The Illusion of Democracy

Devorah Segura, Reporter

For a country so heavily built on the fundamentals of “democracy” and which claims the nation is “for the people”, more often than not, the United States and its systems accomplish the complete opposite, no matter which political party is in the White House. A country so heavily rooted in the systemic oppression of marginalized individuals is far past the need for electoral politics and reform, leaving only one option with viable outcomes: to tear the country and it’s systems down. 

Under a true Democracy, the people should be allowed to ask questions about the records of candidates who are begging for their votes. Under a true Democracy, people should be allowed space for criticism and dissent to those same candidates that are begging for their votes. But in this illusion of a Democracy that the United States has curated, we find ourselves under immense pressure to choose a candidate, who in reality could not care less about the people past the ballots. 

Elections, year after year, cost millions of dollars, which could go to communities in need for direct aid instead. This system means all parties other than the two oldest and most prominent are virtually invisible. Unfortunately, the two parties that are visible pull strings behind the scenes to push forward unethical candidates that pull their political agendas forward, even if it goes against the people’s wishes. 

A person’s choice to not cast a vote is oftentimes seen as a surrender to the oppressive system. Evidently brainwashing the people into believing that Democracy should be free. However, every four years, the American people are held accountable for systemic issues and are forced to make a decision that claims to help them. Every election then becomes “the most important election of our lifetime.”

When people do choose to dissent and speak up, we are often met with the same retorts. “Then what are we supposed to do?” – This question has a pattern of recurrence. When one is held as a political hostage for their whole lives, the way we have been so far in this country, it is natural to find ourselves misled on the realities of issues, and on what other options we have that don’t involve a mere check box on a ballot. 

However, most of the time, “Then what are we supposed to do?” is a question that is brought up in a condescending manner, particularly to people who identify as leftists, who have spent a lifetime educating themselves on leftist ideologies and theory, and who have lived experiences that have radicalized them. Often, they decided to opt out of the joke that is American electoral politics, and are met with such rhetorical questions. It’s a question asked to invoke shame; to suggest that we are the true failures of this country because we choose not to involve ourselves in a political clown act. To remind us that maybe if we just took the elections more seriously, maybe only then we’d all be in better positions in the country. The recurring question only continues to isolate people from understanding the true nature of the circumstances surrounding the country. 

The government in place is set up to serve the interests of big corporations and the upper class. No matter who is in office, America will remain corrupt, oppressive, and an illegitimate country. Both Democrats and Republicans share the same interest in keeping America as is, a country that serves to benefit the people whom the country was built to represent. Democrats just like to pretend they care about marginalized people, while Republicans tend to be more transparent on their agendas. 

There is no reforming the United States. You can not change this system with a mere election, because it was built to always oppress people of color and wont allow radical change through reformation and elections.

The idea that the United States suddenly became a fascist state 4 years ago with the outcome of the 2016 election implies that the United States wasn’t fascist before. Despite this, such fascism can be seen by the US military bases on more than 70 countries and US economic sanctions imposed onto 13 countries, or even by the over 50 countries the United States has attempted to overthrow. Or is fascism only an issue when it directly affects America?

It’s urgent to develop a better analysis of the country we live in and begin to engage it in a more ethical way. We need to process what it means to really live at the peak of the United States’ fascist empire. We need to achieve a point where none of us are okay with the massacre of the lives of Black and brown people in the Global South and Middle East for the “reward” of representation. We need to deconstruct this notion on why we would even want to be represented as the face of the death machine that is the United States and its sanctions of war crimes. We need to be appalled at the fact that there has never been a truly democratic election in the history of this country. I want us all to get angry about the continuation of the electoral college in modern society. 

Ask yourself what are you going to do in the event that November 2020 ends up being just like November 2016 — a scenario where your preferred war criminal wins the popular vote, but still loses the election.

This obsession with electoral politics in the United States is a masochistic love affair with the machine that’s set to kill us. And no matter how much people claim “we can do both” [voting and leftist activism], history has shown us that until we prioritize organizing ourselves, we will continue to rely on presidential elections to address the societal problems that it has proven to be unequipped to fix. No matter who sits in the White House, the machine is never going to slow, turn around, or stop. It will only move forward and away from a society that works for all people.

Nothing about our current situation is by mistake. The path that we continue to go down is predictable. In fact, people have been theorizing our current reality for decades. The state of the country tells us that if we don’t completely stop and bring this empire to its knees, it is going to swallow the rest of the world while it simultaneously cannibalizes itself. What it is able to present is that until we wake up and stop feeding this oppressive system, nothing is going to change. The only way to stop this is to start building a new world from the ground up. First we must start with ourselves, and then within our communities.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from voting, but it isn’t meant to advocate for the effectiveness and importance of an election either. This is an endorsement of self reflection, assessment, and group organizing. If putting a checkbox next to a candidate is what will help you sleep at night and make you believe you will fix systemic issues, then by all means do what you feel is best. But realize that voting isn’t the be all end all of activism, nor does it come close. However, radicalizing yourself and those around you to critically understand and dismantle all you have been taught can be a start to that