December 16, 2016
For many years Americans have viewed the political health of America through a prism provided by the United States Constitutional frame work for selecting government representatives. The popular expectation is that those who are elected to represent the voters will, by some reasonable standard, effectively honor and perform that responsibility. Time, technology and education have arguably destroyed that myth.
However, a serious review of the political history of this country makes it clear that the concept of the United States Government existing as a Government of the people, by the people and for the people has always been more myth than fact. Daniel Shays Rebellion, 1786-1787, should stand as a reminder to all Americans of the need to remain vigilant.
The very foundation for America’s growth and prosperity rests on a pattern of behavior that is supported by two important and immoral pillars. The first pillar is the policies and practices that virtually led to Native American political and cultural annihilation. The second pillar is the adoption and development of a system of chattel slavery that was probably the worst that the world had ever known. These factors along with the alliances America was able to form with the powers of Europe enabled the super powers of the day to explain their imperialistic and expansionist colonial practices as initiatives intended to uplift humanity. In fact, the human concerns expressed were never able to survive the impacts of the practices adopted to maximize riches for the elite rulers of the “mother land”.
Europe took Africa at the Berlin Conference in 1884 and the US had earlier claimed the entire United States and South American hemisphere “as a no trespass zone” with the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, thereby protecting United States interests from efforts of European expansion. “Regime Change” and the exploitation of natural resources became the acceptable practice of the day. The policies and practices that insured the perpetual suffering and human underdevelopment of the local populations was seen as little more than a natural and acceptable entitlement to the superior races of the earth. Nothing more was required to justify the profits that were being derived from all of “this noble effort”.
The current disintegration of the American political fabric cannot be fully understood or appreciated independent of this history creating America. The culture of competition between nations for power, resources and privilege is as old as the concept of nationhood. No one can be legitimately surprised that Russia or anyone else would use existing technologies to influence political decision-making and policy development in a competitor nation. The United States is on record of having employed much more brutal tactics and strategies to accomplish the same or similar results in countries such as: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, many parts of Africa, Chile, Cuba, Haiti, the Philippines, Indonesia and let us not forget Vietnam.
With this said, the list continues to stand incomplete but here are some other particulars. Let us not forget the US policy that formally existed to resist “democracy” and to support the apartheid and racist/ segregationist governments of Southern Africa. Let us not forget the operation of the Counter Intelligence Program and the role played by the FBI in intentionally undermining civil and human rights initiatives for Black Americans and for Puerto Ricans and other Latino ethnic groups in South and Central America. Neither should the Bay of Pigs attempted coup and the innumerable attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro or the US complicity in the kidnapping of President Aristide in Haiti be forgotten, nor the kidnapping of President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, nor the assassination of President Salvador Allende of Chile. The United States has been actively using military intervention to select foreign leaders in “non- declared wars” for how long?
The attempt to call attention to what Russia is doing, and probably every other nation that can, is a dangerous distraction of the attention that should be given to the erosion of the opportunity structure presumed to guarantee political, economic and civil rights to American citizens.
While the US Supreme Court equates the power and influence of corporate dollars with that of an individual’s vote, and jobs are incentivized to go off shore while cheap labor is being imported, America needs to take a good look at itself. While new methods to suppress voter participation are being rapidly and creatively explored and prisons are being run for profit as virtual forced labor camps, one might think that the real problem is not “Russian hacking”.
When American citizens are being encouraged to turn on themselves and press for a “roll back”of the policies and practices that created space and prosperity for an expansion of the American middle class; and when both major political parties are so out of touch with the needs and interests of the American people, the times in which we find ourselves must be classified, at a minimum, as “dangerous”. When more Black and Brown men and women are being killed annually by policemen than were killed annually by the Klan in previous generations, it is not Russia or China that is our problem. When America can remain in a state of perpetual war and the only undisputed beneficiaries are the capitalistic industries that compose the military industrial complex and the private profiteering military contractors, “hacking” has to be a subterfuge and an intentional distraction.
When the losing major political party in a Presidential election spends eight years keeping its promise to insure that the winning party and the first African American President will not be successful or supported, the Nation should at least be shocked. However, when they follow through on such an outrageous pledge so seriously, until the Nation suffers, the Nation should be outraged.
Both major parties have failed the American people. The Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Justice Department all have something worse than egg on their faces. As bad as these conditions are, I am convinced that the worst is yet to be seen when the next administration takes office in January.
I, and an increasing number of others, fear that America’s descent on this slippery slope towards Fascism will be accelerated when the new administration takes office in January. The President Elect boldly declares that he knows more than the generals. He brags that he does not have to attend security briefings because he has no confidence in the security establishment. He does not have to reveal his financial holdings or his economic connection to the global economy, because, custom aside, there is no law that says he must. The President Elect has been utterly dismissive of protocol and his pledge to “Make America Great Again” remains reed thin, in terms of the particulars and details as to what that means or how and at the expense of whom will that happen? So far the conversation is all about “the deal” as he surrounds himself with ex-generals and billionaires who harbor philosophies very different from those espoused by an earlier and a substantially, more democratically centered and less right winged America. The views of those nominated for appointment to some of the most powerful non- elected positions in government remind us of the time when America was truly a “great place” for the white and the wealthy.
If Americans stand by, blinded by racism, fear, greed and frustration and permit the best hope for the future of this nation to vanish in the illusion of some undefined notion of previous national greatness, the world will have experienced perhaps the slickest political Coup D’état in modern political history. Military and Capital interests will be the officially declared de facto owners and architects of American political, social, economic and civil rights policies. If the citizens of this nation permit this to go forward, “The United States of America” will be fundamentally indistinguishable from the rest of the “non-democratic Third World”.
Dr. William Small, Jr., is a retired educator and a former Trustee and Board Chairman at South Carolina State University. He can be reached at email@example.com.