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Democratic Shuffle

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Message Larry Sakin
Only a week to go until the 2006 midterm election, and by all accounts it looks like Democrats will get a shot at leading Congress again. People in my circle are rejoicing, breathing a cautious sigh of relief that the damage inflicted by twelve years of Republican rule will be over soon. I'm not so sure. While a change in leadership is certainly in the offing, will we really see much difference in legislative policy? I don't think so.

First of all, more incumbent democrats will be in place than freshmen, and this old guard isn't going to do much to upset the corporate structure still willing to fund their campaigns. In fact, a more likely scenario will be democrats using their new majorities to prostitute themselves to the same lobbying groups that have been courting republicans all these years. So the only real "change" we'll likely see is in whose palms get greased.

Want to see President Bush impeached? Forget it. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who will be the next Speaker if democrats pull off a victory, said last week she will quash any ambitions newbie's in Congress might have about accomplishing this. After all, a lot of rich, powerful people support the president. Pelosi isn't willing to risk access to these elites in order to remove Bush from power. Any movement to remove the president from office will probably come from Republicans upset that his incompetence has led to the GOP's loss of power.

Looking for troop redeployment from Iraq? Hope you have patience, because it will take a long time before a democratic leadership finds a good way to make this happen. Frankly, there are too many private interests making money off the war and they'll put a great deal of pressure on legislators to keep the conflict going as long as possible. Few of the democrat contenders actually have a plan for troops to leave Iraq- if you don't believe me, check out their websites. They all speak vaguely about the need to do something, but as we all know, there's a huge chasm between what politicians say and what they do once they're in office.

Are you praying for a solution to the Hurricane Katrina debacle in New Orleans? Don't hold your breath. Both parties on the local, state and federal level have been equivocating over the best plan of action there. In the meantime, bodies still sit in the emergency lanes of Interstate 10, decimated housing still stands, dislocated residents have no means to return to their homes and the levees haven't been improved one bit.

Where we might see some progress is on domestic and social issues. The democrats might be able to hammer out compromises to lower the cost of health care, allow prescription drugs from Canada to enter the US market again, ensure the future of Social Security without privatization, and put an end to enormous tax cuts for the wealthy and talk of gutting the estate tax. The gay marriage issue will be restricted primarily to ultra-right wing and Christian evangelical media, and there'll be a slow down in efforts to end a woman's right to choose what happens with her body. However, we won't hear about any programs to help the nearly 3,000,000 people that joined the ranks of the poor over the last five years, reclaim American jobs lost due to outsourcing or reinstatement of higher taxes on businesses. And if this Congress can get a raise of the minimum wage enacted, watch out for new government subsidies for manufacturers to open more plants overseas.

Why am I so pessimistic? Because money drives politics, and when special interests have cash to hand out, politicians have their hands out. There may be a few pure democrats elected who decide not to compromise themselves, but they'll have great difficulty finding support among their Congressional colleagues who are ensconced in the culture of greed that permeates elected office. This culture didn't start with the so-called republican revolution of 1994. It's been going on since the great age of industrialism was introduced nearly two hundred years ago. And like most established institutions, the culture of greed is just an accepted norm among those who take advantage of the largess. Nothing short of a revolution among our citizens will change this. But in a country where people pay more attention to how the Chicago Bears are doing over what the representative of Chicago's 7th legislative district has done, a revolution seems a little far-fetched.

The American people aren't ready to topple our hierarchical system of government yet. They may never be. And as long as we're all seduced by the mindlessness of American Idols and Desperate Housewives, the hierarchy will survive at least one more term to inflict damage.
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Larry Sakin is a former non-profit medical organization executive and music producer. His writing can be found on Mytown.ca, Blogcritics, OpEd News, The People's Voice, Craig's List and The Progressive magazine. He also advocates for literacy and (more...)
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