Posts Tagged ‘corporate elites’

On Campaigns and Society

May 7, 2015

As of this writing (May 7th, 2015), there are at least six ‘declared Republican candidates’ for president. Six more are hinting strongly that they’ll run while they accumulate the milllions it will take to campaign for the party’s nomination. To do that, they’re attempting to find something, anything, that will separate them from the rest in the clown car. Funny suits, big noses, huge shoes won’t do it; this time, it’s not how they look but what they say.
Believe it or not, those buffoons represent a slice of the modern TeaPublican Party. Because they appeal to the few, they believe they can parlay that into an appeal to the many.

But they will end up driving each other farther to the right, to the portion of the electorate where the lunatic fringe lives. Where people think that if only people prayed more, that would solve all the world’s problems. Apparently they haven’t noticed how often Muslims pray.
They end up where the NRA lives, never noticing that the NRA propaganda hasn’t done anything to rein in government; instead, the guns kill thousands of ordinary citizens, many of them children. Not one ‘dictator’ trying to take over the country has been held back. You’d think someone would notice, but the propaganda is never ending. The tree of liberty has not been watered by the blood of patriots and tyrants, it’s grown stunted by being overwatered by the blood of children and citizens.
The no-tax fools are realizing that as government shrinks, as there’s less money in the system, somehow the potholes don’t get fixed. Bridges are collapsing. Some wonder why. Eventually, others will too. Whether they’ll wonder in time for the election I don’t know.
But the party of low spending has no qualms about using public money for political purposes. After all, they’ve spent millions trying to deny affordable health care for ordinary citizens. Fifty plus votes, last I heard. They’ve spent more on repeated investigations into Hillary Clinton. So far, nothing has been found. How much have the manufactured ‘crises’ cost the government?
More money will be spent on defense, too. Not to pay soldiers, not even to care for the injured and shocked, but for hugely-expensive weapons systems. That will, somehow, be spent in districts that elect powerful politicians. Ahh, pork…more public money used to help elect a critter.
So what are the issues? Other than that virtually all of them have been told by God that he should run. God’s being indecisive, I suppose.
Wouldn’t you love to see Ted Cruz debate Mike Huckabee on the role of religion in government?
Freedom, or what Republicans call freedom, is an issue.
Railroads are ‘free’ to haul dangerous cargoes. Periodically they blow up, but at least they blow up free.
Factories too are free of regulations. Guess what? They blow up too. But hey, regulation cuts into profits. And corporations need to be free to make as much as possible.
That TeaPublican fringe curses the EPA because it limits ‘freedom’. Even so, corporation are still free to pollute, to strip the top off mountains, to dump coal ash in streams, to leak oil from pipelines into rivers and streams, to create a mess that the federal government can’t control and won’t have the money to clean up.
And after the clowns drive the car as far to the right as possible, the eventual winner will try to crab back to the center. Dragging all that campaign baggage with him.
I don’t see much chance that a Republican can be elected. Even if one is, haven’t we seen how ineffective they’ve proven themselves to be at governing? At least so far, there’s a slight amount of control.
But the corruption is getting worse. The preachers and priests are gathering, waiting to have more say in American society. The manufacturers of military goods are smiling, waiting for more money for ever-more expensive systems they can sell to the Defense Department.
Have you noticed how similar we’ve become to the Middle Eastern nations we’ve been fighting?
We’ve separated into ‘tribes’ based on religious fundamentalism. On color. On ethnicity. On gender and sexual orientation. Corruption, always present, has become endemic. Schools are failing, education is a way for banks to exploit the young, the social safety net is tattered, little by little we’ve been reduced to a third-world nation. Maybe that’s what people are looking for.
Personally, I don’t want to live in Americanistan.
How about you?

Politics, the Political Elite, and their Relationship to the Corporate Elites

January 12, 2012

I’ve been mulling the things I think are wrong with American politics. Clearly, there’s something wrong; rotten, if you will. We continue to elect people who are often fools, are venal, immoral, silly, and even stupid. And once we, the poorly informed and too-often intellectually lazy, elect them, they gain entry to an elite group. That membership may well last for a lifetime. Once elected to office, the politician now immediately forms a reelection committee and begins campaigning for the next election; few ask what he/she has done to deserve reelection. Most, despite their claims to ‘leadership’ will vote 95% or more of the time with their party. Their concerns are reelection, gaining or maintaining party members in power, and whether some proposed course of action is likely to personally favor them. If there’s concern for the nation, it’s not apparent. Polls may show that a majority of citizens favor a certain course of action; politicians routinely ignore such. For example, at this time a majority of Americans favor raising taxes on the wealthy; the leadership of the House ignores this and continues to claim that the wealthy are ‘job creators’. This, despite ten years of lowered taxes for the wealthiest that have provided the nation with underemployed or unemployed workers in excess of 15%.

The party system grew from custom, not from something that the Constitution handed to us. It hasn’t served us well. Party procedures and policies are designed to let their members gain and then hold political power. Just that. Power is for winning elections, not governing. Even should a party achieve a supermajority, such that the party that’s out of power cannot act to control or even influence legislation, the party in power acts to minimize the chances that the next election cycle will see them turned out of office. Cooperation between members of opposite parties is rare. No one party has a monopoly of ideas, but it’s-not-our-idea rules. Even when the opposition favors a course of action that might be in the best interests of the nation, it’s suppressed; good ideas can cost votes for the party that didn’t initiate those ideas.

There’s a constant shuffling of primary election dates, all designed to focus national attention on the voters of one state or another. There are often rules that ensure that all the electoral votes of a state go to one candidate, effectively disenfranchising all those voters who voted for the second, third, or fourth candidate. This maximizes the state’s political power by giving more electoral votes to a candidate than he/she honestly earned. It’s quite possible that the candidate who got the most votes in the general election will not get the most electoral votes, thereby electing a candidate that most Americans didn’t want.

The Electoral College process is itself designed so that a candidate who’s considered ‘not worthy’ can fail to be elected, despite carrying a majority of a state’s popular votes. Many scholars feel that the nation’s founders, those who drew up and then voted for the Constitution when it was ratified, deliberately set up the Electoral College in order to ensure that a member of the elite class of that time would always be elected.

Once elected, candidates are there for the term of office. It’s difficult or impossible for voters to decide they’ve made a mistake and recall the elected official. Even if the candidate is turned out of office after one term, nothing stops that candidate from moving across the street and becoming a lobbyist, using money, knowledge, and contacts to cause legislation that favors moneyed special interests to be passed into law.

We elect candidates most often on the basis of party membership. The party sets the ‘platform’, those policies and objectives they would like to see enacted into law. If we set out to hire someone for a job, we wouldn’t allow them to campaign for that job by presenting prepared, rehearsed, well-vetted speeches to groups who are also examined for their party loyalty. Candidates don’t like crowds that disagree with them, and they don’t like to answer questions unless their campaign leaders have had time to carefully examine the question for any possible political harm that might ensue. So audiences are too often carefully selected. Consequently, we get candidates we don’t know, front men or women for a group of people who work in the background, whose views we never get to examine but who are in virtual control of their candidate. This can be expected to continue in the future; the candidate who’s elected by this system will hire many of his supporters to become his staff in Washington. These, in turn, are the contacts for lobbyists who feed money and ideas to the politician, even to providing fully-written documents that the officeholder is expected to submit to the Congress so that the document begins the process of becoming law. We elect officeholders and expect them to write the laws that will be considered by the Congress; too often, the lawmaker submits, even votes on a proposed bill that he/she has never even read.

Once elected, the national candidate becomes part of a system of ruling elites.

In my view, there are two groups of such. One is made up of elected officials. The other consists of the corporate elites who control them through money. Corporate elites don’t run for office, as a usual thing. Often their background would render the elites unelectable. But they can still cause political control to be used to benefit themselves and their corporations. Campaign contributions buys access to the officeholder. Officeholders are quick to point out that the elites who hold out the cash don’t buy their vote, they only buy access, a chance to talk to the official and present his case. Unsaid is that the officeholder only allows access to the ones who bring money.

So there are the two groups. They interact with members of their own group, and with members of the other group. Unless you have money, you’re not a part of either group; and they interact only in defined ways.

The corporate elites interact through business activity. They sell you a product. Often they do so through an intermediary, agents or advertisers. Such interaction is one-way. Politicians interact rarely except when involved in a reelection campaign, and then the interaction is limited as outlined earlier. If you are present at the candidate’s appearance, you get a handshake, a request for a vote or occasionally for a campaign contribution. The candidate presents a well-rehearsed, sanitized speech which is always long on promises, never on specific acts the candidate will take. The result is very limited access from those on the lower socioeconomic strata to those in the upper groups, the political elite and the corporate elite.

Some of the politicians last long enough to make elected office a lifetime project. They serve until they’re no longer able to serve; but even then, they maintain contacts with the other elites.

So this is what our politics have become. It’s not what the framers of the Constitution intended.