The Indistinguishable Political Elite of the U.S.

Republicrats

Election! Run for Coverage.

What’s the point of getting excited about the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections when opposing candidates are so hard to tell apart? And does it really matter who’s elected? Aren’t the results always the same; a victory for those who can best serve the needs of corporations and their shareholders at the expense of the supporters and their families? The exception to the rule this election cycle is the Green Party (as always) and Bernie Sanders who is rejecting corporate donations and galvanizing the left to challenge the Democrats towards a progressive alternative to Hillary Clinton’s status quo.

ironyCampaign coverage on network TV is a daily spectacle of candidates peddling emotions and disregarding facts, promoting bigotry and espousing hatred. And very little air time is given to those candidates who are discussing real issues on the economy, job creation, the environment or foreign policy. Campaign infotainment is hijacking the process right up to the elections, and the corporate-owned networks are laughing all the way to the banks, cashing in on a bonanza of TV and campaign advertising. And long after the P.T. Barnum extravaganza otherwise known as the U.S. Presidential election is gone, we can always expect either ruling party to maintain its blind devotion to the dictatorship of capital by favoring the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and to facilitate the slow obliteration of the collective rights and wealth of the many.

Era of the Extreme Center

Crony capitalism saw its re-emergence at the end of the post-war economic boom, when Margaret Thatcher dismantled workers unions and opened the flood gates for privatisation. In his book ‘The Extreme Centre: A Warning’, writing in the U.K., Tariq Ali says; “this enabled the Conservatives to push through a programme of social re-engineering, deploying state resources to crush the unions and initiate the privatization of public utilities and housing, in hopes of creating a nation of property-owners and shareholders that transformed the country,” adding prophetically, “where the Tories led, (New) Labour followed.” This meant of course that when the parties changed the same (neo-conservative) policies remained in place.

The shifting to the political center for the left and right parties in Europe and the U.S. was gradually born out of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it was no longer needed for the west to compete on material or ideological grounds. It is no surprise that many Republicans still look up to Reagan’s policies, which were identical to those of Thatcher. But today similarities also exist between liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, and it will come as no surprise that as we review the policies under Bush; Senior and Junior, compared to those of Clinton; Mr. and Mrs., we will not to find major differences in their approach in respect to; waging war, the Middle East, bailing out wall street, the security apparatus, less taxes for the rich, giving more power to corporations, campaign reform, etc.

illusionExcept for the Green Party, Bernie Sanders and other principled Washington insiders, the U.S. is now a country without any functional opposition, where political corruption and shameless lobbying are undermining our democracy, the supposed pride of the Western world. Once a real opposition, the Democrats under Bill Clinton like the Republicans before them capitulated so willingly to the needs of a deregulated capitalism. By enacting the Financial Services Modernization Act, (which reversed the Glass-Steagall Act, the main regulatory mechanism of the New Deal that separated commercial and investment banks from insurance companies.) The Democrats allowed banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies to consolidate, culminating in the crash of 2008, which robbed millions of working people of their hard-earned savings and laid bare the weaknesses of the current financial system. And today, through their spinelessness to resurrect the Glass-Steagall act, the Democrats are living proof of a dysfunctional two-party system which protects greedy financial speculators at the expense of the middle class and the weakest among us.

The same blind devotion to waging war instead of finding diplomatic solutions to world conflicts is yet another example of how both parties are now indistinguishable from one another. And ironically, while the Republicans under Reagan saw the thawing of relations with the Soviet Union, today’s Democrats and their European allies are potentially precipitating Cold War II, by recklessly taunting Russia. However, we must not forget to give credit to the current administration for their landmark nuclear accord with Iran, billed as a flagship of Obama’s foreign policy. This major foreign policy achievement is not only a game changer but represents the audacity of hope in a region that has been exacerbated by war for decades. Let’s pray nothing will ever shatter that hope, for a major conflict there will make Syria look like a skirmish in Grenada.

New Deal in Tatters         

Let’s not kid ourselves, the main reason Franklin D. Roosevelt caved in to the demands for the ‘New Deal’ was not because of his generosity but due to the intense pressures arising from the civic unrest and mass movements of his time. When interviewed by Abby Martin on the Real News Network, this is what Chris Hedges had to say about the New Deal; “When a political system is seized by a tiny cabal, whatever it is the military, oligarchs and the system seizes up and only serves the interest of that narrow elite then there is always blowback. That blowback may not be good; if you go back to the 1930s, in Europe that blowback came in the form of fascism. In the United States it came from an enlightened oligarchy led by Roosevelt, and FDR writes about it quite openly – he says to his fellow oligarchs, either you give up some of your money or we really face the specter of revolution. Although popular movements were severely weakened after World War I, the progressive party and others were still able to frighten the oligarchs into creating the New Deal; 15 million jobs, Public Works, the Parks, the Post Office etc. Roosevelt used to say that his greatest achievement was that he saved capitalism.

todays-establishmentIt is a tragedy that today ‘We the People’ are too disengaged to fight for our rights like that silent generation did for the New Deal. Instead we capitulate and relinquish our progressivism, and slowly let our prisons, government, education, health, pensions, utilities and public housing slip backward into the hands of private corporations who care more about profits than people. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have not only allowed this to happen but have facilitated the obliteration of the material prosperity of the postwar American economic system, willing pawns to multi-national corporations and global financial interests.

Chris Hedges, an American champion for Truth and Justice, wonders why things have become so bad and asks; “What kind of nation is it that permits corporations to hold sick children hostage while their parents frantically bankrupt themselves to save their sons and daughters? What kind of nation is it that tosses its mentally ill onto urban heating grates? What kind of nation is it that abandons its unemployed while it loots its treasury on behalf of speculators? What kind of nation is it that refuses to halt the destruction of the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, dooming our children and our children’s children?” I think we all know the answer.

night-wall-stSince the economic situation in the U.S. is serious but not terminal, any course of events cannot be diverted without political convulsions. The starting point for any change in favor of promoting popular sovereignty in our society and more humane values in the marketplace is through progressive grassroots movements, and the creation of popular assemblies of the people, for the people and by the people. Well-organized and unafraid to challenge the status quo, we can make a difference and undo the destructive effects of neo-liberal economics, and help to create a truer and more egalitarian society, perhaps in the guise of the brand of Democratic Socialism that Bernie Sanders is now championing.

If we want to stop being nickel and dimed by Washington, we must confront and challenge our bloated defense budget, and re-allocate some of the monies back into the public trust. For this to happen, we must stop to make more enemies abroad, and begin to work towards making this world a safer place for everyone, (like the Iran nuclear deal.) And if America cannot step up to the plate, how can we expect to be the beacon of hope and democracy we so desire the other countries to emulate? How can we call ourselves exceptional when we’re mired in our basest selfish instincts? How can we be “as a city upon a hill”, watched by the world, inhabited by none?

New Deal Redux – Millennials vs. Baby Boomers

Crony capitalism will not disappear of its own accord, and we must shed any illusions about the capacity of our rulers to push for any kind of reform. It was once said: “It is not enough for revolution that the lower classes should not want to live in the old way. It is also necessary that the upper classes should be unable to govern in the old way.” Today the ‘old way’ is seen to be the baby boomer establishment’s stranglehold on politics. And I hope that this coming election will mark the end of the reign for that jaded, sycophantic and egotistical generation.

I feel new energies starting to break through the fog of inaction, new attempts to ditch our collective cynicism and renewed efforts of civic re-engagement. We are now more informed than ever, and in the age of the internet and advanced technologies, empowered Millennials have all the weapons they need to fight for a fairer, more transparent and inclusive society. Here are my wishes for 2016 to be the year for a renewed hope, a pivotal year for Freedom, Justice and Peace to emerge around the World!

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