Don’t Forget About Us

occupy 99 to 1 oddsLet me start this by explaining how I came to the realization of how the American political system works. Like many other Americans, I had certain beliefs and perceptions about this country and its history. During the end of the ‘60’s and the beginning of the ‘70’s, I realized that we were engaged in an unjust war. I say unjust because it was a war that was fought by young men on the lower end of the economic spectrum.

Most young men from wealthy families skirted the draft with college deferments and letters from doctors and psychiatrists claiming that they were unfit for military duty. Those that had the money went to Canada. It was a racket. Since I wasn’t from a well-connected family, I enlisted for four years in a specialty that gave me a good chance of not being sent to ‘Nam.

During the Vietnam War, from 1968 to 1973, I demonstrated against that war. Luckily, I was never arrested and the Army never knew what I was doing. One time however, I wrote to a lady whose son was killed in Hue. She wrote back to me and invited me to join a peace group made up of military people. My battalion Commander got wind of it and flew into my base in Korea and had a chat with me. He told me that even though we had a democracy, the Army wasn’t a democratic institution. I learned to keep my mouth shut after that.

During the run up to the war in Iraq, I became disgusted with both political parties and the media. I decided to start a political party. This was the big awakening. I started writing on different websites and was contacted by people that believed we really did need a new political party. We called it The Liberal Party of America. The term “liberal” wasn’t very popular at the time but it gathered attention, and that’s what we wanted. I met a computer guru and he designed a very professional eight-page website with speeches from JFK and other notable liberals. Soon we had small organizations in eight states. I was thrilled to death as the party was really catching on.

That’s when I found out how difficult it was to put someone on the ballot. Some states had relatively easy requirements, but other states made it “mission impossible.” It was then that I found out that you could hire a company to get voting petitions signed and the average signature was about a dollar a pop. Since some states required 60,000 signatures, I realized that we were out of our league. It was then that I started looking at ways that other political parties used to raise money. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded. I started researching campaign financing and I saw how corporations cajoled their people to donate to political campaigns, sometimes giving them a bonus and having them use it as a campaign donation.

So for about 15 years I have been looking at campaign financing. I’ve written almost 50 articles about how corrupt the practice is. I called for campaign finance reform calling it “The reform that enables all other reforms”. It really is. Then recently the Supreme Court ruled on the “Citizen’s United” suit. That just about killed any faith I had in the American political system. When some write that our political system is an “Oligarchy” or a “Plutocracy” or a “Corporacracy” they are all right. In most federal (and state) elections, you get to vote for the people who are backed by big money. Most of the time most people vote for the lesser of two evils for president. Oh yeah, you could vote for a Green candidate or a Libertarian or an Independent, just don’t hold your breath waiting for a win. The mass media won’t cover their campaigns and few people know who they are or what they stand for.

Since I served almost 21 years in the military (Army), I am acutely aware of when they are pumping us full of hot air. When Bush and Cheney and their Neo-Con minions claimed that Hussein had “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, I knew that they were lying through their teeth. How could he have amassed those weapons when we had control over his airspace and draconian sanctions on him for almost a decade? Meanwhile, I saw most Americans playing along, like it was some kind of sporting event. It disgusted me. I was seriously considering leaving the country (maybe I should have).

Year after year I saw our government (if you could seriously call it “our” government) pass draconian laws that tore the Constitution to shreds. The Patriot Acts, The John Warner Defense Bill (That eliminated Posse Comitatus), The Military Commissions Act and many more (like those that guarantee “Freedom of Speech” under the First Amendment by providing pens far away from what you are demonstrating against). These are laws that are supposed to make us “safe”, but in reality they are meant to control us. I’ll put in footnotes so that you can read these laws for yourselves.

Then there was the economic collapse of 2008. Corporations (including Obama’s largest campaign donor Goldman Sacks) started going belly-up because they had rigged the system and were betting on everything under the sun like it was a giant casino. A bail-out was proposed and the American people went ballistic, writing their Congress critters telling them not to give these crooks anything. The outcry was so great that they voted against the bail-out. Then, in a closed-door session, and after the Senate voted for the bill, the spineless dogs of Congress were told that if the economy went down the tubes, martial law would be declared. Sure enough, the dogs that caused the meltdown got their money and its coming out of the people’s pockets.

Still, the U.S. hasn’t stopped spending like drunken sailors on its military. The basic budget for our own “Weapons of Mass Destruction” is $800 billion. That doesn’t count the extra appropriations for our wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and parts of Pakistan and other lesser known skirmishes. We have over 900 military bases overseas and are building more. It’s called “Full Spectrum Dominance” which translates in English to “Boss of the World”.

Meanwhile, just because we have a military that cost more than the next 20 countries combined; don’t think they want us to last. We have a government that wants to draw the curtain of the United States of America. A strong U.S. isn’t in the bankers plans for this “New World Order”. They are just about done exporting our manufacturing base. Our schools are second rate. Most Americans are incapable of critical thinking. If they were they would realize that we are victims of the largest con-job in history.

Still, there is hope. It’s called the Occupy Movement. Somewhere in all of this government scheming to turn us into serfs, the people started putting two and two together. All of a sudden the curtain was pulled back and there was the guy with the microphone trying to grab the curtain, but it was too late, the ruse was exposed, the cat was out of the bag. All of the lies and maneuvering that our government was engaged in fell like the proverbial house of cards.

People descended on to Wall Street demanding their money back. They showed up in DC and camped out. Oakland, Philly, L.A. and other cities saw occupations by Americans that were finally seeing the light. First they ignored us, then they vilified us and tried to make us look like comic book characters, then, last week, they attacked us. Even journalists trying to cover what was going on in Zuccotti Park were detained and abused until they ran into a church for sanctuary. This is what passes for Democracy in 21st Century America. This is what they do to homegrown protestors, they throw nets over them, they shoot tear-gas canisters at their heads, they throw women and senior citizens on the ground and while they bleed, they handcuff them while they are being pepper sprayed and haul them off to jail.

Meanwhile, peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in other nations are applauded, but not here. Here they treat us like the scum of the Earth, doing the bidding of their corporate masters. All of the laws that they passed to watch for “terrorists” were really designed to watch us, the American people. We live in a modern-day “security state”, just another way to say fascism.

The cops made a big show of taking an oath to protect American citizens. Well, these “oath keepers” seem to have fallen a bit short. Maybe it’s the excitement of suiting up in their riot gear that makes them look like black-clad paratroopers. Who knows, maybe they just don’t understand that they are part of the 99% too. They’ll learn when their pay and benefits are cut like the rest of us.

For all of you oligarch’s out there with your billions of dollars, fine automobiles and trophy wives, don’t think for a minute that this thing is over. Slap each other on the back and get back to business as usual. Just remember what went on this autumn. Spring is right around the corner. Enjoy your winter, but don’t forget about us. We make up 99% of the nation you live in, and we’re really pissed off.

Tim Gatto

Tim’s books “Complicity to Contempt” and “Kimchee Days” Are available at Oliver Arts and Open Press and all online book dealers.

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Comments

  1. says

    Once again, Tom has written from the heart. And once again his story illustrates (among other things) that WHAT ENABLES THE <1% ECONOMIC OLIGARCHY IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL <1% POLITICAL OLIGARCHY. The real-time-unchecked concentration of political power in a relative few long-term political oligarchs – elected or appointed – enables those politicians to sell out, for bucks or whims or sadistic power abuse.

    To justify this Roman-republic-style oligarchy, their rhetoric keeps talking about 'democracy'. Do you really believe that true democracy consists above all of voting in mass popularity contests (where you own individual vote will have nil effect) to see which of two (or maybe a third, if you're lucky) partisan leagues of oligarchs can get 50% + 1 of thousands or even millions of votes? Even with all their faults and their imperfect restricted-citizenship system, the ancient Athenians knew better.

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