PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS VOICE
Much has been written about the chronic corrupt, corporate infested two party political duopoly. Each election cycle, Americans begin again wringing their hands when the campaign season begins as the corporate media bombards us with talk shows arguing which political party is least corrupt and present us with candidates who represent the “lesser evil”. Of course, the talking points are designed and prepared by high-priced marketing consultants who paint a picture of a flawless candidate running against corrupt others whose lies have been well polished. The truth is seldom revealed and replaced with an even bigger lie. The electoral system has no integrity and yet Americans are asked to select leaders whom they “trust” to best represent them.
This dilemma of what to do seems to get larger and larger each election cycle and now with much greater access to information through the internet, including social media, nearly everyone can choose to participate in sharing their thoughts and those of others. Information overload is becoming an increasing problem and may force some to just drop out. In 2014, an off presidential election year, there was a near record of non voters, with about 65%, or nearly 2/3 of eligible voters, not participating.
The Democratic Party suffered large losses in members of Congress, losing control of both the House and Senate. Approval ratings of Congress had reached all time lows of about 7% and now typically ranges between this low and “highs” of about 14%. In other words, well over 80% of Americans are consistently quite unhappy with the performance of Congress no matter which political party is in control and yet elections fail to significantly change because nearly 90% of incumbents are returned to Congress! And those are the ones who spend the most money being re-elected.
The wealthy elite who make up the “ruling class”—yes, America, there IS a ruling class— realize that and don’t hesitate to spend larger and larger sums of money to elect (or bribe) THEIR PERSONAL representatives.
The principal problem has been recognized, written and spoken about often in the “alternative” media. And that problem is the total corporate control through the wealthy elites of all aspects of our political system. The Supreme Court with its Citizens United decision in 2010 made it worse by refusing to set limits on campaign contributions, declaring corporations as “persons” and money as “free speech”. In effect, they opened the door wide open for Corporate Fascism—the complete merger of corporations with the state, thus giving these corporate owners a license to bribe public elected officials with unlimited amounts of cash, which they naturally have in abundance, thanks to the grotesque amounts they siphon off our income via a multitude of policies and devious maneuvers.
Several of us have written about this severe problem for a supposedly democratic republic, the presumed government of the U.S. But this illusion of a “democracy” is nothing but a giant farce, a big lie, and our corrupt electoral system continues to propagate this lie by its very existence in its current form.
In 2014, two professors, Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page demonstrated through a thorough research project that ordinary Americans—the overwhelming majority, including the middle class— had essentially zero influence on nearly all legislation being considered by Congress.
Eric Zuesse in Common Dreams summarized that reseach with an article entitled “The U.S. is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy, Says Scientific Study”:
In his most recent book and accompanying speeches entitled “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015)” Chris Hedges has stated clearly that we must overthrow the corporate state as an imperative. In several articles, I have been advocating for at least three years that we must “destroy the two party corporate fascist duopoly”. The electoral system, elected bodies, political parties, legislation, the judicial system and all aspects of our political and judicial systems are all owned and controlled by large corporations and their wealthy owners. Outside of the political system (and even some few places inside) there is a strong consensus that this conclusion of corporate ownership and control is accurate. Ralph Nader and Abby Martin have recently summarized that in an excellent video segment.
“A study, which will appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:
Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”
(On this topic, we also suggest this: Inequality in America: The Fish That Rots from the Head)
The corporate state, the two-party duopoly system, corporate media, etc. are all one and the same “body”; in effect they constitute a “Corporatist Political Party” monopoly. It doesn’t matter who wins an election because it’s only an illusion that you are making a choice. Policies don’t significantly change. Individual citizens are not even recognized as part of that system and thus have no influence. It is far past time that “We the People” recognize that and come out of our delusional state of denial! In fact, if we are logical, voting amounts to an act of complicity that you are participating in the prevailing corruption which permeates all major institutions in America. As George Carlin explains (with rather blunt language) in this brief clip on “The American Dream”, the politicians and the corporations have their own “club” and you ain’t in it!
METHODS TO ADDRESS THE CORRUPTIONIn social media and via many articles and blogs, there is an active discussion occurring about how to address this documented worsening corruption of the political system. Methods include support for “third parties”, boycotting elections, formal methods to overturn or overule the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, and even dropping out and ignoring the criminal abuse. However one thing is very clear to me: For things to have a chance to improve—at all—there must be an intervention, disruption, or destruction of the two party corporatist Duopoly.
If we had a system of justice, which we don’t, the Duopoly would be dismantled. But those who have the power to limit monopolies or duopolies through antitrust measures (rarely exercised!), are the same political forces in Congress and the Executive Branch who want to perpetuate it. It’s naive to expect the same forces which are the problem to do something about it!. Thus it’s safe to expect that their absolute addiction to enrich themselves from corrupt practices will continue, and, if unopposed, grow ever more malignant.
In the Democratic Party establishment, it does not matter that their principal candidate, Hillary Clinton, has been amply shown to violate federal law in her handling of confidential or even secret emails (a minor issue in any case considering the magnitude of the real crimes we witness every day) until the FBI investigation leads to an indictment. Some have naturally expressed doubt about the Obama administration ever enforcing penalties issuing from such findings.
Along the same lines, it does not seem to matter to the establishment that Bill and Hillary Clinton have used their power to control the electoral process, including having their stooge, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, as the Democratic Party Chairperson, to manage even the debates to favor Hillary. It doesn’t matter that Clinton has blatantly pandered to Wall Street for support and huge donations, even though those entities are clearly responsible for the 2008 financial crash which ruined the lives of millions of Americans and have a noxious influence on all manner of national policy, including the country’s foreign posture. None have been prosecuted by the Obama Justice department.
Along the same lines, it doesn’t seem to matter that the Clintons have used their (non profit) foundation to build a multi-million dollar campaign chest and acquire huge personal wealth. It doesn’t yet matter enough that the head of that party and president, Barack Obama, is strongly championing his trade agreements like TPP, TPIP, and TISA, which allow corporations to use their own private courts to challenge U.S. and other laws which impede their profits, offshore jobs, destroy civil liberties, and labor and environmental laws which protect workers and the public. Passage of these agreements will cement the complete corporate coup which has been enabled and supported by both political parties.
Meantime, as mentioned earlier, every criminal foreign intervention, war and deprivation of constitutional rights, is “justified” in the name of “National Defense”, whether Constitutional or not. Things are actually worse than they were under George Bush, but the Democratic Party ignores Obama’s actions because they have a “D” under their name.
However, in the Republican Party, the establishment faces a challenge by a very wealthy outsider, Donald Trump, who is financing his own campaign for election. In effect, whether one agrees or disagrees with his statements and the divisiveness they create, he is acting as a one man “disruptionist” to the established Republican order by drawing many disgruntled and unhappy people to his tent. There is still a question, of course, as to whether this trend will continue as Ted Cruz is currently one of Trump’s main challengers and he is uniformly disliked by the party establishment as well.
The situation sketched out above is a clear portent of worse things to come.
Everything occurring within the political system signifies another strong shift to the “right” and more support for Neoliberal and Neoconservative policies and practices—more wars, more corporate and wealthy elite control, more obscene capitalist rule, and away from support for social systems for the 99%, not to mention the environment and global peace. In effect, as the American “democratic” republic declines, the republic is lurching full speed ahead toward death and destruction on an unprecedented scale.
So what are “we the people” to do? Continuing to do the same things year after year is not an option unless one is content to admit helplessness and insanity as an option. Things are only going to get worse if this closed system is allowed to prevail; that is nearly guaranteed! Even the basic laws of the universe tell us that: The Law of Entropy says that in a closed system, the “energy” to do useful work is continually diminished until the system eventually dies. Many of us had been led to believe in Obama’s promise of “Hope and Change.” Guess what: It didn’t happen! If eight years of one disaster and broken promise after another, of empty posturing, do not convince you, nothing will.
Thus we need to focus on the overthrow of the corporate state and the associated destruction of the political duopoly. Until we build a strong political movement which emanates from a strong unified “movement” it will not happen —and it certainly won’t happen according to the rules of the existing political electoral system.
Even then, the movement —to have a chance of success—must have clearly defined values and goals shared by a sizable portion of the electorate. Movemeents which are showing signs of building strength include the climate movement (anti fossil fuels and toxic gases of any kind); various justice movements, the antiwar/anti imperialism movement, income/wealth inequity movement, etc. These are groups emphasizing common values and principles which stand for peace, justice, human rights and sustainability. They are also groups which already recognize that our capitalistic economic system—the much vaunted “free enterprise system”— is failing the vast majority of the population, regardless of religion, creed, nationality or ethnicity. Simply put, the problem confronting all Americans who are not in the 0.00001% of the population is class privilege, yes, it’s a class question. These movements —as a whole— constitute a paradigm shift away from our tolerance of greed, excessive consumerism, and lack of concern for the welfare of people.
For the immediate future we have to actively protest and boycott the current electoral system and the 2016 elections, refusing to donate money to these parties while recognizing that a “third party” is extremely unlikely to represent anything but a protest action.
The corporations and the wealthy elite control the money on the front end and the money to bribe elected officials. Actions against individual policies and measures must be demonstrated with protests in the streets and civil disobedience starting right now with opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP) which is likely to be imminent thanks to Obama’s unrelenting efforts and political shenanigans.
We must also actively protest our utterly criminal foreign policy of advocating for “regime change”, especially in the Middle East, and in other nations in turmoil such as in Latin America, in the name of “national security”, not to mention our lies about “humanitarian relief” for “victims” of government which refuse to follow our every wish and command.
Show your support for those who continually educate and advocate these changes, such as Chris Hedges, Ralph Nader, Tim Anderson, Jeff Brown, Caleb Maupin, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers (Popular Resistance), Naomi Klein, Eric Draitser, Eric Zuesse, Andre Vltchek, Russell Bentley, and the editors and writers of publications such as this. These are some of the real leaders and not just political hacks with their slogans. Join their groups and write your own articles and blogs; create the image that a real “progressive” movement which stands for values and principles is both afoot and growing! Urge cooperation and sacrifice! This will be the real war of our lifetimes!
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