There’s No Hope at the Ballot Box: In Memory of George Carlin

Every four years it’s the same game on the American left: arguments on anti-war listservs about whether or not to vote Democrat in the upcoming election.

Every four years it seems like an awful idea no matter where you live, whether it be a “swing state” or not.

Every four years the usual imbeciles line up behind the Dems: from Eric Alterman to Todd Gitlin, and the majority of those congregating around fluff sites like

During these periods, the movements go into shut down mode, our armed forces murder thousands of innocent civilians each month, and the most absentminded of the peace activists blabber on about the need to support the troops.

Meanwhile, times get progressively tougher for your average dissenter, already pushed to the farthest margins of American society. A subservient culture has arisen in the Land of the Free, wherein truth telling and critical discussion are seen as signs of mental and physical weakness. You are told to suck it up and stop complaining: just accept the hardships of life and work 60 hours a week with no health care whilst being treated disparagingly because you have a clue.

This mass media culture rewards idiots. One thing that separates the United States from its European counterparts is the fact that the bourgeois culture in the former isn’t remotely appreciable. It was always foul and has merely gotten worse as my wretched generation has come to the fore. It’s a generation of insipid frat boys: rising through the ranks of corporate America not through their cunning and intellect, but rather via their ability to manipulate the show that passes for American culture. The louder and more demonstrative you are of your clueless-ness, the richer and more powerful you get. Is it any wonder that we ended up with the president we have?

Is it any wonder that our next president will probably be Barack Obama? For all intents and purposes, he was groomed by the morally-void University of Chicago, where he taught in the law school just prior to entering politics. What a record the UC has! They have already produced several members of the Bush cabal, including Paul Wolfowitz and John Ashcroft. I needn’t go in great detail about what they teach you at the University of Chicago, as my old friend at the University of Illinois, Dr. Francis Boyle, has already done so.

Now take it from someone born and raised in Chicago. What do Chicagoans think of the University thereof? For the most part, they find the campus to be an island of snobbish assholes fenced off from its surrounding ghetto. The culture of the Hyde Park neighborhood that it occupies is typical high brow progressivism: people showing off their worldliness by living in an urban environment and studying at a world-renown campus, conveniently forgetting that it’s world renown for spearheading the Manhattan project and introducing the underpinnings to neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative politics. With its eerily gothic architecture and its positioning in a tragically unequal part of Chicago, the University is like hell on earth. And its contributions to the world have gone a long way into turning the entire planet into a fiery inferno.

Their latest contribution to the world? Barack Obama!

There are numerous problems with this man, many of which have been rather thoroughly covered by any progressive thinking news site. As soon as he finally secured the nomination, he went and ass kissed the totalitarian AIPAC lobby to ensure these sponsors of terror that the U.S. would remain the world’s largest perpetrator of violence once he enters office. Prior to that, he built his entire presidential campaign on lies.

Two fibs, in particular, helped catapult him to predominance in the primary game. The first one is that he has won hard political battles before and will continue to in November. This millionaire graduate of one of the world’s premiere law programs was virtually handed his senatorial seat after the crippled Illinois Republican party had to ship Alan Keyes in from Maryland to fill the shoes left by Jack Ryan, a man whose divorce records were pried open by shifty goons from the Obama campaign aiming to find dirt. And what they found is the kind of stuff that sinks an American politician: evidence of sexual patterns deviating from the Puritan norm whilst touring Paris with his former wife.

And prior to that Obama was a state Senator in a district where there’s only one party: one infamously corrupt and spiteful party. If you are the Democrat chosen to win, then you win; the election is a moot point. Then, there was 2000, when Obama attempted to un-seat incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush from the right, and lost by a margin of 2 to 1. In other words, Obama had won jack shit prior to this presidential election.

The second errant claim made by the Obama camp is that he was against the war from the beginning. Now can someone explain to me how an impassioned opponent of war entering the U.S. Senate could possibly vote repeatedly to fund the war he was supposedly against from the beginning? Where was he when the Democrats took over the Congress and the anti-war American public was waiting for a leader in Washington to take charge of getting it done? One would expect a supposedly progressive and popular senator to do just that. Instead, he just went babbling on about how Iran should be wiped off the map if real evidence were found to demonstrate their intent to develop one measly nuclear warhead in a world plagued by the peril of 20,000 American nukes.

While the grassroots gave Obama and the Democrats everything they needed to run this administration and its wars out of Washington, Obama was too busy stumping for the annihilation of Hamas, voting for the appointment of Condoleeza Rice, and calling out fellow Illinois Senator Richard Durbin for making the obvious comparison of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and a Nazi concentration camp.

All that I have learned from Obama’s brief tenure in the Senate is that he isn’t even the more progressive of Illinois’ two senators, and he most certainly is not a skilled leader. During a time when a good leader would be like Dennis Kucinich in the house and demand a debate on impeachment, organize members of Congress to vote against war funding, and spearhead a movement for a cabinet level Department of Peace, Obama was out writing books in preparation for his presidential bid.

He was out praising Ronald Reagan and denouncing the ’68 movements for being naïve and divisive. Ronald Reagan is his man: the architect of the Latin American holocaust of the ‘80’s, wherein the United States dropped bombs everywhere from Nicaragua to El Salvador and Grenada. Ronald Reagan, the man who alongside his wife Nancy told Americans to stop bitching and go to work. The man who began the reversal of the paltry social system that once existed in the United States. Ronald Reagan: the man who made sure that my generation would be one of idiots, unable to think critically, and un-interested at being global citizens.

Meanwhile, the last major social revolution, wherein social movements throughout the world shocked the prevailing social superstructure, is derided as naïve and short-sighted. That moment where students and workers together tore down the state apparatus in Paris, challenged the political elite of the University system in California, and were beaten down by police violence in Chicago, is seen as foolishness by this man. The last time that society functioned in the United States, wherein people had the nerve to demand structural shifts and a bridging of great sociological cleavages, was a stupid era.

Just to clarify. Ronald Reagan, the political architect of the destruction of the American social state and the dumbing down of society, is an admirable man. Meanwhile, the 1968 revolution, the underpinning of the European social democratic state and of New Social Movements from Seattle to Chiapas, is naïve and stupid.

Obama is essentially the American answer to the Extreme Center. You combine right wing economic policy with politically correct social policy, the worst of all worlds, and what you get is this horrific political tendency. L’extrême centre was a term invented by the French to describe the movement by François Bayrou in last year’s presidential elections. The idea behind it is that the old left-right discourse is dated, and what is needed is a time of coming together and happy fuzziness.

It’s the same ideology that drives the Europhiles, intent on creating a super-state despite repeated protest from the pesky people. These high and mighty extremists don’t care what the actual workers and toilers beneath them think, for they are backwards and haven’t progressed to the point of realizing that there are no more questions to be asked: we need to all accept neo-liberal economics and be cute and PC about it.

If you question a neo-liberal European super state or a two party plutocracy in the United States, you are derided as naïve and foolish. Your voice doesn’t count, despite the fact that you are clearly in the majority. The European Constitution/Treaty of Lisbon has squarely lost its last three public referenda. Meanwhile, in the United States, the vast majority of people don’t bother ever voting, because they have nothing to do with either choice offered in any election. It’s only the elitist minority that has any thing to gain from the extreme center.

So we are told to unite under “one United States of America,” as if that will automatically make everything swell. This is a disgusting lie, since the United States is in a state of absolute disrepair. There is a crisis ongoing basically anywhere a crisis could possibly exist. There is a public health crisis, as 100 million Americans are either un- or under-insured. There is a public infrastructure crisis, as people from New Orleans up through the heartland have found themselves dangerously vulnerable to nature’s occasional attack. There is an education crisis, as the United States has to continuously ship its engineers, doctors and professors in from other countries in order to compete. Meanwhile, the average American worker enters the work force $30-40,000 in debt, forced to dump a hearty chunk of their monthly income on paying off their exorbitant university fees.

Oh, and I almost forgot that there is that little problem with the Dollar. The currency that once made the world go around has been traded in for Euros by Jay-Z, as the real bling has jumped the pond. Who wants to hustle in a currency that’s running on par with the Swiss Franc and Canadian Dollar!?

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing cultural crisis. Anything resembling real cultural pursuit in the arts, literature and philosophy has been almost entirely trivialized by Hollywood. Southern California is, for all practical purposes, the center of the Empire. American power has always hinged on the American capacity to market its mediocre film and music industry to the world, thus re-enforcing the predominance of the English language and the strength of the imperial armies present on every continent. Hollywood has spent a great deal of its time and energy in glorifying war and warriors, treating the thoughtful and effeminate male disparagingly, while romancing the putrid characters played by the likes of Bruce Willis and the Governator.

Furthermore, your average citizen feels only as important as his financial worth. Any other value, be it intellectual, creative, or emotional, is of little importance in the Land of the Free, which, of course, would be a lot better known as the Land of the Cheap. People are made to be in bargain mode, falling down the cultural slippery slope via Walmart shopping sprees and fast food dining.

On Sunday, we lost a man who had a lot of insight on the decay of American culture and its fetish with cheap commodity. George Carlin also had advice for what to do with this election and all American elections. In his honor, I am going to sit home on Election Day rather than face the disgusting choice between two Reaganites and a token vote on the egomaniac Ralph Nader or the inept American Green party.

If you want change you can believe in, you’re best off convincing 10,000 of your best friends to take to the streets and fight the pigs. It’s only these movements, from Berkeley to Seattle to Chicago, that have ever changed the social tides. Electing a president has given us some fair entertainment, from the tragedies of Camelot to the precious days of Monica Mania. However, the American politician is too focused on his career to do anything of any good for the American people. Hope is in the streets, not at the ballot box!

Matt Reichel is a freelance writer and PhD student at Rutgers University. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Matt, or visit Matt's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on June 28th, 2008 at 5:50am #

    This mass media culture rewards idiots. One thing that separates the United States from its European counterparts is the fact that the bourgeois culture in the former isn’t remotely appreciable. It was always foul and has merely gotten worse as my wretched generation has come to the fore. It’s a generation of insipid frat boys: rising through the ranks of corporate America not through their cunning and intellect, but rather via their ability to manipulate the show that passes for American culture. The louder and more demonstrative you are of your clueless-ness, the richer and more powerful you get. Is it any wonder that we ended up with the president we have?
    Matt well put.

  2. Myles Hoenig said on June 28th, 2008 at 6:51am #

    I was hoping that Hillary would win because I saw her as the best hope of making the Dem. Party irrelevant, and hopefully non-existent, for at least a generation. I’m glad to see Obama taking the baton from her as she fell, was pushed, or however you want to say failed in her campaign.

    Carlin was right. Either don’t vote or vote for a 3rd P or Independent, or write in. Especially in ‘blue states’. Weaken the Democratic Party as much as possible. Show how in stronghold Dem. cities or states the Party no longer owns their voters.

    Let there be a void for either 3rd parties or independents to fill in for real progressives, not those who want real change but vote to guarantee that change won’t ever happen.

  3. Don Hawkins said on June 28th, 2008 at 7:06am #

    Matt I don’t know if you just had a moment of brilliance or have just been watching this to long but you nailed it.

    A major fight is brewing – it may be called war. On the one side, we find the short-term
    financial interests of the fossil fuel industry. On the other side: young people and other beings
    who will inherit the planet. It seems to be an uneven fight. The fossil fuel industry is launching
    a disinformation campaign and they have powerful influence in capitals around the world.
    Young people seem pretty puny in comparison to industry moguls. Animals are not much help
    (don’t talk, don’t vote). The battle may start with local and regional skirmishes, one coal plant or
    other issue at a time, but it will need to build rapidly – we are running out of time.
    P.S.: Do not fall for the moguls’ dirtiest trick – ‘green’ messages spewed to the public.
    That is propaganda, intended to leave the impression they are moving in the right direction.
    Meanwhile they hire scientific has-beens to dispute evidence and confuse the public. How will
    you be able to tell if they ever “get it”? When they begin to invest massively in renewable
    energies, when they become truly energy companies aimed toward zero-carbon emissions. James Hansen

    WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s a 50-50 chance that the North Pole will be ice-free this summer, which would be a first in recorded history, a leading ice scientist says.

    The weather and ocean conditions in the next couple of weeks will determine how much of the sea ice will melt, and early signs are not good, said Mark Serreze. He’s a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.

    Now what does it mean to all of us as this ice melts? For one thing it means we are running out of time to slow this down and another thing is as the ice melts the World warms more and faster. Matt what you just wrote is why we may not make it. Somehow we have to quit listening to these idiots who will take this planet into the darkside. I see where there is only 1000 plus wildfires in California and is that because of climate change it sure is. California is in big trouble nature of the beast

  4. bozhidar balkas said on June 29th, 2008 at 6:24am #

    in canada too there’s call by those who sent our boys to afgh’n to murder and be murdered for “support our troops”
    but “support troops” contains many meanings. and the war mongers in US/canada carefully skirt most or all of them.
    let’s see how many meanings “support” may contain:
    we were right when we invaded afgh’n
    we r right ab being there now
    we’l stay thre as long as we want
    afghans r not people
    if afghans were people; ie, civilized/first class cit’s we would’n have to be there
    we r actually cleaning their own mess
    they badly treat their women
    it is a moral duty to defend the weakest
    we r building democracy
    we don’t deliberately kill children
    taliban, gazans, iraqis r hiding btwn civs; using them as shieds
    we can throw u in jail if u do not support troops.
    ok, i’m tired; take over please!

  5. Don Hawkins said on June 29th, 2008 at 7:55am #

    Bozhidar like you I am older and getting tired. Where are the millions of younger people who should be taking to the streets? Because it sure seems to me that future generations is not high on the list of things to do. Just words.

  6. bozhidar balkas said on June 29th, 2008 at 2:26pm #

    don hawkins,
    i meant by OK, i’m tired; take over please that i was tired of looking for more meanings contained in “support troops”
    i’m not tired of writing, marching, leafletting.
    no, i’l never give up. i wd feel very guilty if i stoped my protest/writing, etc.

  7. bozhidar balkas said on June 29th, 2008 at 2:31pm #

    if u abstain from voting and thus not casting ur ballot for nader i’l boycott u.

  8. Richard Neva said on July 10th, 2008 at 3:39pm #

    Don’t worry I will never vote again in this country that refuses to represent me. It is a shadow government that provides these theatrical affairs for the public to make them think they are choosing a candidate who will represent them. Never will this happen as long as we are under the thumb of the shadow government!