U.S. Government: Republic or Plutocracy?

As someone who has taught U.S. government and economics to high school students, I will say firsthand that there is significantly less interest in politics among the youth than in virtually every other conceivable topic.

Topics more interesting to younger Americans include but are not limited to: Sports, music, iPods, movies, video games, Facebook, partying, Lady Gaga, Jersey Shore, Comedy Central, South Park, Adult Swim, etc… (the list goes on and on…).

Now, let me be clear – there are many young Americans who are very interested in our political process and are active in keeping up with the news, even before they graduate from high school.  Unfortunately those students are few and far between, swimming in an ocean of political apathy.  While many so-called education experts do not hesitate to point out our nation’s dismal science and math scores, there is significantly less focus on social studies education.

Today, there are a record number of citizens who claim to be independent voters.  As commentators have noted following last Tuesday’s election results, a majority of independents who voted Obama into office chose to vote against incumbent Democrats.  While Republicans claim this is a sign that voters want less “big government,” it is simply a signal that voters are tired of the party in power.

In 2006, Democrats took control of Congress after voters became disillusioned with Republican policies working for everyday Americans, and in 2008 Senator Obama convincingly won against Senator McCain in the presidential election.  In 2008 McCain ran on the slogan “Country First”, and the PR battle that ensued was between the Republicans’ strategy of using patriotism and denouncing Obama’s ideas versus Obama’s “Yes We Can” strategy of “Hope” and “Change We Can Believe In.”

To anyone following U.S. politics and current events in the past decade, it was not surprising to see Obama win against McCain and his unqualified running mate Sarah Palin.  Today, many Democrats appear to be baffled as to why they lost so many seats in the midterm elections.  After all, didn’t Bush and his Republican-led Congress get us into this mess in the first place?  Paying for two wars with costs well over $1 trillion and enacting tax cuts that mostly benefit the rich at the same time is economic suicide, as most Econ. 101 professors would point out.

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I Love Freedom, I’m a Patriot and I Support Our Troops!

And God bless the United States of America!

Okay, I will back off from the hyperbole for a minute.  No, I am not trying to sound condescending (did it work, though?).  I just want to take a minute to comment on the way we use language and how the words that we choose to use reveal a lot about us and our “agendas”.

Barack Obama used the words “hope” and “change” and the phrase “Yes We Can” more times than I care to remember during the 2008 presidential campaign.

One of President Obama's 2008 campaign slogans.

Not to be outdone, McCain and Palin used the nationalistic tagline “Country First” and utilized patriotic sayings, symbols and video clips so often that the next step would have been draping the American flag over themselves every time they spoke.  After watching the 2008 Republican National Convention, I am surprised I didn’t throw up red, white and blue all over the living room floor.

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The Lost Cause of the War on Drugs

Based on the alleged goals of our government’s war on drugs and after examining all available evidence, this so-called “war” has been a colossal failure.

A March 2001 Pew Research Poll shows that “Nearly three-quarters of Americans say we are losing the drug war, and just as many say that insatiable demand will perpetuate the nation’s drug habit.”

Nine years later, an April 2010 Pew Research Poll revealed that “41% of the public thinks the use of marijuana should be made legal while 52% do not. In 2008, 35% said it should be legal and 57% said the use of marijuana should not be legal, according to data from the General Social Survey. Twenty years ago, only 16% of the public said the use of marijuana should be legal and 81% said it should not be legal.” Read more of this post

Crony Capitalism, Corporate Personhood and Our Decaying Democracy – Ryan Rhoades

Part 1 of 3 – A Brief Look at Executive Branch Corruption and Unethical Practices

Against the background of the plugging of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil well and behind the recent Supreme Court ruling Citizens’ United V. Federal Election Commission looms a much larger issue – a problem that pervades throughout our society, permeating the branches of government and perverting the very Constitution that public servants have sworn to protect.

Big business and finance are running our government, and they are running selfishly amok.

This is not about Democrats versus Republicans or liberals versus conservatives.  This is about an ideology that has taken over the basic democratic functioning of our government, and it is deeply embedded in our current political culture.

It is about the largest corporations, run by the wealthiest individuals whose motives are to maximize profits for themselves and their shareholders.  And let me tell you, they are making record profits even as millions of Americans suffer from joblessness, foreclosures, stagnant wages, vanishing pensions, and a host of other challenges to labor rights. Read more of this post

Regressive Politicking of Incumbent Senator Jim DeMint (R – SC) – Ryan Rhoades

Senator Jim DeMint receives Taxpayers' Friend ...

Image via Wikipedia

Since 2005, Senator DeMint has received most of his campaign contributions from Club for Growth1, a conservative advocacy group and major campaign finance group that backs Republicans who support privatizing Social Security, eliminating or reducing corporate taxes and capital gains taxes, and increasing the number of charter schools.2

His Political Action Committee (PAC), Senate Conservatives Fund, has given $1.7 million worth of campaign contributions to nine extremely conservative Republicans, including the following:3,4

1.) $141,000 to help the campaign of Colorado Republican Ken Buck, as well as paying for radio ads ($85,000).  Ken Buck is the candidate who, when asked why people should vote for him and not his primary opponent (Jane Norton), quipped, “Because I don’t wear high heels.”  He also believes that Social Security is “a horrible policy” and that the Department of Education is unconstitutional.5 Read more of this post