New York, New York: In North America, we call these election “cycles” as the two main parties battle each other, not by mobilizing voters or building political movements but mostly through desperate fundraising pitches and slogans.
The Democrats go after small change while the Republicans rely on billionaire funders and their political action committees. Politics is seen as an investment, a way to control the resources of the state and the lucrative appropriations process. It’s about money as much as mission.
The Republicans have been waging a NO campaign over at least seven cycles characterized not by offering a program for change or better policies but systematic denigration, holding President Obama personally responsible for every problem, flaw and error. It’s gang-up politics driven by simple message points to undermine trust. The message: its all his fault, and frankly some of it is.
In many was this approach mirrors the 60 year campaign of trying to demonize Fidel Castro in Cuba or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela over the years. Find a “bad guy,” give him no credit and heap every every bit of sarcasm and conspiracy theory that you can “credibly” deploy to discredit him. Truth is never a criteria.
This year, as Tom Engelhardt writes:
“Escalation, or amping up minor threats to public safety, is the new toy of the political class for manipulating voters. Making these small threats loom large in the public eye also conveniently diverts attention from bigger issues, like inequality, high unemployment, and the rise of McJobs.”
So we had the danger of Ebola and, earlier, Putin as an ogre to distract the public. This maneuver is endless but also well conceived by ad men like Roger Ailes who runs Fox News and a small army of political consultants and slick spinmeisters.
The Democrats demagogue too, and often rely on similar tactics—anything but mobilizing a base that is soured by pro-corporate politics, new wars and subservience to a surveillance and military state.
Sadly, the right is in the ideological drivers seat with the Dems forever reacting or co-opting the far right machine. Its message is simple; Blame Obama. A republican con man even called him the biggest racist in American history,
Money is, of course, at the heart of this says Professor Tom Ferguson who writes on politics: “So after blowing through more money than any off year election in history, 2014 leave us with this: A war of all against all — all of the Republican Congress against all of the Democratic Executive Branch. There’s no single-minded wave like 2010: it is obvious that huge numbers of Americans detest both parties, and that one of the keys to the election’s outcome was the failure of the president’s supporters to turn out like they did in 2012.”
He explains. “There’s nothing mystifying about their disenchantment: After six years in the White House, President Obama rescued the banks, but not most of the American people, whose incomes and job prospects continue to languish. Add to that what will likely prove to be a substantial Republican advantage in total spending, and the impression the White House conveyed of constantly being surprised by world events, and it is hardly surprising that we witnessed another installment of ‘seesaw politics.”
Seesaw or not, the nature of politics has changed. Oligarchs rule in America as they do in the Ukraine.
Former Colin Powell aide, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, told Paul Jay of the Real News Network, “It is theater. The real manipulation of power, the real abuse of power, the real use of power takes place behind this charade that is the–you might call it the charade of democracy. That’s essentially what we’ve made it. Elections, of course, are the least important aspect of democracy. The institutions, the culture, the society, the people, they’re the important aspects of democracy. But elections are something that we hype all the time, whether it’s in this country or other countries. We send observers and so forth. But I agree with that overall metaphor, that it’s mostly theater. And in this country, we do Shakespearean theater, if you will, because it’s true theater in this country.”
Says former Congressperson Ron Paul, “We have a monopoly of ideas that is controlled by the leaders of two parties. And they call it two parties, but it’s really one philosophy.”
And that means little choice. That also explains low voter turnout in mid term elections. With the President branded a loser, even Democrats turned on him.
Explains Randy Shaw of the L.A. Progressive, “Many blame voter cynicism on big money dominating politics. I see the far bigger problem as the structural obstacles to majority rule that typifies U.S. ‘democracy.’ Americans believe that the United States is the ‘cradle’ of democracy. Yet supermajority two-thirds votes dominate the U.S. Senate. And as we learned when Democrats controlled Congress in Obama’s first two years, filibuster rules require 60 votes on most key Senate legislation.
“These supermajorities mean that the type of ‘real change’ that Obama’s 2008 victory promised does not happen. This leaves infrequent voters who cast ballots frustrated, and discouraged from voting until the next presidential election.”
In this context, non-voting makes a certain sense even though it allows a well-financed minority to dominate our politics.
Now, add a compromised media system that avoids deeper questions and more fundamental answers, where news programming is often entertainment programming and paid commercials with the basest and often unsubstantiated claims insure a confused public targeted by propagandists who substitute messages for meaning.
The more thoughtful among us try to escape the mental assault while the gullible among us repeat the mantras they receive.
So it’s no surprise, with the labor movement in tatters and politics dominated by self-serving politicians, the voice of the people is not heard or encouraged,
There is only one certainty: things will get worse and Hillary cannot save us.
Filmmaker and News Dissector Danny Schechter just completed a six-part documentary series on America’s Surveilance State.