Despair Follows Delusion

Despite all the hype and rhetoric, only one impact of the mid-term elections is assured. Notwithstanding power shifts from Democrats to Republicans in Congress there will not be any deep, sorely needed true reforms of our corrupt, dysfunctional and inefficient government. The culture of corruption in Washington, DC will remain. Hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate and other special interests will assure that.

Voters who think otherwise are either delusional or stupid. It will not matter whether you voted for Republicans because you wanted to defeat Democrats (or vice-versa), or whether you voted for Tea Party candidates, or whether you voted against incumbents, or whether you voted for what you believe are lesser-evil candidates. Americans lost however they voted, but it may take time for most to comprehend that. That is a terribly painful reality, which is why many who chose to vote will resist facing the ugly truth.

When it comes to politics in America, delusion and stupidity are rampant, like a terrible epidemic that has killed brain cells. Several billion dollars were spent selling candidates this year. Who profited? The many media outlets that received the advertising bonanza and companies that supplied mailings, posters and automatic phone calls. At least all that spending was kept domestic.

Yes, you are thinking that this is the most cynical view possible. Cynicism beats delusion. I recommend it.

This is what American history tells us. Americans have been brainwashed and tricked into thinking that elections are crucial for maintaining American democracy. That is exactly what the two-party plutocracy needs to maintain their self-serving political system and that is also what the rich and powerful Upper Class wants to preserve their status. But voting in a corrupt political system no longer sustains democracy. It only sustains the corrupt political system that makes a mockery of American democracy. Think about it.

In the months following this election, when unemployment and economic pain for all but the rich remain awful, anyone who pays attention and is able to face the truth will see that there is little chance of genuine government reforms. Nor will any of the nation’s severe fiscal and spending problems be smartly attacked. The Republicans will blame the Democrats, the Democrats will blame the Republicans, the Tea Party winners will blame the system, the radio and cable pundits will blabber endlessly, and Jon Stewart and other comics will have an abundance of material to take jabs at. The two-party plutocracy will triumph.

Every member of Congress will, as before, spend most of their time and energy doing what is necessary to win the next election. The army of lobbyists will be busier than ever legally bribing politicians to sustain the successful political strategy of the rich and business sector to make the rich and super-rich still richer at the expense of the middle class. Anyone who thinks that winner Republicans will work to overturn economic inequality is stupid or delusional. A disproportionate and ludicrous fraction of the nation’s income and wealth will go to a tiny fraction of rich and super-rich Americans. Nothing that President Obama or the Democrats have done or championed was aimed squarely at reversing economic inequality and the death of the middle class, which by itself justified defeating them.

President Obama, of course, will continue his self-serving rhetoric with the sole goal of winning reelection in 2012. The presidency just made him destructively delusional. Of course, he will speak about working with Republicans. Wait and see.

Here is what non-delusional Americans can hope for: Maybe a decent third party presidential candidate will emerge. Maybe the Tea Party movement will wake up to the reality that electing Republicans is a terrible strategy for reforming the government and restoring the health of the nation and shift their interest to forming a third party. I doubt very much whether any of the Tea Party winners in Congress will stand up and aggressively work for and demand true reforms. The new Republican Speaker of the House is a classic establishment Republican. Maybe the greatly expanded calls for an Article V convention (mostly by Republicans and conservatives) as the constitutional path to reforms through constitutional amendments will gather more energy (especially from Tea Party people) and finally succeed.

Welcome to the good old USA where citizens, unlike those in Europe, do not riot in the streets demanding justice but keep believing in the nonsense that voting for either Republicans or Democrats will work for them and the nation.

Despair follows delusion. Despite the endless media hype, the political revolution of 2010 is like a badly made firecracker – a dud. President Obama, Republicans and Democrats will have learned nothing profound, not enough to dedicate themselves to real reforms. Along with economic pain, widespread anger will persist as nothing tangible results to make the lives of ordinary Americans a lot better. Will Americans demand smarter strategies than voting in regular elections with choices between Democrats and Republicans? What do you think?

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. Read other articles by Joel.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. kanomi said on November 4th, 2010 at 11:16am #

    I agree with the author’s take on the elections completely, apart from calling his own view cynical.

    Say instead that it is coldly realistic, for those who dismiss this kind of critique as cynical are themselves likely either delusional and in denial, or cunningly blaming the messenger for the content of a bleak message.

    That is a variation of the ad hominem attack, which is a logical fallacy and therefore invalid as a line of reasoning.

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain said on November 4th, 2010 at 12:37pm #

    I often wonder if the epidemic of political imbecility and self-delusion is in any way linked to the pandemic of dementia. I recall several decades ago, when my grandparents were elderly, that dementia only occurred as the result of acute disease, cerebrovascular injury or a life of pickling one’s neurones in hard liquor. Today it seems almost ubiquitous, and the age of, often insidious, onset, seems to be rapidly falling.
    I suspect something in the water, like fluoride perhaps, or in the food supply, like the toxin fructose. Or perhaps aspartame, or hydrogenated fats or sitting too close to the telly while it broadcasts crap.
    Returning, regretfully, to reality, the current debased state of US ‘democracy’ which reflects the situation throughout the West, and the Anglosphere in particular, simply makes a Chinese style of political system seem to me ever more preferable. Instead of false competition between ideologically identical, capitalist owned, parties, you have one party, beholden only to itself. If you wish to enter politics, to serve your country, you join the party of politics, and rise according to your merits. This resembles the old Chinese Confucian system of the civil service, only this time you can get to be Emperor, if not an absolute one, for a strictly limited reign.
    The Chinese meritocracy produces leaders who are generally technocrats, engineers and scientists etc. They get tested out as provincial administrators or government officials, and rise according to ability and the usual dose of luck and chance. In the West you get deranged ideologues, rich egotists, or as in Australia, suburban solicitors and Rightwing trade union hacks. The proof of the superiority of the Chinese system is plain to see. The only problem is that it seems to take a century or so of civil war, insurrection and foreign invasion to overthrow the status quo.
    One sordid spectacle that the Chinese are spared is the bedlam of ‘democratic elections’. The blessed populations of the West get, every few years, to choose between two or more identical parties. The votes of 50% or so of the voters (let alone the adult or total populations) is immediately discarded. In ‘first past the post’ systems you can win with 30 to 40% of the vote. The winners, the Prime Ministers and Presidents, increasingly rule like elected dictators, one-man bands like the execrable Blair who bludgeoned his party into acquiescence in a Hitlerite crime of aggression, despite huge opposition. The election campaigns are orgies of lying, character assassination, defamation and the giving of deliberately false impression s to fool the patsies. After election, the winners govern first, last and always for the rich, who finance and hence own, all the major parties. The mainstream media is entirely business owned, and growing daily more bigoted, mendacious and pathological.
    My recommendation to the ‘septics’ is, swallow your pride, and ask the Chinese for help,and forget the waste, the sorry spectacle and the insult to your intelligence and morality that is your entirely phony ‘demo-crazy’ as a Chinese reactionary in the late Qing period perceptively called it. Local democracy, on the street or town level, without parties or contributions, might yet be worth a try, but in countries of hundreds of millions, it just cannot work, and must always decay into plutocracy.

  3. kanomi said on November 4th, 2010 at 1:40pm #

    Mulga, replacing the Western imperial system with an equally rapacious, China-based regime will in no way change anything meaningful, except for determining which group of criminal gangsters and thieves get to live like kings., and which countries get raped and killed.

    Just ask the Uighurs or the Tibetis. Or anyone who endured the brief Japanese Imperium. Or the Cultural Revolution.

    The answer is not a different empire, it is abandoning this rapacious forms of civilization that create empires to begin with.

  4. Rehmat said on November 4th, 2010 at 6:12pm #

    Well – for Obama, David Broder’s option to get re-elected in 2012 – still stands.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on November 5th, 2010 at 1:41am #

    Now,kanomi,I certainly don’t see the current Chinese system as the most desirable possible way to organise humanity. I’d prefer some sort of autarchous, anarchic system where power was devolved to the masses, not hoarded by politicians, technocrats or, worst of all, psychopathic business plutocrats. I cannot see humanity surviving long at current levels of population, let alone consumption, either. I simply believe that the Chinese system is by far the lesser evil than market capitalist plutocracy, the worst examples of which are the Anglosphere countries, where rank, strutting, bellowing evil is on the march, trailing clouds of demented, self-loving, glory.
    I think, moreover, that we have to cut the Chinese much slack, as they saw their country ravaged by the West, over the last two hundred years, in a manner that the USA has never suffered, nor the Western Europeans for hundreds of years. Eastern Europe went through a similar process under the Nazis, whereupon, like China, it was immediately confronted by the successor state to Nazi Germany, the USA, the Fourth Reich, and relentlessly subverted for decades, until a pathocratic restoration was forced on it. I believe that the Chinese system is capable of development along humane and sustainable lines, and the market capitalist pseudo-democracy is not. Indeed I think that the latter is constitutionally unable to do other than become more destructive, violent and deranged, until it destroys itself and the world. So I see China, despite all its faults, as the ‘last, best,hope’ for the world, the others being even worse.