At the anti war protests this Saturday I was thrilled to see that so many people were taking an interest in the politics behind the occupation of Iraq but had to note how completely absent both the Democratic and Republican parties are. The void is being filled by a variety of socialist groups who appeared to be the only people raising the genuine political issues of our time.
Somehow the limitation of US politics, to only two parties being able to get on ballots nationally, has reduced the level of debate to a cozy duopoly that avoids any difficult debates. For example about the openness of opportunity for individuals, The American Dream or how far our current market economy can take the people of world. There were many good questions being raised in leaflets and CDs at this event which are largely missing from the media debate. Having a political discourse which isn’t familiar with basic political arguments is risky.
Our structuring of the media with funding from advertising, rather than to educate and inform, has led to an arrangement where, like the work environment, a politically correct manner avoids discussing anything deeply political. A TV program can’t easily question the value to the public of being sold excessive insurance, financial plans with excessive fees, combustion powered vehicles or teaching the public the symptoms to describe to their doctors, if twenty two minutes per hour of your show promotes these products. It is a barrier both from a point of view that one knows one is rocking the boat and risking the disdain of management and also just from the point of view of the media content looking ideologically consistent. Everybody tends to be co-opted. It would be unpleasant not to be.
It is appropriate that these thoughts are coming up in the context of the War because in the same way as the need for return on capital causes the message being sent to the public to be one of excessive and even destructive consumerism. The military economy, which is over a third of federal spending, is focused on making their market (our politicians) aware of every possible fear and possible mechanized solution on offer. It is our willingness to accept the debate being driven by peoples understandable need to get a return on capital that has caused us to accept the low level of political assessment that we have engaged in and the brutally unnecessary results both for the Iraqi people and our own.
So we continue to ignore the facts and follow the lead both as voters and as politicians of those with a well funded message rather than questioning the real effects on real people and asking if the world is being made a better place or not. This complacency needs to change.