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Political Economy Of American Colacracy

by Saswat Pattanayak (writer), Astoria, May 18, 2008

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Democracy, art thou Plutocracy?

The high moral ground for American democracy rests on the presumptions of healthy, competitive and fair elections. And holding these traits to be self-evident, the elections are held with utmost pomp and show. The grandeurs associated with US polls are unparalleled and are generally considered as reaffirming symbols of multiparty viabilities in the world.

Countries that do not boast of a multi-party system are considered to be autocratic, and consequently despotic. Whether or not it is important to analyze the rationale behind such a forgone conclusion where fairness is associated with competitive party system is a separate matter. Considering the timeliness of the upcoming polls, it will be prudent to conduct a reality check on the core features that sustain electoral system of American democracy itself.

The Election Farce:

Some people say we need a third party. I wish we had a second one – Jim Hightower, national radio commentator

America does not need two Republican Parties – John Kerry, former Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party

What Hightower and Kerry are expressing are concerns addressing the larger American choice-freedom fetishism. They do not question whether having two (or three, four, five) parties by itself will solve the current political crisis arising out of a tradition of lackluster world leadership, but they have at least admitted to the fact that the political map of the US does not reflect either heterogeneity, or healthy competition.

What the opinion leaders are concerned about is the lack of strong ideological differences between Republicans or Democrats regarding policy issues, rendering their separation as merely symbolic. For the most part, both parties totally agree on core issues such as nationalism/patriotic exhibitionism, neocolonialism, foreign affairs, warfare policies, health sector, concerns over the illegal immigrants, employment guarantees, among many other crucial questions. If there exist any differences, they are more in degrees than in types.

If both the parties do not have clearly outlined differences that are crucially significant when it comes to national economy, security and foreign affairs, then what is the single most important difference that exists, albeit in shades, between them, or among the candidates within them?

Money.

Political Economy of US Polls:

Characteristic of a capitalistic economy, people with more money have more access to power, and utilizing the tools of power, they eventually gain to control the power. Hence, the American polls concentrate on the most basic principle of its brand of democracy: raising funds. The candidate who raises more funds is the candidate that is certain to win nomination from his/her own party. In a recent interview to NPR, Democratic consultant Tad Devine, suggested that the election process costs between $750 million to $1 billion annually during the primaries alone!

Where do the millions go? In 2004 US elections, even after the primaries were over, between just the two leading candidates, they spent more than $500 million. Majority were spent on media publicity (Bush spent $132 million and Kerry spent $94 million). Buying TV spots and multimedia “bracketing”, the candidates make sure that the ads appear on TV morning shows, strategically can be heard while people are driving to work, they are replayed on internet news channels in afternoon, played back in evening news on television and while watching programs during late nights. In addition, thousands of paid volunteers are recruited all over the country and trained for months and paid for by the campaign money. In addition, costs are incurred for travel and events, payroll and consultants, fundraising-mail, and overhead- rent, utilities, insurance, equipment.

With the stakes so high, it is only natural that the richest lot or the candidates with access to the richest lot actually join the mainstream politics – so that in return, as history is witness every year, they can serve the military-industrial interests. 2008 is no different. On one hand we have Hillary Clinton, a woman who has amassed wealth to the tune of more than $109 million dollars during last eight years along with her husband. And far from being a result of the great “American Dream” that afflicted the protagonist of “In Pursuit of Happiness”, Hillary has always had the privilege of growing up in affluent Chicago suburbs, of being a high profile lawyer who has no knowledge of the price of gasoline in her country. Not only does she still parrot the price to be $63 for half a tank (whereas it has actually gone beyond $100 now), she also entirely fabricates the story about how she went to be part of the armed forces and faced targeted attacks by the enemies (an account which has been later regretted by her as being false). Positioning her as the representative of the white working class, she excludes discussing about her own backgrounds that are more distinctly memorable for being on vacation with Oscar de la Renta than for walking the extra mile to unionize the workers. Positioning herself as a potential world leader she talks of teaching lessons to people of Iran and China. Blatant lies, and exclusive privileges as an elitist characterize her during her several addresses where attacking her fellow Democrat Obama has been the single largest ideology she has to offer.

On the other hand, Barack Obama leads the race of the Democrats. Of course it will be too naïve to imagine him as a Black presidential candidate considering that he has been winning the majority of support in a white majoritarian country, voicing the religious sentiments and threatening to bomb Pakistan. While that sounds just stupid, what is not so noble is his clearly elitist background that speaks less of experience (which, contrary to Clinton’s claims, is of no significance for a potential leader), and more of a lack genuine intentions to represent the very people he claims to be leading. Making tall claims of not buying into the Wall Street lobbyists like both Clinton and Republican contender John McCain have, Obama himself has been raising funds worth more than both Clinton and McCain put together. As of March 2008, Obama had raised $234, 745,081, Clinton had raised $189,097,053 and McCain had raised $76,691,826, leading Clinton to take a recent “loan” of additional $5million. On personal front, Obama and his wife reported an annual income of $4.2million in 2007 alone. Of course it is nowhere closer to what the Clintons earned in 2007: $20.4millions!

In the competition among the millionaires to be the world leaders, John McCain, the Republican candidate who has already spent enough to earn his nomination tops them all. True to the hypocritical nature of the Republican fabric, McCain has not persuaded his wife from letting their incomes be public. Cindy McCain who is chair of Hensley & Co controls the family riches of McCains which runs into $36.6million to $53.4million. Additionally, they have several stocks and ownerships in businesses and partnerships.

The Colacracy:

Apart from the obvious differences in the flag colors (blue and red), both parties have nothing unique to offer as truly distinguishable. The differences seem as acutely competitive as the different colors that adorn Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola billboards.

As silly as it may sound, there is nothing historic about the “woman” candidate who runs for the post using her husband’s speech royalties and lobby money. There is nothing historic about the “black” candidate who hobnobs with the rich and amasses the majority “white” money. And there is nothing to look forward to about a “conservative” candidate who is not even liberal about disclosing his family incomes to the people whom he and his wife intend to represent as President and First Lady. Its not surprising that the media have been harping on the “race”, “gender” and “experience” factors while overlooking the most obvious social location: “class”, because the American Empire has been built upon the assurance that it is not a class society and intrinsic to this self-denial is the assertions that new revolutionary measures are unnecessary and illegal. All these candidates coming from the same “class” location would rather play by other means to make appeals, hideously suppressing the facts of their being agents of the same system of exploitation that they apparently are challenging.

For the millions of working class American tax-payers who have become so pathetic with their finances that even the Bush Government is sending them Stimulus Check to spend tax-free money, for the 2 million homeless who search for public spaces that are closed after evening, for the 36.5 million people (12.3% of population) below poverty line, and 46 million people without health insurance, a country of working have-nots class who are debt ridden for generations, such farcical superfluous billion-dollars extravaganza wasted on elections every four years should ideally cause them to feel sick to the stomach. But with this country hijacked by corporate interests, where Chevrolet is advertised as the American Revolution and freedom is equated with using remote control to watch television channels competing to reach higher standards of absurdities, it is rather natural that even a Coca-Cola and Pepsi battle would seem to be the only form defining “democracy” in the world. Or did I say, Colacracy?



About the Writer

Saswat Pattanayak is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on Political Economy Of American Colacracy

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By Rose Mountain on August 11, 2008 at 02:34 pm

Saswat, great article. You bring up so many important points. The US election system violates international standards for democracies in several areas, the nationwide vote machines which aren't transparent and privately owned by those with conflicts of interest, the cost of elections is supposed to be funded by the government with candidates debates on free air-time since We The People actually own the airwaves and the airwaves are supposed to serve the People's interests,etc.

The differences between the Democratic Party and Republican Party are as large as the Grand Canyon, and even a large majority (70%) of the Republican voters finally admitted in a poll several years ago that for decades the Democratic Party has defended the values in the environment, health care, social policy, etc that they truly believe in.

Whereas the Republican Party has always been in alignment with the major corporate interests. And now just 6 major conglomerates own most national and local media, and this media monopoly grew worse over the decades. And the Democrat Party candidates often lose their backbone whenever going up against national Republican leaders who make a "war-cry" or some other fabricated issue with layers of deception that the media condones while censoring the truth.  Yet many in Congress both Dems and Reps are ignorant of the facts, just as ignorant as citizens have been.

See Project Censored, 200 professors have been publishing the self-censored news of the mainstream media since 1976 at http://projectcensored.org Look for the Top 25 Archives on the right side of the website. You'll see the top 25 articles of most significance chosen from the thousands of censored articles submitted to the professors each year from journalists, librarians, concerned citizens. It is a shocking history lesson, that turns everyone's understanding upside down. But thankfully members of Congress and millions of Americans across the political spectrum are finally waking up to the horrors of what's truly happening in the US, being done in our name to other countries and what's being done to We The People without our knowledge.

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By Rose Mountain on August 11, 2008 at 03:28 pm

Most important at Project Censored is to read all the articles for the 30+ years that Bush Senior was in the US Govt first as a CIA asset in the 1960's while making his first millions in the oil industry, then in the Ford Admin, Reagan Admin then his own Admin. The British BBC News Documentary "Power of Nightmares" has inside whistleblowers (plus many other US and worldwide investigative journalists know) that Bush Senior and Cheney etc fabricated the intelligence on the Soviet Union (like his son Bush Jr did on Iraq) when our own CIA said they were not a threat, plus they were behind many US fabricated myths, covert wars and deceptions. The BBC documentary says the US neoconservative claim of "a global network of terrorism" is a fabricated myth. Bush Senior has been doing oil deals with the Bin Laden Family for decades. And the BBC says the CIA created and trained and armed Alqueda with weapons in Afghanistan in the 1980's. Which was actually so the US corporations could contol the oil pipelines. But this is not even for the American people but for their greed of money and dominating the Middle East areas.

So it helps explain why everyone is so frightened and won't speak up. Also read the US Govt NSA whistleblower John Perkins' books see http://johnperkins.org who published his 2006 and 2006 New York Times bestsellers in 19 countries as a warning to the world. His first book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" then in 2007 "The Secret History of the American Empire (with subtitle) Economic Hit Men, Jackals, And The Trtuh About Global Corruption". Perkins was an "economic hitman" he calls himself. He was hired by the US Govt in the NSA National Security Agency which he said is the most secret agency in the US Govt much more than the CIA, then the NSA turned him imediately over to a corporation as a front (like covert CIA people have a front job so they can't be traced back to the Govt). But Perkins says it's actually the corporations who control things along with US banks which is why he calls it the "corporatocracy". He's now on a spiritual path and trying to tell the world about the corruption and empire he helped create worldwide, overthrowing economies etc.

The jackals are the name for the hitmen that go into a country to assasinate Heads of State if the economic overthrow of the country is prevented and doesn't work. Perkins says the US army is only sent in if the economic hitmen and jackals both fail, which is what he said happened in Iraq. Bush Senior supported Hussein, but Hussein nationalized the oil which is when the corporatocracy gets angry, whenever a country wants to nationalize its resources like water, oil, food, etc.

Perkins did an interview on the independent news show Democracy Now at http://democracynow.org (that members of Congress watch to find out what's truly happening in the US and world). Perkins job was to fabricate economic information and force privitization on other countries so that US conglomerates could control other controls and intentionally create poverty in other countries. They try to put countries into debt that they can't get out of, so they can also get the country to owe them favors, then they try to control their United Nations vote and other things, they rig elections etc. For confirmation see the new report by Harvard confirming 50 years of the US Govt swaying and bribing votes in the UN by other countries. 

America and American citizens have also been a target says Perkins. If you read Project Censored articles (mentioned above) you'll see how every claim of an oil shortage in US history and the electric power shortages etc were created by what Perkins calls the "corporatocracy", the US banks, US corporations and US secret government. But there's many other deceptions and psuedo crisis they create in order to control resources and people. The US secret government was first exposed in 1987 by the PBS television documentary "Secret Government Constitution in Crisis" by longtime respected journalist Bill Moyers. Google for the video.

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