I am in a holding pattern. If I were on an airplane, it would be circling, waiting for the weather clear or a slot to open up on the tarmac. If I were a World War 2 naval officer, my squadron of PT boats is circling; they are hungry sharks waiting for the prey to provide an opening for the attack.
[And given that an old injury to my rotator cuff is acting up, I would hope that one of my officers is JFK, and that he could slip me a pain pill to wash down with my whiskey.]
We--those who are good, smart, and reasonable citizens, pragmatists and progressives who actually care about the well-being of the American polity across the color line--are stuck between two unpleasant events.
Two weeks ago, the Democrats were shellacked during the midterm elections.
There will be an imminent announcement that Darren Wilson is going to walk free.
Moreover, and this fact is truly grotesque, he has actually been financially enriched by killing Michael Brown execution style in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
As I wrote on Twitter, black life is cheap in America. Yet, killing black people has always been very lucrative. This is one of the central paradoxes of modernity in the West.
On Sunday night, I had the good fortune to speak with journalist and fellow (as well as much wiser) traveler Mr. Paul Rosenberg. He has written for Al-Jazeera, Salon, and Alternet. My conversation with Paul will be featured on an upcoming episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show.
I shared my angst with him about American democracy, and my growing belief that principled non-voting and pursuing a nebulous "third way" should be the primary ways that the American people resist Power in the Age of Austerity, plutocracy, inverted totalitarianism, and the carceral society.
Voting is a type of fetish. This is especially true for many of us who are heirs to the Black Freedom Struggle.
Paul made an astute observation and intervention: voting matters because there are forces who are willing to do anything to stop the poor, working classes, young, and people of color, from voting. The bloody history of the Civil Rights, labor, and women's movements offer up proof of this dynamic.
I know that Paul is correct. However, I am still vexed by, and uncertain, if participating in a broken system dominated by two parties where the voters' choice is between the lesser of two evils is an act of civil and moral cowardice.
Yes, there are important differences between the Democrats and Republicans--and yet both are beholden to the corporateocracy and robber baron plutocrats.
It is important to highlight the following fact: the United States of America is not a democracy. The general will and majority opinion do not drive the decision-making of the country's elected officials in the Executive and Legislative branches on the national (and likely state) level.
The will of the American people is routinely ignored on a range of policy issues from health care to raising the minimum wage, ending America's wars, and investing in the country's schools and infrastructure. As research by Martin Gilens and Larry Bartels has demonstrated, America's "representatives" protect and respond to the interests of the rich at the expense of everyone else. A small cabal of interest groups and corporations mandate and control American public policy. The Republican Party has pushed this elite model of anti-democratic governance to the extreme by racist gerrymandering and the use of the courts to subvert mass democracy in order to serve the agenda of the 1 percent.
As troubling as they may be, the above politics do not account for the power of the Deep State, that continuity of deeply entrenched agents and institutions in the national security state and elsewhere which (across administrations) limit the range of options available to the President and other elected officials in reorienting American foreign policy.
Across divides of party, race, and class, the American people sense that the country is going in the "wrong direction". They want a hero or a visionary to correct matters, to provide a clarity of vision and leadership.
Robert Tilton was a televangelist hustler who made millions of dollars by promising to pray and "lay hands" on the prayer letters sent to him by his viewers and congregation. He would cure illnesses, drive away demons, and speak in tongues. Tilton, like most of his religious hustler ilk, separated the desperate and stupid from their money with aplomb. The most talented thief and con artist makes his or her mark feel happy to part with money they do not have.
Robert Tilton was eventually brought down. The prayer letters were in the garbage. He was committing criminal fraud. Tilton's hands were not magical. His congregation were shown to be gullible fools. If the American people are waiting for salvation from a "great man" they too are fools, not much different than those who sat in Tilton's pews or watched him on TV.
Is faith in voting and the American democratic process the equivalent of believing in the powers of Robert Tilton? Or is such cynicism about voting uncalled for and extreme?
Are you also in a holding pattern of sorts? What do you think this week and next will bring regarding Ferguson and other matters?