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Thoughts on political divisions


RANT #13: Sovereign Citizen-Body
 
Congressional gridlock, a divided electorate, political paralysis. These are the evils of the day, so goes the story. Today’s disunity, however, is not innate to American democracy or inevitable. It’s largely a manufactured phenomenon beginning with elections when the body politic is herded into competing interest groups (i.e. white males over 40) and then force fed carefully tailored political messages. The end result is a “lonely crowd” of passive interest groups locked in perpetual and pointless cultural battles notable for never challenging or questioning inequitable power arrangements.
 
Corporate lobbyists benefit from a closely divided Congress. Instead of having to persuade large blocks of lawmakers to vote in favor of private profits, they focus their considerable resources (including unlimited campaign contributions) on a few wavering members. When gridlock does create obstacles, corporate-friendly amendments and earmarks can be slipped onto must-pass spending bills without messy debate or public scrutiny.
 
Sheldon Wolin in his book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism calls for sovereign citizen-bodies at the local level to resist shepherding by unbridled corporate and state power. Coalescing around the common good, debating substantive issues like growing economic inequities and the plunder of global ecosystems, an engaged citizenry would more resemble the rough and tumble American democracy first described by 19th century French observer Alexis de Tocqueville than today’s managed political spectacle ruled over by the corporate media and a collaborating bureaucracy. This is what power sees as the real evil, rule by the people. It’s exactly what we need.

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