The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Disenfranchisement

If you were in political control of a country, and you wanted to reduce the power of all of its citizens, what would you do? Let's say that they had a strong Bill of Rights, and other powers granted them by custom and by law; for example, the power to sue a corporation that had harmed them, the power to assemble, the freedom of speech, the freedom not to have the armed forces used against them in a police capacity. How would you reduce those freedoms? Certainly, you would start by ridiculing them and possible downplaying them. You would certainly try to besmirch "trial lawyers" who make suing powerful corporations possible. You would certainly emphasize the most egregious lawsuit outcomes, while downplaying the just outcomes. You would downplay the use of the freedom of assembly by not reporting on, or barely reporting on protests. You would question the patriotism of those who spoke against you. You would find ways to get around Posse Comitatus laws. Do you see evidence of those kinds of activities around you these days? Trials lawyers are a favorite boogeyman for the republican leadership. You'd never know that huge protests of people have occurred, even right in the nation's capital, because of the underreporting of those events (the size of the protests have already reached those of protests near the end of the Vietnam war, and we haven't even begun our oil-grab in Iraq yet!). And when the media does report on protests, they usually portray protesters as "kooks" and pretend they can't understand what it is they are even angry about. The perceived patriotism of anyone who speaks out against Bushco is under constant attack. And we are getting closer all of the time to the moment when our armed forces are used against our own civilians.

But that is just the psychological side of the attack. What about the real abridgment of rights? The key here is to start small, taking rights away from a small segment of the population, slowly leaching rights away from groups which are not favored by the mainstream, until, by means legal and otherwise, you have weakened the rights of all. So ask yourself, whose rights are being abridged these days? Our rights to privacy and against illegal search and seizure have been all but destroyed by the "War on Drugs". (Mr. Clinton, though I think he had his act together in a lot of very important ways, was pretty complicitous with the Reagan and Bush I regimes in the erosions of these rights) Our rights to speech, assembly, even worship, are now under attack. Finally, there is the right to vote.

Disenfranchisement is the ultimate loss of rights in a democracy - true political death. When you think about it, almost all of the other rights can be seen as rights which are enabling of the right to vote. People exercise free speech, in part, in order to influence your vote. Assemblies and protests are held to influence your vote. Vast amounts of money are spent trying to win your mind and your vote. In the end, voting is the only direct influence most of us have on the system, and its effects are almost wildly indirect. All we can do, most of the time, is pick who we want to make policy for us. But still, that little effect each of us has has to be guarded very preciously. And here is where we have to stand up to this erosion of rights. In some states, felons lose the right to vote. The oligarchs' answer to this is to happily produce more felons. They are also happy to make sure that more people who usually vote Democratic (you know who I'm talking about here) become felons. There is a lot more to talk about in the election of 2000, and we'll get to it at some point, but the vote suppression and theft that happened in Florida is a blot on all of us. Our media still won't talk about the vast, deliberate, coordinated, and disgusting disenfranchisement that happened in 2000 (and not just in Florida), but if they don't, our democracy will soon be dead. Because once power learns that it can get away with something like that, it will not stop. We must all guard preciously _everyone's_ legal right to vote, lest we all lose it.

Class Warfare Watch

Three excellent articles about Bush's latest obscene plan to lift all tax responsibility from the rich, from the always excellent Molly Ivins, Hendrick Hertzberg, and even David Broder, who usually is up to his keister in defending the current collection of thieves in power.

Humor(?) Watch

If you have a chance, catch the Daily Show on Comedy Central. They are very subversive, and very funny. Here is their finest work to date (that I've seen, anyway), "So You're Living in a Police State" (listen for these phrases: "fun-pressive", "presto betray-o", and "Freedom Plus"):

Try here or here.

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