It is said we get the government we deserve. I take this to mean that whatever expertise and mood is existent in the electorate is reflected in those they choose to govern, through whom they vote for in elections. If we are wise we get wisdom in government. If we are foolish we get fools.
It is early in the morning Nov 3rd, the day after the election fiasco for Democrats that was the 2010 midterm elections. Nationally Republicans took back the House in dramatic fashion and nearly took over the Senate as well. Numerous Republican governor candidates, taking advantage of Tea Party voters, won their states, leading up to redistricting in 2012. Here in Minnesota Republicans took over both houses of the state legislature for the first time in a generation. Unabashed progressives such as Alan Grayson and Russ Feingold were shown the door.
So what does all this mean. First it means more gridlock nationally, as a Republican House will butt heads with a Democratic Executive. Second it means lots of attempts, and plenty of success, at passing draconian cuts to social programs as Republican legislatures and governors rush to outdo each other in legislating “less government” and “fiscal sanity”.
How did this all come about. I believe there are two major reasons. First, swing voters are notoriously fickle, taking on a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. They “swing” back and forth between the parties hoping to find the beat deal of the moment, not realizing how slowly the gears of government can move. They gave the Democrats a whole two years to solve a problem that in many ways had been thirty years in the making. They didn’t get what they wanted immediately and made the Democrats suffer for their “failure”. Second, what we have seen is the first installment of corporatist government, bought and sold by big money by way of the Citizens United ruling. Corporations have been able to whip the electorate into a Tea Party frenzy by massively funding misleading and downright false ads about their progressive enemies as well as secretly funding the organizational efforts of said Tea Partiers.
It is this takeover by corporate interests which I find most troubling. Swing voters are likely to swing back again as they become disillusioned with the other side for not doing things fast enough, as is sure to happen. Corporations, however, will be able to continue to pour huge amounts of dollars into their efforts to dominate society, effectively drowning out their competition, at which they are so well experienced. Creeping Fascism will become more of a torrent. Soon we will be just another corporate oligarchy, another third world nation with a small elite class of undeniable wealth and a large docile underclass, pining for their own chance at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
This is the eventuality which really scares me. If this were merely a case of a pendulum swing I would simply spit on my hands and start working to bring about the next shift in political fortunes. The realities of the firm establishment of corporate money as free speech are much more menacing. The true left wing in America, our progressive activists, and sympathetic politicians are in danger of extinction, run out of town on a rail by a population hoodwinked into accepting corporate interests as essential to the health of our democracy.
Capitalists are hell bent on establishing conspicuous consumption capitalism as a necessary function of the American democracy. They are succeeding. American democracy does not have to be dominated by cruel and heartless Capitalists. We can have a non socialist market moderated and regulated by the interests of the common good which is as or more successful than the return to the robber baron era envisioned by the Corporatists. But we, as a nation of free humans, will have to fight perhaps our most vital and important battle ever in our ongoing struggle to create a society bound by the principles of liberty which have so far guided us well. We will have to stand up and resist the machinations of the corporate interests. We will have to reestablish government of and by and for the people.
I pray we are up to the task.