In a free society, perhaps most sacred is the right to vote.
An opportunity for your voice to be heard. This is not the time to be cynical, and take it from one of the biggest there is.
I'm under no illusions, of course.
By and large, the presidency is simply a figurehead position of our oligarchical corporatocracy.
In this our military industrial complex, the oligarchs have pitted us against one another in a two-party system as a distraction, while corporations and banks get richer and more powerful.
In the final debate, Mitt Romney forgot the plot, and started parroting his agreement with President Obama on most of his foreign policy initiatives. From illegal unmanned drones in undeclared war zones to Afghanistan withdrawals, he was supposed to offer us "a choice" while our defense industry sold weapons to undermine every policy principle expressed by the candidates.
Such that a discussion about energy policy failed to discuss what the implications of deregulation might look like. Not a whisper about climate change or devastating oil spills. With debate moderators that shouldn't be allowed to moderate a high school debate, let alone Presidential one. It took the devastation of the unprecedented storm -- Sandy (which should more aptly have been called Hurricane Infahoe or Hurricane Chevron) -- to wake up Americans. Although New Orleans hadn't forgotten.
Look at the evidence. We have our identical polar opposite mirror hatreds. Democrat and Republican. Nuanced to extreme representations of how we identify ourselves are embodied by our politicians and media figureheads. Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, John McCain and Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Alan Grayson and Alan West, Rachel and Greta, Schulz and Hannity, Lawrence and Bill, the excommunicated Keith and Glen, and the funnymen, John Stewart and Dennis Miller (was the latter actually funny). It would be nice if the right had a Bill Maher to balance things off, but they don't.
The vicious storm, still wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of lives, to momentarily remind us what role government does serve (as opposed to making women pay for unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds) and what bipartisanship looks like, no matter the ideological differences or shapes and sizes of the politicians representing us.
But what we've learned in the last twelve years is that our elections do count, and that it does make a difference who's in office.
From George W. Bush's ban on stem cell research, to President Obama's repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, along with the appointments of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, sitting on the Supreme Court.
In 2000, we saw the chilling Rehnquist/Scaila/Thomas selections hit paydirt for Republicans with the installation of a President. Culminating nine years later in a re-positioning of the court that brought us Citizen's United, the single most significant decision relating to the funding of our political system, opening the floodgates of anonymous corporate donations. In his dissent, Justice Stevens declared:
"At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics."
Despite Samuel Alito's unprecedented and rude muttering aloud "not true" to the President during his Statement of the Union address in 2010 when the issue was raised in an unequivocal condemnation of the Court's decision.
And despite his criticism, President Obama has hardly proved inept in navigating the post Citizens United campaign funding waters. While corporations like BP and Chevron laughed all the way to Board Room...and then banks.
The ugly, poisonous fruits of that decision is where we find ourselves today.
During the Republican primaries, along with Karl Rove's American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, we got to learn more about people like the egomaniacal Koch brothers, the ostentatious, multibillionaire political bankrollers like Sheldon Addleson and Foster Friess, (showing that they could sure as hell influence an election, if not buy one).
Desperate surrogates like Donald Trump, pissing all over the remaining shreds of dignity in our political discourse made a mockery of the process by which we elect what is supposed to represent the most powerful position in the world. Even if illusory.
According to Melissa Harris Perry on her show on MSNBC, a whopping $9.8 billion will be spent this year on 13,000 statewide Congressional and municipal races.
On Saturday, Harris Perry interviewed Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now, who has been investigating the influence of money on Wisconsin's politics, and who revealed that the little known Bradley Foundation, "since the Supreme Court declared George Bush the Victor of the 2000 election, they`ve spent in the neighborhood of $1 billion in propaganda to push forward a right-wing agenda."
The Bradley Foundation, headed by Terry Considine and far larger than the Koch brothers, funds some of the better known "think tanks," such as the American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institute and Manhattan Institute. And has given money to and owns a stomach-churning, staggering array of right wing ideologues and politicos.
Among the valuable contributions they've brought to the election process -- along with the junk science they fund in order to debunk climate change, and their push to privatize anything that is capable of yielding a profit -- is a highly orchestrated, systematic voter suppression strategy.
One which includes positioning millions of pol workers in precincts around the country, the effect of which may yet have huge implications on this election.
Enough people across the political spectrum are concerned enough with the Citizens United decision, that chances of changing it might actually be realistic. Yet there are still dots we must continue to connect following this election. Terry Considine might be a good place to start. We don't know the half of it yet.
Before a moderator could pull it, markomalley, at Free Republic.com asked a simple question. Would there be something illegal with Freeping an election? Followed by a strategy to disrupt the voting process. These are the kind of people Terry Considine is relying on to fulfill his agenda. Along with Mitt Romney.
One thing is certain, aside from the endless greed, lies and manipulation that define our fractured, almost unworkable political election process. No matter how much money they flood the process with, no matter how many obstacles they throw in the way, and no matter how much they try to suppress your vote. Whether by spreading vicious lies and insidious propaganda on billboards, web sites and position papers, or paying to elect the likes of Jon Custer, Ohio's Secretary of State -- the new Katherine Hariss -- to brazenly defy the courts and shamelessly make the fundamental right to vote, a tricky, scary, expensive proposition.
They cannot buy your vote. That alone is reason to do whatever it takes to vote this election.
Vote. There really is no choice.
(This piece also appeared on The New Civil Rights Movement).
Causes Clinton Fein Supports
First Amendment Project
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network