First in an occasional series

Sub-title: Why the US government sucks so badly, and what (I believe) can and should be done about it.

Good day all. Please pardon my presumptuousness in posting a diary – or more precisely, launching an ongoing series of diaries – on only my second day here, but the fact is that I’ve been participating in various left-wing blogs for a number of years now, so it’s not as if I’m a total newbie to all this. Merely a newbie to this particular little corner of cyberspace, which may be meaningful to some, but seems like a fairly marginal distinction to me. And I find myself already feeling quite at home on this blog, and believe that a majority of readers here will be interested in and sympathetic to what I have to say.

At any rate, my purpose in posting this has nothing to do with any love I have for beating my own drum, or getting up on a soapbox, because in fact I tend to be a rather reticent fellow, who is naturally more comfortable in the role of passive listener (or reader), as opposed to active pontificator. But I am now determined to step out of that more familiar role and do some pontificating – perhaps quite a bit – because I truly believe there is a sensibility and perspective on the issue alluded to above that hasn’t been adequately examined or discussed, and which deserves to be.

Whether my take on all this is any better or more insightful than anyone else’s is of course something that each reader will ultimately have to decide for him or herself. But at the very least, my perspective is different. And as someone who’s felt increasingly frustrated and dismayed at the staleness and repetitiveness of the ongoing and seemingly endless debate between the ‘pragmatists’ and the ‘idealists’, it seems to me that some fresh and (dare I say) original thinking is long overdue.

Now I must confess one of my pet Internet peeves is blog diaries and op-ed articles that run on and on and on… maybe it’s just me, but I don’t believe the Web really lends itself to excessively verbose and lengthy articles – it’s just something about reading material on the computer screen that to my mind favors the crisply written and (relatively) bite-size essay much more so than the forty paragraph, 3000 word opus. So for today, I will just content myself with this brief introduction, and conclude with laying out the basic, underlying theme I will be attempting to flesh out and expand upon in future installments.

My analysis of the political situation in the US is based on one fundamental, guiding belief: If the ultimate purpose of government is to protect the interests and serve the needs of the ordinary citizen, then American-style democracy does not work. And the fact is, that it cannot work, and it will not work – not in the present, and not in the future. And that’s mainly because it never was intended to work that way. To make oneself into a better game player – which seems to be the pragmatists’ solution – only works in cases where the game is beatable. Which, unfortunately, this one isn’t.

For common folk to get a fair shake from our political system, as presently constituted, would be comparable to my winning a chess game against Gary Kasparov (generally considered the greatest chess player ever) – in a game in which he was playing with the full compliment of pieces, while I was limited to just a king and a pawn. Truly, a camel could pass through the eye of a needle a lot more easily. The harsh reality is that what we have in America is a rigged game, one in which (to mix metaphors) the deck is hopelessly – and I do mean hopelessly – stacked against the average person. At least, that is, whenever his or her interests happen to come into conflict with those of the monied elite, which happens to be the case far more often than not.

A third party, I regret to say, is most definitely not the answer. For better or worse, the two-party system is more or less baked into the cake. Our system was expressly designed to reward coalition building and consensus, and to punish factionalism and fragmentation. Unfortunately, it was also designed to ensure that the wealthy have a virtual monopoly on political power. And that is the reality that we have to focus on, and find a way to alter. Which I’m convinced is possible to accomplish – that is something I truly believe in my soul.

For a little inspiration, think Great Britain, circa 1215. Or for a more recent example, think South Africa, circa 1994. Certainly there was a point in time when the monarchy of King John and the Afrikaner apartheid regime must have seemed just as daunting and just as unassailable to those whom they oppressed as the American moneyocracy does to us today. And yet ultimately both of them crumbled and fell – perhaps for the same reason that a flower somehow manages to find a way to push through a slab of concrete. There is some ineffable quality of the human spirit that will never accept or acquiesce to the oppressor’s boot permanently planted on its neck. Like the flower, it will keep pushing – relentlessly, tirelessly and indefatigably – until it finally and inevitably breaks through.

That is the history of human civilization, in a nutshell, up to now. So why should we expect the future to be any different? All we have to do is find the weak point in the concrete that will ultimately yield to our efforts. A formidable task, to be sure, but far from an impossible one. As Niccolo Machiavelli (a much misunderstood idealist) once wrote: Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. Perhaps a bit of an oversimplification, but still a good thought to hold onto. So please keep the faith, and keep on fighting.

Thanks for reading – more later.

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