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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/19/09

Reinforcing The Two Party Myth

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Message Jon Faulkner

The presidency is a chance, for a man or woman, to join the elite - the upper echelon of society. That is its chief attraction. The trick to getting elected, and to make it look like there was an election, is to promise things the candidate knows he can’t deliver. The candidate knows perfectly well that a large percentage of the electorate know he can’t deliver, but will rationalize their votes with, “I chose the lesser of two evils.” The candidates always use the same theme. It’s all about change even though the candidate realizes a large percentage of the electorate know that any change will be only incremental tokenism - a sop to the voters. Universal health care comes to mind.

All of the privileges corporations enjoy did not come about over night. Corporate lobbyists spent many years, and many billions, bribing politicians to engineer the current climate of corporate privilege. Obama is only one in a long line of presidents who owe his office to corporate king makers. It is extraordinary that so many Americans seem to be taken by surprise, or are entirely unaware that corporations, and not government, are in charge. Dick Durbin is the Democratic Senator from Illinois. Said he, “The banks are the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. Frankly, they own the place." There’s a refreshing bit of honesty, and from a career politician.

During Clinton’s first term, Welfare was replaced with the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” Congress, by design, had forgotten to ad the addendum, “Corporations Excused.” According to the Census Bureau, of 14 million Americans receiving welfare, less than five million were adults, and 90% of that number were woman. Welfare costs were about one percent of the annual federal budget. The government had begun its retreat from compassionate consideration for those Americans who are less fortunate. If however, the banks and other corporations break themselves by their egregious acts of irresponsibility, they will be showered with taxpayer cash.

Many corporate welfare cases establish addresses overseas in various tax havens, and end up paying less taxes than a married couple earning $50,000 to $70,000 a year. Dick Cheney was the CEO of the poster child of corporate welfare, Halliburton. Faced with criminal indictments for fraud, bid rigging, bribery and gross profiteering in a war zone, Halliburton fled the U.S. for the United Arab Emirates. In May of 2007 Cheney attended Halliburton’s going away bash with other shareholders. The revelers were given sticks with which to beat a paella stuffed with cash. Taxpayer cash. Cheney walked away from the Vice Presidency at least $35 million richer, not including his annual salary from Halliburton of $1,000000. Dick saw no conflict of interest.

While Cheney was Vice President, Halliburton established a slush fund to bribe Nigerian officials. This was at a time when the federal law against “bribery of foreign public officials in commercial negotiations” was in effect. While serving as CEO, Cheney would have been responsible for Halliburton’s books which show clear evidence of violating the “U.S. Corrupt Foreign Practices Act.” Cheney is a thief, and worse, he’s a war criminal. He and Bush collaborated to commit more criminal acts than any previous administration since George Washington’s.

After eight years of Bush the ruling class knew it was time to give the democrats a turn. Obama is the perfect messenger of change. McCain had too much baggage, but Obama is not only black - a sea change in itself, but he is also articulate and convincing. Obama’s abandonment of his campaign promises were quickly lost in media smoke. Emerging from the smoke were the usual assortment of republican doomsayers who predictably condemned Obama as they always condemn democrats - as tax and spend liberals. The democrats rejoined with, “the Bush Administration skyrocketed the nation’s debt to $11 trillion! The all important ritual of reinforcing the myth of two political parties was underway.

In 2000, 51.3% of total eligible voters turned up at the polls. Junior was “elected” by about one quarter of all eligible voters. In 2008, 56.8% of all eligible voters turned out. That election marked the highest voter turnout in 40 years. A little better than a quarter of all eligible voters put Obama in office. This is hardly representative democracy, and the politicians, with their corporate masters know it. Americans, it seems, have their heads firmly stuck in the sand. They have been easy pickings for the corporate thieves, with their political accomplices, who have been robbing them of their money, and their freedoms, for decades. Somehow, millions of Americans remain fast asleep, and even support known thieves such as Bush and Cheney.

Any first year law student knows that professionals, doctors, lawyers, corporate CEO’s and politicians are held to a higher degree of accountability. Because the public has invested its trust in, for instance doctors, who perform surgeries or prescribe medications doctors must be held to a higher standard of behavior. Corporations violate the public trust at every turn because there‘s not much profit in trustworthiness. Elected officials are in positions that can bring harm to those who elect them to public office. Bush and Cheney have set a clear precedence that future administrations are above the law. Congress, whose sworn duty it is to investigate and prosecute such outrages as Bush and Cheney are guilty of, postures and blusters and fools millions. No democracy can long remain inviolable if its leaders need not conform to the same laws its citizens must obey.







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Jon Faulkner is a licensed Master Mariner. He has long considered the conservative republican mindset a form of mental illness. He lives in northern Maine.
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