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An Imprudent Democracy

mp3: 4.4 MBs, 3:02

[Col. Recorded 11/22/02]

"The people, sir, are a great beast." -- Alexander Hamilton, Organizer of
Constitutional Convention (1787)

The American propaganda machine alone allows people like George W. Bush, and his minions in government and the punditocracy of the corporate media, to crow to the world about 'American democracy'. To hear them tell it, the U.S. intends to wage an illegal and unpopular war against the Iraqis, to bring them 'American democracy.' There's only one problem with that seemingly noble sentiment -- there ain’t enough here to spread around. America, at its very inception, and in the uncertain, fearful present, doesn’t care about nor practice democracy. It practices the illusion of democracy, and has a powerful media, and the educational system, with which to project this illusion. But in its earliest days, up to this present hour, the leaders of the U.S. government have strove mightily to avoid any real democracy, by the process of exclusion of, in truth, the majority of the people. Since at least the 1940s, the majority of the American population have been women. If this truly were a representative democracy, there would be 51 female senators in the U.S. Senate, not the 9 or so that are there now. Indeed, according to UN reports, the U.S. ranks 50th in the world when it comes to women’s representation in national legislatures. Sweden, which comes 1st in the world, with 43 percent, is followed by Germany, New Zealand, Mozambique & South Africa. the U.S. comes in some 45 states later. African-Americans, roughly 13% of the population, should have 13 senators, and 56 members of the House of Representatives. As of this writing, there are 0 senators (There have only been 2 in the last half century!) and 38 members of the House. The same could be said of Americans in poverty, who constitute some 12.8% of the populace. Who represents them? Nobody. The House and the Senate represent the rich, who disproportionately contribute to their campaigns and their war chests for the perpetual election cycle. The average congressperson spends well over 50% of his or her time in the tedious business of fundraising. Why? To buy time on the corporate media. So, who do they represent? Those that can afford them; Enron, GE, Viacom, the oil companies, the drug companies, and Wall Street. Recently, when over a quarter of a million people -- over 250,000 men, women, students and children -- gathered in Washington and San Francisco to denounce the Bush adventure in Iraq, how many representatives of Congress did you see? Unless I missed something, only the noble Cynthia McKinney, the outgoing representative from Georgia, showed up. One -- out of 435 Representatives, and 100 Senators. What's that tell you about democracy? The aristocratic, monarchy-admiring James Madison (One of the other guys considered a 'Founding Father' of the 'American democracy') had these ideas about democracy: All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, *it is not true in fact.* The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, *permanent share in the government*. They will check the unsteadiness of the Second... Can a democratic assembly who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy... It is admitted that you cannot have a good executive upon a democratic plan. [Fresia, J., "Toward an American Revolution" (Boston: South End Press,
1988), pp. 16-17] You think this guy cared about "democracy"? He, and his cohorts at the Convention feared, and dreaded 'the people', who they
considered, 'the Mob', or 'the great Rabble'. As Gouverneur Morris, a co-author of the Constitution put it, "The mob begins to think and to reason... I see and see with fear and trembling, that if the disputes with Britain continue, we shall be under the domination of a riotous mob. It is to the interest of all men therefore, to seek reunion with the parent state." [p. 28] Morris was talking about making up with Britain! And we wonder where Florida came from? The instinct of politicians is to limit, not broaden voting. The only reason as many vote as now do (and that's the minority) is because social movements (of women, of Blacks, of "Mobs") fought for it. They got votes, but little representation. The history of the U.S. is the elites fighting against democracy and the people ('the many') fighting for it. Shall we export that to Iraq?


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