Lately I’ve been reading a book by Greg Palast entitled “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.”

Now, there are two important points that make mention of this book relevant: first, Palast, an investigative reporter, is a U.S. citizen who lives and works in the U.S., but whose writings are largely published in the U.K. Second, what little I’ve read of the book so far seems to illustrate a disturbing theme: there is a great deal that’s fundamentally wrong with the U.S., but precious little of it gets printed or broadcast in domestic media. These two points are crucial, because they demonstrate just how little we as a nation demand to know about the workings of our own society. Palast, for example, goes to exhaustive lengths to ferret out and compile some of the dirtiest dealings of our corporate-run government. Where are his writings published? Not here in the U.S.

We here pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on what a great democracy we have, and on how much we enjoy our freedoms. I submit that freedom is a fantasy, and our democracy is a grand, complex illusion that is rapidly losing its opacity. Perhaps it was the sight (yesterday, on the way to and from my dad’s house) of so many “Bush/Cheney ’04” posters propped in front of houses along Michigan roads. Perhaps it is the sense of societal mortality that I got while trudging through the remains of the short-lived (and ignominiously ended) Inca Empire last week. Whatever the cause, I am disgusted with how little attention we as a nation pay to our flaws, even as those flaws multiply, feed off each other, and threaten to engulf us.

All that said, I’ll give you a link to a story that demonstrates the continued vitality of the spirit of Jim Crow. While Florida has recently proven itself to be a rotting, festering, reeking example of U.S. democracy’s fallibility, it is by no means alone. The passivity with which the vast majority of us accepted and rationalized the election theft of 2000 (are you still blaming Ralph Nader?!) demonstrates the dubious nature of our claim to being the world’s greatest democracy. How we respond to the inevitable corruption of the current election cycle will either be a ray of hope or a ceremonial nail in our coffin.

I am reminded of what one of my coworkers once said to me. “We are a nation first, and a democracy second.” Fuck that bullshit, I say. Without democracy, the nation can burn.

Politics and Sleaze Envelope Orlando

As the presidential campaign approaches its showdown, the Republicans in the state run by George Bush’s brother are up to their tricks again.

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