As the U.S. economy has continued to falter since 2000, both domestically and globally, the response of corporate America and their political elites has been to prepare to impose more draconian economic measures on the rest of American society to protect their incomes and economic interests.
To successfully implement these more draconian measures, corporations, wealthy investors, and politicians must first deepen their control of the key levers of the political system and its governments. This means the policy-making apparatus of legislatures and bureaucracies, the executive apparatus of presidents and governors, the electoral process, and the opinion-making structures like the broadcast media, Internet, and social media.
Corporate interests in American politics and government has always been significant. However, direct corporate influence was deepened qualitatively and significantly after the 1970s economic crisis as a prelude to the restructuring of the US economy that was introduced in the 1980s (sometimes referred to as ‘Neoliberalism’ or the ‘Washington Consensus’). The economic restructuring of the 1980s served corporate interests well for the next quarter century.
By 2007, however, the 1980s restructuring had run its course and imploded with the global banking crisis of 2008-09, the global recession that followed, and the stop-go faltering recovery that has characterized the US and global economies since 2009 to date.
In the wake of the new global economic crisis, a new attempt by corporate interests to once again restructure the U.S. and global economy has emerged and continues to evolve today, albeit in its early stages. In turn, the new economic restructuring requires a corresponding new political restructuring—one with less democracy—to accommodate the new economy in the making and the new draconian measures for the general public that economic restructuring will require.
The new political restructuring, also in its early stages today, will be built upon drawing the state and government in America closer into the corporate world as part of the new economic and political institutions and arrangements that will be developed over the coming decade.
The recent ‘Citizens United’ US supreme court decision of 2010 is a key element of the political restructuring, unleashing corporate money power to reframe American government, political institutions, and political processes even further in its interests. Longer term, other indicators of immanent political restructuring are also becoming increasingly evident. A short list includes:
• more corporate direct funding aimed at takeovers of state governorships
• the further destruction of public employee unions, targeting first and foremost their influence over state and local governments
• widespread attempts to restrict voter registration, introducing new forms of poll taxes, and limitations on voter eligibility
• the ALEC phenomenon of billionaire-financed deeper influence of states and local government legislative agendas and legislative proposals on a national, corporate coordinated basis
• the buying of Congress and state legislatures more directly, by offering them privileged access to corporate investments and securities
• additional measures at state and local levels to further isolate third party challenges, despite a non-parliamentary system of U.S. government that already is strongly biased in favor of a two-wing single party system
• a further tightening of political control over internet and new media forms of communications
• more sophisticated coordination of police actions on a national scale against Occupy movements and other protest movements across the country
• increasing restrictions on public assembly and public speech at all levels
• the widespread introduction of drones in U.S. cities and even on U.S. college campuses, both already occurring in early stages, as means of more effective control over public protests and assemblies
With just two months to go until the November 2012 elections, two elements in particular indicating a growing corporatization of politics and government in America have become increasingly evident.
The first is the unleashing of billionaires and their bottomless pockets to buy and influence voters to support the candidates in the coming November 2012 election they have put forward and de facto financially. The flood of money involved will never be known exactly but it will amount to billions of dollars. The full impact of this is indeterminable, but will become somewhat more evident following the November elections. But it will change American politics and America’s already muted form of democracy significantly.
A second element is being quietly implemented behind the scenes and its impact also will not be fully known, even after the November elections. That is the flow of massive amounts of cash to prevent those who might vote against corporate preferred candidates from casting their votes.
The dual ‘epicenters’ of this money-funded effort to prevent popular votes will be the states of Ohio and Florida—two states already with a history of voter prevention in the last three national elections. The apparatus for vote suppression is already there; the massive money flows will now expand and fund the task as never before.
Whoever wins both Florida and Ohio in the coming November elections wins the election, given the archaic and undemocratic system of electoral college voting in the U.S. that ignores the popular vote. The popular vote in America is irrelevant in even remotely close elections. What matters is the electoral college votes in just 8 ‘swing states’, of which Florida and Ohio are the largest and together the key to the election outcome.
Corporate money is therefore now flowing into these states in massive amounts, both to convince those who might vote for corporate candidates to do so, and to prevent from voting those voters who most likely will not vote for corporate America’s interests and agendas.
America has entered a new political space in national politics, but yet does not know it.
These multiple developments—reflections and harbingers of a growing corporate domination of American politics and democracy—represent something more than just the normal development and evolution of political institutions and practices. They represent a pro-active, planned, broad attempt by corporate interests in America to further restrict even the remaining muted forms of democracy and democratic participation that exist in the U.S. today. They represent a new and aggressive corporate attempt to dominate political institutions and processes unlike ever before, that is in large part a direct consequence of the economic crisis that erupted this past decade and continues.
The new economic restructuring underway will bring forth an inevitable new political restructuring—and most of average Americans may not understand their full significance, or like what either has to offer.
Jack Rasmus is the author of the 2012 book, “Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few”, available at discount on this blog and online and in bookstores. He is he host of the new forthcoming radio show, TURNING POINTS, on the progressive radio network starting 2:00 PM (New York time) Wednesday, September 19, and every Wednesday thereafter. His website, where his other articles and TV-radio interviews may be heard is, www.kyklosproductions.com.