Several hundred activists were arrested Monday afternoon during a sit-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to call for action on voting rights and campaign finance reform. The mass civil disobedience, part of a week-long Washington protest known as Democracy Spring, aimed to demonstrate the depth of grassroots frustration at a political system that, participants said, is tilted toward the wealthy at the cost of ordinary Americans … Voters in both major parties are expressing intense anger over a campaign finance system awash in big money donations. -MSNBC
As we can see from the above excerpt, the Democracy Spring movement is being portrayed as protest against money in the political system. But something much bigger is actually going on.
The anger manifest in the current political season is being used by elite money-men to forge a new protest coalition that is extensive and international. A quick glance at Democracy Spring’s website reveals a coalition of supporting groups drawn from the entire spectrum of leftist activism.
Ironically, they are using the current polarization of US politics to build this bigger movement. Meanwhile, US citizens swept up by the current election are once again losing sight of the reality of American politics: They don’t work properly and don’t yield beneficial results.
The US is on the verge of bankruptcy. Not long ago, a Citicorp executive called the US economy a “death spiral.” The issues are deep and intractable and will not be healed through elections, even presidential ones.
Participation in electoral politics actually drains the energy that one ought to be using to apply to private matters in order to achieve personal goals. Within a larger context, political results often yield results that are actually opposite to what voters hope.
For instance, many Americans are hopeful that the flood of Mexican cross-border immigration can be halted, but the populist politics they’re adopting is giving rise to considerable – and increasingly organized – opposition.
In fact, the concept of building a wall on the Mexican border has brought together diverse groups in Mexico who see it as an expression of racism. It has allowed mainstream media in both Mexico and the US to speak out with shared disdain.
Here, from the Wall Street Journal just two days ago:
Mexico’s political class rarely unites on anything, but there is unanimity that [was captured] … by former President Vicente Fox [who] used a vulgar adjective to describe [the] wall.
Last week, Fox penned an editorial for the Guardian along these lines. Here’s the conclusion:
That’s why I ask every Mexican, inside and outside our country, every American and the rest of the world to stand together. Let us not divide our dreams and opportunities; let us be inspired by compassion and true leadership. Let’s … walk towards harmony and prosperity all over the globe.
The polarization of the US election is being used to create emotional solidarity within Mexico and also with a variety of disparate groups in the US. Articles in leftist publications portray the protests as an all-American effort to “take back democracy.” Here, from TruthOut:
Today, though, the founders’ worst fears have been realized and factions have taken control of our political system. They’ve infiltrated and largely taken over our political parties, themselves a kind of faction, and divided themselves accordingly.
… That’s why movements like Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening are so important. They don’t just encourage young people to get active in politics, they also rejuvenate the ideals that made this country’s experiment in democracy possible in the first place … So let’s get behind movements like Democracy Spring and take back our democracy from the clutches of faction and oligarchy.
Not so. The DC protests have little to do with “democracy.” They are being funded in large part by MoveOn.org, which is itself funded, ironically, by the same big money elites that the protesters want to remove from US elections.
An article posted at TownHall.com tracks the antecedents of the current protests with the headline, “Occupy Wall Street Rebrands As ‘Democracy Spring’ For Capitol Hill Sit-Ins.” The article goes on to explain that little was left to chance when it came to the actual events:
It was clear from the moment we arrived that the event was carefully planned and executed political theater. The police were already staged and waiting with zip tie handcuffs and large buses to transport protesters … Unfortunately for law enforcement, they seem to have no choice but to play their part in the charade.
The article concludes, “Democracy Spring is a thin veneer for left-wing billionaires to build a large movement with much broader and damaging goals beyond campaign finance reform.”
This is the reality of the current US elections. It may seem to be a cogent expression of civilian anger expressed in populist terms. But it is opening a window to the very trends and movements that such populism rejects.
Conclusion: Ultimately, as we have pointed out before, electoral politics almost never yield hoped-for results. If you are looking to the US political process to resuscitate civil society and a measure of prosperity, you are likely looking in the wrong place. The vast, formal mechanisms of federal elections will rarely yield anything positive except by accident.