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Mon Mar 23, 2015, 03:44 PM

"Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?" --Tom Engelhardt

Interesting read/observation of the "Privatization" of even our Political System.

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Check out the news about the 2016 presidential election and you’ll quickly feel a sense of been-there, done-that. As a start, the two names most associated with it, Bush and Clinton, couldn’t be more familiar, highlighting as they do the curiously dynastic quality of recent presidential contests. (If a Bush or Clinton should win in 2016 and again in 2020, a member of one of those families will have controlled the presidency for 28 of the last 36 years.)

Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries.


The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and billionaires, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice. So the early primaries -- this year mainly a Republican affair -- are taking place in resort spots like Las Vegas, Rancho Mirage, California, and Sea Island, Georgia, as has been widely reported. These “contests” involve groveling politicians appearing at the beck and call of the rich and powerful, and so reflect our new 1% electoral system. (The main pro-Hillary super PAC, for instance, is aiming for a kitty of $500 million heading into 2016, while the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.)

Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the ultimate floodgates with its 2010 Citizens United decision, each subsequent election has seen record-breaking amounts of money donated and spent. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first $2 billion election; campaign 2016 is expected to hit the $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat. By comparison, according to Burton Abrams and Russell Settle in their study, “The Effect of Broadcasting on Political Campaign Spending,” Republicans and Democrats spent just under $13 million combined in 1956 when Eisenhower won his second term.

In the meantime, it’s still true that the 2016 primaries will involve actual voters, as will the election that follows. The previous election season, the midterms of 2014, cost almost $4 billion, a record despite the number of small donors continuing to drop. It also represented the lowest midterm voter turnout since World War II. (See: demobilization of the public, below -- and add in the demobilization of the Democrats as a real party, the breaking of organized labor, the fragmenting of the Republican Party, and the return of voter suppression laws visibly meant to limit the franchise.) It hardly matters just what the flood of new money does in such elections, when you can feel the weight of inequality bearing down on the whole process in a way that is pushing us somewhere new.

2. The Privatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation)

-snip--

Though the marriage of the state and the corporation has a pre-history, the full-scale arrival of the warrior corporation only occurred after 9/11. Someday, that will undoubtedly be seen as a seminal moment in the formation of whatever may be coming in this country. Only 13 years later, there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The U.S. military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases, and being involved in just about all of its activities, including training the militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, including torture, drone strikes, and -- to the tune of hundreds of thousands of contract employees like Edward Snowden -- intelligence gathering and spying. You name it and, in these years, it’s been at least partly privatized.

All you have to do is read reporter James Risen’s recent book, Pay Any Price, on how the global war on terror was fought in Washington, and you know that privatization has brought something else with it: corruption, scams, and the gaming of the system for profits of a sort that might normally be associated with a typical third-world kleptocracy. And all of this, a new world being born, was reflected in a tiny way in Hillary Clinton’s very personal decision about her emails.

Though it’s a subject I know so much less about, this kind of privatization (and the corruption that goes with it) is undoubtedly underway in the non-war-making, non-security-projecting part of the American state as well.

3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency

CONTINUED AT:

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175970/

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Reply "Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?" --Tom Engelhardt (Original post)
KoKo Mar 2015 OP
rhett o rick Mar 2015 #1

Response to KoKo (Original post)

Thu Mar 26, 2015, 10:42 AM

1. This is an important article. There is a new movement to counter the Plutocratic Oligarchy

 

that is taking over the country. Here we are calling it a Populist Movement. It's in communities that are and will continue if for no other reason than self preservation as the screws get tightened down.

I think that at some point there will be members of the financial elite that will recognize that the current direction will implode eventually and they may, as the Roosevelts did, decide that sharing the wealth is healthier for all than allowing a few to accumulate it all.

What do we need to work on?

1. Of course reduce consumption, reuse and recycle. Support local businesses, co-ops and credit unions even if it costs you more. Short term savings at Walmart will cost one more in the end.

2. Control local politics. You may not be able to control Wash the DC politics but it's important to control what you can.

3. Make sure you retain control of your water supply. This should be obvious.

4. Make sure your election systems (e.g., machines) are honest.

5. Financially support candidates directly or via progressive organizations. Don't give your money to the Democratic Power Machine.

6. Reduce consumption of meat. It will be better for your health and the planet.

That's a good start.

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