Monday, September 25, 2006

I guess this is what passes for optimism these days...

So was democracy a failed experiment? Should we just let these guys run the country as long as they let us eat? Clearly, they’re not scared of us or what we might be saying about them. In fact, their best argument that we haven’t descended into fascism is the fact that we’re allowed to distribute columns like this one. How could we be living in a totalitarian propaganda state if there are articles pronouncing the same? Because fascism looks different every time around. 1930’s fascism failed because it was too obviously repressive. Today’s fascism works because it has turned the mediaspace into a house of mirrors where nothing is true and everything is permissible. The fact that there are plenty of blogs and even major books saying what’s happening and still it doesn’t matter is proof that it has worked.

But there is hope. It’s not just the radicals and militias who are alarmed, but mainstream congresspeople and government wonks. I, myself, have been approached by two separate government intelligence agencies and three members of congress (of both parties) for help understanding what they already deem to be actionable offenses against the American people by some of our leaders. They are disturbed by the disinformation campaign leading up to the Gulf War, voter fraud, and the way Americans have been frightened into supporting the curtailment of civil rights.

Surprisingly, most of my conversations with these patriotic people involve two main concerns. First, they have been ostracized by their peers for their views. This has created some urgency, for they fear they will not get enough party support for re-election if they don’t succeed in their efforts in the next few months. Second, and more troublingly, they are afraid to disillusion America’s youth. Isn’t there a way to fix this problem, they wonder, without raising an entire generation of Americans in environment of acknowledged voter nullification? And what of our reputation in the world? Which is more damaging to democracy: voter fraud, or the public awareness of voter fraud?

To this, we simply must conclude that the reality of voter fraud is more dangerous than any associated disillusionment. To worry about the impact on public consciousness is to get mired in the logic of public relations – and that’s what got us into this mess to begin with.

It’s time to get real, and either fight (through the courts, if possible) to reinstate the rule of law as established by the Constitution, or accept that Enlightenment-era democracy simply doesn’t work and move into a new phase of government by decree or market forces or whatever it is that comes next.

In any case, it serves no one to have a “pretend democracy” that’s actually something else. I’m going to stop denying what’s going on here, and use what influence I have with lawmakers, government workers, and activists to get them to do the same. Instead of trying to feel better about all this, I’m going to allow myself and everyone around me to feel worse.

Indeed, the bad news is the good news. Total disillusionment, though momentarily painful, is utterly liberating and probably required. Acceptance isn’t acquiescence at all; it’s the first step towards reconnecting with a reality that can and must be changed. If we’re going to get back on the horse, we’ve got to acknowledge that we’ve fallen off.



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