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Money trumps peace?? Are you doing all you can do? Will the DNC continue this charade and swear off the corporate bucks?

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Runaway slave who joined the Union Army during Civil War, captured and tortured
 I appreciate the many organized recountings of how many ways Bush has failed the country. But these facts have been laid bare long ago. 

The laws already on the books are sufficient to impeach, if there could come a way to question Bush and Cheney under oath. But there has been little political will to take the neocons head on, no courage or integrity in the press, and for too long, not enough activism by the rest of us. 

As Charles Sullivan has already noted here, Bush is not the problem, he is but a symptom. The problem is larger then Bush and will not go away when he does - the problem, in differing capacities, is us. We can blame a runaway "system" where wealthy, connected lawmakers pass laws to protect their power, profit and perks behind layers of bureaucracy and slickly worded speeches which lull the masses into complacence and tranquility. 

But Bush is given far more credit then he is due - the rape of taxpayers and the Constitution has been a team effort, and has included many individual US citizens in many ways, some of us just not willing to be involved and aware because we have the luxury of tuning out and escaping into the cushier aspects of our lives. Including you? To answer the question "am I doing all I can?", simply look at Cindy Sheehan or Lt. Ehren Watada who feel so strongly a change is needed, that they have completely disrupted their lives, and well before the Bush-dissenters were in the majority. 

To what extent are we all willing to participate to ensure Bush doesn't get away with lying us into war? Do we want a future president to be able to say "But Bush did it"? 

The above image is Private Gordon, taken in 1863, an escaped slave who enlisted in the Union army, was captured by Confederate soldiers and whipped mercilessly on Christmas day, 1863. This image appeared in the July 4, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly. We must be aware that we can go a lot farther then voting, blogging or even marching. 

The complacency that has allowed almost four years to pass since America illegally invaded another country is the most glaring example of this. We've all been made to feel powerless, intimidated to speak up and act out. Beyond the Presidents' cronies muddying the waters between business and government, the press is muzzled by their corporate bosses, giving us everything from 24-hour a day yellow journalism (Fox) to the other three network monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil), to the cable outlets like CNN whose "editorial" oversight has directed much anti-Bush or anti-war news right from the wire into the shredder. 

The collaboration of the media in underreporting or abetting dodgy government misdeeds can be squarely traced to federal approval of insanely enormous megamergers, takeovers and competition-crushing consolidations inviting comparison to the robber barons of old. As consumers, we continue to pay outrageous cable bills and patronize labor-busting firms, buy fuel guzzling SUVs and ignore the food warning label crisis. 

The American consumer dollar is a huge influence on almost everything in our society - with a little attention and cooperation, we can make the biggest corporations take note. Suppose every Democrat in the country bought a certain book at the same time, for example. Why must our elections be the only national referendums to exercise our collective will? If MoveOn can send our a monthly email tune-up questionnaire asking members' priorities and opinions, why can't the DNC? Because they have been long sullied by corporate money. The complicity goes farther and wider. 

Bush visited Wall Street last week to ring the opening bell and received thunderous applause for his policies, facilitating the upward-only flow of money for six years. That says it all. These are the suits for whom money is religion, and they let Bush know who his friends are, specifically during this, his recent lowest-ever approval ratings reality. If "Wall Street" was a state, it would probably have three dozen senators and three hundred representatives. 

And if the love affair between Bush and these guys isn't apparent, look no further then their offspring, the privatization of countless government tasks. Wall Street is now a brand new middleman between you and your student loan - and Bush has been trying his damnedest to steer social security and "health savings accounts" their way as well. Well you probably own a few stocks as you read this, and how surprised you might be to find you even owned Halliburton stock. But the complicity goes further. How long has it taken the American people to realize that it's not warm rain pouring down their back? 

Orwell would have been proud at a run of neocon subversion so effective, it's taken more then a whole presidential election cycle to unmask. In the absence of real journalism debunking lies and distortions, right wing radio has become the primary source of information for millions of Americans, loading them up with fearmongering, hatemongering talking points that exploit listeners' worst instincts and get them more amped up then anything on Starbucks' menu. 

I have a guy in my office that hadn't heard until 2006 that the Swift Boat vets were funded by RNC cronies. Ironically, Bush's own ineptitude during Katrina and in Iraq may have been more effective in deprogramming Americans than anything the left has intentionally done. But the complicity goes further still and let's not fool ourselves. Democratic Senators, Reps and lobbies are entwined in this too. In order to block even-worse Republican candidates, we've been voting for Dems with big ties to bad money and who are no strangers to pork. There are plenty of corporatist Dems that may oppose his message, but seek to preserve the structure of government that wrought Bush and his ilk. This is so they can replace the worst guys as the pendulum swings back with the slightly-less-worse guys. 

Money trumps a lot more than peace in Washington, it trumps integrity, stripping us all of freedom, liberty and justice. The complicity goes further. I believe prominent Americans such as entertainers, authors, artists, musicians and athletes have a duty as people of prominence to use their influence for change, more so than others. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are brilliant examples. I fully understand the tightrope walk of those whose livelihoods or careers would be jeopardized by becoming politically outspoken - many are beholden to contracts with publishers or record labels who cringe at the idea. But this is at the very core of the problem, keeping quiet for money. Particularly for musicians and artists, whose greatest creativity often goes hand in hand with great honesty. 

Consumer products are complicit. From the movies you watch, to the music you listen to, to the food you eat, the fact that large companies decide who gets shelf space mean rabblerousers get canned, even after Michael Moore and George Clooney proved to Hollywood the public has a thirst for cage-rattling cinema. Even former CIA head George Tenet's own book got "delayed" for government review - but literature is the primary bulwark against a corrupt regime (because they don't like to read books). They concentrate on the media of the less literate: tabloids and TV. We can Bush-bash all day, (just look at what was posted on whitehouse.gov that day, it's all bad, all the time). 

But as awful as Bush is, he is still only a temp. The real disease facing us is the way DC politics work, with an election system that allows money to trump everything and with a merry-go-round of lobbyists and corporate stooges going in and out of Congressional office positions as if they were fantasy football trades. 

 We voted for drastic change and an end to the war and what did we get so far? A couple of non-binding, symbolic measures that couldn't even get past a minority filibuster. The idea of de-funding the war is still considered a "fringe" concept because no one wants to be seen as pulling support from the troops, even though it would be the President sending them to fight without bullets. Dems are afraid of the spin that will be put on it - "Dems de-fund Troops", instead of "Dems de-fund Bush". How about they approve the war appropriation but impose benchmarks for Bush to show evidence of progress by making Iraqis take standardized tests? Just talking here. 

Ridiculously, the Democratic majority is afraid that Americans won't understand the notion that Bush is the one keeping our troops in harm's way. Didn't Americans just overwhelmingly vote to end the war? Every exit poll and survey I've seen says so. But the Dems stick to the war plan, afraid the military-industrial donors in their districts will pull campaign funds and local jobs out from under them. Again, the disease which Bush is just a symptom of. Money trumps peace. U.S. defense contracts are the richest in the world by far, and are intentionally spread out across all 50 states so all politicians are "on board". 

Politicians also band together to fight - against the people - for ethics reform, election finance reform, even lobbying reforms. If we can't look at these problems first, we'll just end up with a Democrat in the White House beholden to big donors, SIGs, PACs and lobbies instead of a Republican. This will make the pendulum swing back again. Presidential campaigns drive big media in a big way, and as fun as it may be to handicap at home, passing campaign finance and lobbying reform would create a completely different breed of lawmaker - unbought. 

It costs $100 million to mount a presidential campaign nowadays, setting up a dynamic between government and media that both seek compliance from the voter. The billions they raise every campaign season, including your contributions are spent mostly on the media - TV advertising accounting for the lion's share. With big networks profiting, they can gerrymander immensely, making or breaking candidates with changing levels of "news" coverage. The whole process stinks and should be targeted for fixing before any specific candidate is supported. We talk incessantly about election reform, we all know the money is polluting the candidate pool. But we can never effect change because big money outspends us and outFoxes us every cycle. What would be helpful today is discussion of how to be more mobilized, more reactive to use "people power" to advocate for serious reform. With a majority on our side, it should be time for coalescing ideas into action. 

For 99 cents, can not we right some of the wrongs imposed on us by a subversive record industry and have a little fun with Mick and Keith? Just one idea. In considering our own complicity in problems today, I have one last question. And it's not whether you bother to recycle. It's not even whether you boycott ExxonMobil or Wal-Mart. What I am curious about is exactly how the DNC will choose the nominee in Denver in 08. Who is involved in making the final decision, what consideration is given to the will of the primary voters and whose money is in the piggybank? Will '08's candidate be decided by democratic means, or will money again trump the virtues described in our Constitution?

 

(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)
 
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