorn was formerly a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and senior staffer at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association. He now writes about politics and government, and is the author of Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government and Sprawl Kills: How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health And Money. (back)