I originally wrote this piece as a response to Booman’s latest Casual Observation post.
I guess I had the broad outlines of this election figured out by June 11th, 2014. That’s two years ago, today.
Some surprising details in the interim, but that’s all basically noise.
Some surprising details in the interim, but that’s all basically noise.
The entire electoral process as it stands now is “all basically noise,” Booman.
I didn’t exactly lick this PermaGov shit up off the street, y’know.
Read ’em and weep.
Or…read ’em and WTFU.
But READ ‘EM!!!
Mohsen Abdelmoumen: In your book coauthored with Sheldon Rampton “Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry”, you make a statement without concession on lobbying and democracy. In your opinion, can we evoke a democracy with a hegemony of lobbies? Do not you think that it is rather about a plutocracy?
John Stauber: That book, my first of six for the Center for Media and Democracy, is my tour de force. It exposes how modern propaganda is conducted in the United States by public relations (PR) professionals whose job is to protect the powerful and their corporate wealth from democracy.
The USA is indeed an oligarchy, a plutocracy, and the situation is much worse today than when I wrote my book in 1995. The super-rich whose interests lie with Wall Street, the global corporations, and what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex, own and control both the Democrat and the Republican parties and their candidates. This shared monopoly prevents any anti-oligarchy party from emerging effectively to compete, under their rigged laws at the state level for establishing and funding national political parties.
The richest dump billions into both major Parties, their candidates and the election process, so if you are not a millionaire yourself or clearly supporting the policies of the wealthy, you have very little chance of success or of even being heard politically in the US. The corporate media is the recipient of the lions share of this money which they get for selling the TV ads that the candidates and the special interest groups run; they are not interested in deeply criticizing or reforming a lucrative process that fills their own corporate coffers. It’s a hell of a system, a total fraud on democracy, painted up to look like democracy.
There’s more in this article.
What is the State of American Democracy Today?
Oligarchy: “Those Who Rule America Behind the Scenes”
It’s a f$#$*ng joke (I’m sorry but I don’t know any other way to honestly put it). Seven years ago, the left scholars Edward S. Herman and David Peterson noted in passing that “an unelected dictatorship of money vets the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties, reducing the options available to U.S. citizens to two candidates, neither of whom can change the foreign or domestic priorities of the imperial U.S. regime.” A year before that, the incisive Left historian Laurence Shoup explained things well in Z Magazine:
“Every four years many Americans put their hopes in an electoral process, hopes that a savior can be elected – someone who will make their daily lives more livable, someone who will raise wages, create well-paying jobs, enforce union rights, provide adequate health care, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, and end war and militarism. In actuality, the leading `electable’ presidential candidates have all been well vetted by the hidden primary of the ruling class and are tied to corporate power in multiple ways. They will stay safely within the bounds set by those who rule America behind the scenes, making sure that members of the plutocracy continue to be the main beneficiaries of the system…It is clear that, at best, U.S. `democracy’ is a guided one; at its worst it is a corrupt farce, amounting to manipulation, with the larger population objects of propaganda in a controlled and trivialized electoral process” (emphasis added).
These are standard and supposedly cynical observations on the actual/radical Left but you don’t have to be a Left radical to think that popular sovereignty is trumped by plutocracy in the U.S. today. Jimmy Carter, no radical leftist, has been saying for years that the United States no longer has a functioning democracy. Donald Trump, certainly not a leftist, and Bernie Sanders, a longstanding liberal-left Democrat who plays a “revolutionary” on the campaign trail, both say that American democracy is broken by big money campaign donations.
Mike Lofgren, a long-time top Republican congressional aide, writes that The Deep State of corporate and financial power merged to the military industrial complex calls the shots behind “the marionette theater” of electoral and “parliamentary” politics in the U.S.
Mark Leibovich is the New York Times Magazine’s chief national correspondent and a self-described elite Washington insider. Three years ago, he published the widely read book This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral Plus Plenty of Valet Parking in America’s Gilded Capital. By his candid and bestselling account from the belly of the beast, Washington D.C. is a richly bipartisan and monumentally narcissistic “gold rush,” a “crucible of easy wealth” (p. 8) wherein political officeholders, lobbyists, consultants, public relations specialists, media personalities, socialites, and top staff of the two dominant parties are part of the same incestuous and “permanent” ruling “class of insiders.” The nation’s capital “becomes a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made” (p.142) – an “inbred company town where party differences are easily subsumed by membership in The Club” (p. 104), Leibovich wrote. “Getting rich,” Leibovich reported, “has become the great bipartisan ideal: `No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore,’ goes the maxim, `only millionaires.’ The ultimate Green party. You still hear the term `public service’ thrown around, but often with irony and full knowledge that self-service is now the real insider play” (p. 9).
The leading mainstream political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern argued less than two years ago that the U.S. political system has become “an oligarchy” where wealthy elites and their corporations “rule.” Examining data from more than 1,800 different policy initiatives in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Gilens and Page find that wealthy elites consistently steer the direction of the country regardless of and against the will of the U.S. majority and irrespective of which major party holds the White House and/or Congress. “The central point that emerges from our research,” Gilens and Page find, “is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy…while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” As Gilens told the online journal Talking Points Memo two years ago, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.” (That’s what Joe and Jane Six Pack have always known, but it’s nice to hear it with data from Princeton and Northwestern).
Such is the harsh reality of “really existing capitalist democracy” in the U.S. –what Noam Chomsky calls “RECD, pronounced as `wrecked.'”
I am sorry…I really am…but despite all of your good work, all of your good intentions and the good work of many others with equally good intentions within the U.S. political system as it now stands, that system is so rigged against those good intentions that no matter how hard you work, when the job is finished nothing changes except the images that are projected to continue to keep the rubes obedient. Back and forth, back and forth it goes.
Pissed off at all of the rotten Republicans in 2008? Republicans who were in their turn imaged into your consciousness to erase the heroic image of Bill Clinton that was rapidly deconstructed into Slick Willie Blue Dress before your very eyes? Here’s another image to placate you.
Slow fast forward to today:
Pissed off at all of the rotten Democrats in 2016?
Here. We’ve got another couple of images to entertain you.
Choose one and shut the fuck up.
Wake the fuck up.