Written by Peter J. Denney
Franklin Delano Roosevelt once wrote in a private letter written during his presidency, “Presidents are not elected, they are selected.” This moment of candor in Roosevelt’s own correspondence not only illuminates the politics behind the presidency, but the economics as well. Today, the economics manifest as campaign contributions that now pay for television air-time, as well as the radio and newspaper “promotion” of candidates for political office.
Furthermore, it has become apparent that this economic promotion, i.e. funding of political leaders, permeates the legislative branch as well. This was never made more obvious than when the Supreme Court reversed a decision it had made some 20 years earlier, and by a 5-4 margin “legalized” unlimited campaign contributions. Today the result is that never before have our state representatives, as well as our president, become so “indebted” to large campaign contributors, i.e. corporations and special interests. In fact, ever since the passing of the 17th Amendment, our state representatives have effectively been insulated from immediate recall, which has occurred in the course of our nation’s history when their actions in Washington clearly did not represent their constituents.
The word “constituents” itself has little meaning to senators and congresspersons who now pay little if any regard to the constitution itself. We can thank lobbyists as well for that. It’s amazing how far a little “quid pro quo” or an envelope filled with “fifties” can go towards the dismantling of “separation of powers” nowadays. The result, if not due to the aforementioned, is due to greed, ignorance or laziness. For whatever reason, many have willfully turned a blind eye to the work the constitution demands they perform. The congress has willingly signed off on the bulk of their duty, the most important of which used to be their responsibility to preside over appropriations and to regulate our nation’s currency. Long before lobbying (legalized bribery) began…I wonder who was paid how much to help pass the Federal Reserve Act?
The average citizen, also ignorant and lazy regarding the role they serve in preserving a Republic under rule of law, only know that the will of the vast majority, not just a narrow majority, is now being ignored in Washington. But, unlike their representatives, a vast majority of U.S. citizens find themselves painted into an “economic corner” that leaves little time for active participation in government.
The game being played here is like the old “slight of hand.” Political “footballs” like abortion, gun-control, illegal-immigration, etc., get tossed around and then are highlighted by the media. This is all designed to give us an illusion that there are two sides to the battle. We are supposed to decide which side, the Republicans or the Democrats, deserve our vote every 2-4 years. But when one looks objectively at policy over the course of the last few administrations, as well as majorities in the house and senates during those administrations, the truth becomes obvious that there is a continuation of only one policy wherever it is deemed most important.
Consider this…what percentage of Americans do you think want peace? What percentage of Americans want a total withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan? The latest polls average near 70%. Would you call that “overwhelming majority” worth political debating? How about a balanced budget? Would you say that only a “narrow majority” of Americans favor cutting military spending, as opposed to cutting social security? In 2010, after two years under Obama, our military budget was 750 billion dollars. Adjusted for inflation, this is the highest in over two generations, ever since the “cold war” began immediately following WWII. This staggering figure does not include expenditures for things like Homeland Security, military aid to other countries, V/A care and NASA projects that are military in nature.
Now nearly 4 years since we elected a president whose campaign slogan was “Change We Can Believe In” consider the things that are “unchanged” when compared to the George W. Bush administration. These figures reflect Obama’s first two years in office.
1) Reported by the Census Bureau on September 16th, 2010, poverty in America rose to 43.6 million in 2009, an increase of 3.8 million.
2) On March 31, 2009, Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Federal government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed 12.8 TRILLION to the “bailouts.” Paid for by future taxation, this represents the largest transfer of wealth in human history.
3) On March 16th, 2010, the Huffington Post reports that the Obama Administration has dramatically increased government secrecy “blocking more freedom of information requests in 2009 than Bush in 2008.”
4) On March 1st, 2010, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Obama “extends the Patriot Act without making any reforms” totally the opposite of his campaign rhetoric.
5) On June 11th, 2010, the N.Y. Times reports that the Obama Administration has already cracked down on government whistleblowers more than any previous president.
6) On March 16th, 2010, the N.Y. Times reports that Obama has cut a secret deal with insurance and pharmaceutical companies to kill the watered down “public option” while simultaneously campaigning on its behalf. Today we are witnessing legislation that would have fines levied against those who can’t afford health insurance to begin with.
7) On June 10th, 2010, the Huffington Post reports that Obama uses a “signing statement” (again, something he said he would NOT do while campaigning) to ignore labor and environmental standards for the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank.
8) On May 13th, 2010, the N.Y. Times reports that the Obama Administration has given BP (British Petroleum) and other oil companies permits exempting them from environmental protection laws.
9) Appoints Eric Holder as Attorney General. Holder had previously served as a lawyer for Chiquita Brands International when it was charged with funding death squads in Columbia. (Source: “Counter-Punch”/November 19th, 2008) Today we are witnessing an effort to “squelch” the story of illegal arms smuggling by the ATF under his direction.
10) Appoints former Monsanto Lobbyist Michael Taylor as America’s “Food Safety Czar.” Named by Jeffrey Smith (author, “Seeds of Deception”) “the most evil corporation in the world” Monsanto “provides seeds for 90% of the world’s genetically modified crops.” (Source: Huffington Post/July 23, 2009) The U.S. remains totally exempt from labeling laws, thanks to heavy lobbying by Monsanto.
So, what’s the point here? It’s simply this: In matters that truly affect “We the People” the policy has always been one, and only one…namely to provide rent to the rent-seekers while “repaying” those who helped them (the politicians) get there, first and foremost.
As this election draws nearer, “We the People” have to wake up. This does NOT mean voting for (or against) any individual in particular, or any party in general. It means it’s time to become active in citizenry once again, as we were when we formed this great nation. We need to become active in our own government…and we have all seen the result of believing that this means merely getting out to vote every 2-4 years.
It means investigating WHO is supporting WHO by way of large campaign contributions. It means learning more about what those supporters represent; whether they are corporations or wealthy persons who have their own, personal special interest. Their “choices” will most likely serve their interests long before these candidates consider their “constituents.”
In the meantime, our state representatives will continue to do things like delineating their authority to “international administrative law courts,” introducing legislation that makes a mockery of our Bill of Rights, while failing to see the devastating effects trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT have had on the average American. They will continue to be willfully blinded to the consequences of their past actions but will see “green” clear as day. They will continue to be deaf to the voices of their constituents, but, just like a person who is both deaf and blind, can live with holding out their hand in hope that it gets filled with something. But the worst may be yet to come; for if “We the People” fail to recognize not only the deterioration of our sworn representatives’ performance, but in our own as citizens as well, the America we have known and loved will become unrecognizable in the not-so-distant future.