Do the citizens of the United States have any say in their own government? The standard answer is that they do not, and this is backed by statistics, and voter preferences, and yards of congressional records. How do we know this?
Do the people in the US support Medicare for All? We know that Congress will not, at the moment, pass any bill of this sort. But, “The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, now support Medicare-for-all, otherwise known as single-payer health care, according to a new Reuters survey. That includes 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. Only 20 percent of Americans say they outright oppose the idea.”
Do the people in the US support free college tuition? “This might be an idea whose time has come: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are in favor of free college for everyone, and about three-quarters think at least some people should be eligible for free college, a new survey shows.” This means state colleges, not private ones, though it would affect private institutions by the character of grants the government would be giving students.
But any of you who have been following the debates in the public sphere will know that both Medicare for All and free State College Tuition are characterized as proposals by the “far left.” What does that mean? First it means that the people who are so characterizing these ideas are so far out of touch, being on the fringes of our society, as to mischaracterize the center of public opinion as far left.
One more thing, part of the public conversation is the Green New Deal. Do people support it? “The survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the Green New Deal plan.” First recognize that the GND is a bill without teeth, that is it only provides context, not juridical action. Its temper is more of a statement of intentions.
But the GND is characterized as “far left” just because its proponents in Congress are Democrats. Since Mitch McConnell has taken leadership of the Senate, not one bit of legislation has come to a vote on climate change. But he is readying a vote on the Green New Deal because he thinks any Democrat who votes for it will “self immolate.”
He may be right, in that the right-wingtip press will try to immolate those democrats. But, as a citizen, if you have only been listening to Pat Robertson, Fox News, Breitbart News Network, or Daily Stormer, you don’t have the full story. You have the corporate story, that is Capitalism out of control, not the the voice of the citizens.
Need I mention how what percentage of the population believes cannabis should be fully legal, happily under a regulatory regime like alcohol or tobacco. “About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The share of U.S. adults who support marijuana legalization is little changed from about a year ago – when 61% favored it – but it is double what it was in 2000 (31%).”
So, it looks like Democrats, and Independents, have the voice of the public, the voice of ordinary citizens, while the Republicans have lost that in favor of the corporations that are trying to protect their interests: insurance companies; big pharma (Medicare for All and MJ legalization); colleges that rely on overinflated tuition costs; oil and gas corporations, etc.
And we suspect these groups because of the multi-millions of dollars pouring into election coffers by these groups, by the persistence of lobbyists in the halls of Congress, and the persistent rhetoric of the right-wing news outlets. But the data is in. Those who oppose the moves outlined above are just out of touch with normal US citizens. They are not representing their constituencies. Their interests oppose ours.
Here are a few funny tricks used by politicians who oppose these measures to garner votes. First, these are unimportant issues. What’s important is making abortion illegal, continuing our moral dumfounding about the use of drugs, mistaking what we believe or don’t believe as the measure of patriotism, race baiting, shouting against “socialism,” “the left,” “gun-control advocates,” etc.
The shouts against socialism are cooked up with a background of fear of communism, and the bad reputations of countries that have tried to convert their countries into communist ones, and have fallen to the ordinary corruption of overweening bureaucracies. These arguments have nothing to do with distinguishing the useful distinctions between business that is better taken care of by government (social security, medicare, medicaid, tax collection, prisons) and those better taken care of by private interests like manufacturing, and energy efficiency.
But those shouting against socialism blind themselves to the government subsidies (social support of private industry) used for fledgling industries like alternative energy (that is now mostly self sufficient, given market forces), and the egregious misuse of public funds for older industries that should be taking care of themselves like banking, auto manufacture, and farming. We still support them to prevent the loss of jobs, corporate collapse, etc., but the most strident rebukes of the new “socialists” come in full light of social support for unpopular programs like unnecessary wars and conflicts, a president out of control who cooks up an emergency to spend money that could go for people who are really in need in this country. So the president and his republican allies are calling for 5-8 billion for construction of an unnecessary and already passé technology to block our southern border, while not one additional red cent has gone to fight the opioid problem which is killing tens of thousands each year.
The Republicans who are shouting “FAR LEFT! FAR LEFT!” are really shouting at the center of our population. But the voters who are putting them in office are being distracted with pseudo-moralizing crap about abortion, law and order, gun freedom, a weirdly unreal and truncated version of the Constitution, and patriotism, none of which signifies the real problems US citizens face.