Curtain Raiser

Elections Help But Don’t Define Democracies, Colltalers

At post time, the outcome of three of the most crucial elections being held around the world this year, seems clear. In Greece, a surging, populist movement of the left did make a statement at the polls, but not much beyond that, as many had hoped. It managed to register, but still fell short of gathering the necessary muscle to divert the country’s current political downward spiral.
In Egypt, the military continues its make-believe game of handcuffing the Islamic Brotherhood, only to see it grow in strength and reach, enough of an excuse for yet more intervention.
Thanks to their 11th-hour attempt to consolidate control, which those who ousted Mubarak had entrusted them with, the Brotherhood, an umbrella for a wild variety of Islamic tinges, including Sharia law advocates, can now bargain from a legal point of view, earned with the ballot victory. Well done, generals.
We give you a moment to feel discouraged about it. Now, we need to tell you that, compared to their predicament, we’re up to our necks. A presence Americans have grown used to see, big money lurking on the outskirts of the political process, soliciting and supporting their usual share of anti-social causes, is now an overweight monster, attempting to dictate our future.
Open exchange of cash is now so blatant, among those jockeying for higher office, that no one even bother pretending that what they are doing is not what looks like: they’re out ostensibly buying and trading politicians, policies and the national debate, as if they were out grocery shopping, and if you can’t afford it, well, fold your cards and find yourself another country.
There was a certain measure of comfort this past week, though, to a segment that had all but being thrown under the deportation buses by the Obama administration. Even though immigrants have been a crucial part of the president’s constituency, only now it occurred to him to shove new legislation benefiting them down the do-nothing Congress’s throat, by the way of an executive order.
It’s hard to comprehend, though, why it took him so long to do it, when public clamor and indiscriminate imprisonment and persecution were afflicting thousands of families across the country, many of which who effectively won’t be able to come back and be reunited, even with this new legislation. It’s also hard to understand why he hasn’t invoked the same powers to break other important gridlocks.
He could’ve exercised such power on the first year of his administration, with the health care reform act and its now discarded public option. He could’ve done the same with the nomination of an absurd number of official positions that remain vacant, due to a minority in Congress that acts as if it’s its majority.
There’s no reason why we still have the travesty of the filibuster maneuver, for example, which is even unconstitutional. And finally, he could have dropped this impossible bi-partisan ideal, the moment that the GOP publicly declared its intention to sabotage and block every single initiative that would help the president’s reelection, even when it could benefit the economy and the country.
President Obama, though, remains the only viable candidate to lead this country, and there should be no question about that even for non-partisans or non-Democrats. Anyone with this country’s best interests at heart, and seriously engaged in the political debate, who thinks that it doesn’t make a difference whether he’s re-elected, given the situation we’re at, has lost any sense of perspective.
The president has been a deeply flawed leader, conservative to a fault, and has shown an alarming inability of being decisive when it comes to champion the basic interests of the great majority of this country. That being said, though, he’s still a highly moral individual, with above-average standards of decency and sense of duty about the oath and vows he took in 2008.
This is not an endorsement, but a fact. Let’s not play with each other here, as Judge Judy would put it, and let’s stop ‘foxing’ our sense of balance. We can’t compare what President Obama represents to what any other candidate in this election cycle represents. He, however, has to be pushed to the limit, and the way of doing that is by creating effective political institutions.
His questionable acquiescing to the military defense complex, his ambivalence about avowed campaign promises he failed to fulfill, his lack of leadership in financial reforms, and continuous support to tax policies more suitable to millionaires, should be the battleground to charge the administration for our vote.
We may, instead, ignore all that, of course, choose to be cynical about the political process, and simply declare that we’ll be selling our support to the highest bidder. It’s still a free country, the last we checked it. But at the end of the day, that would be a betrayal of every single morally truthful value, held by millions across this nation, who otherwise, can’t choose as easily.
We can’t turn our backs to them, even if at times things stink so bad we need a minute to catch our breath. Take your time. It’s not only of big gestures that this country is lacking, although that could help it too. It’s only when we stop thinking with our bodies, though, that we may realize we are this ‘everybody’ that meaningful ideas such as freedom and conscience periodically depend upon.
But carry on, dear readers. Summer will be here this week and you know that life can be easier then, don’t you? Have a great one. WC

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