September 1998, Volume 6 Nr. 1, Issue 61
More than ever the United States electorate are recognizing that the dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats and their adolescent behavior toward each other is nothing more than ideological acting to fill the soap opera episodes of tabloid news reporting. This pseudo-news, like pseudo-science, has swept the country and as a result produced probably the most apathetic electorate of all time. Ralph Nader writing in the August 25, 1998 issue of In the Public Interest, an article entitled, "Congressional Oversight" states,
"The November congressional elections are coming up, and the polls say voters are yawning. Previous off-year elections have drawn only 38 percent on average of eligible voters to the booths, meaning that only 6 in 10 bothered to exercise the franchise that early Americans fought so hard to secure for them.
"This year voter turnout could reach an all-time low. As the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties become less and less pronounced, the two seem to be coming into confluence in a single Corporate Party that wields enormous influence over national economic and regulatory policies. This fosters widespread voter cynicism. Public debate becomes flaccid. Speeches are rife with slogans, instead of the spark and resolve really needed to improve American life."
Nader goes on to say that our uninvolvement leads to a cynicism that makes us wide open for exploitation by the corporate-political-party structure, i.e. the one Capitalist party system with two quickly merging-into-one faces. Readers of Metaphoria will recall past issues of years ago where the case for such a meld was made on many occasions.
During a British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC) Worldwide Service program on short-wave of September 6, 1998, one of the commentators who had spent the past six months living in Baltimore, MD and sending her son to the local public schools, made the observation that the United States barely has a democracy. Her observations were based upon the belief that democracy requires an educated and informed electorate and that the news is entertainment rather than information. She noted that in the Baltimore area two television stations had dedicated full-time coverage to the Bill-and-Monica affair while the major issues of the day went ignored. Further testimony to this lament comes from the fact that that few high school students can locate Sudan or Afghanistan on a map. Whats worse is that most adults see Khartoum as an animation by Disney. Yet, most can tell you the color of Monicas dress and what is on it.
With the reduction in importance of world events to that of baseline entertainment save for the salacious which gets ongoing and top billing, the media have marginalized the important and hyped the trivial. While starving millions in Asia and Africa draw a yawn, MSNBCs Monica and Bill Show has the audience calling for more popcorn. Sales of hamburgers and fries are up. There is plenty of time between the testimony of tabloid experts to sell more Mickey Dees.Positive Possibilities
Ralph Naders recent comments however, can be seen in a different and positive light. They could be considered a call to action. While it is true that electoral apathy places the nation under Corporate influence and domination, at the same time it offers a rare opportunity for alternatives to make their point felt and to change the political power balance in favor of the disenfranchised, that is, toward those whom Nader calls too skeptical to bother and vote.
While the United States as a nation is tuned out to the electoral process that is supposed to make it great and does not care about the goings on in politics, a tremendous number of its citizens are following the Bill and Monica show. In fact, more people have watched the presidents so-called "I did it" speech than have watched Neil Armstrong step on the moon or the O.J. Simpson jury reach a not-guilty verdict.
While the U.S. public may find the minute-by-minute salacious coverage of the presidents life "too much too take", they nonetheless, tune in to hear the latest update. It is this group, those that are intrigued enough for whatever reasons about Clintons Oval Office extracurricular activities but do not vote - if they could be reached - who could easily place candidates of a third party or independent quickly into the halls of the House or Senate As they say in Vermont, "When the sun shines ya gotta make hay." Its time to make political hay.Pink and Green
In two very unlikely and disparate locales there exists the possibility of a multi-colored congressional reality - a reality that has the opportunity of electing the second non-capitalist party candidate to the House of Representatives. After which, their could be no turning back.
While some of the more politically astute electorate have heard of Congressman Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, who, this year is running for his fifth term in the House, few are familiar with the possibilities in New Mexico.
In the snow-white landscape of Bernies Vermont where the Congressman has for over a decade declared his Socialist orientation, the sand-beiged terrain of New Mexico offers the possibility of the cactus Green Party candidacies of Carol Miller and Bob Anderson for Congress. Damacio Lopez, a Green running for Secretary of State is co-author of the March 1993 GAO report, "Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad: Depleted Uranium Use by the Department of Defense."
While Bernie may not have much difficulty in being re-elected, Miller, Anderson and the Greens are in a hopeful struggle and are making hay in the desert. In the last two Congressional elections, the Greens received 17% and 15% of the vote. They did so without spending millions as did the Capitalist Democratic and Republican Parties. As the Greens of New Mexico put it they, "have a historic opportunity to end big moneys stranglehold on U.S. politics."
To do so requires bringing the New Mexico Greens message into the living rooms and homes of America. Imagine if their message received even a fraction of the media coverage and attention given to the Monica Lewinsky matter. With customary Green hard work, some luck and the support of progressives around the country, the Green team of Miller, Andersen and Lopez can "turn the political discourse back to the concerns of the ordinary people."Such Radicals
The New Mexico Greens are such radicals! Their audacity is obvious in their plan to limit campaign spending. Andersen even dares to suggest putting a cap on congressional campaigns equal to the salary of the office - in this case: $137,000. Miller who suggested a cap of $100,000 spent only $37,000 in her first attempt. She keeps raising the bar each time that the limit is rejected by the Republican incumbent Bill Redmond. The ideas is to embarrass Redmond by finding out just what he thinks it takes to buy the seat. Miller believes that a $250,000 cap on Congressional races is more than reasonable.
In Feudalism alias American Capitalism, David (no last name Internaut) makes the observation,
"As Congress increasingly becomes a fraternity of lawyers competing for special interest favors for the particular economic elite who support them, the distinction between Republican and Democrat becomes increasingly irrelevant."
It is this distinction, the irrelevance of two major parties, made manifest in their myriad of Clinton-Lewinsky media appearances and self-righteous proclamations while at the same time being unable to do the peoples work, that has the voters thinking about looking in other places. In New Mexico, this looking somewhere else has the Greens causing the Democrats much concern.Repetition
Working through the system as an alternative to the Capitalist parties is difficult. It is after all, the capitalist who controls the mass media through ownership of the printing presses, radio and television stations. Recently, I made the comment to JeanneE, wouldnt it be nice if there were even one nationally available twenty-four hour progressive radio or television station where commercials would not influence editorial policy and where word of progressive candidates could be spread without interference.
I can just see it. Imagine Carol Miller and the New Mexico Greens party-position, platform, news, events and debates repeated on a daily basis - repeated as often as the clip of Monica and Bill hugging in a crowd. Imagine Miller, Andersen and Lopez being followed by progressive reporters, tripping over each other as they give a news conference over question of the morality, not of the presidents behavior but rather, the launching of seventy-two cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan (at $2,000,000 apiece). Repetition of coverage is effective. As Marx might ask, who owns the means of repetition? Alternatives to the global consolidation of repetition is inexpensively available through alternative technologies. It requires but the desire to use it. Read on to find out.Alternative
Why are there no progressive television or few progressive radio stations across the AM and FM dials? Theres a simple answer: because the system has created the reality where only the rich or those who are bankrolled by the rich can afford such a powerful luxury. This is why there is an explosion of microbroadcasting in the United States.
Microbroadcasters go on the air with low power and without FCC license (thus illegally) using the argument that the airwaves belong to the people and not the corporations. They argue that it is a violation of free speech for only the wealthy to have radio outlets for the expression of their political, ideological views and community news. I used to think as a ham radio operator of many years, that these illegal "pirate broadcasters" should be stopped. But, is it not illegal according to the US Constitution for the FCC to have sold off the natural resources of the people to the highest bidder? Are not the air waves the property of the People? Long live microbroadcasting!
When I first moved to Vermont, I wrote our congressman inquiring about starting a short-wave station called Radio Vermont. The congressman quickly replied with licensing information from which I found that a mere $8,000,000 was required to obtain equipment and get on the air with a license. You can see why I did not proceed with my plans.
Have you ever listened across the short-wave radio bands? There are literally dozens of right-wing stations espousing a twisted Christianity which uses religion as a cover for political agenda. There are stations who believe that the end time in near and is coming in our lifetime. (Ive often wondered if they buy life insurance policies?) There are stations who try to convince people to buy gold coins as a hedge against the impending end of our economy and civil strife. Then, there are the international Catholic stations, Voice of America, etc.
On the left? There is Radio for Peace International (RFPI) which had to set up shop in Costa Rica on the Campus of the University for Peace in Santa Anna. Why? Affordability and licensing access. Tune in on 15050 and 6975 kHz daily anytime (best in the evenings after sunset). RFPI broadcasts Pacifica News, Jim Hightower, Counterspin, UN news and special programs, etc.
Short-wave radio is the countrys best kept secret. Any evening, there are literally thousands of stations of that can be heard. Most of the stations are the mouthpieces and the organs of their respective governments. The vast majority of which are not owned and operated by the individually rich but, rather, the communications institutions of their respective countries.
A savvy listener recognizes the spin of the originator. On short-wave they have the option of many spins! There is Radio Havana, Radio Netherlands, BBC, Radio Baghdad, Radio Tokyo, Radio Dubai, Radio Canada International, etc. The list endless.
Listening to short-wave radio is not expensive. A good quality portable short-wave receiver costs less than a years subscription to cable or satellite TV. For example, as I write this newsletter, the Sangean ATS-909 (a well rated unit) is available for under $200. The other manufacturers are Sony, Grundig, Panasonic. Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, Lowe, Alinco, AOR and Yupiteru. Short-wave is one of the best investments in escape from Corporate dominance that one can make. A better or complementary activity is the complete elimination of television and commercial radio in the home.Monkey Politics
Barring microbroadcasting and short-wave radio, what do the people have as a tool to respond to the parties of the rich? They have electoral monkey politics. As an example I cite the Vermont senatorial primary election of September 4, 1998. Enter Fred Tuttle, Life Magazines rookie of the year (not what I would consider a noteworthy distinction). The Spread Fred homepage on the Internet states,
In real life, Fred was on the ballot running in the Republican primary against a Vermont newcomer with big bucks. Jim McMullen, a wealthy businessman from Massachusetts was inspired by the Republican National Committee (RNC) to run against liberal incumbent Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy by using the turning-of-the-second-home- turned-first-home method of becoming a Vermonter.
Having plenty of financial resources (he spent $250,000 in the primary) McMullen and the RNC set out to buy the Senate seat. In response, and in the typical activist Vermont style and response, the voices of opposition placed 79-year old dairy farmer Fred Tuttle on the ballot. Vowing to spend no more than $16 on the race, farmer Fred, with the help of many friends, progressives and angry voters defeated McMullen. Victorious Fred won the election by 10%!
The day after the election, I came into work to get my daily cup of morning coffee. A colleague who does the same came in and said, "Democracy sucks!" My reply was, only where the people care enough to stop the obvious purchase of power, to use monkey political tactics, can they send the message, "No you wont!" Vermont is such a place.Conclusion
Vermont and New Mexico (and more and more others) are prime examples of how small states with dedicated activists are offering alternatives in spite of rich corporate dominance. The Green of New Mexico, the Pink of Vermont, the Rainbow of San Francisco and New York, the White of pacifism, etc. through solidarity can create a national alternative to the parties of the rich. It is taking place as you read.
The Republican and Democratic Parties are obsolete. They are decaying and dying by the shear weight of their own inadequacy, corruption and greed. The Capitalist parties are inconsequential because they no longer are in touch with the reality of the people that struggle daily to make ends meet. The parties of the rich elite who know not the cost of daily bread nor milk, nor health care, nor are they aware of the suffering their stock investments cause around the world, are slowly coming to the realization that their policies cannot save the planet from environmental upheaval. In my humble opinion, it is this recognition, this growing loss of faith in the US dominated global religion of the free and stock markets that is contributing to the awareness of global economic disintegration.
This November, there will take place the second convention of the US Labor Party. The Labor Party is an educational organization of working people: carpenters, teachers, electricians, nurses, musicians, communications and social workers, miners, and others, who believe that those who produce the goods and services are at least as important and should have as much political power as those who own the means of production. This important convention taking place at a time of crisis in Washington will be held in Pittsburgh.
If articles of impeachment are presented against president Clinton, look forward the greatest show on Earth coming to Congress. This event will become a three-ring circus and morality pageant brought to by the same self-righteous people, who as Woody Guthrie wrote and Billy Bragg sings, " waste enough to feed the ones who starve build our civilization up and shoot it down with wars."Quotes
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and steal bread.
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country....corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor.
When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him whose.
Some men rob you with a six-gun--others rob you with a fountain pen.
Money doesn't talk, it swears.
Advertisement. The Nation. September 7/14, 1998. Page 9.
Cohen, Gary. Multinational
Monitor. "Radioactive Ammo Lays Them to Rest." Internet.
Man with a Plan. Internet.
Oswald, Mark. The New Mexican.
"Miller Calls for Voluntary Spending Limit." Internet.
© 1998 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski