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Morsi's Gamble and Our Democracy

Mohammed Morsi is an Egyptian leader with some interesting challenges whose current reality speaks volumes about ours in this country.

He just literally took power over the entire Egyptian government decreeing that courts can't disband the Commission that's drafting Egypt's new constitution and no institution of government can slam dunk any decision he makes.

That's called "dictatorship" and it's intriguing that it would come from a guy like Morsi. For while the U.S. (and British) media suggest that his latest power grab shows he's politically naive, recent history contradicts that. This is the guy who not only reconstructed Egypt's government after its first election in decades (which he, of course, won) but proceeded to kick the Egyptian military, the Arab world's most powerful secular institution, out of government without firing a shot. He then proceeded to avoid a Civil War when the Courts (a vestige of the Mubarak regime) tried to virtually disband his government. And most recently he got the cease-fire that ended the most recent Israel attack on Gaza.

Say what you will about Morsi, this is not an example of a politically naive guy. Muhammed Morsi appears to be a highly skilled politician and statesman. I'll leave the interpretation of how Western critics characterize him to you.

I don't know what Morsi's doing right now. I'm not in that country and don't have an understanding of its political nuance, rendered seemingly impenetrable by the knee-jerk ignorance of our own media. I'm assuming, from past experience, that he is pushing the envelope only to step back a bit, accommodate opponents and then end up with half of what he proposed (which is what he initially wanted). That's his style, if the recent past means anything, but I'm not sure and don't think the Egyptian people really need me, or any other U.S.-based observer for that matter, to analyze the situation.

Democracy is a mess; that's what makes it work.

And democracy is very much on my mind and should be on yours. Ours, here in the United States, is under the greatest threat in its history right now and we on the left need to figure out how we're going to respond to that threat.

Why are you relieved Barack Obama won? For sure, he's a good guy personally and we all love Sister First Lady and the family. They are, it would appear, decent people. And he's an honest man. And he seems, in reality, to care about people and feel their pain. And he's black...in the White House...and that is a major achievement, possibly greater than most of us realize. I love Barack Obama and am happy he won.

I also know that he wants the best for the American people and, as far as he's concerned, that best is the perpetuation of capitalism and imperialism by any means necessary. That's the Brother's job -- keep this system intact and protected at all costs. And boy does he do it!

Everything President Obama has done, including his agenda of admittedly impressive progressive legislation and initiatives (especially in the first two years when he had majorities in both houses) served to protect and perpetuate capitalism. Social benefit was a secondary, if desired, outcome or an outcome that directly facilitated the primary objective. When those objectives clash, the protection and perpetuation of capitalism always takes first place.

Barack Obama's job isn't to protect and prolong your life; it's to protect and prolong the life of capitalism.

This shouldn't surprise anyone: it's what he's hired to do. And it's why we have to struggle against his Administration. The most obvious indication of why we need to mobilize against his policies is that he didn't solve the economic crisis in this country. It's as bad as ever with even a greater number of people unemployed and an economy which, along of that of the entire world, continues to spiral into social disaster.

We all know that, so the question is: why did so many people vote for him? And there's the crux which has been decidedly under-commented in our media. Pure and simple, I think people voted for Barack Obama because Mitt Romney was a vicious opponent of democracy. The GOP's electoral strategy -- a combination of outrageously anti-democratic gerrymandering and brazen voter suppression -- was the driving force behind Romney's campaign. The Republicans believed they would win because they believe that white people are superior to the rest of us, outnumber us and, most of all, have convictions. The rest of us, this racist narrative goes, have no such convictions and can be dissuaded from voting by some stupid disinformation, intimidation and long lines at the polls.

Obama's Black and he knew none of that was true. In fact, in a stroke of the political brilliance he demonstrates as one of history's greatest politicians, he knew what the racists don't: that a major part of black political consciousness in this country is the belief, founded in truth, that Black people completed the project we call electoral democracy. They know (and are reminded by their preachers and teachers if they don't) that their ancestors led a major movement in the 1950's that won Black people the right to vote: a right they already had under the Constitution but were denied by the byzantine system we call "States' Rights". Democracy belongs to black people in this country and, when it was clear it was threatened, they turned out to defend it.

The same is true, in a slightly different nuance, with the moronic insistence by the GOP that the "Latino" vote didn't matter because most are non-voting immigrants or people who don't bother voting. Or that someone like Marco Rubio would attract us. Keeping in mind that the "Latino" community dates back to New Mexico in the early 1600s, the "immigrant vote" approach is idiotic. What's more, since the 1960's, Latinos have played a clearly statistically documented critical role in the Presidential elections and have voted in very large numbers. And the idea that a guy like Rubio, who speaks Spanish to question evolution, women's rights and Social Security is attractive to us is just plain racist.

We braved the Republicans' voter suppression campaign because they discounted us as they tried to kick the Brother out of office and put a lying cracker in his place and we had all seen those: the guy in the store that over-charges you for something that will never work, the landlord that cheats you on months or rent or repairs, the cop that bullies and disrespects you and then arrests you when you protest. That guy in the shadows talking about 47 percent or those people on Fox Network talking about "takers."

We turned out because their world doesn't include us and they wanted to impose their world on our lives.

But while we won, democracy didn't. This was the stupidest Presidential campaigns I've seen in my life. It was controlled, not by discussion or debate, but by 60 second ads on television that, at their best, distorted truth and changed politics into a game between multi-billionaires. There was no mass participation in the funding of this election...not on the GOP side and barely on the Democratic site. Just lots of money from people who care little about the working people of this country and probably don't know any.

All that money took time away from the real campaigning. These guys spent almost all their time fund-raising and so the possibility of political discussion was wrecked.

Of course, with billiionaires running things, you can't have a real debate anyway. The supposed "foreign policy debate" between the candidates was among the most scandalous exhibitions of political ignorance imaginable. These two wanted to be President of the United States and not once did they discuss the economic crisis in Europe (and what we should be prepared to do), only once mentioned all of Latin America (can you believe that?) when Romney insisted there are "lots of markets", and only talked about all of Asia when mentioning the absurd issue of China's trade balance with this country.

To raise such issues is to risk stepping on some rich person's political landmine and losing those bucks would wreck campaigns like these.

This doesn't even mention the lack of specificity about the economy. Perish the though that anybody would tell us how in the world they are going to create 12 million jobs. Nobody did.

Or the constitution which has been eviscerated by the draconian rules propagated by the President.

Finally, there is the issue of the alternative parties. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were the Green Party candidates: while I admired Dr. Stein from afar, I know Cheri personally and she is as good as they get. These candidates would have presented a powerful alternative to the garbage we had to listen to and would even have forced Obama to respond to real issues.

Why in the world weren't these people on the stage with the Democratic and Republican candidates? Because the Debate commission that runs these things is made up of the two parties and is beholden to those rich guys.

A good electoral campaign educates people, gives them knowledge and sharpens their perspective. After turning this campaign into an even more mediocre event than they usually are and thereby further dulling the political consciousness and education of many Americans (a victory for them in and of itself), the GOP will continue its anti-democratic fight with a huge backlog of lessons and "tactical tests" in its reserve.

And it has some real power here. It controls the House and it won a frighteningly large percentage of Americans.

Think about this: almost half the country voted for a man who wants to increase war spending, destroy the heath-care coverage we have (including retirement coverage), gut most programs that keep poor people alive and refuse citizenship to pregnant women. And who believes the other half of the country "thinks it's entitled" to everything.,

That's what they used to say about us in the 1950s and 1960s: we are here to take everything for free. They used to call us "welfare hustlers" and any of us who thought that the forty years of remarkable achievement people of color can lay claim to have changed that are now sobered. Half the country voted for a smug, nasty, sadistic, destructive bastard who hates poor people and thinks people of color are trying to get into his pocket.

His party's strategy is to get back into power by blocking the one thing we have left: the vote. And they're already pushing new rules and legislation in various states to make that happen.

We are going to lose our right to vote, at least in a real and productive way. That loss will obliterate the tactical possibilities of electoral action by our movement and make the potential for a Third Party an activist's pipe-dream.

We need to figure out our strategy around democracy and that won't be easy. In fact, looking at our threatened electoral democracy, one might even envy Brother Morsi and our Egyptian brothers and sisters. At least, they're fighting back.