United States

Changeless Change: The Law of Politics

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

True change doesn’t come through the ballot box—even though we’re all taught that it does. For voting was instituted to insure stability, not change.

I know this may seem somewhat sacrilegious to many entranced during this current political season, for it certainly looks like change.

But if we look deeper, we see how the very process itself—the campaign—is an exercise in conformity. People come to political campaigns to reassure themselves that their politicians won’t bring too much change.

In essence, our political campaigns are little more than slick popularity contests: who looks best? Who makes me feel most comfortable? Who would I like to have a brew with?

John Kerry lost in 2004 not because large parts of Ohio were stolen, nor that he was successfully swift-boated by lies about his tour in Vietnam; he lost because his opponents launched a stealth campaign against him branding him as an intellectual, an egghead with advanced degrees who even spoke French!

Americans, especially in this age of anti-intellectualism, aren’t comfortable with eggheads. So, they comfortably “elected” a blockhead.

Therein lies the current contrast between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—neither race, nor gender—but popularity.

At bottom, our politics is 95 percent beauty contest.

On issues, the two are almost inseparable.

And truth be told (despite right wing propaganda to the contrary) neither are actually liberals; both are neo-liberals, who are, at heart, globalists of the NAFTA type.

Neither wants to repeal NAFTA—they want to “re-negotiate” it (not really surprising considering that both are also lawyers.)

They are vying for who will become Chief Manager of the Empire, after the Bush wrecking crew is done.

Neither are anti-imperialists—they just want better, smarter management of it—empire, with a smile.

(John McCain promises he won’t smile.)

How could it be otherwise with the almost obscene amounts of money in play? How could it be other than this with the hundreds of millions of dollars that have sloshed through all of the presidential campaigns, most of it for media ad buys?

That doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested, or even desperate for change. But what kind of change will they get?

When’s the last time you’ve heard any presidential candidate mention the words imperialism, poor people, or—heavens forbid! —Capitalism? If they mention capitalism, it’s almost like a religion that needs defending—for no “viable” candidate criticizes capitalism. For, like a religion, it must be believed in.

Just like politicians are believed in until they inevitably betray those who voted for them.

Who do you think they ultimately owe their loyalty to—those who voted for them? Or, those who gave them millions of dollars to run?, April 5, 2008