August 06, 2011

What if they held an election and nobody came?

I haven't been able to bring myself to the effort necessary to understand the "debt ceiling deal." Some of it sounds, as usual, unconstitutional, since our scofflaw government rarely pays any attention anymore to the actual rules of our charter document. Something in there about a "Super Congress" which will fast-track budget cuts, without the opportunity for normal amendments, if the two Constitutional bodies (the House & Senate) don't get with it and impose enough austerity on the American people. The Super Congress will be composed of gangs from the two houses - this gang problem is getting serious in Washington. Every time you turn around, there's a new Gang of Six taking control of the street and telling the rest of them in the Capitol 'hood what to do. The Super Congress will apparently be a Gang of Twelve, indicating an escalation in turf warfare. Maybe Obama should appoint a Gang Task Force to try to get this crisis under control.

Meanwhile, despite the best efforts (ha ha) of Congress and its various Gangs, the United States has had its FICO score lowered by the rating agency S&P, which was one of the main rating agencies most guilty of malfeasance during the mortgage-backed securities fiasco, which (briefly) brought Wall Street to its knees, until it was rescued by the Gangs of Washington. Thus leaving only the American people in general on their knees, the other 90% or so who are not actually represented in the District of Columbia.

I was gratified to see on Lawrence O'Donnell's show the other night that at least one national poll indicated that the general approval rating for Congress now stands at 14%. In some ways this is remarkable, given that it was only last year that there was a wholesale turnover in the composition of Congress. It would appear that this convulsive, spasmodic thrashing around by the electorate is not making any big difference in how the American commoners view Congress. As if an awful truth is beginning to dawn on The People: it doesn't make any difference what the exact composition of Democrats and Republicans in Congress is: we still cannot abide them. They are a pestilence, a waking nightmare from which we can't escape. They are forever there, these same Zombie-Solons, Mitch McConnell, John Kyl, Harry Reid, Joe Lieberman, John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, betraying us, selling us out at every turn, standing in front of a "bouquet" of microphones, intoning the same nonsense, the same stock, utterly fraudulent phrases, invulnerable even to Woody Harrelson swinging a baseball bat to their oozing heads - they just keep coming!

Aiieeeeeee!! (In the old comic books, that was supposed to be a scream.) In the space of a couple of weeks or so, I have now read the same blog post by two different writers. The first, which I take to be the original, was by Guy Saperstein, an East Bay civil rights lawyer working in Berkeley for whom I have high respect. He argued, rather persuasively, that the main problem with the Obama presidency is that it has utterly de-fanged and neutered any progressive or civil liberties movement in the U.S. His logic proceeds from the simple binary truth about our politics: if a Democratic President does all of the same awful things as a Republican (which Obama does), such as starting unconstitutional wars, over-using secrecy, denying due process, using "military tribunals" indiscriminately (and contrary to the 5th & 14th Amendments), reauthorizing the Patriot Act without even bothering to see how it's working, jacking up the Afghanistan War in ways not even Bush would have countenanced, refusing to close Guantanamo, buying into Republican ideas of dismantling the social safety net, passing an insurer gift bag of a health bill, etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam, there is no effective opposition because the Democrats in Congress must support their party leader. Whereas if John McCain had done all of these things (plus had acted out his essentially insane ideas on other other subjects), there would have been at least the semblance of resistance.

Then on "Counterpunch" yesterday, I read Alexander Coburn's piece saying the same thing, without so much as a h/t to Guy (Hey Alex! didn't realize us detail geeks read around so much, huh?) Coburn suggested that electing Romney would be a good idea for these reasons; Saperstein simply thought that any Republican in 2012 would be superior.

I take these two columns, thoughtful as they are, for the acts of sheer desperation which they represent. That's how nuts things are now - liberals are arguing for the advantages of electing John MCain and Mitt Romney. As they say in the rehab game, we've hit bottom.

Here's another idea: with only 14% of the electorate to go, how about a complete boycott of the electoral process in 2012? Instead of shuffling the Dems and Pubs, let's do away with them altogether. This surely would appeal to Americans' sense of disenfranchisement, apathy and dillusionment, don't you think? And what is easier than doing nothing? We don't have to vote - who is it, after all, who is constantly urging you to "exercise your franchise," to "do your civic duty" by voting? Democrats and Republicans. Know why? Because they want the power and the money.

Unlike my "535 Plan," whereby we simply replace everyone in Congress with someone new, preferably from a "third" party, this one would entail the honor system. Everyone must refrain from voting. Of course, even members of Congress can vote, so we might wind up with the same 535, each receiving precisely one vote. Yet that would certainly convey a message, would it not? What kind of authority and authenticity would a Congress person command through receiving a plurality of one? The important thing is, like the riddle "what do you call 10,000 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the sea?" - it's a good start.

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