Divide and Conquer: What reactions to mass surveillance tell us about the two-party system.


Divide and Conquer

“Divide and Conquer” is a time-honored tradition among oppressive governments and systems since time immemorial.  It has been employed countless times to remedy an equally age-old conundrum: how does the ruling class impose its will on the people who are likely to resist and are more numerous than the ruling class?

The simply solution is to divide the people.

This is often done by creating arbitrary divisions or by exacerbating existing ones.  The people, thus divided, have their effective numbers and power diminished.  More importantly, they will fight other people instead of rightly recognizing how the ruling class is exploiting them, and resisting their true oppressor.

How the Two Party System is an Extension of That

Those in power in the United States have used that same tactic here. The most notable example of this is perhaps the creation of the concept of race and the concept of a “white” race. This was used to pit poor blacks and whites against each other so they wouldn’t band together and fight the wealthy European elite exploiting both of them.

However, the recent response to the mass surveillance scandal has highlighted how the two-party system in the United Sates is another form of divide and conquer being employed in the United States.

How Democrats have reacted…

In response to crackdown on whistle-blowers and journalists and the revelation of the PRISM program, Democrats who supported President Obama are predictably attacking Republicans. The main two response I have seen actually contradict each other.  The first takes the revelations very seriously, but them blame them on Republicans and Bush.  The second is to downplay the importance of these revelations. I say they are contradictory because if these revelations are not that important, why the concern for blame shifting?

Here are some examples of what I mean.

democratic response

Notice this feed contains both the minimization of the NSA surveillance leaks and then also blames it on Republicans.

democratic response 2

This entire Facebook page is devoted to memes attacking Republicans. While some of these criticism are deserved notice the title. They never acknowledge Obama can do anything wrong and blame everything on Bush.

These tactics are being employed by Democrats to avoid owning the fact their candidate betrayed them. The simple fact is that Barack Obama has failed on a number of major campaign promises. The two that are perhaps most relevant to the recent disclosures were  promises to provide a transparent government and an end to the era of warrant-less surveillance.

Even if these programs were started under Bush, Obama has been well aware of the program and its capabilities and continued to use it without the U.S. Citizenry’s knowledge and is arguing for its continued use.

How Republicans have reacted…

Republicans, meanwhile, are shocked at the loss of liberty and privacy under Obama they set in motion under Bush.

The best example of this is Republican Senator Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. who wrote the Patriot Act.  He apparently was shocked and appalled by how the Patriot Act had been interpreted and used by the government. Sensenbrenner has now called for the “abuse” of the Patriot Act to end.

So instead of, I don’t know, learning their lesson about being attacked by the monster they previously unleashed, the Republicans have shown as much common sense as Democrats.  While some continue to accuse Obama of being too soft on terror (as Obama unleashes a Reagen-esque foreign policy around the world, utilizes extra-judicial drone strikes to kill people in signature strikes, and is increasingly reliant on a paramilitarized CIA and covert ops) others accuse him of being a tyrant and staging a coup…for taking advantage of the legislation they drafted


9/11 fear inclined the U.S. Citizenry to tolerate and increasingly secretive and unregulated government.  We thought the possible costs to our civil rights would be worth the protection they promised to offer us. After more than a decade the U.S. Government has grown very accustomed to having no real accountability to their citizens. The revelations of the past several weeks and the government reaction have shown how far our power-intoxicated government is willing to go, regardless of if that government is Democratic or Republican.

Instead of rightly recognizing the problems that both parties have created in the last several years, we are content attacking “The Other” party and telling ourselves that if only “our party” got control of the White House and the Congress, then everything would be good because all of our amazing ideas to fix everything would be immediately implemented.

This is a nice ideal but this is not reality. The reality is the U.S. Government does not represent you, regardless of which party is elected.  Members of the U.S. Government represents their donors as they accept millions in legal bribes through lobbyists in the employ of mega corporations or more directly work to represent companies they have not so secret ties to. This is not a conspiracy theory or unsubstantiated ramblings.  Our elections are essentially controlled by 1% of the 1%. The U.S. is functions as an oligarchy, regardless of who wins what.

The solution in this situation is to not to fall into the trap of partisan infighting. Blaming the other party for the loss of our civil liberties is continuing the status quo of divide and conquer. Blaming the other party is fighting other members of the U.S. Citizenry, not the ruling powers that be. The true solution in this situation is to rethink U.S. politics and enact revolutionary change to our system.

About Speakfaithfully

I am figuring out life and faith and taking other people along with me on my journey. Sometimes as fellow travelers, sometimes as hostages.
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