Today, on the community spotlight list I read Marianna76's diary telling us, yet again, that liberals are undermining the possibility of democratic reelection in 2011. Once again we get a variation of the thesis that discontent with our elected officials is forbidden, that it should never be spoken, and that we should just shut up and go along. This, I believe, is precisely the wrong message to send to the base. Follow me below the fold to find out why.
You see, I'm numb. When I say that I'm numb, I'm saying that I feel fundamentally powerless. I feel powerless because I increasingly feel that our political situation is hopeless and that we, us little guys and girls, live in a situation where are voices are doomed to go unheard and where there is nothing we can do to act on the system.
I didn't feel this way in 2008 and 2006. When we took Congress, I was filled with hope, believing that now finally we would be able to get some things done and move towards halting the downward slide of the economy and the environment. In 2008 I was elated and proud to vote for Obama, feeling even more optimistic that change was on the way.
However, after three years of Obama and feckless democrats, I can't help but feel hopeless. For me the two central issues that face us are the economy and the environment. These two are not unrelated. We now live in a country with massive wealth concentration, where the wealthiest 400 people in the country control 60% of the wealth, where corporations have their finger in every aspect of our government, and where it is, for this reason, impossible to get anything done. Meanwhile we have an environment that is careening out of control due to unbridled industry and consumption that, again, we cannot address because of the role that money plays in our politics.
We are often told that Obama cannot do anything, but the problem isn't with what Obama cannot do, but with what he has done. Nothing forced Obama to pack his economic team with Wall Street shills. Nothing forced Obama to make deals with Big Pharma. Nothing forced Obama to continue tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. Nothing forced Obama to "negotiate" away billions of dollars for important social programs before the negotiations even began. Nothing forced Obama to continue the assault on education with his version of NCLB. Again and again we have seen Obama either side with moneyed interests or simply try to maintain the status quo in incredibly dire times that call for serious and bold action.
And when we have spoken up, screaming holy hell about these decisions, we've been told that our interests don't matter, that we are an embarrassment, that we have no place at the negotiating table, and that we are merely to shut up and vote because the other side is worse. So yes, at this point, I'm numb. I feel powerless and hopeless, as if politically I have only one of two choices: a quick fall over the cliff or a slightly slower slide over the cliff. In this country it has become incredibly evident that the only citizens that matter are the wealthy, that the only interests that are to be considered are those of the wealthy, and that the rest of us are just to shut up and follow orders.
At this point I simply don't know whether or not I can vote in 2012. This is not out of any desire to "punish the party", but simply because I increasingly feel that my vote doesn't make any difference. In saying this, I will receive angry remarks about Wisconsin. Fair enough. Yet from our own feckless democrats, I only see a slow creep towards disaster where the interests of the ultra-wealthy are favored over everyone else. If you want my vote, then empower me. Show me that things aren't hopeless. Show me that progressives have a seat at the bargaining table. Show me that a difference can be made. Stop asking me to eat your spam sandwiches and call it prime rib. Show me that you support average Americans and the interests of average Americans. So far I have not see this. I have seen a lot of invectives and abuse, however.