(Swans - June 6, 2011) There is a certain villainy in American politics that has polluted our traditional sense of democracy. It resembles the uprisings in the Middle East that have recently shaken the Arab world. Even though it is subdued and less overtly divisive, it is just as malevolent and just as fervid in its desire to reorder American politics by threatening achievements from the past; an America that is dead set on destroying many of the social benefits that have taken several generations to establish, such as health care and the right to collective bargaining. Blithely and callously, the Republicans are eager to overturn the achievements that have made America more empathetic, more humane, and visibly democratic.
The villainy is centered in the Republican Party that is fighting a losing battle to reassert its primacy against the Tea Baggers who would drive them even further right of center. It's not so much the issues that are appalling, it is the brazen treachery that Republicans would like to impose on Americans, employing the tactics of politicians who want to shut down some of the most beneficial legislations to come out of Congress since the reign of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In Wisconsin, the hard-won benefits of unions are viciously being crippled; on health reform, the right-wing vampires are attempting to draw the blood out of recent strides in that direction.
The politicians creating this atmosphere are brazen in their goals, while a small and weak cluster of marauders belligerently scores victories over the Democrats, who seem incapable of getting their act together. The stratagems are those of people who are used to purchasing their greed from the bankers, brokers, lobbyists, and shysters who recognize that so long as their efforts can be financed by right-wing zealots and a conservative Supreme Court, they needn't fear any resistance. So long as they have the backing of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the entire staff of Rupert Murdoch's empire behind them, they are protected. Given these bulwarks, no amount of libertarian rhetoric is going to dent their armor.
We celebrate the protesters who are trying to transform the Middle Eastern dictatorships but allow America's more cunning dictators to stay comfortably in their seats of power. Is it because the recession has taken the fight out off them? Are we so brainwashed by the media that we do not recognize the same diminutions that are besetting our own country?
Critics will insist the two situations are entirely different, but in all these rebellious countries there is the assumption that the status quo must be overthrown -- whereas in America we delude ourselves that new elections will save us from meltdowns and restore a democracy that is bought and paid for by a cluster of billionaires and a battalion of lobbyists that methodically subvert our idea of a true democracy. The fact that the perpetrators of the economic breakdown, which ushered in the recession, have gone unpunished tells us something of the tolerance that informs the American way of life.
Money is sacrosanct and those that deal with it are our hierarchy and we do not bat an eye to the upmarket criminality, which, if protected, can one day enrich the very people they have swindled. That is a tenet of our democracy in which any fastidious wheeler-dealer can succeed in the way that "banks too big to fail" failed and yet were rewarded for their failure.
The villainy is everywhere and, what is worse, is taken for granted as a modus operandi for capitalism to survive whatever chicanery is used to support it. Protest has been replaced by torpor. Thievery by indifference.
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