Thursday, December 21, 2017

"Our Democracy" -- What is it Really?

“We need you to take this seriously. Our democracy is at stake. Elections matter. Voting matters.”  Barack Obama, November, 2017

From community organizer to President of the United States – now, back to community organizer. Obama cast these pearls of wisdom (above) before an adoring crowd in Richmond during a Virginia Governor election campaign stop. The ex-President continues to be a walking compendium of clichés of which he seems determined to flaunt as profundities. Vacuous they may be – nevertheless, they have served him well – to wit, the culmination of Obama deep thought –“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Unlike other ex-Presidents, he has eschewed dignified retirement, and so, given his relative youth, many years lie ahead for him to inflict on us the weight of his massive ego and the steady stream of flagrant banalities delivered with all the condescension of an obnoxious adolescent lecturing his captive elders about how to fix that awful mess they have made of the world.

But there is more to Obama’s public interventions than just the usual dispersal of vapid nostrums for consumption by the useful idiots. They still cannot seem to figure out why, after eight wonderful years of Hope and Change, a former real estate mogul and reality show host is now resting his jackbooted feet on the White House coffee tables. Not to mention that poor old Bill Clinton had to disappoint that bevy of future White House interns he had recruited from his flights with Jeffery Epstein on the “Lolita Express.” 

So, Obama is hitting the trail with the scary “Our democracy is at stake.” The former Golfer-in-Chief who defiled the White House with regular guests such as Al Sharpton and criminal rapper, Rick Ross, is the now the basso profundo in the chorus of Chicken Littles intoning the demise of our system of government. You see, “our democracy,” the one that elected him twice, has been mysteriously swept away with the tides of Trumpian Fascism. When you win, it’s democracy in action; when you lose, the sky is falling.

Members of this distinguished chorus are out and about. Recently, Our Revered Lady of Chappaqua waddled into a Toronto bookstore peddling “What Happened” and told the Canucks, now having to stomach the best Canadian Democracy has to offer – Justin Trudeau – that: “Democracy is under attack everywhere. It's not only my country….  But I also want a concerned world to recognize that democracy is under assault.”  Well, no doubt, when Hillary speaks, the “concerned world” wakes up and listens. She can keep her finger on the pulse of the concerned world or whatever other nebulous abstraction that pops into her head, but an ambassador and embassy staff under siege on her watch? What difference does it make, now?

Moving along then toward the immanent collapse of America, there is Former Attorney General under Obama, Eric “My People” Holder who recently told Rachael Maddow that “Our democracy is under attack.” For those with a short memory, Holder was a highly useful Clinton errand boy who helped secure Bill’s notorious pardon of Marc Rich when he was Assistant Attorney General around the time the Clintons were looting the White House on their way out. The quid pro quo? Bill Clinton got a half a million dollars for his Presidential Library from Rich’s ex-wife and Holder would be the new AG in an Al Gore administration. If there were a perfect fit for “deplorable” and “irredeemable” would it be the man who bought the pardon or the man who sold it? Perhaps Hillary could help us out with this dilemma.  From Slate:   
Rich was a pioneering commodities trader who made billions dealing in oil and other goods. He had a habit of dealing with nations with which trade was embargoed, like Iran, Libya, Cuba, and apartheid South Africa. Rich also had a habit of not paying his taxes, to the point where one observer said that ‘Marc Rich is to asset concealment what Babe Ruth was to baseball.’ The United States indicted Rich in 1983, hitting him with charges—tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, trading with the enemy—that could’ve brought life in prison. Rich fled the country.” 

These are the Clintons et al … making “our democracy” work for them. What greater opportunity for the most extravagant cynicism when people like this try to put us into a state of fecal incontinence by prattling about “the assault on our democracy.” This is post-modern politics at its best: every serious activity becomes (wink, wink) a parody of itself. Language is disconnected from reality, its meaning always temporized by the speaker’s relation to power.

The initial temptation is to say that if what we as citizens get out of “our democracy” are the likes of Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Al Franken, Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Jeff Flake, then perhaps “democracy” really means “kleptocracy,” and “our democracy” is just a euphemistic bouquet intended to cover the stench wafting up from the capitol city cesspool of corruption and decadence, a special place run by poseurs and hypocrites who devote their energies to self-enrichment by selling political influence to the highest bidder. Added to the injury of their shameless corruption is the insult of their arrogance and condescension, their pretense to wisdom, moral superiority, selflessness and compassion for the oppressed.  
Whatever a serious observer might wish to call what the average citizen gets out of participating in the American political process, a “democracy” is not what would first jump to his mind. Democracies, supposedly, “are states in which all sane adults participate in making political decisions.” (Minogue, Kenneth. The Liberal Mind, 2580-2581. Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.)  By a rough count, there are approximately 200 million registered voters, official participants, so to speak, in U.S. political decision-making. How many of them are sane (or stoned or literate or dead), of course, is anybody’s guess. So then, for each and every one of you, my fellow citizens, your participatory share of American democracy is about 1/200,000,000th. Imagine being informed that you were named a distant heir to an estate worth $200,000,000, then your reaction to learn that you were in the will for a whole dollar. Well, that is how excited you should be about how much power you wield in American politics, or, how worried you should be the next time Obama (taking time out from proof-reading the ghost-writing of his $40 million memoir or Hillary now worth a hundred-plus million from her selfless devotion to women) tells you that “our democracy” is in great peril. 

A more accurate, prosaic description of American politics is that it is a client-patron system. The politicians compete to be patrons (elected officials who sell access to power) for clients (officially designated victim groups). The quid pro quo is obvious: the votes of the victims put the patrons in power; the victims get to be favored by the patrons over non-victims. “Favored” means rent-seeking privileges and political and legal support to leverage your official victim-status for social-professional-economic positioning. The patron also helps his clients with the stigmatization of the non-victims as bigots, those responsible for making the victims into the victims (best to ignore the irony at this juncture). Much of what now passes for political campaigning is simply a language game that separates the victims from the non-victims with code-words (“racist”, “sexist”, etc.) used by the patrons to secure and align their client coalitions and morally isolate the assigned bigots bearing their particular stigmata.

A client-patron approach to politics leads to an escalating state of “victim-inflation” because being a victim (a client) means you get to go to the front of the line. With no patron to advance your claims to victimhood, you to back of the line, if you are lucky to make it to the line at all. Client-patron systems, however, would seem to be highly entropic, moving toward completely disordered and chaotic end states like Venezuela and Detroit.

When Hillary tells her campaign audience that Trump supporters are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it,” she is not simply intending to insult a particular voting block. She is signaling prospective clients that she will be their devoted (vote-purchased) patron who will use her power to assure their protection and favor and to punish the “irredeemables” because punishment is what racists and other designated bigots most deserve. “You name it” is not, I repeat, not a throw away phrase. It is an open invitation for the not-yet-initiated to get in the game, to help themselves and help her to expand her client base – more victims, more favors, more votes, more power … then, more Marc Riches and Eric Holders – fewer deplorables. Welcome to “our democracy”, politics in 21st century America.  If it is under attack, bring it on. Better late than never.

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