The Iowa caucuses’ results will be in shortly, and a lot of useless jaw and tongue exercise will ensue. Hairdos will be analyzed; comely wives (and one limp-wristed husband) will be displayed; band music will be heard from sea to shining sea. Journalists earning more than half the city of Dubuque will stand in front of cameras pretending that this is some earth-shaking event in the annals of Democracy.
Lost in this cacophony of pointlessness is the sad fact that no American can vote, now or later in 2012, to preserve the constitutional protections against search and seizure, for the right to be stand accused before a judge, for the sanctity of private life from the intrusive nose of the State.
No one in America can vote to hold the criminal war-mongerers of 2003 responsible for their violation of the core Nuremberg principle: aggressive war. No one can cast a ballot against the drumbeats of an attack on Iran, a country on the other side of the world that cannot threaten our security even in the fevered imaginations of a whole pod of Beltway think tanks. (Although of course, Iran might create problems for Israel, the foreign nation that directs our foreign policy.)
No one can vote to dismantle the Guantánamo dungeons or to cease the systematic destruction of human personalities that has been made into official United States of America policy, endorsed by two presidents.
No one can exercise their suffrage to demand the investigation of the white-collar crimes that led to the financial panic that destroyed millions of workers’ lifetime assets. No one can vote to put a stop to the banksters’ ongoing looting and pillaging of the country’s pension funds, productive industry, municipalities and states. No one can opt to vote for the 99% instead of choosing a representative of one of the two wings beholden to the elite 1%.
No one can vote to rationalize the demented medical care system that gobbles up nearly a fifth of our gross domestic product. No one can vote to dig in the nation’s heels and resist the attempts to wreck Social Security, the solidarity program that saved our parents and grandparents from the shameful poverty of the aged that was the fate of their own ancestors.
No one can vote to restrain the militarization of our policing functions or to stop the melding of local enforcers with the vast intelligence and spying apparatus.
No, none of us can vote for any of these things because they are not on offer in the voting booth here in the Greatest Nation on Earth. The terms of our democratic exercise for 2012 are already set, and they do not include any of these pressing and, some might even say, crucial issues. They are not on any ballot anywhere because the Democratic Party, led by President Barack Obama, has eliminated substantive debate on these issues by adopting by Republican position on them.
And so while the Ringling Bros. spectacle continues among the Republican contenders, we do not notice that they have already won the election without a single vote being cast.