Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Politics, Money Is Everything

By Tom Kando

For progressives, the June 5 primaries were disappointing. The most crucial voting took place in Wisconsin. The failure to recall Gov. Walker was a serious defeat for Democrats, for President Obama and - in the end - for America. The only silver lining in that state is that John Lehman’s victory returns control of the State Senate to the Democrats. American politics have now reached a vicious cycle: Because politics are entirely determined by the power of money, progressives’ chances seem to be in irreversible decline.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has irretrievably stacked the deck in favor of the plutocracy. Once corporations became persons and super PAC contributions became unlimited, it was only a matter of very little time before the Republican Party and its candidates became immeasurably richer than their opponents.

The June 5 Wisconsin elections were a preview of worse to come. According to MSNBC, the Walker campaign had 8 times more money than that of its opponent Tom Barrett. Walker supporters dispute this, saying that Walker’s advantage was “only” 3 to 1. Whoop-dee-doo!

The plutocracy is doing the obvious: It is out to destroy the last and only major institutional support upon which the Democratic Party can count for significant financial support: the Unions.

Of course, Unions have been declining for over half a century. Today, only 11% of the labor force is unionized, compared to 36% in 1954. The only growth in unionization has been in the public sector (teachers, etc.), where 37% of the workers are unionized.

So in the age of super PACs, the Democratic Party is dependent on a declining organization of not-so-well-off workers. Plus a few pockets of affluence such as liberal Hollywood.

By finishing off the Unions, one party achieves an unprecedented monetary advantage over the other. It’s not that the playing field becomes slanted - there IS NO playing field any more!

Obviously, the vast majority of super PACS are funded by private corporations and individual billionaires such as Nevada Casino owner Sheldon Adelson.

The 2012 election is going to cost $8 billion. We used to cringe when presidential campaigns cost hundreds of millions. Can Democrats raise enough money to be competitive? Obama might squeeze by this time, but it stands to reason that in the long run, progressives don’t stand a chance. Money rules, wherever you look: In California, Prop. 29 (the Tobacco Tax) was defeated due to the Tobacco Companies’ massive infusion of money. San Diego’s Proposition B and a similar initiative in San Jose to cut current public employees’ pension benefits passed because supporters outspent opponents 8 to 1!

And why does money rule? Because it funds brain washing. The billions would not matter, if the electorate were not swayed by the bs of political advertising. But it is. And only a small percentage of eligible voters vote, those most biased, but not necessarily the most informed (in California, fewer that 25% of eligible voters voted on June 5).

Another weapon with which Republicans have a good chance of achieving permanent supremacy is their assault on the working class’ voting rights. By requiring voters to show proof of citizenship, photo identification, and raising other such obstacles, Republican authorities in states like Florida are attempting to disenfranchise millions of legitimate voters, most of them poor and likely to vote for democrats.

Bill Clinton recently said that a Romney victory in the Fall would be cataclysmic. Rachel Maddow said that the demise of Unions would be catastrophic. Well, get used to it. We may be moving right back into the 19th century. While we are at it, we might as well re-introduce the poll tax (you can’t vote unless you make over $100,000 a year), and get rid of the income tax altogether, so that the rich - the “job creators” as Romney calls them - can save us all.

We call it democracy, but it is plutocracy. leave comment here