WAMC May 3, 2012
“Government on the Lay Away Plan”
There seems to be a lot of confusion these days about when the presidential election is.
Surprisingly, a lot of people think the election is in November. Frankly, that is an absurd assumption if one really looks at the evolution of our political system. After all, for most of our history we have certainly not been a democracy. No, regular people’s votes hardly mattered all that much in our original system. What mattered were things from states to money, from race to gender.
All part of a system that for our entire history has regularly seen candidates rejected by the public become president. Yes, presidents fully empowered to select Supreme Court Justices who serve for life, appointments that only required the ratification of the senate. Yet another constitutional body whose members for most of our history did not sit for public elections either.
Not forgetting, of course, that the House of Representatives only represented a few of us. Sure, we have evolved over the years, become more democratic as senators became directly elected. And more and more of us got to vote for the House of Representatives, non whites, people without means, women. But that hardly modified the reality of America, a nation less democratic than hybrid. A system that has long been part government of the people, a democracy and part plutocracy a government by money. Sure, it’s true, over the years we have evolved toward a more democratic system even as money has continued to matter as much if not more than people.
A reality that basically allocated one electoral vote to each of us, and as many monetary votes as we could afford, a few for some of us, an enormous number for others. And thus as a hybrid of democracy and plutocracy we entered the 21st century; a plutocracy of money slowly feeling the pressure of an increasingly democratic system.
But that was before our unelected supreme court came up with “Citizens United”, that infamous ruling that allowed our parallel plutocracy to come roaring back to take its revenge on America’s upstart citizenry as the really big corporate and private money, money from the largest conglomerations of wealth humanity has even seen have been given free reign to spend everything they can… and can you believe it — even anonymously — to pervert our as yet still budding democracy.
Which brings us to the core reality. Our presidential election is not in November. No, it begins right now, Because most of us, the people of the United States don’t have the really big money readily available to support candidates willing to stand up to the financial elite, at least not all at once. No, we are going to have to use the good old installment plant, a little monetary vote right now, another next month as often as we can… right up until November’s electoral vote.
Otherwise there won’t be a democratic election merely another governmental purchase by those with the money to afford the best of their version of government. No, we have to understand that the election starts right now, on the layaway plan If we are going to have even a ghost of a chance to retain the democracy we all claim so much pride in And yet have so rarely enjoyed.