America is a Democracy? Really?
This article was originally written for the website of PressTV
We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.
But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?
Forget that only half of eligible voters typically vote in quadrennial presidential elections (less than 30% in so-called “off-year” elections for members of the House and a third of the Senate, and less than 25% in municipal and state elections). Forget that the government is increasingly trampling on the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, with a burgeoning surveillance program and a growing militarization of the police.
The US government doesn’t even do what the majority of the citizens want. In fact, these days it flat out ignores what we the people want.
Consider the polls, and what they show public sentiment to be on key issues, and then look at what the government, composed of supposedly elected representatives and an elected president, actually does:
1. Military spending
Most polls show that Americans, tired of the endless wars that have been raging almost without pause since the end of World War II, and the huge amount of taxes devoted to the military (currently over $1 trillion per year!), favor cutting the military. Just recently, the Center for Public Integrity conducted a poll and found that when asked whether they wanted to cut funding for education, veterans’ benefits, homeland security and other areas, or military spending, 65% of people said they wanted military spending to get the axe. Overall, people favored an 18% cut in the military budget. Democrats wanted a 22% cut, while even Republicans, usually perceived as pro-military, wanted a 12% cut. Of those wanting military spending cut, the largest group, 27%, favored cutting nuclear weapons funding, followed by 23% who wanted ground forces spending cut. Yet both President Barack Obama and his likely opponent in November’s election, Republican Mitt Romney, are both calling for increased military spending next year, and Congress can’t even bring itself to cut spending on a new fighter program that is both way over budget at half a billion dollars per plane, and a failure (the F-22 cannot fly safely).
2. Health Care