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Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 10:03 AM PDT

Don't Vote!

by Ben Johnson

It is clear now that our democracy has become a meaningless sideshow. A facade functioning only to pacify the masses through the illusion of empowerment. The much more accurate term would be plutocracy. A government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

Our representative democracy was supposed to serve as an extension of the people. The silent coup of money in Washington though created a competing dependency to the will of the people. And 9 times out of 10, big business trumps the voice and vote of the people.  

So to vote for the two major parties is little different than giving money to a drug addict. Both enable and perpetuate a problem that won't fix itself.

Obviously, to some of you this must be irrelevant. You will drone into the voting booth - being the good team player that you are - to cast your predetermined vote without a second of hesitation.

But you must stop and ask yourself: Are you willing to be complicit in this sad excuse of a democracy where your interests and the interests of your neighbor are only a mere afterthought?    

Many others will rationalize and say "I have to vote Obama, it's the lesser-of-two-evils." The truth is, there isn't a huge difference between Obama and Mitt or even the Republican and Democratic parties. There is a duopoly of power between the corporate parties that is strangling the range of thought in our government.

Take for instance the foreign policy Presidential debate. You would be hard pressed to find any significant differences between the candidates. Both believe in starving the people of Iran with crippling sanctions, using drones in an ever expanding war on terror, and they see things like due process as nothing more than inconvenience. The vast majority of issues on foreign policy and civil liberties have become bipartisan consensus rendering opposing ideas obsolete and lost from the national debate.

But you say, "Wait, what about social security and medicare? Mitt Romney will cut 'em if he becomes president." So will Obama. During the debt talks last year, Obama was willing to put both medicare and social security on the table for cuts. And when asked on the October 3 Presidential debate whether there was a major difference between him and Romney on Social Security he replied, "You know, I suspect that on Social Security, we've got a somewhat similar position." A so-called liberal willing to cut one of our nation's most successful progressive reforms that has a $2.7 trillion surplus to date.

Regardless of who is President after November 6th, our most pressing issues like the failed Drug War, the lawlessness of Wall Street, and the enormous control that big business has over our political process will not be challenged. Matt Taibbi referred to the choice as "two different versions of the same status quo." Barry Eisler offered this wisdom: "A vote for O might prevent things from getting worse. But voting for either party will prevent things from getting better."

Even if Romney did prove to be far worse than Obama, the amount of harm in enabling a continuation of the current paradigm far exceeds anyone's worst nightmare of a Mitt Romney presidency.

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Since the SCOTUS ruling yesterday, liberals have been in a pure state of ecstasy. Never before has a conservative policy been so popular on the Left. Yes I said conservative.  

If you can strain your brain back to the era of pre-2009 you will remember that the Republican answer to health care reform was the individual mandate. In fact, Mitt Romney passed the Heritage Foundation backed, Gingrich endorsed mandate in Massachusetts. Candidate Obama on many occasions stated his indignation towards the individual mandate. As Karl Rove points out:

The flip-flop that has taken place by the two men captures the nature of our current political state. First, Candidate Obama wanted a public option but President Obama capitulated to the Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies and their respective lobbies. Candidate Obama expressing frustration that Bush worked with the Pharmaceutical Industry in his Medicare reform said, "That's an example of the same old game playing in Washington. You know, I don't want to learn how to play the game better. I want to put an end to the game playing." Between this promise and the promise of the public option, one was doomed to fail coming from a President who has found it hard to live up to his many promises. When Obama was pushed to adopt the conservative individual mandate by the powerful moneyed interests he had to betray his own principle. This corrupting influence led to Obama embracing Romney's stance resulting in Mitt arguing against his very own position in the interest of political gain.

The individual mandate does not solve the problem at the heart of the health care situation. The root cause that 40 million people don't have health insurance is because it's simply too expensive. The problem is not solved by forcing those 40 million that don't have health care to just buy it. Some say that the mandate will cut costs by forcing freeloaders to buy insurance rather than racking up unpaid E.R. bills that the government then pays for. But evidence from Obamacare's predecessor Romneycare suggests otherwise. A Massachusetts state government study in 2011 found:

"Health care spending continues to outpace inflation, wage growth, and other measures of economic growth in Massachusetts."

For a deal that forces individuals who can't afford health insurance to buy it, a guarantee was necessary that costs would be curtailed. The jury, however, is still out while insurance companies are guaranteed billions of dollars from millions of new customers.

If you watched MSNBC or heard many Democrats talking in the past couple days, you would believe that this was some monumental progressive reform, a victory for the common man. But the truth is, it's a conservative reform aimed at pleasing the special interests first, the people second. By no means am I saying that the status quo is better. Indeed, there are many noble provisions of the bill such as not being denied for pre-existing conditions, young people can stay on their parents' plan until they are 26, and no lifetime cap. I would be remiss to not say it was a step in the right direction but that doesn't change the fact that the interests of the people were once again surpassed by corporate interests.  

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