Imperialism and Accountability: American politics

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This combination of photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 29, 2020. A staggering 97 percent of the jokes Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon told about the candidates in September targeted President Donald Trump, a study released Monday found. Photo by Patrick Semansky/AP Photo.

I, like all those eligible to vote by November 3, have the great burden of weighing two problematic candidates to determine the course of our nation. The power of our vote, in the 2016 election, was infamously diminished by Russian interference, and that will likely be true in this election as well. 

Americans who are angry are justifiably so, but to be so incensed without reflection on the vast American history of interference and imperialism leaves the greater American population susceptible to a terrible hypocrisy, no matter how well-intentioned individuals are. 

American imperialist policies are glossed over by the systems of education, taught only as ancient history, if taught at all. Each instance of American imperialism deserves its own history lesson, but there would likely be too many to count. Since the C.I.A was founded in 1947, it has attempted to swing foreign elections to serve American interests at least 81 times. In fact, while Russia has weaponized misinformation to tip elections, American interference has been far more destructive, installing agents and puppet rulers as heads of state. In destabilizing and weakening nations, the U.S. can more easily control and exploit them as they see fit. 

Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, is being touted as a savior from the havoc wreaked by the current administration, and while this may be true in some regards, he ultimately does not represent a diversion of American imperialism: the havoc the U.S. wreaks on the rest of the world. 

American imperialist wars of the past three decades alone have destroyed Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, among other countries, including wars that Biden himself voted for. While he has since backtracked, apparently regretting such votes, his mindset in support of an imperialist America has not changed. Before the Democratic National Convention, several of the delegates called out Biden’s “advisors – and presumably, likely cabinet picks – as a ‘horror show’ of people with long records of supporting ‘disastrous’ U.S. military interventions.” 

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he arrives at The Queen theatre in Wilmington, Del., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo.

Imperialism and neocolonialism, endeavors so incompatible with human rights, have no place in a society that is slowly, but surely, moving towards the protection of human rights for all. The possible re-election of Trump poses threats to any human rights progress made in our country over the past centuries. I will be voting for Biden in an effort to protect mine and others’ hard-earned rights that are under threat, but voting with my conscience is impossible. This can begin to change with establishment of ranked-choice voting, but until then, we cannot allow the sacrifice of others’ most basic rights to life and self-determination on the other side of the world. Drawing attention to any imperialist policies by the potential Biden-Harris administration is necessary, so anti-imperialist sentiments come to the forefront of our social consciousness. 

Biden will not be the savior of America’s moral sensibilities. It is highly unlikely any party will be able to produce a candidate that will. Given both Republican and Democratic politicians’ “conflict of interest as a result of their relationships and lobbying on behalf of merchants selling weapons and surveillance technology,” it is unlikely that the predominance of American imperialism will fade soon. However, the two-party system is not inevitable. The growing popularity of ranked-choice voting has the potential to transform our political system and the people’s ability to vote for candidates that do not conform to the parties’ perverted norms. 

Let’s get this straight: after this year there is no going back to the old America. The desire for normalcy is certainly understandable—it plagues me as well—but to succumb to it, to remain apathetic in the face of foreign politics, means condemning millions more to death by American imperialism. The current American political system places an unfair burden on voters, holding them responsible for such violence by suggesting politicians are accountable to the people. While the two-party system and the electoral college dominates, accountability is a myth. Over the next few years, advocating for democratic voting reform is crucial to protect human rights worldwide. 

In a world where human rights have generally been realized through bloody disruptions, let the chaos of this year serve as the disruption of normalcy necessary to truly realize the rights of all: a bloodless revolution, if you will. 

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