Don’t Mute Newt – OpEd


The trick to maintaining the US delusional democracy is feeding the illusion for citizens that voting and elections really matter. But when both major parties are owned by rich and corporate elites it matters less than most people think whether Republicans or Democrats win and control Congress or the White House. Their seeming differences are a clever distraction that keeps fooling and manipulating Americans. With the help of the mainstream media, making entertainment out of political races, Americans are deceived into thinking that elections deserve their respect and participation.

As power shifts periodically from one party to the other partner of the two-party plutocracy, the illusion of meaningful change sustains the corrupt, dysfunctional political and government system and the economy rewarding the top one percent. Winning politicians are adept at lying convincingly, especially about change and reforms and, like well advertised products, Americans consume the lies.

The perennial problem is that despite what so many Americans view as failed presidencies and, even more clearly, failed Congresses, no Second American Revolution is produced that would return the government to we the people. The biggest lie of all: Elections can fix the broken system.

The candidacy of Newt Gingrich presents a historic opportunity for a new, bigger form of failure that could clarify to most Americans just how broken the electoral system is. On the one hand, the widespread anti-Obama sentiment coupled with a crippled economy could be sufficient to elect any Republican opponent. On the other hand, despite a long list of Gingrich deficiencies proclaimed by many mute-Newt conservatives and Republicans, he just might grab the Republican nomination and beat Obama. Counter intuitively, President Gingrich could help revive American democracy. He is the failure we have been waiting for, just the right old, fat, loud mouth, hypocritical white guy.

He would be such an utter and complete disaster as President that, finally, a vast majority of Americans, especially those that still vote, would reach a heightened level of despair, anger and disgust that some form of rebellion akin to what created the nation in the first place could occur. Think of Gingrich as the Segway President: all hype and fakery with no possibility of success, being much, much worse that George W. Bush and Barrack Obama.

In other words, the US would finally reach a bottomed-out political state more analogous to the tyrannical regimes that have fallen to grassroots revolutions. The illusion of a functioning democracy would melt away and the nonsense of being the greatest democracy would become crystal clear. History suggests that things must get so bad and painful that no amount of rationalizations, propaganda, lies and distractions can keep sustaining a corrupt and delusional democracy.

In this nightmare-salvation scenario, here are possible concrete actions that would put the US on the path to revolutionary reforms: overwhelming public demands for reform constitutional amendments through the use of an Article V convention bypassing Congress, successful emergence of a competitive third party, massive voting out of incumbent Democrats and Republicans, a stronger Occupy movement leading a populist, nonpartisan rebellion aimed at overturning the status quo political and economic system.

Even if you cannot get yourself to vote for Gingrich you can still help by not voting for any of his Republican opponents in primaries and, later, not voting for Obama. Think of this behavior as courageous patriotic dissent. Desperate action for desperate times. Sure, you might worry about some awful consequences for the nation from a scary Gingrich presidency. Against this, however, how much more can the nation suffer from presidencies that serve rich and corporate interests rather than the 99 percent? With Gingrich we could get a populist backlash to drive rebellion and reform. Any system that produced a President Gingrich would clearly justify tearing it down.

The recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 50 percent of Americans polled would never vote for Gingrich, clearly a sign of how little trust and confidence he engenders. This sentiment must be overcome by seeing Gingrich as the devilish stimulus for national rebellion against the two-party oligarchy. Of note, 37 percent said they were certain to vote against Obama, and 34 percent said the two-party system is seriously broken, and the country needs a third party. But the current system has been rigged to make a third party presidential candidacy extremely difficult, though the Americans Elect effort may be significant in 2012.

Note that a President Romney would probably not help; he just does not have what it takes to talk and behave recklessly, stupidly and crazily enough to embarrass and chagrin most Americans at historic levels. Unlike the genuinely reptilian Gingrich, Romney is no more genuine than our current democracy, which would stay fake. Like Obama, Romney has far too much self-control to be bad enough to wake up Americans to our warped democracy. Replacing Obama with Romney would be like choosing white eggs instead of brown eggs; a difference without distinction.

Joel S. Hirschhorn

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy – Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.

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