Ronda Hauben on 13 Oct 2000 10:14:20 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> US presidential election

brian carroll <> writes:

> democracy is a question, an experiment

> the US Presidential election is a test

> both 2 party candidates share similar views

> policy differences, but the same campaign pitch

But the two parties are one party. And the old style 
media which is owned by those who support "two
parties which are one party" is the same party.

> Bush, a simple, common-folk Texan, says it all
> boils down to education. That is his litmus test

But education is *not* testing kids constantly.
Otherwise the "education" becomes geared to the 
test is is no other, it becomes "training to take
the test".

Already in NYC at least education is becoming forced
into this model.

Both of the "two party is one party" candidates seem
so detached from any reality that they don't seem to
have any advisors that they can listen to, they don't
seem to have any advisors who would be able to help
them to understand what good education needs.

Instead we have the specter of the "privatizing" of the 
public schools, of schools where children are held 
captive to the ad campaigns.

Education requires public knowledge and discussion
of the tenuous process of support for students thinking
about what is of interest, being encouraged to 
study and communicate with others to learn how the 
world works and how one can make it better.

This is the credo of "education" and one will learn
to read or write or do mathematics when one is able
to see there is some way these help one to make
some sense out of what was hitherto ununderstandable.


> (...) it seems American's prefer a
> simple view of the world, for the most part
> insulated from the chaos outside of our borders.

No it isn't that either of the major party candidate are
any reflection of the people. A while ago I had a conversation
with a relative who had been close to the Democratic party.
He explained to me that the thinking in the Democratic party
was that the average folk had no other place but the Democratic
party to look for someone to vote for, so the Democrats had to
figure out to get those who might vote for the Republicans to
vote Democrat instead.

The result is that a large percentage of Americans don't vote
and have no one to vote for. And basically the two major parties
don't care. 

The point is that the candidates are isolated from Americans.

The candidates have no contact with or interest in the people
in the U.S.

I was doing some research a few days ago at the Department of 
Labor looking at the appeals of people to the unemployment office.
Many people had fought against being denied their unemployment
benefits. In the US, and especially now in NY, the law is
such that it disenfrachises many many people.

Where people can fight, they try to do so. Many times they find
they are up against a brick wall, but they still try to fight.

Conditions in the US are very difficult for the common folk.

Hours of work are long and many people in a family have to work
for the family to survive. 

Conditions at work for many are very bad. Unions, which people
fought for, are nonexistent at most places of employment.

And where there are unions, often union officials will cooperate
with employers to penalize workers who file grievances. Workers
learn they need to fight the union if they want to fight the 
employer and may just try to stay away from the union. 
And yet conditions in a workplace without a union are even worse
than conditions where there are unions.

 >can there be a totalitarian democracy? i've
 >been wondering. a fascist democracy? a military-
 >state that is a democracy?

What is democracy?

Is democracy where people are offered the choice to vote for
two different varieties of "poison" and told that at least they
will get the "lesser of the evils". That seems very far from

If one wants to look for democracy in American, one can't look
to the "two parties is one party" electoral systems where the 
big corporations who will get large contracts from the government
have their support for both of the "two parties is one party" and 
the people have no elected officials.

The fact that Hiliary Clinton was brought to New York State to 
run for the Senate seat shows the lack of any democracy in
the electoral system in the U.S. She was *not* from New York State.
She has no basis to understand the situation of the people in NY.
It helps to make clear that the campaign is not about candidates
who have any connection with the people. She evidently has 
connections with the financial interests who feel they wanted
her as their Senator so she is running for the Senator from
New York State. 

That is electoral politics in the year 2000 in New York.

 "the bid for Nader to be included in the debates
 was cancelled by the media and the two party system."

All candidates running should be included in the "debates."

But the debates aren't "debates." 

When I was at the citizen2000 conference held by the European
Union in December 2000, there was a journalism researcher from
Finland who said that the government officials in her area
wouldn't listen to the people who were trying to have some
impact on the decisions made by these officials.

Also there was a Finish government official at the conference.
He explained that the government officials felt they were
elected and so they could do what they felt was appropriate.

That once someone was elected they were charged with the responsibility
and they didn't have any obligation to listen to what people
had to say.

This exchange was very interesting.

It made it seem to me that there was definitely more democracy
functioning in Finland than in the US. I couldn't imagine Ira
Magaziner, for example, who had been a government official, coming
to participate in a conference that I was able to participate in,
and allowing people to hear from me and from Magaziner about our
views of what the problem was with people in the US having any
ability to have a say in the decisions made by Clinton.

And yet that is what was able to happen in Finland. In Finland
both the journalism researcher and the government official were
in the process of trying to understand the problem.

Once one provides for people who will "represent" you, what
obligation do they have to pay any attention to what you want.

That is why the Internet is such an important new development.

It makes it possible for people to speak for themselves, and to
argue out issues.

And to determine what the problem is that needs to be solved.

That is "democracy" in its essence.

The elections in the US are *not* "democracy".

> in all, this symbolizes the great silence in
> America, in all facets of daily life and culture.
> there is a futility in the complexity. madness is
> risked when one knows not all the answers in advance,
> and makes their beliefs public.

No it isn't a "great silence in America". The kind of an Internet
that would make it possible for people to discuss their news and 
views was born in America. And it is under attack in America as well.

When people have a chance to speak, they do speak.

The question is how to get the political system to listen to what
is being said. 

That is a problem for the people, and for the society.

That was a problem recognized in Finland at a European Union conference.

 >what if the constitution became a tool for a totalitarian

I knew an old warrior, someone who had been in the Flint Sit
Down Strike, and who had fought to build the United Auto Workers
union when there were no industrial unions in the US.

He is no longer alive, but in the 1980's he remarked that 
the times then were the worse times he had ever lived through.

He had lived through  several depressions and wars.

But he said the reason he called the 1980's the worst times
ever is that what he saw in the US was what he called 
"a constitutional crisis". That the compact that the 
constitution represented between the government and the people
in the U.S. was broken.

That public officials didn't carry out their obligations to 
people that they were mandated to do by the constitution.

 >regime, wherein all people were required to think alike

The constitution, especially the amendements to the constitution
(like the first amendment and the 14th amendment) are weapons
that I have found exist for the people to be able to fight against
the government officials who don't fulfill on any duties to the 

 >in order to succeed, with law and order as the stabilizer
 >for those whom do not agree? this sounds like Seattle and
 >Philadelphia and New York and Los Angeles, in that the
 >tests to democratic rule were overruled by power. that
 >rights were compromised, in order to keep things simple.

But those who fought in Seattle, Washington DC, Philadelphia
and Los Angeles were saying that there is a fight on in
America. And in Seattle there were even workers and their union
officials as part of the fight, there were students, and 
people from other sectors of American society.

And many people I hear these days say they are happy that
people fought in Seattle and Washington DC etc.

 >the complexity taking place, just outside of the camera
 >lens. it is not news. it is silence. it is not discussion,
 >not debate. it is barred from debate. it is not the
 >question. nor will it be, in this establishment.

In the electoral system in America there is no discussion
or debate. 

But outside of the electoral system there is great discontent
and awareness that the conditions of life for the common folk
are hard and only getting harder.

> major change is needed. America is held in a straightjacket
> of entrenched power. sure, someone can grow up and be
> President, of a bank or the nation, if they follow the
> rules. but things won't change that way, not in a large
> enough sense to address the issues at hand. what will
> enable large-scale change? war? civil insurrection?

Yes that is the question I hear people asking.

People know something has to change. What isn't clear.

 >something looms, like the night, in the daytime, yet
 >it is not talked about, never acknowledged, ignored.

No among the people there is discussion about what is the 
problem and what can be done to deal with it.

It is just that that discussion isn't what the media
presents as the image of America.

Many many people are frustrated and upset with how everything
seems to be getting only worse. That people work hard and
there is nothing to show for it. That the hopes and dreams
people have have no way of being realized.

That the promise of something better for their children isn't 

>Do you believe in
>Democracy? writes Paglia in her column.

But the democracy that exists isn't in a

The democracy is in the lively discussion that happens
still sometimes online. 

But the online forms that nourish this are not getting
support to grow and flourish. Instead the "" get
the support from the powers that be in the US.

>from this point of view, American democracy no longer
> seems to function, as it mythically once supposedly
> did. it seems to be more of a political game, than
> a system of governing the state and the people.
Interesting. As the question of how to govern, of 
how to direct a social or political system, is a
significant question.

It means there needs to be a feedback system that
helps those doing the directing to know the actual
conditions and to have lessons from the past of 
what the real conditions were, not the imagined 

That there needs to be a way to understand the new
conditions and to take information and understanding
from both the past and the present to go into the future.

These are the circumstances of governing.

This is *not* about what the election in the US is about
but this is what governing is about.

> the fear that everyone in America will become the
> next president, in that they will need to accept
> the doctrine at some level, reminds me of how
> things can turn sour, unwittingly. good faith,
> in politics, has never worked. there is some
> grand mal, or some general anesthesia being
> applied to election. The debate coverage,
> saying Bush `won' the debate, because he
> didn't say anything bad, was absurd. The
> behavioral control of Gore was strange,
> the marionette somewhere above the stage,
> public opinion, the media, polls, and pundits.

The people are left out of the electoral system in the
year 2000 in America.

8 years ago the day before the election I announced on
Usenet that reluctantly I had decided to run for President
as no one seemed to be doing anything that was needed.
I declared I was a write in candidate.

I was surprised the fact even after the election was over
a number of people posted asking what it would take to have
write in candidates on the ballot in the different states
in the US.

 >but sending because
 >of a creeping fear of an increasing anti-democratic
 >or a totalitarian democracy on the rise in America.
 >one where diversity is allowed, as long as everyone
 >thinks alike. in the US it is often looking outward
 >at other countries and seeing how they should be
 >democracies like America. there is hope, maybe in
 >Yugoslavia. but realistically, there is little hope,

Certainly if one looks at the Presidential candidates of 
the "two parties is one party" in America, one doesn't 
see any sign of democracy.

And similarly the conditions of life for the common folk
in the US are reflected by the fact that the electoral
system exists to bestow power and privilege on the corporate

However, there is a fight on in the US. The common folk
are not "silent" when they have a way to speak.

It's just the media don't "listen".

The electoral system doesn't function, in a way similar
to how institutions like unions, don't seem to function
any longer.

How do we learn from the past to build for the future?

It is good that the questions be raised and that the discussion
of them spread.

That is "democracy".

And we need to learn how to protect the new forms that make it
possible to have such discussion and how to expand those forms.


Nettime-bold mailing list