The international adventures of a singing, dancing zombie queen.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

What's Wrong with America?

"And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?"
- Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72," January 1972

Last night, curled up under my fluffy down blanket, I saw the smartest man ever on TV. His name is Thomas Frank, and he just wrote a book called "What's Wrong with Kansas?" The book is about how the middle class in Kansas screw themselves over by voting Republican because the New Democrats have abandoned what the old Democrats used to stand for such as economic help for the middle classes. Frank proposes that the problem with America is that now everyone votes on cultural issues, such as abortion, prayer in schools, etc., and middle-class Midwesterners tend to be Conservative on cultural issues.
Now the New Democrats are only different from the Republicans on the subjects of culture. Both parties now (since Clinton,) no longer vote to support healthcare, retirement, unions, and other economic issues, but instead let themselves be dragged under by the riptide of power-money. Democrats used to be the party that supported economic equality. But since they no longer vote in favor of Unions, nor protect people's retirement, middle class Midwesterners feel totally alienated by them; these folks are Christian, and Pro-Lifers, so even though the Republicans screw them economically as well, at least the Republicans agree with them on cultural issues.
Of course, none of the Republican conservatives are actually making any headway in that realm, either. Frank cited the judge who put the ten commandments in front of his building. There was no way that he'd be able to get away with that, he must've known, so Frank posits that the judge did it in order to rally his supporters.
The funny thing is, as far as I'm concerned, that if Republicans stand for small government, then their platform of cultural conservatism is contradictory to that plan. It seems to me that America should have the least legislation making it legal to force Christian philosophy, prayer in schools and Creationism on people's minds. The freedoms of religion and thought were what the Constitution was based on; those are the rights that should, by now, be inaliable and beyond discussion, or at least beyond additional legislation.
The function of government should be to maintain the equality promised by the Declaration of Independence through the economy, so that huge companies don't abuse the middle and lower classes. But, according to Frank, these days politicians have an aversion to being seen as involved in class wars. This, he says, is because of the Republican construct of 'the perfect Free Market System' which doesn't in fact exist.
According to the polls cited by Frank, if you ask people, "would you like to be represented by a Union in your workplace?" 40% of people say yes. If you take out the red-flagged (because of the Republican construct) term, "Union," and just ask people, "Would you like to be able to negotiate with your boss and have some say about the way that your workplace is run?" you get 90% of the people saying that they would. Yet, these days, we have the lowest Union membership we have had in America since the 1920's. People are again being fired for trying to start Unions, because the penalty for companies that do so is so small as to be inconsequential. Back in the 1960's, there was 25% Union membership, but now we only have 8%. And, according to the polls mentioned above, that isn't what the people actually want, but just that they're either scared of the businesses that they work for, or brainwashed into thinking that Unions are somehow unpatriotic.
Sadly, if the Republicans continue to brainwash school systems into teaching kids to memorize instead of teaching them to think for themselves, there doesn't seem much chance that people will begin to think outside of the Republican construct and demand that the government protect their economic rights.

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Dance & Fitness Faculty member at San Francisco Peninsula Community Colleges, Director, Choreographer & Featured Dancer, Founder of the Living Dead Girlz, and Owner of the Steele Dance Company, which provides entertainment for festivals, corporate events, conventions and private events. Teaching private dance lessons and creating choreography since 1997, Steele graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Double Major in Dance and Comparative Literature and completed her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography at Mills College. She has toured all the major cities in Germany and performed at the Cannes Film Festival as the featured dancer in TRIP -- Remix Your Experience, a multimedia exhibition of film, live music and art. Steele has also performed as a featured dancer for RJ Reynolds (CAMEL) promotional events. Steele currently manages the go-go dancers of "Poor Impulse Control," who perform frequently in San Francisco's industrial, alternative, and rock venues.