“American Politicians Are a Bigger Threat to Democracy Than ISIS,” By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Time Magazine, Nov. 2, 2014
“… Our election days should be an international advertisement for the glorious success of democracy. The aromatic sizzle that sells the hearty steak. The action-packed trailer that lures you to the blockbuster movie. But in reality it’s more like the aggressive perfume sprayers in department stores that deaden your senses with a cloud of acrid stench leaving you blinded and dazed. The election season highlights not our dedicated patriots vying to improve the country, but the greedy villains who are subtly but devastatingly destroying the democratic process like a creeping and relentless rust. In addition to hunting those home-grown terrorists sneaking over to Syria to join ISIS, we should also be rooting out the saboteurs amongst us who are doing greater damage. While the culprits are pointing and shouting, “Hey, look over there! We’re under attack by Ebola and ISIS,”
they are brutally clubbing the baby seal of the democratic principle. We can’t keep touting our political system as a model for the world while tolerating the worst kind of bad actors whose actions slowly grind away our system. We shouldn’t just shrug it off with cynical acceptance, “That’s politics.”
It reminds me of that line from a Brenda Shaughnessy poem, “It’s like having a bad boyfriend in a good band.” The good band is the democratic system; the bad boyfriend is the abusive politician willing to compromise that system to satisfy his own lust for power. The two most egregious examples of this betrayal are in misleading political ads and in partisan lawmaking that is meant to obstruct fair voting practices. The first attempts to misinform the public, inhibiting its ability to make an informed choice. The second attempts to obstruct eligible voters from casting their ballot because they might not vote the way those in power want them to vote…
What should we do to protect democracy against these saboteurs from within?.. We need to do two things to stabilize the listing ship of democracy:
- First, scrape off the barnacles. In this case, the barnacles are those who would pass laws deliberately restricting voters from voting. We have to join together on principle and vote out such sinister people, even if these voting restrictions benefit your party. Because this isn’t about giving your party more power, it’s about having a party that supports the democratic ideals of the Constitution. We certainly shouldn’t be doing away with …
- Next, laws against false political ads; we should be enacting more such laws and enforcing them more diligently. These laws should include punishments that range from assessing huge fines capable of crippling a campaign to prison. Do those punishments really seem too steep for someone destroying the democratic process?
Instead, of spouting grimly sophisticated cynicism of pundits, I still believe that the inherent goodness of the process can defeat the greed of the politically ambitious and ethically vacuous. Maybe I’m just saying that even one lying political ad is “one too many.”
COMMENTARY BY MARLENE BUCHANAN, PROJECT UNSPEAKABLE OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
The article above has more relevancy to Project Unspeakable than is immediately apparent. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar wants there to be more active participation in maintaining democracy by the general citizenry. He rails against the apathy that labels false political ads merely as “That’s Politics,” and shines a laser light on the degrading of democratic ideals by “the greedy villains” in politics. Project Unspeakable wants also to see an informed and activated populace which defends our democratic ideals and demands that our governments, be they local, state or federal, act in accordance with the Constitution and provide equal protection for all who live here.
We offer information about the connections between shady, oppressive government activities in the 1960s, the four assassinations and their connections to similar shadowy, abuse-of-power activities still persisting today. Together, we can say a resounding No, to pervasive and invasive covert surveillance by “big Brother” as well as to “Big Business” that purchases our politicians as proxies for enacting or repealing laws that favor corporations over people. We can stand together and refuse to allow the rape-for-profit of fellow-citizens, of our environment and of the futures of our children and grandchildren. We, as informed, educated and just people, must see to it that the enthusiastic militarizing of local police forces is reversed (why do we need to recreate local militias from colonial times just to enrich the military industries?) An active and persistent citizenry will keep scuzzy politicians in check on all fronts, as well as serving to demonstrate that we can and will ‘walk the talk’ of democracy in this nation and thus become a better exemplar for other countries. Whereas Kareem Abdul-Jabbar employed the written words above, excerpted from his article in TIME, to rouse us to action, Project Unspeakable utilizes words in a different formulation. We use theatrical readings of a piece written by Court Dorsey to highlight the little-known or discussed issues surrounding the four assassinations. We are joining with others to demonstrate our ideal of Democracy-through-action.
We want people/groups to host readings in local settings and develop actions/activities aimed at keeping our governments accountable to us, “The People.” Please consider hosting a reading in your communities; visit the Project Unspeakable website for more information on how to request a 90-minute or 45-minute script.
“WE ARE ON THE HUMAN SIDE. WE HOPE YOU STAND WITH US.” from NOVEMBER 19, 2014 ST.LOUIS POST DISPATCH- OPINION (ON FERGUSON PROTESTS): BRINGING ATTENTION TO PERSISTENT INJUSTICE, BY JOHNETTA ELZIE, DERAY MCKESSON AND BRITTANY PACKNETT