Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The Theater of Democracy

Posted in United States by allisonkilkenny on November 13, 2007

By Allison Kilkenny at Huffington Post

The Theater of Democracy

According to my high school social sciences textbook and my grandmother, there was a time when the United States citizenry was permitted to ask politicians direct questions. “Keeping’ ’em honest,” it was called. There were these things called town hall meetings where Joe McAverage could stand up and made uncensored inquiries of any public servant.

Oh, also, reporters were allowed to ask the administration tough questions. Oh! And voting actually mattered. You could walk into a voting booth where every pulled lever and popped chad meant one vote for the politician of your choice. The government didn’t eavesdrop on your phone calls, you didn’t need a national ID card, and you were protected by this thing called Habeas Corpus that prevented the government from jailing you for an indeterminate period of time for unknown charges.

No more. It seems the United States government has figured out the perfect formula for keeping a people suppressed without the people realizing they’re suppressed. It’s really quite simple and brilliant. First, you unite a diverse people under the guise of patriotism and nationalism. Then, you make sure to keep just enough bread on the “middle-class” tables to make sure there isn’t a peasant uprising. If any concerns do arise from the “middle-class,” you blame blacks, Mexicans, gays, or terrorists. The middlers then fight the poor disenfranchised, and you can sit back, sip your champagne, and watch the world burn from you private helicopter.

When the dirty communists from the ACLU and United Nations raise eyebrows and start murmuring about totalitarianism, scream “DEMOCRACY” loudly. Stage press conferences ala FEMA and Hillary Clinton. Create the illusion of democracy. Say we’re free, free, free until people believe it, and die for the belief that they’re freeing other parts of the world with artillery and muscle.

Call it the theater of democracy. Mythologize our history so the Founding Fathers seem like righteous, morally infallible men instead of rich elites, terrified of a common citizenry gone wild. Ignore the fact that this country was built at the expense of poor people, indigenous Native Americans, blacks, and females. Claim we’re equals, that the idea of America somehow erases the wrongs of the past and the present. Pretend like the military isn’t full of poor kids, who have nothing, who are sent overseas to blow up poor people, who also have nothing, while the elites of both worlds sit back and watch the circus unfold.

Call it freedom. As you peel away rights, call it freedom louder until the cry is deafening, and all are too afraid to question the process’s validity. As unemployment skyrockets, entire families lose health care, and banks seize blocks of homes, call it the Land of Opportunity.

Change the subject even as massive corporations merge together and absorb what little freedom and equality this country has left, all the while hoping the press blabber about nothing more than Kanye West’s mother dying of vanity.

In this new world of Democracy, there is no need for keepin’ ’em honest. The truth doesn’t even matter. The theater becomes the truth, and those planted students at Hillary Clinton’s conference become our reality. After all, even if the tail ends up wagging the dog, at least something is still wagging, right? We may be a people totally suppressed by our elite, too powerfully colonialist government, but if we call ourselves free, then free we become.

Isn’t that how it works?

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