A PERFECT STORM
Over the last twenty years, or more, a system of legal? bribery has engulfed our national capital, dislodging our democracy. As things stand, our legislature and administration are for sale to the highest bidders. Once elected, our politicians get back to work raising more funds with which to purchase committee assignments, their reelection, and a lush retirement.
Time left over from fundraising is primarily devoted to demonizing the opposing party’s politicians, using media that cooperate for their own benefit. The media do this by identifying their target audience and selecting ˜content’ (mostly supplied by politicians) that will appeal to the emotions of their target audience. The selected ‘content’ is carefully massaged (spun) for maximum impact. Media salaries depend on the degree to which they can hook, and retain, their audience. Years ago, the media expression was “If it bleeds, it leads.” Now, it’s “If it looks bad, make it worse.”
The audiences (the public and the voters) are a mixed bag. Some are motivated by a desire to be informed. Others thrive on the gossipy nature of what passes for news and the combative nature of modern politics. In either case, they tune in to, or read, their favorite sources for today’s news. Unfortunately, the media never mention the issues that should be our primary concern, the issues that have brought our country to its current sad condition.
We’re broke. We can’t pay for our current spending except by going deeper into debt, and our future obligations will keep adding debt until we hit some kind of major crisis.
Our political leaders are corrupt. They’re totally focused on raising money for their own personal power and wealth.
Our media pursue their own agenda. Their game plans don’t include any serious analysis of our fundamental problems.
Our citizenry, for a number of reasons including technology, have shortened attention spans. Our media are well aware of this.
Our voters are divided. Some have always voted for one party and will continue to do so. Some will vote their paycheck. Others have at least an awareness of the big problems but see no way to solve them, so they vote for the lesser of two evils, thinking that this will at least slow down the bad guys.
Politicians elected by any combination of the foregoing will inevitably conclude that the SYSTEM of special interest money is working for them. Our voters are, unwittingly, voting to keep the SYSTEM in place. Few realize the consequences directly attributable to this SYSTEM.
A good portion of our debt can be attributed to the SYSTEM. We spend 2 ½ times the average for developed countries (almost 20% of GDP) for poor health. We lead the world in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and do poorly in other categories. And we don’t have universal health insurance.
Our tax code is loaded with special interest loopholes (a direct payoff for bribes).
I could go on and on connecting every major problem to the SYSTEM because, even if the SYSTEM is not the direct cause, it blocks a solution. It seems that the candidates and the parties are inconsequential in the harm they do compared to the SYSTEM.
Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of voting for ‘the lesser of two evils’ you could vote directly against the SYSTEM, use your ballot to indicate your desire for a return to democracy?
To do this you must vote, writing in a name that is unmistakably anti-SYSTEM. I suggest Rootstriker; Sarah Rootstriker for president; Orville Rootstriker for senate, Rufus Rootstriker for congress. You may have a better idea; we have time. Remember, clarity is critical, and we must all use the same names in order to be noticed.
P.S. Rootstrikers was the original organization set up by Lawrence Lessig to eliminate special interest corruption. The name comes from a Thoreau quote “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
Lessig is the author of: Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It, and an original crusader against special interest corruption.