Sunday, February 19, 2006

Letter to Shaun

My Inmate pen pal Shaun and I have some interesting conversations. We talk frequently about the US criminal INjustice system and where we as a nation are headed. Here is a good chunk of my latest letter to him:

We have to expose the hypocrisy and crimes of Bush and his gang. They keep getting away with more and more. You no doubt have heard of Cheney’s wayward gun shot. Good God, if that had been a Clinton or a Gore, the Republos would have begun impeachment already. They have a complete double standard that would rival any dictator regime or royal power of the past.

Electoral competition is key to democracy, and that is not happening here. So many say there is not a bit of difference in the candidates of either party. In 2004, only a couple of dozen of the 435 US House elections were competitive. 98.5 percent of incumbents won, typically by margins of 70 percent or more. Incumbents have placed a lock on the offices they hold. They get the money, are favorably redistricted whenever seats are reapportioned, and use their taxpayer-provided staffs to conduct round-the-clock reelection campaigns. I found a troubling statistic, of all the world's freely elected legislatures, the US House of Representatives has the lowest turnover rate.

Bush is a perfect example of the power of incumbency. He set the tone, set the agenda and had unlimited funds. Air Force One is a powerful symbol.

America's politicians have also managed to invent the most unappetizing campaigns imaginable. Attack ads have doubled in frequency since the 1970s and now account for a majority of the ads featured prominently in campaigns. Voter apathy is rampant. In a 2002, 81 percent believed "most political candidates will say almost anything to get themselves elected"; 75 percent agreed that "political candidates are more concerned with fighting each other than with solving the nation's problems.” I did find one source that said 6.4 million Californians are eligible but not registered to vote. That is just California mind you.

True leadership has become so rare that politicians may no longer even dream of stepping forward to say something other than what polls tell them is safe. And true leaders, if they emerge and differ with the powers that be, are quickly silenced. Write what you feel. I do in my blog, although few read it. It is my public record and my right that I express my disgust at the regime in power. As we always say to our friends in Nicaragua, “La Lucha Continua” (the fight goes on); our way of saying we will not give up.

I am leaving in a week for Nicaragua. I can not wait. Even though some events here and there have prevented me from fulfilling my dream of living there for now, I will love to be back in my little Nicaragua even for a couple of weeks. There the people thrive and persevere in the most dire of situations. There is life, there is joy in little things, and there is such a connection with the politics. No one is on the fence; in Nicaragua people even paint their houses in the red of the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC) or the red and black of the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN, or Sandanista) to show where they stand. 95% of the registered voters vote, sometimes walking for hours and miles to do so. Of course democracy is new there. I sometimes feel I am alive only 2 weeks out of the year, well really only 1 since part of the trip is spent in the Gringolandia of San Juan Del Sur, Miami south. The little Village of Mulukuku is where I am alive.

I will return suntanned and enriched from Nicaragua. Someday I’ll be there, if not tomorrow then the day after that, or the day after that, or the day after that….. (apologies to Fred Kander, from his play “Kiss of the Spider Woman”).

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