Posts tagged radical
Posts tagged radical
Another election season dawns, and yet again students like myself are urged to “make our voices heard” by selecting our preferred candidate. Many of us will undoubtedly be caught up in the fervor of rhetoric and promises, some perhaps even believing that this time things will be different. As a radical student activist it’s often difficult to view this bi-yearly charade as anything other than a perverse blend of distraction and manipulation. Seeing our fellow students fooled over and over again by the same shallow slogans and short-sighted policies, elections can be an exasperating process. However, we can hardly allow such a huge opportunity to engage with the general population to be routinely wasted. So the question then becomes how do we as radical students relate to elections, utilizing them for the cause of revolution without allowing them to corrupt our ideals?
First off, anyone who has examined the US political system can’t fail to notice its remarkable ability to represent the interests of the ruling class at the expense of the population in general. It is clear that our elections are bought, not won. With the demystification of Obama, an increasing number of students are awakening to this fact. Though they may still vote for Obama over any of the Republican field, many will do so more out of a lack of options than from any deep-seated belief in his abilities. As leftist students our alternative should not be a different face to vote for, or a begrudging support for the fabled “lesser of two evils,” but rather a move for political participation beyond voting.
I can still recall turning 18 and receiving a postcard from the government emblazoned with the slogan “your vote is your voice.” It struck me that the unacknowledged subtext of this was that I don’t have a voice outside of the ballot box. This is the ethos put forward by our society as a whole, that political participation means watching the news, choosing a candidate, and then disengaging until the next election cycle. This process is not democracy, but manufactured consent.
It is no great secret that the American political system, despite its democratic auspices, is a mechanism for the rule of an elite minority. The past thirty years in particular have seen many brazen examples of this, highlighted by an unprecedented expansion of the gap between rich and poor as social welfare spending was cut to make way for ever greater tax breaks for the wealthy. However, while the corruption of our system has been exposed repeatedly by thousands of different observers, the modern political climate holds new developments. As our politicians squabble on the national stage it becomes clear that along with misrepresenting us, these elites are increasingly incapable of effectively governing the country. A division has emerged within the ruling class that makes their hold on power increasingly tenuous, creating opportunities for the people to seek a radically different future.
After four years, the promises of President Obama’s campaign seem almost cruel when placed alongside his actions in office. Instead of a break with the past, Obama has pursued policies remarkably akin to those of his predecessors, most ironically George Bush. Guantanamo Bay remains open while an interventionist foreign policy continues to cause thousands of deaths globally. Our economy continues to be weak, the “recovery” largely jobless; tax rates on the wealthy are at historic lows; health care reform passed only as a broken shadow of itself; and our freedoms have been limited by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in ways that the authors of the Patriot Act could only dream of. There can be little argument that Obama has fallen far short of his promises from the campaign trail.