Apparently, we Americans are prepared to risk that, because our country is headed down the toilet, financially, politically and socially. The very core of our Constitution is being assaulted and not just by the nut jobs on the "right," but also by our very own supposed defenders of said Constitution, the Democratic party.
Some may say that this is business as usual in Washington and that getting frustrated at party bosses is as old as our democracy, so why am I making so much of this now? Well, for a couple of reasons. We are coming off a decade of unprecedented organizing opportunity. With the emergence of online engagement and social media, Americans were beginning to feel as though they had a way to strategically participate in the conversations in Washington that shape their lives. This president was the first one elected using broad engagement strategies, and his election changed the national psyche by demonstrating to millions of Americans that their political participation could pay off and democracy could work. The disappointment about the debt deal is especially acute against the backdrop of the record levels of political participation, enthusiasm and hope generated during the 2008 election.
In between, we had the 2010 Citizens United decision, which rebuilt those gates around the capitol that the online revolution had supposedly crashed. Corporate cash, already omnipresent in lobbying, dominated the airwaves; and thirty-second ads, played over and over once again, drowned out the millions of organized voices crying for change. That led to the 2010 election of radical candidates representing a tiny minority of Americans who were more concerned about the federal deficit than they were about joblessness and the overall economy.
The debt deal’s final resolution to what essentially amounted to a hostage crisis by that minority represents a complete unmooring of official decision-making from the will of the American people. The last few weeks could be the final straw that leads to a collapse of confidence not just in this government but in the American project of self-governance. When citizens don’t participate, democracy is in peril. At a time of so much great need in our country, sending the message that citizen involvement is futile is dangerous not just to the substance of one debate but to the core principles that allow us to call ourselves a democracy. Are we really prepared to risk that?
The signs are abundant. Verizon workers striking because the company wants them to pay more into their pensions and make less in their wages, this despite the fact that the corporate stockholders and higher ups have made unprecedented gains in their wages and earnings and dividends. Jobless people are told not to apply for new jobs that open up, as corporations and businesses are now seeking only people willing to move FROM a job TO a job, totally ignoring our unemployment crisis. Our spineless president and his echo chamber of political advisers who have so blurred the line between what used to be definitive Democratic and Republican ideals, coupled with the upsurge in stupid people having been elected to Congress by corporate money giddy over the fact they have puppets doing their dirty deeds under the guise of "representation" of a constituency, has resulted in a more resigned and depressed America. Etc.
The writing is clearly on the wall. 2012 will be interesting insofar as elections are concerned. This will be the turning point, where Americans who do vote find out that their vote (1) either was changed electronically by the corporate controlled voting process or (2) that the candidate they voted for was/is just a stupid person backed by a boatload of overseas money as well as local and national corporate controlled money with specialized agendas (and ones that do not help out the actual voter, but in reality, continue to disenfranchise the voters).
People, we will see bread lines. We will see an upsweep in homelessness, and not just by individuals, but whole families. We will end up looking a lot more like refugees in this country, than ordinary citizens of the once great democracy that America stood for.
Hope. It left the building. Obama and the Democrats shoved a desk in front of the door, bought ear plugs, and are not listening. The Republicans have put wood in front of the door and are pouring lighting fluid on it. The tea baggers have the lighter. It's just a matter of time.