Posted by: josephsiry | December 22, 2016

Death

” . . .  a democracy, if you can keep it.” Attributed to Benjamin Franklin 1789.

This was the week democracy died in the sense that the two-million plus popular vote winner was not selected as the countries’ Chief Executive Officer –POTUS. That bit of history was due to a system invented to protect a minority of slave-holders in the many slave states in the 1790s when selecting the President. The Electoral College system is a hold-over – for strict constructionists – from a time when members of the Senate were selected by the state legislatures and the second most vote getting person became Vice-president. Originally slaves were discounted, legally considered as property but could be used as three-fifths of a person in terms of counting votes, and the number of “electors” in the Electoral College. Three of the four antiquated and undemocratic facets of the early Republic were altered, yet today we have the anachronistic situation where popular votes, nationally (and we were a nation once, were we not?) are discounted in favor of small, rural, and voter-repression states that have long controlled the levers of power.

Few will mourn the death of democracy; many will argue that such an announcement  is premature. Nonetheless death comes for the Republic in not merely the decline of expanding the franchise, but in the growth of the private military, the extension of seventeen or more security agencies, actual media empires that harness attention by commercializing time and space, and extensive international corporations with more leverage and liberties than most of the 190 nations on Earth.

In the final assumption that the body politic is dead; or comatose for those yet unaware of the dramatic shift of power in our life-times from the working-class to the investment class, it becomes clear that the Earth too is contributing to the imperceptible death spiral we are now entertaining. Now we are at this juncture of our traditions’ clash with reality and few can sense the actual extent of teh shift in our sensitivity to the civic, international, and ecological world surrounding our country. Older national vestiges of authority remain, but with new and less merciful faces in charge than we ever thought possible even a decade ago when “compassionate” was considered a virtue for even “conservatives.”

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Dead also is the actual meaning of words; hence the comic refrain of using the word “truthiness” for this world where we are now “beyond true” and living in a “fact-free” realm of finding the least false assertion among competing false assertions. One great example is the idea of a sale. Buy this item and “save” some trivial amount of money. Of you did not by the item you would save even more currency. But the death of the word conservative is actually more startling because what is it conservatives wish to “conserve?” Clearly it is not the species, ours or other species. Clearly it is not the original intent of the constitution since the person who came in second would be Vice-president, or those without property could not vote. Clearly –though some want to restore it– it is not the gold standard by which to monetize value in currency. Clearly it is not a small military made up of the young eligible citizens and non-citizens. Conserve, ought to mean protect the basis of the nation’s commonwealth of public lands, wildlife, fisheries, air, water sources, and rivers. But few conservatives ever stress the need to save for today what we may need to harvest tomorrow. Instead they favor tax relief for the few, inequity in taxing labor at a higher rate than unearned dividends, and huge spending to bolster the military bases thousands of which litter the planet.

In mourning the decay of reason, the termination of true-accuracy in witnessing events, and eulogizing our loss of meaning in a mean-spirited world bent on crushing crusades and faith-infused jihads, I am reluctant to send the body-politic to the coroner’s office just yet. In the post-mortem phases of this  decline few of us will ever be capable of pinpointing precisely when the life of our body-politic expires. Necrotic tissue spreads as the gangrene of “distractive politics” infuses our information media, news reporting, and public notices. In a world where money is convoluted into “free speech,” corporations are “people,” and sociopathic behavior is widely
seen as admirable, death may be a public good.

Having lost our way, can we in the maze of misinformation, ever find our way back to pre-preposterous ways of communicating lies as falsehoods and facts as real? For your sake, I hope that we can. Perhaps that in the end is the meaning of this despair you must feel all about us. Hope is not a virtue for the good-times; but indeed hope best flourishes when there is no future, when death has robbed us of thriving ambitions, and morbidity feeds on the spirit of deception. Renewal will come, only when exhausted, moribund, and devastated we agree that we need to setback to the facts. As Lincoln suggested in the darkest days of the divided union, mercy is all that hope demands if we are to recover the ways in which people truly thrive.

 

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