A few weeks ago I found a tantalizing short quote on the internet from Theodore Dreiser’s not so famous book, “Tragic America”, and posted something from it here recently. Being a curious sort, I bought a used copy of this old book. The book is not quite as quotable as I had hoped, Dreiser uses concrete examples of outrageous corporate and state behavior of his day perhaps to excess, at least for current use. I nevertheless offer up here a short edited selection from the book that seems to have stood the test of time:
The most meaningless thing which the trudging American of today possesses is his right to vote. The Ballot! The value he sets on it — the numskull of the country store, the village corner, the farmers’ grange! His Senator! His governor! His President! Bah! And that in the face of the ills they have not only permitted but aided to descend upon him! Of all the farces in the world to-day, and especially in connection with the marching mobs who endure anything without a murmur, the vote is the greatest! And yet the millions of Americans who firmly believe in and trust the candidate elected as the choice of the majority of the people! Oh the glories of theoretical justice! Would that I might stir even a few with actualities!
Yet the actual affairs of this, our nation or country, can be put so that almost anybody can understand them, even the politicians, if they but would. Actually, people would not need to do much studying before they would become wise enough to sift this raw corporation hocus-pocus and dispose of it. But will they? And really, how can they? The corporations would put the fear of corporation-God into any politician who tried to bring this about, and the press would wash over it nicely. If you doubt this, consider the countless small town newspapers owned by the likes of Gannett and what and how news is printed! Also, the sly and wholly dishonest editing or incomplete reporting of America’s supposedly best and more “upright” newspapers, corporation minded and bent as they are.
And yet the ballot is supposed to render protection. But how can it, under the present system, with neither public interest nor vigilance behind it. The voters are asleep or at the ball game. Neither their minds nor their hearts appear to be where their welfare truly lies. “Eyes and they see not; ears and they hear not.”…
I hope that our readers will find this selection a bit more intellectually stimulating than my previous post from yesterday.