Saturday, October 21, 2006

The future of democracy interview W/ Noam Chomsky

The future of democracy
Noam Chomsky interviewed by John Titlow
dragonfire, July 5, 2005
This week, Americans celebrate 229 years of independence. In your view, are we as free and independent as we pride ourselves on being?
A few years ago, after the Reagan years, polls showed that about 80 percent of the public thought that the government works for the few and the special interests, not for the people. Well, if that’s true, then we’re not very free. We don’t have anything to do with our government. If you take a look at the last election, 2004, I don’t think that particular question was asked, but if you compare public attitudes, which are very heavily studied, and the positions of the two candidates, they are poles apart. Both of the political parties are far to the right of the public on a host of general issues. In fact, people had to make guesses about the positions of the parties, because they weren’t really articulated in any comprehensible form. Most people, it turns out, seriously misunderstood the positions of the candidates.
For example, take a current issue: support for the Kyoto Protocols. The United States rejected [it], [but popular support for the Protocols] was so strong that a majority of Bush voters thought he was in favor of them. The same runs true on a host of similar issues. When people were asked to evaluate the federal budget, the opinions of the public are almost the opposite of the budget. A large majority wanted cutbacks in military spending, increases in social spending, health, education, veterans’ benefits, renewable energy, more funding for the United Nations, which the public strongly supports – though neither of the parties do – and more foreign aid. You can just run through the list and see what the public wants and see what the policy is. They’re almost diametrically opposed. That shows up in feelings of helplessness and that the government doesn’t have much to do with us.

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