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    Default Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

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    Letters at 3AM: The Curious Case of the Missing Quotation

    Jimmy Carter says the U.S. has no functioning democracy at present, and the press goes silent

    By Michael Ventura, Fri., Sept. 6, 2013


    Letters at 3AM: The Curious Case of the Missing Quotation
    Illustration by Jason Stout



    Four versions of one quotation:

    "America no longer has a functioning democracy."

    "America has no functioning democracy."

    "America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time."

    "America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy."

    Former President Jimmy Carter expressed that judgment on the night of July 16 at a German-U.S. nonprofit called Atlantik-Brücke (Atlantic Bridge) in Atlanta, Ga. Der Spiegel translated Carter's statement into German for the German edition of its website. (Der Spiegel has an English website, but didn't run the Carter story there.) The four versions were later translated from the German back into English.

    As far as I can discover, the earliest American outlet to notice was The Daily Caller. On July 17, it posted the first of the versions as a headline and quoted the second in the story that followed, noting that Carter "mused whether the standards the Carter Center applies to foreign elections could be fulfilled by U.S. elections."

    The third and fourth translations are identical in meaning. The third was posted by The Huffington Post on July 18 at 11am, and a slight variation was posted by United Press International at 1:31pm; Salon posted the fourth that day at 4:03pm, confirming the quote with Der Spiegel's Washington correspondent Gregor Peter Schmitz, who "said on Twitter he was present at the event."

    The Huffington Post, UPI, and Salon are favorites of political journalists. It's hard to believe the story didn't get around. A writer friend sent me The Huffington Post version almost as soon as it appeared.

    Jimmy Carter is both a former U.S. president and a man with a deserved reputation for integrity. You'd think a man like that saying a thing like that would be some kind of news. You'd think the major news outlets would be at least interested to get confirmation and an elaboration from Jimmy Carter.

    Silence – or its journalistic equivalent – reigned.

    On July 18, msnNOW briefly quoted UPI, but there was no follow-up. On July 19, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution posted a tiny mention, also quoting UPI, and FoxNews.com stated that "his party controls the presidency and one of the two chambers of Congress, but for former President Jimmy Carter – quote – 'America has no functioning democracy.'"

    As of mid-August, I found not a word of reportage or comment about the Carter statement in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, or the Associated Press, and nothing on the news websites of CBS, NBC, ABC, or CNN.

    The story did start showing up on blogs and sites such as PressTV, rt.com, Drudge, The Christian Post, Forbes.com – but again, accounts were brief and mostly without comment.

    Matt Damon heard about it: "Jimmy Carter came out and said we don't live in a democracy. That's, that's a little, that's a little intense when an ex-president says that" (The Huffington Post, Aug. 9).

    The only print op-ed I found appeared in The Bangor Daily News, Bangor, Maine, where Peter Taber wondered why mainstream U.S. media ignored Carter's statement: "It takes a German news magazine ... to tell me that one of our four living ex-presidents – the only one of them doing anything honorable and useful in his post-presidential life – [believes? says?] that my country is going to hell" (July 31, verb omitted in the original).

    As for what Carter said: Gerrymandering and the dandified bribery we call "lobbying" have rigged state legislatures coast to coast, frozen the House of Representatives into a configuration that bears no resemblance to the will of the American people, and given us a Senate of millionaires. We take for granted that no one can viably run for national office without corporate and 1% backing. These are not temporary aberrations; during the last three decades, these interlocking syndromes have become business as usual in American elections.

    Every half-awake journalist knows this is so. Taken together, these dominant syndromes mean that small-r republicanism has collapsed in the United States, or, to put it Jimmy Carter's way: "America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time."

    To deal with Carter's statement as a responsible journalist, you must pose the question outright: "At this time, is the United States a functioning democracy?"

    Most journalists know the facts that lead to the accurate answer, but they don't want to go there. "Denial" means to know and not know at the same time, and to choose not to know as one's default option; and that is the state of American political journalists today, on the left, the right, and in between.

    Instead, they write and speak of American politics as though what has accumulatively happened during the last 30-odd years has not really, really happened – even when the person who brings up the issue is in a unique position to know, being a former occupant of the Oval Office.

    That is why virtually the entire profession of journalism passed on Jimmy Carter's quotation. Journalists dread that, if they take Carter's issue seriously, then, inevitably and inexorably, the underlying assumptions and the very language of their reportage must change. They would rather stick to fiction – the fiction that what has happened has not really, really happened.

    In fairness, that's what most of their readers, listeners, and viewers want: Stick to fiction, and get on with your day, albeit nervously.

    If you wish for a greater and more important example of journalism hiding under the bed, consider the election of 2012:

    Warrantless arrest and indefinite detention of American citizens by executive fiat; assassination of an American citizen by executive fiat; wars in half a dozen countries by executive fiat; a shelf of international laws broken by executive fiat – to raise the constitutional implications would seem not only reasonable but inevitable, as we would be voting for either the executive who'd already done these things or a nominee who vaguely made noises about doing more of the same.

    But endorsement after endorsement failed to mention the Constitution as an issue. Not liberals like Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times (Sept. 6, 2012), or mainstreamers like The Economist's editorial board (Sept. 1, 2012). I looked high and low for the Constitution in 2012 election endorsements and commentary. I found next to nothing. And, stunningly, the most reputable broadcast journalists in the land conducted three televised presidential debates with not one question about constitutional issues.

    In a functioning republic, citizens can reasonably depend on a free press to prioritize the issues.

    In a country that has lost its way, nobody can depend on anything.

    In a country that has lost its way, a Congress that is not truly representative allows two consecutive presidents, one from each party, to drastically violate law without repercussions, and journalists report it as business as usual, because they still use words and concepts that apply to a different country, a country that used to be.

    People who cannot see past their own vocabulary and cannot face how their assumptions no longer apply – that is the press you get in a country that has lost its way, a country in which the only consensus is that we cannot bear to face what we've become.
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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    Quote In a country that has lost its way, a Congress that is not truly representative allows two consecutive presidents, one from each party, to drastically violate law without repercussions, and journalists report it as business as usual, because they still use words and concepts that apply to a different country, a country that used to be
    This quote, way down in the article is worth high-lighting. It really indicates the shallow, vague, soporific and trance inducing nature of media control and output.
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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    It is my wish that more famous individuals like former U.S. president Jimmy Carter come forward to assist in awakening the American population to the travesties occurring within our borders. Thank you for posting this. Otherwise, I would have never known high profile individuals are coming forward to help.

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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    there's no such thing as a "functioning democracy". democracy is an invention to make people believe they have some measure of control over what happens to them, which they haven't. it's invisible shackles for the sheeple.
    Among the blind the one-eyed is a madman.

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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    Quote Posted by The Truth Is In There (here)
    there's no such thing as a "functioning democracy". democracy is an invention to make people believe they have some measure of control over what happens to them, which they haven't. it's invisible shackles for the sheeple.
    While this is true, when they give up even the pretence of democracy, we should take that as a bad sign
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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    Obviously any US president does not look to past leaders for inspiration or information.
    The American Political system is worse than the corporate media protecting it!

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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    we will see if we have a representative republic or not , most americans don't want the strike on syria , they say stay out of the middle east ... if our leaders go ahead and do it , they don't represent us , only their interest not ours ... President Carter didn't go along with the agenda back in the day ... it is nice to see someone with some political power speaking openly and firmly , speaking the truth ...we have no democracy , we have tyranny ...we have a regime ...
    Raiding the Matrix One Mind at a Time ...

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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    I would take anything Jimmy Carter says with a grain of salt, especially when he's saying pretty much the same thing as Al Gore back in April:
    Quote “Please hear me well,” Gore said. “Our democracy has been hacked. The operating system has been taken over. It is now being made to function in ways that do not serve the interests of the majority of the American people.”
    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/201...tanford-crowd/

    What a sick joke...

    Snakes like these guys will latch onto anything to sell an agenda, including Americans' distrust of people just like them. (LOL) They are shameless.

    Remember where Carter came from, hand picked by his bud, and future National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (also creator of Al Qaida), to become a member of David Rockefeller's then newly founded Trilateral Commission. As an aside, Carter's VP Walter Mondale was also a member. Coincidence? This is "the club" George Carlin talked about.

    Listen, this guy is an insider through and through, and if he were going to start spilling some beans, he could do a little better than parrot another big time insider like Gore.

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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    I'm hoping that as some of these guys get older, they opt out of the game and start telling the truth. Carter has been supporting Palestine and dissing govt of Israel for quite some time--so I think he may be an okay guy...at least since he left office. Maybe Gore is the same?

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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    Many presidents are pawns, some are "in the club". I think Carter may fall into the former category, while at some stage believing he was in the latter. We can only hope, AutumnW, that you are right, that age and experience can open eyes. I don't think Carter has an agenda to work anymore, though I'm not sure about Al.
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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    Such leads to the wrong conversation....
    We are all concerned that we have not a functioning Democracy, when never did the Constitution design such a thing....
    We are meant to be a Republic, with our representation following the rule of law, not the rule of the mob. Yet another example of how, over time, the meanings of words are changed to keep us searching down a blind alley, yes worry about your non-functioning democracy while the final nails are pounded in to the coffin of the Republic.
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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    I think the real point of this article was not to debate whether democracy exists or not, and I would argue that democracy itself is non-existent and probably impossible to properly implement, but to point out the lack of reportage on a comment by a former President that would stir public opinion. We have more to be concerned about at this point in time than what political system steers the good ole ship USA. As a non-US citizen I can honestly say that the system in place there means nothing to me, but the actions of those it elevates to positions of power does. I care nothing for labels or precious ideas, I care only for the energy of intent that is behind all thought and deed.
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    Default Re: Jimmy Carter - "US has no functioning democracy"

    Quote Posted by REILLY (here)
    Such leads to the wrong conversation....
    We are all concerned that we have not a functioning Democracy, when never did the Constitution design such a thing....
    We are meant to be a Republic, with our representation following the rule of law, not the rule of the mob. Yet another example of how, over time, the meanings of words are changed to keep us searching down a blind alley, yes worry about your non-functioning democracy while the final nails are pounded in to the coffin of the Republic.
    This is an oft repeated point, that really is pointless. Because it assumes that a democracy can only be a "direct democracy". The only country I know of that has a direct democracy is Switzerland, and they don't seem to be in bad shape because of it.

    But there is another type of democracy, called a "representative democracy". James Madison in the Federalist Papers defined a republic as a "representative democracy". And BTW, all a republic is is a system of government with no king. That's it. You can have any type of republic, really. You can have a fascist republic, a communist republic (ever heard of the People's *Republic* of China?), a social-democratic republic....any kind you want, as long as it has *no king*.

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