by Paul Donahue
This upcoming presidential election presents the American voter with one of the most difficult choices in decades. On the Democratic ticket is Hillary Clinton, a proven war criminal and one of the most hawkish politicians in Washington - and that is despite a lot of competition. On the Republican ticket is Donald Trump, an ignorant, racist, misogynistic, loud-mouthed buffoon. Both of them are conniving, corrupt, serial liars. Both of them are in bed with the fossil fuel industry. Both of them have expressed a willingness to use nuclear weapons in Iran. Both of them are really, really, really scary. So how can one possibly chose between two such eminently qualified candidates for the presidency of the most powerful nation in the history of the world?
In my opinion, I believe we should choose the candidate that best represents who we are as a nation, and someone who is willing to put that into words. So, who are we? Let’s have a look at some of the figures and realities of present day America.
The United States of America is…..
a country for which war has become a permanent condition, and a condition the people and Congress no longer question. Anyone read 1984 lately?
a country that spends roughly a trillion dollars a year on war.
a country with roughly 800 military bases on foreign soil.
a country with special forces troops currently deployed to about 150 countries.
a country that is currently bombing seven, SEVEN different Muslim countries. For those of you not keeping score, they are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. That has to be an accomplishment worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records.
a country with a current president (a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, mind you) who in the past eight years of his administration probably has been responsible for the deaths of more people (virtually all Muslims) than has any other single person on the planet.
a country with a current president who claims the right to kill anybody anywhere on the planet at anytime, including American citizens, without due process - and has killed Americans, four times - all Muslims. (remember this is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
a country with a current president who holds weekly “terror Tuesday” meetings with his staff to decide who to add to a “kill list” - again, all or virtually all Muslims. (and again, remember this is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
a country with a current president who claims the right to detain indefinitely anybody, anywhere on the planet, forever, without due process.
a country that has probably killed upwards of two million Muslims since the start of the first Gulf War in 1990. As a nation, we REALLY, REALLY hate Muslims. It must be because they hate our freedom (see below).
a country that engages in one illegal war after another.
a country that treats international law as an inconvenience, violating the sovereignty of other nations, engaging in extrajudicial assassination, bombing hospitals, using illegal weapons of war, and torturing prisoners.
a country viewed by the rest of the world as the greatest threat to world peace. That is according to a Win/Gallup international survey. Even our closest allies considered the U.S. the biggest threat. In the opinion of the rest of the world, Iran and North Korea, the favorite bogeymen of Americans, weren’t even close contenders for the title of “greatest threat to world peace”. With the most powerful military in the history of the world, the U.S. has become the supreme rogue state and the ultimate evil empire.
a country with a current president who has used the Espionage Act more times than all other presidents combined to prosecute whistleblowers exposing governmental wrongdoing. How silly is the notion that governments should be held accountable?
a country with the largest incarcerated population of any country in the world - about 2.3 million. It is the largest prison population both in actual numbers and as a percentage of the population.
a country with a two-tiered criminal injustice system where the poor and powerless serve long prison sentences for relatively insignificant crimes while the rich and powerful walk free for major crimes.
a country where the murder of unarmed African-Americans by racist cops has reached epidemic proportions, and with virtually no accountability.
a country where hate crimes against Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, gays, and transsexuals occur regularly.
a country where Islamaphobia is rampant and where Muslims can be pulled off airplanes simply for using the Arabic word inshallah, meaning "God willing" or "hopefully".
a country where somewhere between 15-20% of women will be raped at some point during their life.
a country where one in three women in the military are raped.
a country with about 3.5 million homeless, despite the U.S. being the richest nation in the history of the world. About 35% of the homeless population are families with children and about 23% of them are U.S. military veterans, the people many like to call heroes and support with bumper stickers. A significant percentage of the homeless even have full-time jobs.
a country where low pay among lower-ranking enlistees in the military means many military families are forced to rely on food banks to get by. That’s okay, I guess, because the military families aren't the supposed heroes, just the soldiers themselves.
a country where it has become normal to turn on the television news and see another shopping mall shot up by a disturbed returned soldier or a high school shot up by a disturbed student.
a country with about 13,000 firearm deaths every year.
a country where torture has been normalized and turned into entertainment. Any night of the week you can tune into a television drama and watch the “good guys”, be they police, military, or CIA, torture or otherwise abuse the civil rights of their prisoners (usually Muslims). My personal favorite is the series Hawaii Five-0, a long-running, primetime hit show, where in two different episodes the heroes, for the purpose of extracting information, shot a patient confined to a hospital bed, and did so all while joking back and forth. If you’re watching pay-per-view television, while you witness the torture, instead of joking you can listen to a non-stop string of four-letter words from the heroes.
a country where banks and corporations exert control over the executive branch, legislatures, regulatory agencies, and courts, and so are able to rob, exploit, and poison the population at will.
a country where 30 million people lack health insurance and someone dies every 12 minutes due to a lack of access to healthcare. Despite the widespread belief that the U.S. has the best healthcare system in the world, we have an infant mortality rate on a par with that of Serbia, and far higher than that of the evil, communist Cuba.
a country where a focus on materialism is primary and wealth is valued above all else.
a country where 32 million adults, 14 percent of the population, can’t read, and 21 percent of adults read below a 5th grade level.
a country where only 60% of the population believes in evolution and where one in four people believe the sun revolves around the Earth. Science teachers take note! I couldn’t find any figures on how many Americans believe the world is flat.
a country where less than half of the population believes climate change is caused by humans. According to Wikipedia, which ranks belief in climate change by country, only 49% of Americans believe climate change is caused by humans. This stands in STARK contrast to the view of the world’s scientists, who stopped debating the issue of human-caused climate change a LONG, LONG time ago. This also stands in stark contrast to the 77% of Americans who believe in angels. Maybe Heaven and Exxon Mobil use the same PR firm.
a country where the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are documents carefully stored and curated in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. but are not a set of principles taken seriously by government officials.
a country that is not as free as we might think. Despite all the endless talk about the necessity of protecting our freedom from the scary Muslims, according to the watchdog organization Freedom House, in terms of political and civil liberties the U.S. is tied for 44th freest country. Somebody should convey this information to the Muslims of the world so they’ll stop hating our freedom.
Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of great things about the U.S. - lots of good roads to drive on, lots of big cars to drive on the roads, lots of fast food restaurants along those roads, lots of stuff to buy in stores along the roads (all made in China, of course). Unfortunately, America has a dark side, a very very dark side. As Americans, we like to envision ourselves as these exceptional people, dedicated to freedom and justice, going around the world spreading peace and democracy. Forget it, that’s a fairy tale, that’s not who we are.
Actions speak louder than words. Much louder. Whether Americans want to admit it or not, the paragraphs above give a good picture of what America has become. We are overwhelmingly a nation of frightened, violent, bloodthirsty, crude, racists with no regard for international law or human decency. If that weren’t the case, we would change things, right?
Donald Trump did not put us on this dark path, but he is the perfect embodiment of our national character. I, for one, think it would be refreshing to have a president whose rhetoric matches our national actions….a president whose personal beliefs apparently mirror those of a majority of the country’s citizens…a president who is not afraid to speak the thoughts that most people apparently harbor. I’m tired of presidents, like Barack Obama, who say one thing then do the exact opposite…who talk peace while conducting war. With Donald, when he says he hates Muslims and wants to kill them all, I know he really means it. I don't agree with him, but at least I know where he stands. So, on November 8th I’ll be casting my vote for Donald Trump.
Of course, I’m kidding. I’m not voting for Donald Trump. I’m not voting at all. I no longer vote. I believe that voting should be reserved for people who live in a democracy and, well, we don't.
Our elections are carefully designed charades to ensure corporate control of the system. We are given the illusion of choice whereas in fact we have next to none. If we did really have a choice, we would not have ended up with the two most hated candidates in history vying for the presidency, right?
When Bernie Sanders entered the presidential race, many of my progressive friends were excited by the prospect that he might win the nomination and even had a chance at the presidency. I was not similarly moved. Given his political leanings, I was sure that the ruling corporations and the Democratic establishment would do whatever it would take to keep him out of the race. And they did. Between mainstream media blackouts and dirty tricks from within the Democratic Party, Sanders’ campaign was successfully scuttled.
Theoretically, in this great “democracy”, anybody who collects the qualifying number of signatures to get on the ballot can run for president. Theoretically. In practice, there are HUGE obstacles to that - intentionally placed obstacles.
The first obstacle is cost - the system of legalized bribery euphemistically known as campaign financing. In 2012 the Obama campaign spent very close to $1 billion - BILLION!!! Who has a billion dollars to spend on a campaign? The rich and powerful do - the big corporations that want to control the national agenda - banks, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, defense contractors, fossil fuel companies, chemical companies, biotech companies, telecom companies, agribusiness…all the usual suspects. Surprise, surprise, those corporations don't donate to the campaigns of Green Party candidates who believe that people not corporations should be making decisions about what is best for the country.
The second obstacle is media coverage. The mainstream media ignore third party candidates, almost entirely. When they do stoop to cover them, the mainstream media, along with pretty much everybody else in the U.S., treats third party candidates as intruders and spoilers who have no right to interfere with the carefully staged election. In the case of the mainstream media, this is understandable. The mainstream media are giant corporations whose profits are threatened by Green Party candidates who see media consolidation as an anti-democratic force. In the case of the general public, the animosity towards third party candidates is a lot harder to understand.
A third obstacle to third party candidates are the presidential debates. These days the presidential debates are tightly controlled by the two main political parties and third party candidates are barred from inclusion. At the first debate between Trump and Clinton, Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein was actually escorted away from the parking lot of the auditorium by the police. That’s what passes for democracy in the United States.
Whichever candidate wins on November 8th, as Robert Koehler wrote recently, “the future is already predetermined, and it’s one of unquestioned military budgets and endless war.” I won’t be participating in the sham.
10 October 2016