Reclaim your nation

One year into Obama’s presidency, America still remains under a corporate spell.

by Jim Forrey

As the anniversary of President Barack ObamaâÄôs inauguration passes, the anti-democratic, anti-populist dark forces have made a couple devastating blows to progress in the United States. By now, my hope high is far passed and IâÄôm withdrawing hard. Though the Democrats had an absolute majority in the Legislature, they have done very little in the past year and may have just lost the chance to pass an already watered-down, though still much-needed, health care reform bill as Republican nobody Scott Brown was elected into Sen. Ted KennedyâÄôs seat, assuring post-mortem restlessness by the late lion of the Legislature. Our liberal hero president has continued Middle East wars and signed over billions of our tax-payer dollars to the wealthiest executives in the world. The last election and recent popular opinion showed a desire to shift from the pro-capitalist, anti-social investment Bush years, but the powers-that-be have seemingly rejected this mass movement and made a move to strengthen their hold by declaring that corporations can now make expenditures aimed at influencing elections more freely than an average U.S. citizen. Maintaining privately financed elections in which the wealthy are guaranteed influence was not enough. ThursdayâÄôs decision will have deep impacts and, as far as this citizen is concerned, will put the final nail in the coffin of actual representative democracy in the United States. Regardless of how the right to vote has been fought for throughout history, the elite have hung onto control. The Electoral College, privately-financed elections, pseudo-representative democracy, federalism and pushing the masses away from civic participation have all allowed power to stay in the same hands throughout our countryâÄôs life. We, the masses, are taught to believe that we have influence and that the government is ours because we get to vote every couple of years. But what say do we really have? Did anyone ask us if corporations should be able to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our political processes? On the other hand, if our votes never did count, why does it matter how many ads a business can buy telling you to vote for Tweedledee over Tweedledum? Within this victory for the dark side, I retain a bit of optimism in the fact that to any halfway intelligent and aware person, AmericaâÄôs election system is nothing but a show, a formality done to quell the masses while a minority, wealthy aristocracy drive the ship. Though many have fought for the right to vote, how much influence does voting really have? Hopefully this will make our system enough of a joke (or nightmare) that people will wake up and stop the travesty. I have fought most of my life for social justice alongside apathetic peers; if we were ever close to the tipping point, after corporations have been given more political power on top of huge bailouts during a recession in which average people are struggling just to eat, this should be it. America is not Utopia, and a lot of people are faced with that fact every day, but sadly, I donâÄôt think IâÄôm going to be overtaken by enraged citizens tomorrow morning. How far do things have to go for people to throw off their blindfold and take back what is theirs? Jim Forrey, University alum, disheartened Twin Cities activist