by Abigail DeRoberts
Special to iVoryTowerz
The current election cycle is largely purported to be one of the most significant in recent history. With a seemingly endless war, a slowing economy, and the ever-increasing fear of global warming’s nastiest effects, the candidates have many issues to tackle. Furthermore, it is the first year that a person of color will be the Democratic presidential nominee. However, despite 2008 being an allegedly monumental year, your vote is not going to change the status quo. Neither is mine.
Every four years, the electoral system presents the American public with a set of false choices: first, choosing from among the Democrat and Republican hopefuls all spewing slightly different rhetoric, and next, the knock-down, drag-out, liberal vs. conservative fight. Yet, due to the structure of the system, all of these candidates must have vague, moderate rhetoric in order to appeal to the general public. All are forced to pay lip service to the concerns of common citizens, promising to secure our country against terrorists, aliens, global warming, and so-called Islamofascists, so that everyone can realize the American dream — unless, of course, you’re poor (because that’s your fault anyway). In order for a candidate to be viable, he or she is pushed to the middle, diluting and homogenizing their ideology. As a result, voters are simply presented with candidates that are variations on a theme.
This theme is maintaining U.S. hegemony through economic dominance and military superiority. Candidates plans for large-scale tax cuts (suggested by candidates whose donors include the wealthiest citizens in the United States) and universal health care systems (professed by those candidates who are largely funded by pharmaceutical companies) are suggested, because, while they sound good to politicians’ voting bases, they ultimately serve the desires of their financial bases. Furthermore, many of these political donors also have economic and political interests in the main forces behind major problems like war and climate change, so, despite politicians’ promises to fix these disasters, it is not likely that it will happen any time soon.
Because the electoral system forces candidates to appeal to broad audiences, their rhetoric is largely empty and unclear. Each must appear to be the sensible moderate, compassionate but tough. However, this isn’t the only reason why they are all the same. Their common thread is their interest in maintaining power structures: keeping the United States as the global hegemon; keeping the current ruling class in power; keeping their position in the political circus. Due to this homogeneity in candidates, it appears that voting is the least effective form of political action. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: if Barack Obama can’t bring us hope and change, who or what can?
For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:
- "Barack Obama: The Edwards Endorsement & What it Means"
- "John McCain and the Republican Right;" and
- "Wolf Blitzer: Is Human Rights More Important than American National Security?"
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