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This interview was conducted as a "living U.S. civics lesson" was beginning to unfold following the November 7th national election. Part I explores the nature of the illusion of democracy people in the United States must deal with. Part II focuses more specifically on the Bush Crime Family.--ratitor
Reading from your November 3, 2000 e-mail to me concerning the outcome of the Presidential election:Bush will win the election -- it was pre-decided. It's simple logic to me. If they spend $10 million to rig elections in Chile, what will they spend here, where it counts. They can't leave it up to chance. How is it rigged?
Electoral college just in case, funds necessary to run eliminating all but the super rich and those they pick, framing of the race by "polls" who say in advance who "cannot win", betting both horses in the race, exit poll and other factors to influence votes, control of the "issues" and the nature and range of the debate, and rigging of the computerized tallying (Vote Scam) if needed, discouragement from voting so that a very few elect one of the pre-chosen evils. For the model, see Ed Herman's Demonstration Elections and realize that what we do abroad we have to do here even more urgently. And the last controls: bribe, bully, blackmail or bullet. Put Clinton over the Monica barrel and make him bomb Kosovo for instance.
Pre-decided because we had our breathing space but now they will take off the glove and bring down the iron fist. The wealth is so concentrated now that they cannot afford the illusions of either social supports or democratic options. Seattle, Philly and DC were early warning signs about the increased role of the military and brutal police response in popular control.
I've finished transcribing a Chomsky talk from February in Santa Fe. He mentions stuff about Kosovo and the U.S. being the global Mafia Don for almost the last century. You were saying Clinton is over the Monica barrel and make them bomb Kosovo. What is your read on the `global Mafia Don'? Somebody used that in the State Department. Chomsky said it was credibility in terms of beating the guy [Serbia] to a pulp and make a lesson of him. I guess Serbia was the one place in Europe that did not have an interest in any of it -- NATO, U.S. or anything.
Military interventions have multiple purposes. First of all, they always make a profit for the arms dealers and for industrial complexes. Second, they allow them to use the battlefield as a laboratory to test weapons and technology and technique and to test the people and with their responses to war and war stress. They're always a show of force by the empire and it's reach and it's invulnerability if they can make that stick. If you remember, part of the reason given for going into the Gulf War was to get rid of, as they called it, the The Vietnam Syndrome. Which was, in the public and in the ranks of the GIs, dissatisfaction with the wars and disagreement with the wars. They were calling that a syndrome that was left over and they wanted to win one and now they are calling the Gulf War the best-prosecuted war in American history, etc. Of course it wasn't hard because they didn't really have an enemy that contended with them. They were able to show off their `smart bombs'.
In addition to that they are going into that region certainly to demonize Serbia because Serbia was a socialist hold-out and also to create the openings for a new post-Soviet Union market strategy in that whole area and control, either under the Euro dollar or by U.S. penetration and investment. But I think real the bottom-line of why we into to Kosovo at one point -- and now you have people like Bush and Cheney saying that they are willing to pull out -- and what you always have to look at in war situations -- are resources. What is happening in that area is that there is a question of what route they are going to use to bring the oil reserves that they now feel that they have their hands on in the Soviet Union down through that sector into other countries in Europe? How are they going to control and what route are they going to take?
Azerbijan is one route and this other route was going through the middle of Kosovo. There was also a drug route involved and the Kosovo Liberation Army was very deeply involved with the CIA in drug running through that section to get the drugs from one section to another. The primary thing that was happening was that they had a critical oil route there and they were basically stepping in to protect its viability and to stop any independent country from blocking it. Now, it seems clear they have chosen the other route and so at least the key elements feel that it's no longer necessary to have a U.S. military presence there with all of its bad elements of continued deaths or involvement when people don't want a long-term involvement anywhere in the world. So now you get Bush and Cheney talking about pulling out is they were some sort of a non-interventionists.
And Garnering whatever other appearance through that of being more moderate or something.
They can look like they are critical in some sense, but it's something like in the drug war when you see them going into a place like Colombia. First of all they are pumping multi-billion dollars into Colombia to buy all of this military equipment for them which is really for a counter-insurgency purpose. But then the cover for that is the drugs. But deeper than that, you have situations where they are going in to oppose one group of drug dealers because actually they have created a second route and they want the drugs to go through another sector or they want to directly control them.
So it's almost like competition?
Yes, it is, and really none of it is some sort pure motive of the United States that wants to end drug routes around the world, or drug profit, or fight on behalf of people that are starving like they claimed they were doing in Ethiopia or move for real justice or real democracy anywhere in the world. We're never doing that when we can go to war.
After that you say "Pre-decided because we have our breathing space but now they will take off the glove and bring down the iron fist."
I believe that what is happening is the country is going through thess cycles that occur at different periods. There is a split within the class at the top (which is more and more concentrated now) between those who want to maintain the illusion of a democracy and those who feel that is not necessary and that the best way to go forward and control things is to move into a more open and fascistic state. Thus we cycle through these periods.
Because when you put in people like Reagan and Bush who further concentrate the money and push down on people, eventually the contradictions become so great and there is the real possibility that people are not going to put up with it and that they will cause huge rifts in the social fabric and/or in the general credibility of the system. At that point they will back off and bring in "moderates" like a Carter or a Clinton to give us a breather in a sense. Such people will still carry out the overall plan. If they try to buck the overall plan, measures will be taken to keep them in line. Moderates will champion the overall plan in a way where there will be less criticism. If we had had Bush in the White House going into Kosovo, if we would have had Bush in the White House cutting off public welfare, there would have been a hue-and-cry across the country -- much louder then when the Democrats and the liberals do it. They are still carrying out the class agenda. But they are not going to get the kind of flack, they are going to be able to get by with certain kinds of programs and outrages because it lulls people to sleep. This is true at least for what is left of the petty bourgeoisie, otherwise known as the middle class, which is a slimmer and slimmer percentage of the population.
Eventually the population will be divided into the very, very rich and the totally impoverished. What is left of those "middle class" people, they generally want some kind of image of a liberal facade and some way to ease their social conscience to the extent that they have any. They spend their time trying to come up with these programs and talking about things that might be better. But the people that assert that there are fundamental differences between the Republican and Democratic parties are people that are in that small strata. At this point I think it goes out to about eight percent of the population (at the most) that could call itself a middle class. All of that has been eroded over the years.
In fact, 10 years ago, a study was conducted on the distribution of wealth in society. At that time the top 20 percent owned about 85 percent of the wealth and the lower 20 percent owned about 10 percent of the wealth. The rest was divided in what was between. Recently, a new study come out in which the top 20 percent own 96 percent of the wealth and the lower 20 percent are at a negative figure. Within that top 20 percent, only one percent really owns the wealth and then it spreads out. Curiously, in a recent poll, 17 percent of the people polled believed they themselves were in that top one percent. So they even maintain the illusion of wealth at the different stratas within the wealth.
The people who are really the super rich -- the billionaires -- are so far beyond even the whole life earnings of the middle class. The discrepancies between rich and poor at this point are never openly acknowledged, must less addressed in any positive manner, by the class at the top. However, poverty is relative. There are very horrific pockets of poverty -- including conditions approaching slave labor in this country -- that are never looked at. The prison system is rapidly becoming corporatized and becoming one of those places. There are still basically slave plantations and farms in the south where impoverished people are forced to work and they have no way out of the situation economically. There are people that live in very horrid kinds of poverty here. Still, there is an infrastructure here in most places, outside the very rural areas, there is an infrastructure that puts our poor at a little bit of an advantage over the poor in the third world countries where some people basically just scrabble on the land and goes back to living as it was in the pre-industrial period.
I was reading something that said if the whole world's population was represented as 100 people, I think it was 6 people would own 56 percent of the wealth of the world and they would all live in the United States. One would have a college education and one would have a computer. Of course, tremendous numbers of people would live impoverished and be malnourished. It was something like 60-80 people would be in that status -- it was the vast majority.
Here in the U.S. we are 6 percent of the world's population and, at least in the 1980s (it is probably more now) consuming 60 percent of the produced product of the world. The vast amount of the wealth in the world was concentrated here and concentrated within here. We are also tremendous energy users. The biggest single energy user in this society is the military. The military uses approximately 65 percent. It has been predicted that by this year -- 2000 it will be more like 80 percent of energy will be used by the military. Then the military expends that energy fighting wars to get control of more energy. It is an absolutely vicious and dead-end cycle that has no way out as long as you leave the system in its current shape.
There are people that want to maintain an illusion of democracy in the class and there are other people that are ready to go whole hog and take the curtain away and show the open face of fascism, not it's friendly face. But it is fascism nonetheless. I think that is what is competing in these kinds of periods; different parts of the class have ascendancy due to certain conditions.
Basically the elections are an arrangement that they make within the sectors of the class as to who will have the upper hand for a period. Generally they are done as a gentleman's agreement. They do not depend on us or our voting. That is merely an exercise that they allow us to put ourselves to sleep with.
Because this makes us think that it is working, that this is a democracy.
They make us think it is a democracy. They make us think a vote means something, that a vote counts. They maintain that for a number of reasons and they get a number of benefits out of it. We will be going into the next 4-year period with the Democratic liberals claiming, forever that the existence of Nader's small third party is what lost the election for Gore; that it was not incumbent on Gore to somehow get enough votes; that the little tiny three percent that Nader got did not make a difference. They are just blamed with fouling the election because supposedly Bush won.
It was and remains my view that Bush would take this election well before any voting happened. That was the agreement. The only thing that is interesting right now is that somehow there was a glitch in that agreement. It happened at the point where everything was lined up for Bush to get Gore to concede. He had the popular vote at that point and he apparently had the electoral vote. At that point, they generally concede these things. That concession is really how it has always been arranged and done. You don't have this sort of squabbling over last minute absentee ballots and final counts. No one even looks at that. There is just an agreement, run by the corporate press, already put together by the elements of the class, that is acted at the time of the election. They can control the elections enough that they can create apparent landslides. Now either the hegemony has fallen apart at some level. Seen in this way, this was a close election because they were actually fighting. But I doubt that. I think they made it a close election to make it interesting enough so someone would pay attention.
Do you have any idea how much of the eligible voting populace voted?
They're saying now that it finally crested a majority, that it got up to 52 or 53 percent. Of course prior to that, a majority didn't vote and if you believe in majority rule, nobody was president. But even so, we are only talking about a minority of that majority that actually voted in any direction. No candidate has ever gotten 52 or 51 percent of the eligible vote. They've gotten a percentage of that. But they are saying now that there was a huge turnout and that whole new sectors came in out of labor, out of the African-American community, out of young people --
Just to vote for Bush or Gore in effect, because the other ones were so slight.
If that is true. We have no idea. If they would lie to us about the overall vote -- which I believe they do -- they would also lie to us about how large the third party vote was. In fact Nader might have gotten his five percent. We'll never know. I believe that it is all manipulated.
If you're smart enough and rich enough you bet on every horse in the race. The horses are expensive, so you don't want more than two if you can help it. You don't want to add horses to the race because then you have to pay off new jockeys. It is better to just own the two and not let the others run -- disqualify them or hobble them, do what ever you need to ahead of time. That is what they do with any attempt at a third party option.
And then of course the assumption is that anyone who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore, which obviously was not true within the Nader ranks. There are many people who only voted for Nader and never would have voted for Gore or Bush.
All of it is predicated on this idea that there is actually an election going on. We manipulate elections all over the world. There is this fact of the "demonstration election", the name Edward Hermann gave in his book [Demonstration Elections, 1984, with Frank Brodhead --ratitor]. We maintain the class control, we even maintain the dictators, but we have an election for demonstration purposes -- for the purpose of making it look like a democracy.
So they put on an election; they have a bunch hoopla in order to legitimize the ascendancy of who they've already selected to run the country anyway. They spend millions of dollars. They admitted in congressional hearings to spending 10 million dollars to influence the election in Chile. We know they influenced the elections in Vietnam -- everywhere they stuck their fingers in. More recently this process is carried out under the guise of what they call "creating democracy" through the National Endowment for Democracy in the old USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development). All of that is CIA fronting. The intelligence agencies go in and pre-pick the candidates and they put up an illusion of an election and they put in or keep in the people they want to control the country.
The image to the rest of the world is that they are having elections. It has been amusing in the last few days as this process has finally been denuded, here. We never have this kind of attention on what voting really is in this country and what it does and how it works. Everybody now is getting a civics lesson. It is surprising them but obviously this kind of vote fraud, vote manipulation, ballot manipulation, voter intimidation, all of this stuff goes on and has gone on for years and years. It was the heart of the contentions of the civil right movement to enfranchise black voters in his country, in the heart of the suffragette movement to allow women to vote.
The abuse is still continuing. There was a report in the last two days that there are six thousand ballots in Brauer County that were handled improperly. People are complaining about it in a completely different county there in Florida. There are the 19,000 contested ballots in Palm Beach and the stories about those are not making any sense.
First of all, you've got a bunch of people supposedly voting for Buchanan -- four times as many people as are in Buchanan's whole reform party supposedly voted for Buchanan in one county in Florida. It makes no sense. Obviously, there was something wrong with the ballot.
It has been interesting to watch Buchanan because at first he conceded that. He said "I didn't even campaigned there. They couldn't be voting for me." Now he is changing his tune over the last couple of days so I don't know if they are offering him a cabinet post in the Bush White House or what. Now he is starting to say "Maybe they did vote for me" and claim them when obviously they are not legitimate votes.
There were all of these other ballots that were apparently double-punched. I can imagine some people punching once and thinking `oops' and punching again. But not thousands and thousands of people. People would just take their ballots back or something. All of this stuff -- that night there was a report that ballot boxes were missing or the ballot boxes were in lockers or left unattended at a school -- that kind of stuff is constant and it's all over the country.
There were also reports of all different kinds of voter intimidation and voter disenfranchisement. Here in this area, in Virginia and Maryland, they pass laws linking voter registration to driver's license renewal. When you go in to to renew your driver's license, they give you a voter application and you can register. It is not automatic but you fill in the application. Apparently in Maryland, because they weren't paid anything extra to do it, the employees just put the applications in a box and left them there. They were never sent down to the headquarters of the voting committee. In Virginia, if they didn't like anything on the application, they disqualified it. But none of the people who applied were told this. When they went down to vote they were turned away because they weren't on the list.
There were reports in St. Louis that people had voted for as many as 10 years, were not on the voting lists when they went down -- even though they were clearly registered. They were playing games in Florida, early on, where they were asking people for I.D. and if they produced a driver's license because they can ask for ID to make sure you are the person on the list that is voting and that somebody isn't voting for you. They ask for ID. If they produced a driver's license, they were told that they have to have a voter identification card. If they produced the voter ID card, they were told that they had to have a driver's license. They were playing it both ways to see how many people they could dislodge. Apparently, 15 percent of the black vote in Palm Beach was disenfranchised by these disqualified ballots.
Where was that reported in? Not in corporate newspapers?
I heard that on reports on WOL radio here. Joe Madison had represented Walter Fauntroy. I don't know what the source was but they were picking it up off the general press. I don't know whether it was AP or whatever.
It's clear that there was a racial element to the people that were disenfranchised as well. This was the heavy democratic county. I don't know if there was something wrong with the balloting machine that was making two punches. But, this idea that 19 thousand people would double-punch the ballots, I don't find that credible. I find it credible that somebody would punch the wrong hole and think that they had punched the other one and come out wrong on the vote. There is apparently some of that. I think if a person made a mistake like that a few would just punch it again. I don't know how they think it would work. I think that most people would go out of the booth and ask for another ballot. There were reports that people were denied ballots when they did that.
What's clear is that there was a set-up in order to have a cascade that was going to put Bush in through Florida. If you go back to when they lost the last time to Clinton -- Bush, in my view, was already entering his third term anyway. I believe that as of March 31, 1981, with the shooting of Ronald Reagan, Bush ascended into the presidency for all practical purposes. He was in there running as the former director CIA for effectively three terms with his elected term. When they lost to Clinton, they lost in Florida and they lost in other places. They had a rough time in Texas. They put the two sons in the governorships in those states. They were the deciding electoral states in earlier elections. On Clinton's inauguration day, Bush was here. I saw him on television. He said, I'll give him his terms and then I'm coming back.
That was like a public interview or something?
Yeah, he just made statement to the press as he was getting in the helicopter leaving DC on Clinton's inauguration day. He said he is coming back and he is. He is coming back with the only son that they could put up -- the least intelligent of the sons. But the one that only has personal peccadilloes because if they tried to run Jeb, who apparently wanted it or they tried to run Neil -- you're getting into scandals that the press are going to go after. All this guy has is a little cocaine snorting and being drunk till he was 30 years old. They haven't got too much else that they can slap around on him.
He hardly was a heavyweight. He was treated with kid gloves in the debates. He is just somebody who can come off looking like a good ol' boy. But it was arranged, I believe. When word got to him that Florida had been called a different way by this voter news service and was called for Gore. They went in to the mansion and asked him about it early in the evening and he said, "It ain't going to go that way."
I think he knew that they had already sewed up Florida. I think that they were enraged when they said that there is consternation in the Bush household and cancelled the dinner. They got on the phone to Florida and whatever tripped that. After a little bit, votes started coming in -- actual votes and not these projections on which they made the decision, but actual votes started coming in Jacksonville and they were not matching the projection at all.
An alert warning was put out by the voter news service and they said that they had to withdraw the idea that Gore definitely had it. It was an alert to the media reversing their earlier call of that state for Gore. They do all this based on exit polls -- what they say as they are leaving the polling places. These processes are notorious anyways. I think they are a very powerful tool in manipulating public consciousness and in manipulating the outcomes of the elections if they had to. Because they will announce before the voting is even over that certain people have won.
There were reports that I guess in a part of Florida is in the Central Time zone and not in the East Coast time zone. In those areas, there were people that had heard that Gore had already taken the state and they walked away from the polling line. Whether they were Gore supporters and figured they didn't need to vote or whether they were Bush supporters giving up. What they were I don't know.
But when you announce a result before the election is over, before the votes are in, on the west coast -- you're influencing that. Because people have been geared with this whole attitude to vote for anybody but a winner is a wasted vote. It is a very clever way to manipulate people because if you only vote for who they tell you the winner is well of course the other person is going to lose. It is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy: `I'm not going to vote for that losing guy' -- well that's why he lost.
If you believed in democracy as they have it and you wanted representatives, I don't think you would allow any kind of polling -- exit or pre-polling at all. That would potentially make it a fair race. This constant polling where they say who is ahead of who, the only purpose it can have is to manipulate the outcome of the election. I believe even beyond that to just make clear to you as much as they can who it is they want to win and they are going to make sure they do win in the end.
Normally what happens is that you don't have any of this kind of scrutiny on the voting process itself. You just have this election night hoopla. You have these exit polls -- long before all the votes are in, long before all the absentee ballots are in. Nobody waits till mid-November to decide on these things. They do it that night and the press tells you who the winner is and the other candidate concedes because it has already been arranged at that level. And then there isn't any scrutiny.
The real question is, what put the crack in the cement? Now other countries are concerned. They sent their congratulations to Bush, then they had to withdraw them. People in some other countries are noting that their forms of voting are more transparent and simpler than ours. They don't understand what is going on here. Because we are supposed to be the leader of the free world, we're supposed to me the model of democracy that we're exporting all over the world. Some people are beginning to wonder about it. Plus, people in this country are starting to find out that nothing is so sacred about their damn votes. That their votes can be disenfranchised from them in many ways. They can rig an election in so many different ways.
So why would they only do that in Chile and make sure their outcome was right in Chile and not do it here? Why would you think that they would only do it in another country and not here? When this is the country that really counts. If they're going to put 10 million into Chile, you better believe that put 100 million in here if not more. If not hundreds of millions in making sure how it would come out. There are ways in which it is already framed that are obvious to people. People now know that it is the amount that it cost to run an election even on a local level already excludes all but a small percentage of people. Most people can't possibly even afford to think about running as a candidate.
Secondly, you've got these moneied sources who are going to put in to make sure their candidates are out there, they're going to put their horses into the race and pay for them. That's what all the corporate funding is. The reason the elections are so expensive is that you've got to pay the media for advertising. That is the bulk of it as well as printing up things and getting around. But the bulk of it is that you're paying the media advertising. That whole media element is a corporate entity. Even though it is a public commonwealth that is licensed out, the media corporations are making money. There is only about 6 of them now that control all of the major media. They're making the profit off of public use of airways for public purpose.
Then these candidates go out with this corporate money and buy the ads in the media. Those ads frame who of candidates are to be taken seriously and they frame what the debate is about and what the issues are. The rest of the corporate media reporting goes along with that and frames the whole paradigm.
If you want to come in from the outside, you're either going to get totally excluded or you're going to get demonized as Nader or these reform party people -- it doesn't matter. Because if you won't play the main game then they are not going to let you start a different game. People tried those that aren't involved in it -- but to me it's like berating someone because they won't join a rigged poker game and put their money into the pot. It is already fixed.
So, they can not only determine who the candidates will be, what the issues will be, whose going to get talked about and who is going to be taken seriously. All of that is because they have control of the electronic media, the airways and the general consensus that they create through all of that and the paradigm that they create that everybody looks at to make us think that something is happening, that it means something, that there is a difference between these people. Then they go into endless detail -- the liberals live on the this stuff -- of this supposed detail of different legislative attitudes and blah blah blah.
If you look at the issues that are supposed to be the big issues, what are they talking about? They're talking about Medicare, social security, building up the defense budget (they always do that) and cutting taxes. Outside of cutting taxes -- which could affect a broader range of people -- there is nothing else in there. That is a small percentage of the population that are actually worrying about those things. They are mostly going to be the middle class and the relatively well-to-do are worrying about whether they are going to be taken care of by these systems.
But for the rest of us, who are disenfranchised, these are not our issues. Our issues don't even get spoken except by perhaps a third party candidate. Even to that extent, they generally don't come to us; they make up what they feel our issues are and tell us.
There is just no way that these candidates really represent anything except what everybody admits it is: a choice of what they call the `lesser of two evils'. You know that you're never going to get a candidate up there that you really want, so you're choice is to decide which one do you not want the least.
I call that the evil of two lessers, which is what I think elections are about. We don't have any way to put anybody up we want. Suppose somebody like Nader ran and he got taken seriously and he actually started getting the media to let him have his say and got into the debate and actually started to garner some votes and to look like he was going somewhere. We both know what would happen to him. They would blow his head off or they would find some way to discredit it. That would be that.
They are not going to let somebody rise into that position that isn't already pre-chosen and part of the game. So then you've already got a set thing going on, a phony race -- two people supposedly taking different positions that aren't two different positions but they appear to be in the details. Then coming into that, you're supposed to get off your duff once every four years and be a citizen and go down and play this voting game. But then you get disenfranchised or they mess with the ballot or they confuse or they don't count the ballots right afterwards, or even if they tally them correctly at the local level, by the time it gets translated up to the national level it's being manipulated. The exit polls and the media are manipulating things and telling you how the election is going to come out in advance with all the polling to influence however it is you'd vote.
If not all that rigs the election, then we have the Electoral College. That puts the popular vote at odds at times. Within that, the electors don't have to vote any particular way in some states -- some states require it -- but many states allow the electors to make up their own mind. It could flip there. But it won't because it has all be pre-decided.
That is why I was saying that long before the campaigning started or anything else, that this was the end of the Clinton and the liberal era and now we are going to have Bush. Bush is going to come back through his son and they are going to go into this period of social repression. It may be chaotic. But think about it, it's very simple: If you cut the taxes and you increase the defense budget, what's left? It's only the social programs, a little bit of a safety net. They are going to privatize that, crack it open and break it and then go further into debt. This deficit that we're in -- which kept growing, especially during the Republican years -- continues to cost. I can remember them saying that Nixon spent more than all of the presidents that ever came before him. This tremendous debt was a military debt -- it was a debt to the Pentagon and to the military industrial complex.
You talk about a deficit and a debt, it is the Pentagon that made that debt. The current and the past wars and the future war plans. That is where the dollars go that you pay for taxes. The only solution to that that I can see that would really represent a democracy, is to let people directly allocate their tax. Not to have it sucked out by these representatives.
But then even if somebody they don't like somehow gets into office through all that process and squeaks through, then all they do is they bribe them by paying their way in the first place and then calling in their favors, bully them by threatening them with things, blackmail them with scandals, or if necessary, bullet them.
So they've got the thing sewn up top-to-bottom. They've got us dependent on representatives that never try to represent us -- couldn't represent us if they wanted to because the society is too complex, and we pretend that going down and voting once every two or four years for this kind of nonsense is a democracy.
But a democracy is a system where all the people that are affected by a decision make that decision. We are so far from that we might as well be on another planet. Instead of these representatives and all of this nonsense and shenanigans and voting and so-called elections, we need to just dump them. We don't need representatives. We only need a representative when all you have is a horse and a buggy.
There has been a long period in American history where representatives were outmoded and dangerous to the system of democracy. They can't represent you anyway. They don't even try or ask you a question. They certainly don't proportionately represent anybody except they take care of the people that put them in. We don't them. They are in the way of real democratic change and development.
To my way of thinking, the solution now would be to go to direct democracy, to go to referendum. But to do that you have to break open the media monopoly on the flow of information. You have to break open the schools where people are not taught history or current events in any real way that's honest. You have to break open and keep open the Internet and these alternative routes. But you have to break open the electronic media and the print media as well.
On the electronic media, I would make a condition of licensing to these corporations that they have to give back an hour of time for every two hours of commercial programming. That hour of time goes back into actual public use -- and I mean public, not national propaganda radio or something. Public use open to every point of view for full debate on issues. You decentralize the decision.
There may have to be some decisions that have to be thought of or made on a national or a global scale, but most of them don't. You have to think of the impact of a local decision -- not every decision can be solely local. But there are many decisions that are made nationally or even at a state level that should be local decisions.
So you figure out what those are, you break them down and you have local referendum, state-wide referendum, national referendum and you frame those issues not in the way it is now. Because now, even the referendum -- which was an attempt at reform and populace control -- has been totally corrupted by the money. Because they put such a high bar on who can introduce a referendum unless the legislators introduce a referendum. The only way to get one is to go out and get some absurd number of signatures.
Basically, they say it cost one million dollars to hire the people to go out and do the work to get the signatures to put the thing on the ballot. It isn't written in any way with any public scrutiny -- just the people that want to put it on the ballot, put it on the ballot, word it the way they want it -- it's often deceptive wording. And then it gets voted up or down.
Such a current process also lends itself to confusion. The groups wanting it push the advertising in a certain way; the groups not wanting it may not be able to afford it. So even if a popular issues goes out and gets on to the ballot, it can be defeated by a concentrated advertising campaign. I saw that happen in Iowa, setting up a nuclear regulatory commission and trying to have life line energy prices where small users pay less and large users pay more. Both those were defeated even though people humped on the ground and spent months and months getting the proper signatures to put them up. Then the Chambers of Commerce and the nuclear and power industries put up 2 million war chest, bought ads and scared people into voting `no' by saying that people wouldn't have any energy and the schools would be dark in the morning and all of this nonsense.
So you have to take it out of that whole process where money can be determinant. Corporations are not people. Corporations do not have an absolute right to free speech or anything else. To say that whatever money can buy is free speech is not right because if it was free speech, it wouldn't cost money.
They were going to bring Pic Botha, the head of South Africa during the apartheid regime, to speak at the University of Pennsylvania. The black student union complained. These people wrote in saying that it was free speech. I said it is not free speech. They are paying him $10,000. But if you want free speech, you would bring somebody from Robbins Island to talk.
They have made a mockery out of what the principle of free speech is by saying that whatever you can afford that becomes free speech and if you can't afford it then 'shut up'. That's A.J. Libeling's thing that if you want freedom of speech, freedom of the press, you have to own one. The internet is becoming that. But the internet is only a very small percentage -- it's larger here -- I think it is maybe 20 percent of the population now have internet access and computers. But in most countries around the world it is a much smaller percentage. I think it is two percent worldwide that have any computers and most of it is English language. Again, it reflects the bias. But at least it's a little more open but not everybody has it. So it is not a final solution to what this question is. You'd have to for these political purposes, only allow public paid time and maybe not even ads -- maybe all you would have is a debate. They could put their ideas forward in the debate. But if you had ads, they would have to be free ads so that everybody got their 30 seconds to put out their point of view.
Even the creation of the ads would have to be done by some sort of a public agency so that somebody couldn't go out and buy a better ad firm to make the best ad because they had the money. The money corrupts everything because it is privilege and it doesn't allow us to have an equal playing field. We have no real choices in front of us. That is why the majority of the people don't vote. That's why people don't vote. It's not that they are apathetic and they don't care but they understand that the game is rigged.
I want to interject this point about advertizing. I made this Nader transcript from March 1st when he launched the west coast campaign in LA. He was discussing advertising in a way of just what you're talking about:Years ago the head of this big advertising firm -- Foote, Cohen and Belding in New York -- wrote a book called The Trouble With Advertizing. He had a page saying that if he was in charge he would ban political advertizing on the media that is under five minutes. Because, as an expert advertizing specialist that he was, he didn't think that you can get across anything other than emotional imagery and that debased the political process. He came to this conclusion because he did work for the Nixon campaign earlier.
That connects with a point Jerry Mander makes in Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. The stuff is out there. People have never taken it seriously enough. It's just knee-jerk: Go vote, I lose-I win -- it's like a frigging football game.
And then, don't do anything else for four more years.
And, if you don't like what the candidate does, it is all your fault anyway for voting him in and you're only option is to vote him back out. Once the candidate is elected, the candidate is the people and "to hell with you". If you don't like it, vote again in four years and see if you can get a different one you like but you only get to pick the ones we give you.
You only get one chance every 4 years.
That's correct. It's not very much better at the local level. It is a little less alienated and people are a little more responsible but not much. They just hide and play their games until they're booted out.
Because it is more of the money talking on not such a grandiose level but it is still money.
Somebody was saying in an interview, This is a democratic county -- how could they get them to mess up the ballot? and someone said, `money talks'. Money talks to democrats too. They play all kinds of games with this. The head games involved in this are unbelievable. It is all at a level still of a high school student government election.
What do you mean by that?
The way it is framed: `Well, I didn't like his tie,' or, `I heard this rumor about him that he does this'. And it is not anything like issues. They are forced to discuss some issues but they don't really try to discuss honest issues or have a totally open debate or system of questions or anything. They just go out and do their little dance and then you hear these people calling in and saying, `I don't like Al Gore because he is in there with that guy Clinton and we all know we he did.' It's like a gossip mill. It's like a personality contest because they don't have anything else to go on.
Because they don't offer anything else to go on. They explicitly leave all the other out.
I want to talk about the actual breakdown of the supposedly popular vote count. Not the electoral college percentages. Obviously the electoral college changes the whole nature of popular vote into something totally other. In the last few days people are talking as if the entire national election has come down to the difference of only 500 votes or 120 votes.
Yes--AP was saying 270.
But if you don't talk about electoral college and don't talk about vote differences on a per-state basis, what is this vote tally difference in terms of?
On the popular vote, the range is a good deal better. It's hundreds of thousands -- 200,000, 250,000. So, Gore was 250 and Bush was 200. It was hundreds of thousands; something like 2,990,000 that was the overall count for both of them. Then, they were about 100 to 150 thousand apart.
Two million votes between them?
No. Two-plus million for each.
But how many voting-age people are supposed to be in the United States? How many people did not vote? What is the percentage of those people that voted?
I heard 52 to 53 percent of the eligible voters. That's what they are saying. But I don't know what percentage of the population are eligible voters. You have to be over 18 and not a felon. With the drug war they are creating all these people that can't vote.
But isn't that around two million people incarcerated for non-violent offenses?
Two million people are in prison currently in the United States. But there have been people who have gone through the prison system. By focusing the war on the black youth, they are disenfranchising a whole new generation of blacks from voting in that population, and the poor. So it's another way to disenfranchise.
I think I remember them saying it was two million, nine hundred thousand -- maybe I'm wrong. It does seem small. Maybe it was 290 million -- I don't know. I just remember that figure. Maybe that was the figure for Florida.
What the Electoral College does, it basically skewers the popular vote because if you take the majority in a state then you get all of that state. Winner take all. It is not proportional to the population numbers. It's whoever gets to 271 counted votes first on that method gets the election.
But now, they are saying because of that and Florida is now the deciding state, no one can get a majority. There is another way. If the Democrats went back and contested close votes -- "too close to call" -- in a lot of other states, if they were doing the same thing in other states as they are doing in Florida, if they had recounts in a number of other states, it's possible that Gore could pick up other states that would take him over the top. Because he is not that far from it.
If you leave all the states where they are and only challenge Florida -- Florida is the deciding state -- then you're down in this new count, even though Bush appears to be ahead without the absentee ballots. The difference was something like 270 votes as they said in AP. AP got that by calling each one of the precinct people and asking for the count. Their count is radically different than the count that is being given unofficially by the Florida board of elections. It can look like it's down to a couple of hundred votes if you go by this logic.
The electoral college system was supposed to take care of the small states, to put the primaries in the small states and not let the big states determine everything just because they have the bulk of the population. It was also just a back up because there were contentions between the small states and the large states on a number of things. There were ways that they tried to curb the big states from running the country. This was one of them. To give a number of electors, by population, per state and then depending on how the vote went in that particular state, they would get the whole state.
So somebody could win a bunch of small states and come out better than the person that was winning the big states. It was supposed to balance things. Because what they are saying is if you went to direct popular vote to make X against X -- how many votes did you get overall in all the states -- then, they were saying that the campaigners would only go to the big states and campaign there because they so far outstripped the small states, they wouldn't even bother with the small states. They wouldn't care how they voted. So the people that would be able to go into the big states would carry the election in the big states and the little states would be ignored. Thus only the politics of the big states would predominate.
Of course the deeper level is that they did not want what they call `mob rule'. They did not want direct democracy. They still don't. That was their class attitude. They wanted to make sure that they had a mechanism in place in case the popular vote went the wrong way and put somebody in; that they had some mechanism to change that around through the electors. Then they could put pressure on the electors if they had to.
It tied one time and then I think it goes into the House. The Speaker of the House broke the tie. But he didn't vote on party lines which surprised people. It was another layer they put in under the excuse of it being a compromise for the small states. People say Politics is the art of compromise. I always say, Politics is the art of the illusion of compromise. That you look as if you're giving a compromise but what you're really doing is what you want to happen anyway, in manipulating it further.
Such systems appear to be a compromise for the small states but it is really an agreement that furthered the interest of the monied class to make sure they had a mechanism to keep people from getting in that they really didn't want. And not have it be 'mob rule' as they would call it.
The `tyranny of the majority'.
There is such a thing as the tyranny of the majority. But this is not necessarily the way to curb it. The other inherent aspect in this whole paradigm that is not being questioned is presidents at all -- what are they for? All this did, many people that try to reform things, end up making a kind of distorted mirror copy of what they had before. They just to try to improve on what they had before. Even if what they had before is not so hot. So instead of a king and a house of lords, which was the nobility, and a house of commons, which was supposedly representing the common interests, we ended up with a president who at least was not `divinely sanctioned' and didn't have quite as much power. The powers were attempted to be balanced out and as well by the bicameral legislature with the Senate and the Congress.
Again that was the large and small state stuff. Each state has two Senators but have congress people based on their population size. They gave certain powers to the Senators and certain powers to the other side. On top of that they made the Supreme Court, the apex of the judiciary. The court would make the legal decision and tried to balance it all out.
It is a clever system but obviously for the majority of people who have lived here, it doesn't work. Then they have this whole propaganda process to give us the illusion that it does work. The rebellions against the corporate control and the market control began as early as the Shays rebellion in Pennsylvania. But it was crushed by troops. Even Jefferson was going against it.
Then they let the market forces fundamentally take over. Now we have what Mussolini called, corporatism plus reaction. We have a corporate-run state. That's what certain people have been saying or trying to get to. The solution can't be then to come out and try to beat them at their own game. You can't pick somebody who you think is clean of the corporations and run them for president. Because even if they're in there and they're not clean and they start to buck them, they'll make sure that they do what they want. They'll kill them if they have to but scandalize them like they did with Clinton or whatever it is they feel they have to get them to go along.
A lot of people look at Gore as some kind of a solution. But seriously look at Gore, if you're at all progressive, you can't go with this guy. He's definitely right in the pocket of the Pentagon, the military industrial complex. He has no problem with foreign intervention and military rule abroad. They eroded many civil rights during the time that they were in, broke down the barriers further between the military and the police, got rid of due-process and other sorts of privacy rights that individuals had. They support a lot of reactionary garbage under the guise that they are not quite as openly reactionary as the other side.
They hardly carry out a progressive agenda or a popular agenda in any sense. They are elitists; they do what they want and represent a portion of the class that wants us to believe that we still have some trappings of democracy. The only benefit to that illusion is that we could take them to task on it. We could say, All right, we do live in a democracy and we are going to live it out. We have rights and we are going to use them. Then take them to task on their own terms. That is the only advantage it has to us. That instead of letting them tell us that what they're doing is democracy, we say what democracy is and we do it.
That requires enough people on an on-going basis doing the sorts of things that some people did in Seattle and other places.
It takes more than street demonstrations. It takes a commitment then to build an alternative social structure that really implements democracy and finds other ways to make decisions and empowers everyone that is involved and it's also economic. You'd have to change to an ethical credit system, decentralize, make your economies local and get rid of the global reach and the corporate control and build for self-sufficiency in communities. It is not impossible to do but it takes some thinking and social planning.
I think the major obstacles we have right now to democracy are:
- The tremendous militarization of society. The role that the military plays and the intelligence agencies that they control; the culture of secrecy, the cold war mentality that remains, the huge militarized budget -- that is a major obstacle to any kind of democratic rule.
- The media and how information flows in this country.
Those two have to be cracked to have any real semblance or beginning of a democracy. We have to change the nature of the military and take it back as a democratic institution. I'm writing a piece now called A Democratic Military or a Militarized Democracy? Because that is the choice in front of us. It's definitely going the other way. I'm doing this to put my ideas down about what is the effect the militarization has had and what's happening and what it would look like if it was different; if we took it back as our own institution and really had it under popular control -- determined its size, its function, and everything else.
Where we are going on the other hand is just to hell in a hand basket. The Republicans break out the champagne and the Democrats pull on the little lever that they say is a brake but it really doesn't do anything. Meanwhile, we slide down the track. It's going to get worse because the wealth is so concentrated that it can't do anything but get worse.
It really is up to us. We are all that's left. But we have to break ourselves out of the mesmerism of the paradigm that they are giving us to think in and live in. That is hard and it's frightening because it isn't reinforced. But we have to find some way out of it. It will be a little easier when we get everybody's attention off this stupid election.
I haven't been able to talk about anything very positive for damn near two years because of this ridiculous absorption of everybody with what they think is a democratic election and what does it mean. I finally started telling people, A vote for Gore is a vote for Bush. Because Bush has already been decided to take the election and he will and he's going in to the White House. So, if you're voting for Gore, you're wasting your vote, if that is what you want -- is a vote on a representative. So at that point, a vote for Nader is a vote for Nader. So go ahead and vote for Nader. If you like him vote for him. I don't think it is going to do you any good but why throw your vote to Bush. I talk this way and everybody looks at me like my head's on upside down.
How could I possibly know that Bush will be the next president? I know because I don't look at this stupid game that they put in front of us of an election. I'm not naïve enough to think that we decide. I know they decide. Then it's a question of looking at the class and what forces are going on and what has been happening and who is saying what and up at that level it's clear.
That's why I agree when they go in and tell George W., that Gore has been slated as taking Florida. He says, "It ain't gonna come out that way." Well it ain't gonna come out that way because they determine how it is going to come out.
The only thing that is interesting to me is that a glitch came that really threw the spotlight on all this. I'm not sure where that glitch came from. Because everything was set up for Gore to make the concession speech. If Gore had made the concession speech, that would have been the end of it. He called and conceded to Bush on the phone on the way to making the broadcast speech. Then he got some information from people in the field that something was screwy in Florida and the totals were not what they were saying. In a matter of minutes, it went from a 60,000 vote lead for Bush down to a vote lead of 200 people. In a matter of minutes, this huge Bush supposed win had evaporated into nothing.
It all followed an early call, based on the same thing that they call in the other states, that Gore was winning. Then Bush got concerned and they made all of these phone calls, they were berating the press, and suddenly everything turned around. Then they said it was Bush but then it all evaporated.
What I'm saying is that if Gore had stepped up and played the game, made his concession speech, we wouldn't even be having these discussions today. Because that's the way elections go and that is the way they are decided. Nobody takes out a microscope and looks at all these ballot boxes and ballot irregularities -- they've been their forever.
They're in every election and they're in every state. It's only because everything got focused in this way and there were these flip-flops. But the question is what caused these flip-flops?' Because they can't be random either. Why didn't Gore go along?
Normally, what this means to me is that there is suddenly a very sharp split in the class and they actually fight. When they fight the window opens on reality and we get to see in. So we're seeing in, a little bit. It's not a pretty sight. But it's educating a lot of people.
My other thought, from my deeper cynicism, is what if the reason they did all this is actually itself orchestrated just to put the final cynical cap on the voting system itself and discourage even more people from even trying to enfranchise themselves. Because a lot of these young people that voted for the first time this time are just throwing their hands up now. So it's just to disempower even more people and make people more cynical. No matter how this is decided, this election will never have any legitimacy in the popular consciousness. It will never. If Bush goes in, he'll never be able to claim, I really won. There will always be the cloud of suspicion that Jeb pulled it off for him.
Much more so than anything like what Daly did for Kennedy in 1960.
Yes. It's more obvious.
It is much more obvious so then there is this situation that is above board, that in effect, automatically really limits the kind of reach that the executive can claim of any kind of representation of the popular will.
We're almost at a civil war if these figures are right. We're almost two countries split down this close. The fact that one guy has got a little mouse squeak ahead of the other means that he rules instead of the other guy? What does it mean? Are they going to get a consensus on anything?
That is one of the lenses of viewing the perspective of it. Another one is, of course, that given that they are so close on everything, in what their agendas would actually be and yet here is the claim that the popular vote was very close--
The real divide is not between the Gore and the Bush forces; the divide is between the 48 percent that didn't vote and the 52 percent that did. That is where the civil war really is. That is the real division in the country but nobody wants to talk about that. Because the people that don't vote are just dismissed.
They don't want to talk about that like they don't want to talk about the size of the military; they don't want to talk about the concentration wealth that makes it possible for the one speaking to the many through media conglomerates. Those things are too overwhelming to be able to actually address and maintain any of the illusions.
None of the ones coming up want to knock out their capabilities to do the same thing that the guy before them did. Nobody wants to come in without a CIA to play that game. Nobody wants to come in without a media. These things are in the interests of the whole class and so are the elections themselves. Because the net effect is we still have absolutely no power to make decisions about the critical things that happen in our lives. That is what they really want and they want us to feel that, too. They want us to feel it on the level that we won't even try.
Of course, the deeper reality is that we have all the power in the world. We have more power than anyone else does anywhere in the world. We're in better position to exercise that power. It is a matter waking up out of the dream and saying, No we're not going to play it this way, we don't like this, because there are more of us and we can think.
That's why I used to sign that at the end of all my little articles and things I sent out. I used say, "Always remember: there is always more of us and we can think."
It is just whether we are going to put our thinking cap on, pull the needle out of our arm, disengage ourselves from the entertaining little paradigm that's being put up on the wall. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Wake up and take responsibility for our lives and live them and take back our control. Because we have it and they are scared to death that we would figure that game out.
But, I'm a voice in the wilderness. I've gotten to the point to where I don't talk as much about what's wrong because it just makes people more cynical. I've started to talk about what would be a vision for the future.
My vision is let's do direct participatory democracy. Let's directly allocate our tax. Let's just take it back. What's interesting to me, is that I get a lot of positive response from people who I wouldn't agree with politically and people that I wouldn't normally talk to, who say, That makes sense. I think it does and I think the vast majority of people would find it sensible and fair. Then it's just a matter of building some models on local levels and letting people see it work even if doesn't have any official sanction -- just play it out. It's got to come from the bottom up. To me, just start doing it. Build the models and show people how they work and people will get the point. People will say, "It is my money, why shouldn't I be allocating it?"