the last election swept victorious Republicans into the House, the newly
elected immediately began ... ignoring their campaign promises. By early January of this
had already discarded their own "Pledge to America" by jettisoning the process
that would have ensured open debate, rendered "hypothetical" their pledge to
make one-hundred-billion-dollar spending cuts in their first year, and stripped
from their initial rule package the GOP promise that would have made committee
attendance public and thus accountable. After passing in the Republican-controlled
House, the repeal of the much-maligned health-care law stalled in the Senate, a
victim not so much of numbers but of being eclipsed in favor of the real enemy, labor. Those teachers, you know, with their tenure and pensions.
Seeing this, people are becoming incensed. "Buyer's remorse is setting in quickly," says Arjun Kaukumar for Daily Kos and OpEd News. The Republican house majority is endangered less than three months into Speaker John Boehner's regime, and the people will have their revenge. Next time, they'll vote the bastards out and reinstall the good guys!
And, after that, what do you think will happen? Haven't you noticed, since the last regime change, a certain lack of shift in policy? That was in 2010, when Obama came to power.Barack Obama, the "hope-and-change", the "yes-we-can" candidate. Candidate Obama promised us many lubricants to this country's rails, among them to eliminate capital-gains taxes for small businesses, bestow tax credits on businesses that hire new employees, allow citizens to withdraw 401(k) funds and retirement accounts penalty-free, close Guantanamo Bay prison in one year, return from Iraq all combat troops in 16 months, and, don't forget, ban lobbyists from his administration. All these promises and more lie fallow. To name a few: Lobbyists -- that one was broken even as he spoke; according to Chelsea Schilling of WorldNetDaily, his "campaign fund-raising team included 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million in 2007 to lobby the federal government". Guantanamo -- not only does the place still thrive, but early this month Obama signed an executive order resuming military trials for detainees. Earmarks --the reform that was alluded to from his first presidential debate has eluded them; according to The Washington Times, "Putting aside that the $787 billion stimulus package was one giant earmark, Mr. Obama has signed multiple bills stuffed with earmarks, most recently the defense bill that he signed last month. That single bill alone had 1,720 pet projects totaling $4.2 billion."
As to US foreign and domestic policy, do you discern any substantial difference between this and the previous regime? Of course, Obama has now made it known that he can kill terrorists, American or not, at will. Now anyone, anywhere, is game although I cannot call it fair. With that extraordinary assertion he exceeds even his predecessor. But isn't there a trend? From Reagan on, when the dismantling of the New Deal to Republicans' delight finally gained some traction, each new administration has gone a little farther in shifting the role of this country. Clinton gave us off-shoring through NAFTA, the Telecommunications Act that nurtures Rupert Murdoch and Clear Channel, and the demise of Glass-Steagall. And then, on the heels of George W. Bush, came 9/11 and proliferating plutocratic transgressions.
After Bush we were desperate for the
change that tantalized us (not all of us, of course--to their credit, some refused to take the bait). Yet it seems that, almost from the moment he took office, Obama
But, when you think about it, aren't they all? Ever-increasingly, any difference between the Republican and the Democratic parties lies only in campaign promises and vapid rhetoric. Once elected, candidates' promises are discarded and they commence their real service, no matter who is at the helm. Ralph Nader said it well. "The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference." And he made that statement well before "Citizens United".
Some people, especially at this site, have seen it happen, this sudden turnabout, and rail against it. Ever wonder how it happens?
The newly elected enter the process mainly in good faith,
but, once inside, the climate of secrecy, the constant need for money, and the
opiate of power combine into something that passes no smell test. To
some extent it was always so; yet nowadays the stink is rising.
Glenn Greenwald is a lawyer-journalist who
began blogging politically in 2005, not long before Bush's illegal-eavesdropping
scandal. When word of the eavesdropping came
out, Greenwald considered it a straightforward political gaffe that would
receive the legal treatment it deserved as a felony. But time passed and, although
discussion was plentiful, nothing happened.
As it became increasingly clear that nothing would happen, Greenwald initially blamed the hypocrisy of the
Republicans, overlooking a blatantly illegal act by one president after having
one decade earlier impeached another because of the 'rule of law'. And he blamed the Democrats for their cowardly
refusal to speak out forcefully against it.
Meanwhile, journalists were largely excusing the eavesdropping as
something necessary to protect us, so Greenwald had to start wondering about
the fourth estate's apparent allegiance to that which it once observed
critically. Not long after that, it
became clear that it wasn't just the government alone that was eavesdropping; government was being abetted by large telecom companies.
Eventually in fact something did happen, and one person experienced legal repercussions from the illegal-eavesdropping scandal. That person was the mid-level Justice Department whistleblower who originally brought it to light.
Since those days, Greenwald has undergone a metamorphosis. He no longer blames Democrats, Republicans, journalists, or corporations in isolation for the ills that plague us, for none of them operate that way. Greenwald calls it, that force that seems to take control, "the permanent power faction that runs the US and runs the governments with which the US is allied"--a consortium of government and corporate power that uses the law to shield itself and to attack those who dare to divulge its secrets. What politicians rely upon "more than anything else to preserve their power and to carry out the actions they undertake, is this wall of secrecy . . . It is that secrecy that enables them to operate in the dark and therefore operate without any constraints, moral, ethical, legal, or any other kind. This is not a new concept. If you look at what political theorists have always talked about for centuries, if you look at what the Founders talked about, the gravest threat to democracy and to a healthy government is excessive secrecy, because people are human beings, and human nature is such that if you operate in the dark, you will start to abuse your power."
These days, since the regime of the "yes-we-can" candidate commenced,
many of us see vanishingly little difference between it and the last. And it could be argued that the current one is even darker than the last. But this cloud of disappointment and disillusionment can be condensed to a focal point. Today's unrelenting condemnation and
persecution of whistle-blowers in general and Wikileaks in particular Greenwald
attributes to an ongoing but practically silent struggle between the vestiges of
democracy and what he calls the consortium of power. To wield and retain its power, the consortium
requires allegiance, resources, and above all secrecy.
At this point, since the 'defense'-bloating and liberty-stealing events
of 9/11, the exchange of a free press for a compliant one, the elevation of
corporations to supra-human status with all the rights and none of the
responsibilities, the dismantling of societal and environmental safeguards, the
perpetual state of distraction and polarization of the people, and two or three
everlasting wars, the consortium appears to have its adversary in a headlock.
But the struggle is not entirely over--as we have seen, some courageous people are still refreshingly capable of resistance. Don't think that the American political consortium is not eyeing warily, agitating against, and as much as possible undoing, the unrest in the Middle East. It will bring every force and act to bear, all the while spewing the same old shop-worn, blatant hypocrisies that the press will faithfully regurgitate, lest it happen here.
But it must happen here if we are to survive. There will be no rescue; we must rescue ourselves. So let us quit playing into the hands of power, pacifying ourselves with movie-star meltdowns or agitating against ourselves when it , the power consortium, is our real and common enemy. As retro as it may sound to say it, we are in a power struggle now, and the sooner we recognize it the more ably may we too, if we have the courage, put ourselves on the line to resist.