No changes

And although it seems heaven sent

We ain’t ready, to see a black President

Tupac Shakur

They might be ready now.

In a few hours, assuming there isn’t a repeat of the drama of 2000, it should be clear whether or not the United States will elect a black man as President for the first time in its history. Judging from the polls and from all that I have heard it seems likely that Barack Obama will indeed win.

But I’m not here to talk to Americans about their own business. I’m not an American citizen so I can’t even cast a vote. However, as the United States is presently the most powerful and the most wealthy nation on the face of the earth, their election result will have an effect on the rest of the world. This is what I want to discuss.

Michael Parenti, in his book Democracy for the Few, describes the US election process as “the greatest show on Earth.” This time, however, they really have outdone themselves. This show has gone on for years. From the early speculation about who would run for the Democratic nomination to the long battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the last minute wild-card insertion of Sarah Palin, there has been no shortage of drama. However the lesson Parenti wants you to draw from all the political pyrotechnics is that it’s all a diversion.

Did you ever wonder how a country as massive as the United States can only have two parties? That in a country with 305 million people there are only two choices? Well unbeknownst to the majority of Americans, they do have more choices. Have you heard about the Green Party presidential candidate, a black woman named Cynthia McKinney? What about Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr, and Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader? Yes. I’m not making this up, they are all running for President of the United States today along with Obama and McCain. Why haven’t you heard about these people? Simply put, they have been made invisible by design.

To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, the Democrats and Republicans are essentially factions of the same party; The Business Party. The two parties collude to maintain a monopoly on the American political system. Take the debate process for example, did you know that the Obama and McCain campaigns have negotiated a contract that determines who participates in the debates and even what the topics raised will be?

So, what is the debate structure that they agreed upon? What topics are off-limits? George Farah of Open Debates, a non-profit organization with a self-explanatory name, says

“We don’t know the extent of the rules, because, precisely because, the Obama and McCain campaigns have absolutely refused to release the detailed contract that dictates the terms of [the] debate.”

In other words, it’s a secret contract. The game isn’t so scary when you can make all the rules. One of those rules though is obviously the exclusion of third parties voices.

But isn’t the United States a democracy? Perhaps “Plutocracy” is a better word for their system. Parenti says that “the two-party [American] electoral system performs the essential function of helping to legitimate the existing social order.” To boil it down even further, Americans don’t even have two choices.

This is not to say that there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, because there is. It’s just not so wide a difference as is commonly thought. Instead of night and day, think of the difference between raspberry and strawberry ice-cream. If Obama wins, a few extra dollars of the budget will go to social projects and poor people, while the billions that fund their enormous war machine will continue essentially unchanged.

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What is important is not so much what men say when they are anxious for power but what they actually do once that power is conferred on them.

– Robert M. Spector

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