As more and more of us ordinary Americans wake up to the smiley-faced nightmare of how the Corporatocracy (Dems & Repubs) has taken over every aspect of our lives, and how powerless we are to significantly improve things, more and more justifiably frustrated, angry citizens will unfortunately resort to impatient, violent attempts to change the way the cards are stacked against us.
Yesterday, I spoke with a few anti-Obamacare demonstrators gathered in front of the building in which my Congressional Representative has his office (it was, of course, closed on Saturday). They were there as part of yesterday’s national “Tea Party Patriots” demonstrations against Obama’s attempt at health INSURANCE reform (which should not be confused with actual health CARE reform, since that would require a single-payer system such as Medicare for All which Obama took off the table long ago). This dialogue, initiated by me, was preparatory to my joining a nearby group of pro-universal health care counter-demonstrators gathered to offset the anti-Obamacare demonstrators.
I identified myself as a supporter of health care reform, we were civil to each other, and we all appreciated the right of our freedom to peaceably assemble and express our differing viewpoints. I asked them what “Obamacare” they were opposing, since no bill has yet been finalized, and they mostly referred to H.R. 3200. We all agreed that its more than 1,000 pages were ridiculous, considering, as I pointed out, that the original Medicare bill totaled 28 pages. They complained that our Congressman refused to hold a Town Hall on Health Care, so I suggested that a few of them arrange a meeting with him before the recess ends, as some of us have, but they told me they had tried and failed. I asked them if they opposed Medicare, and most said they didn’t, though they complained about the increased government spending needed to rescue both Social Security and Medicare, which would lead to higher deficits and inflation. However, none of them complained about the increasing costs of our wasteful, unnecessary, aggressive wars for empire.
They seemed to fear losing their “freedom of choice” of medical insurance and having the Federal government, which they all view as both more corrupt and more incompetent than private businesses, run/ruin/restrict/ration their medical insurance, envisioning incompetent, uncaring bureaucrats will make decisions about care, treatments, physicians & hospitals, and upward-spiraling costs. Too many of them seemed to have an attitude of not caring if tens of millions (a number which they dispute) are not covered by health insurance, as long as they have theirs. They resent having to pay more and more taxes to cover others, especially immigrants. There was little notion of a “commons” or a responsibility to help alleviate the plight of others less fortunate.
In addition, so many of these “Tea Party Patriots” seem to have swallowed the RepubliKKKlan Kool-Aid that their views were either unintentionally absurdly humorous or too rigidly set for dialogue. One woman had a poster portraying Obama as an African witch doctor, but our presence caused her to stop displaying it after one of us accused her of holding a racist poster. Indeed, racist fear of “the [darker-skinned] Other” (Obama, Sotomayor, immigrants) is one ingredient of the hysterical calls to “bring back my country!” Another demonstrator, when it was suggested she watch the repeat showing of “Bill Moyers’ Journal” Sunday night because it features the plights of three families without health insurance, replied, “Moyers is a communist!” Another one seriously insisted he gets a variety of viewpoints: he watches Hannity as well as Limbaugh. A fourth one, when asked if she also considers police, libraries and public schools “socialism” snapped, “It’s not the same thing!” and stormed away.
The anti-Obamacare protestors slightly outnumbered our group, and, in contrast to ours, who were all near or past Medicare age, their group included a few twentysomethings as well as many mostly over-40’s. Motorists who passed us honked in agreement at either one group or the other. Some flipped us the bird; more flashed us peace signs. After an hour of both groups chanting at and past each other as well as at passing cars and buses, I left. Aside from generating more heat than light and creating sound and fury signifying very little, I doubt much was accomplished by their demonstration and our counter-demonstration.
But why are rabid right-wingers so angry while growing numbers of progressives are increasingly frustrated by Obama’s stated attempt at health care reform?
In his Huffington Post article “Why the Gang of Six Is Deciding Health Care for Three Hundred Million of Us” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/why-the-gang-of-six-is-de_b_265684.html), former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich attempts to understand why President Obama and the Democratic Party’s Congressional leadership has given so much power to six Senators on the Senate Finance Committee who represent states with no more than 2.6% of our nation’s population. But, ultimately, after repeatedly stating, “I don’t get it”, Reich gives up.
One very plausible answer to Reich’s attempt is the article “The Baucus Caucus: PhRMA, Insurance, Hospitals and Rahm” by the indispensable, indefatigable Jane Hamsher
Taking Hamsher’s article into account, my conclusion is that Obama & Rahm Emanuel, like Bush & Karl Rove, care mostly about securing their respective party’s long-term dominance, which means as much financial support from as many powerful sectors (Banks/Wall Street, War Profiteers, Coal & Oil, Big Pharma, Health Insurance & HMO’s) as possible.
Sincere concern for “the little guy” runs a far distant second (if it even truly exists) to that overriding goal. For proof, only examine Obama’s continuation of some of the worst Bush/Cheney policies which hurt ordinary people most: the endless quagmires/wars/occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; force-feeding torture of prisoners in Guantanamo; unreported treatment of prisoners in Bagram; lucrative government contracts with armed mercenaries such as Xe (formerly Blackwater); government spying on Americans along with immunity for telecoms helping that spying; bailing out Wall Street banksters while Main Street unemployment and home foreclosures increase; and failure to stop mountain top removal which pollutes streams, rivers and valleys.
As always, the infamous Watergate advice is wise: follow the money. Who benefits by all these anti-human policies? Corporations.
This is not cynicism.
This is facing the facts of the Corporatocracy we live in.
Open Secrets (http://www.opensecrets.org/) lists the 2008 campaign donors for all the presidential candidates and all Congressional candidates. Follow the money.
That’s why Obama gave so much power to the “Gang of Six”, so they can get the blame and deflect what he is really doing to the rest of us and for his, & the Democratic Party’s, corporate funders.
That’s why single-payer was removed from discussion before anything else.
That’s why Speaker Pelosi can say no House bill without a public option while Steny Hoyer can contradict her by saying a public option may not survive.
That’s why the Obama Team, which ran such a brilliant election campaign that “Brand Obama” won Advertising Age’s Marketer of the Year Award for 2008, only seems confused now, but really isn’t. Like Bush’s Iraq invasion and occupation, Obama’s health care “reform” will accomplish EXACTLY what it was planned to do all along: reward handsomely all those corporations which funded it.
Profits are precious; people are expendable.
So watch what Obama does, and follow the money, not what he says.
At this point in our history, most of us are fed up with the current state of things, but many, especially on the so-called “right”, cannot bring themselves to fully accept the corporatization (profits and share prices are all; people are nothing more than commodities to increase those profits) of everything, including government and media, because that implies an attack on “business” and “the free market”, both of which are venerated as ‘sacred’ by too many Americans. This simplistic veneration of “business” and the mythical “free market” serves only to divide us as it further empowers and enriches the ruling elite, while the rest of us suffer. But unemployment, home foreclosures, family bankruptcies, illness, pollution, climate chaos, hunger, homelessness, and, worst of all, wars, don’t discriminate against “right” nor “left”, “conservative” nor “liberal”. Only the ruling elite and their rapacious, predatory corporate culture profits off of all these tragedies, and more and more people worldwide, now finally including Americans, are waking up to this inconvenient, unpleasant fact of life.
What is needed, much more than “better” candidates for office or a Third Party in our morally corrupt political system, is an anti-corporate People’s Movement which transcends the debilitating, self-defeating delusions of “right vs. left” or “liberal vs. conservative” and emphatically and consistently chooses people’s needs over corporate power and profits. It must certainly include the now-dormant anti-war movement, but go far beyond that.
If we could begin such a movement devoted to social/economic justice and fairness, which are the prime prerequisites of true peace, the decent candidates and party will follow. One possibility: US Social Forum 2010: Vision and Goals (http://www.ussf2010.org/vision-and-goals). In our history, great progressive social movements such as abolition, suffrage, workers’ rights, civil rights, and anti-war have always paved the way for eventual changes in legislation and even the creation of political parties.
But the truly sociopathic (conscience-less) ruling corporate elite and their current Corporate Tools in Congress and the White House have all the wealth and the citizen-suppressing weapons, and control the Fawning Corporate Media, so, short of a nation-wide General Strike to bring everything to a standstill, I don’t see any way out for us ordinary people any time soon. Hope is not enough. Organization and perseverance for a long-term, multi-generational struggle are now necessary.