SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS

A new HBO series started Sunday night called “The Newsroom.” It’s written by the same guy who wrote “The West Wing” so it has some very sharp and smart political give and take. During the broadcast, when the main character was in heated discussion with some of his staff, he made the comment that the country is more politically polarized now than at any time since the Civil War. And we all know how well that turned out. I have to agree that there is currently extreme polarization among the electorate, with the Obama haters going into full fury mode in an attempt to win the election for Mitt Romney. It’s a battle of the the billionaires, with most billionaires on Romney’s side, willing to contribute as much as it takes to buy the election for the Republicans. Two of those billionaires operate here in Las Vegas: Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. They both own mega-resorts from whence their wealth is obtained. So if you come to Las Vegas and throw your money away on the stingy slot machines in their casinos, you’ll also be contributing toward buying the election for his Mittness. Which, if you’re a Republican, I guess is a good thing.

I’ve written before about the many failings of a democratic form of government. Democracy is based on the notion that a majority of voters who cast their ballots, will inevitably decide what is best for the nation. What nonsense. The truth is that most voters are total idiots when it comes to the important issues of the day. Their votes are usually predicated on which set of obnoxious, untruthful commercials they see on television, or irrational fears and paranoia of what will happen if the other guy succeeds. Then their are those that try to use underhanded methods to game the system. For example, the Governor of Florida, a Republican, is trying to “purge” the voter rolls of supposedly ineligible voters. Trouble is, almost all of these “ineligibles” are minorities that usually vote Democratic. Other Republican governors throughout the country have succeeded in passing voter ID laws, again directed at the poor or minorities who often lack drivers licenses or similar ID. If they can intimidate or otherwise prevent enough lower-class people from voting, the GOP then has a lock on all future elections.

Two illustrations readily come to mind about the folly of the democratic process. In the first, poll after poll during the past couple of years show that people have an extremely poor view of Congress. Congressional approval ratings have recently dropped to an all-time low of about 13 percent. Well who put these Congress men and women there in the first place , if not for us, we the people. Maybe the populace believes that beings from Pluto came down in spaceships and took over the halls of Congress. And they’re doing such a horrible job in retribution for the fact that, a couple of years back, we down-graded Pluto from being an official planet in in our solar system. And who could blame them. I mean, we had no call to down-grade Pluto just because it was smaller than the other planets. No wonder all those Plutonians that now occupy the House and Senate are so pissed off at us, and doing such a rotten job. It couldn’t possibly be because we, the voters, keep screwing up over and over.

On a more serious note, the democratic process in Egypt has just taken an ominous turn. Egypt had been ruled by fairly benign dictatorship for the past 30 years or more. It was a secular dictatorship, but people were given a stagnant economy and very little freedom. That dictatorship was overthrown last year, and after much turmoil and chaos, Egyptians finally got to vote for their president. So, in full democratic mode, the election was held last week and the winner was finally announced a couple of days ago. It was an extremely close election, but the winner turned out to be the candidate from the Moslem Brotherhood, which is a notoriously fundamentalist Islamic organization, with chapters throughout the Arab world. The military in Egypt still seeks to retain the dominant political power, but it is likely, inch-by-inch, that the Moslem Brotherhood will slowly turn Egypt from the secular state that currently exists, into a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. Think of Iran to understand what that’s like. The people of Egypt have voluntarily, through the democratic process, voted to give up their secular freedoms for a new kind of religious dictatorship. By the time they realize their blunder, it will be too late to reverse course. And it’s not only bad news for Israel, but for the U.S. as well.

I believe that there is a large segment of the population in this country that would like to foist a Christian theocracy  throughout the land. I think of them as the Christian Taliban. They’re comprised of what we call evangelicals, as well as fundamentalist Baptist organizations, and other religious fanatics. The first thing to go under such a religious theocracy would be legalized abortion. They have already succeeded in ridding the state of Mississippi of even one single abortion provider. The next to go would be gay rights. Gays would have to get way back into the closet, if they wanted to function in such a society. Of course, there are Jewish religious fundamentalists too, who would seek the same objectives, but their numbers are too small to have any real impact. The point is, however, that through the democratic process, people often make really bad choices, that they later regret, when its too late to remedy the situation. Choices like voluntarily giving up freedoms that are too often taken for granted.

Years ago, there used to be a cartoon strip called “Pogo.” It was about an amusing group of swamp animals and all the antics they would get into. One great quote that came out of that strip went as follows: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Think about that when you go into the voting booth in November, to vote for the best candidate the billionaires can buy.

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