Shock & awe

Shocked!  World leaders are “shocked” by the outcome of the Palestinian democratic elections.  Cable TV’s faux news experts are breathlessly analyzing “what it all means” when people half a world away won’t vote the way we want them to…

Let’s  see if we can break it down:  With great fanfare and general acclamation (by those same world leaders) Fatah assumes management of an occupied Palestine after Israel tires of the administrative headaches, the expense, and the really bad PR that goes along with subjugating a conquered people.   The natives are restless, but Fatah maintains the status quo on West Bank and Gaza reservations (Bantustans really) for nearly a decade, while the Israelis build off-limit luxury condos and Olympic-sized swimming pools on confiscasted Palestinian land.  Fanatical fundamentalists on all sides use violence to undermine any attempts at diplomacy and dialogue.  Hamas appears on the political stage (there is ample evidence it is nurtured by Israel’s right-wing Likud party to counter Fatah’s rising popularity and power).

Palestinian teenagers start throwing rocks at Israeli tanks and soldiers.  Israel then systematically disrupts and demolishes Fatah’s civil infrastructure (police stations, schools, hospitals, roads, government offices, etc.) and humiliates and sidelines its once-important leaders.   It assassinates a seemingly endless supply of Hamas leaders, using American helicopters to fire rockets into dense civilian populations (to kill an old man in a wheelchair).  It builds a Berlin-like wall that separates Palestinian workers from their jobs and farmers from their fields.  It looks the other way while its illegal settlers terrorize Palestinian villagers and poison their wells and uproot their olive trees.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our barely-elected King George decrees that Fatah must rule over the Palestinians effectively and honestly and, at the same time, suppress Hamas completely.  Disarmed and disorganized and increasingly corrupt, Fatah is unable to comply and resorts to Mafia-like tactics to cling to its diminishing power.  Hamas steps into the void created by an impotent Fatah and delivers essential social services and a reputation for standing up to Israel and its American benefactors.  The Palestinians, like their Iraqi cousins a thousand miles to the East, refuse to be sheep-like in the face of overwhelming military force…

But then an election comes along and suddenly everyone is shocked and awed that the Palestinians voted for Hamas?  I would venture that our “world leaders” (read rich white Westerners with grandiose visions of empire) are just upset that the millions of dollars they doled out to Fatah didn’t produce the results they wanted.  And probably shocked to rediscover that you can’t always buy votes in a democratic election.

There’s a lesson in this for Americans.  At this point in our nation’s history, we are continuously re-electing more than 90% of our incumbent politicians, even when we know that these lifetime “representatives” are paying more attention to lobbyists like Jack Abramoff than they are to their own constituent voters.  Seems like we’re all satisfied as long as they toss us an occasional bone like a highway project or a parking garage or a bridge to an uninhabited Alaskan island.  Or when they scare us to death with fantastical post-9/11 doomsday predictions…  Or when they trot out their top diplomats to convince us that imaginary WMDs are an excuse to start wars…  Average citizens like you or me have precious little influence when powerful outside forces are openly throwing lavish perks and tons of cash at the men and women we elect.  The only weapon we have left in our arsenal of constitutional democracy is our vote.  While we still have it, we should wield it as decisively as the Palestinians just did.

All the sanctimonious hand-wringing in Washington about reform is sickening.  Folks, that’s our job!  Reforming our political process is up to us, not the pompous windbags beholden to their corporate and foreign-government handlers.  Let’s throw the current set of bums out and replace them with a new set of bums.  And if the new crop is not any better, then let’s repeat the process with brutal regularity until we get it right and they get the message.  Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?  It’s way past time for American voters to get their own act together and really shock some world leaders…

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