The Very Public-ness Of Democracy

“It’s the economy, stupid.” was the issue of elections in the 1990’s. No matter boom or bust, this has carried through as the case until the recent US Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling. Since that decision, the focus has shifted widely, unpredictably and spasmodically. What is “the issue” is no longer being determined consensually.

The recent election, with its record low turn out and high stakes implications, was also the first post Citizens United mature exercise of money as speech. It was notably marked by a significant absence of any central consensual issue. It certainly wasn’t the economy, or national security, or jobs. Analysis finds that “non issue” was the predominant characteristic of the recent mid term election. This disparate but central (and ever present) “non issue” was primarily created and driven by the machinations made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling.

Analysis reveals various materializations from this recent “non issue” exercise in democracy. Labor (organizations and unions), the great bug-a-boo equalizer of the pro Citizen United argument, played a practically non existent role within the non issue midterm election. This is (and was only obviously) to be expected. It is impossible and illogical to believe that those whose labor exists solely to benefit and produce wealth for business ownership could ever “outspend” ownership itself. The NFL Player’s Association can never outspend the NFL owners who ultimately make union funding possible. Money, as speech, pretty much pre determines who is speaking (and being heard) now. Much of the ALEC driven legislation that fostered the candidacy and issues meant to undermine and eliminate labor organizations, public or private, was and is central to the recent election outcome (like right to work legislation). Why are organized employees such a threat to business ownership and its associations? Analysis finds that, with money legitimated as speech and the creation/predominance of “non issues” within the publicly accessible but privately owned media of recent elections, compelling reasons emerge. Organizations such as the AARP, NRA, or NAACP, etc. usually involve the exercise of free speech and communication within the organization itself (as well as outside). Newsletters and internal communiqués function to relay, reproduce and reinforce information and outlooks critical to the maintenance of the members’ interest. By eliminating employee based organizations, owners eliminate this communication, this exercise of free speech. Individual teachers, bus drivers, EMT’s, laborers, electricians, etc. become cut off from any speech or communication regarding their particular interests and needs. Employees become totally subservient to whatever issues are created, determined and broadcast by privately owned media. As recently witnessed by the “non issue” election, their genuine interests and needs will not be communicated at all.

Analysis articulates this degradation of democracy with its sibling, the emphasis on restricting access to the ballot box through personal ID requirements. Privately, within the sphere of what is today taken as essential social exchange (communication), an email address is a given presumption. Yet obtaining an email address is not a given. Without an ISP or some form of mobile communication service contract, an email account is not. Be it for reasons of super cookies or just plain old advertising mailing list, account providers (owners) need to know how to keep track of (and be able to contact) the account holder. The same applies for anyone entering the rolls of verifiable electorate. From there it is only a hop and a skip to requiring that the voter’s official ID be regularly “updated and stay current”. Given the Freedom of Information Act and the wonders of computer programming, exclusive and customized communication access to potential voters (customers) is virtually guaranteed. As the recent election just showed, with money as speech, “non issues” can readily be communicated as not only essential but central to upcoming elections. Without access to any alternate communication that is not privately owned (and determined by sale to the highest bidder), election results can be more easily managed by those with the most money. Analysis finds the image of an electorate having its heads bent, preoccupied by smart phones or tablets, totally absorbed within their own private “personal” communications to be rather derogatory of the very public-ness of democracy.

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