We can evaluate Obama’s track record using statistics and apply them to unemployment, GNP, military spending and inflation (or deflation). This is probably how the GOP will try to portray his presidency. It’s an effective strategy mainly because many economic indicators were better when he took office then they are today. It’s easy to point to statistics and convince people, based on empirical evidence, that this nation was in better shape when George W. Bush was President. In fact, it’s so easy to manipulate numbers, that even a brain-dead candidate like Romney could “prove” that things have undoubtedly gone downhill since Obama took office.
There is no doubt that the Republicans will do their level best to keep Obama’s track record front and center. I believe that the GOP will consistently present charts and graphs, all the while whining about “free trade and budget deficits”. The prime motivator for this is because this is the only thing they have to run on.
It would be an un“MITT”igated nightmare if they chose to run on Romney’s track record as Governor of Massachusetts. The Democrats will undoubtedly use their own graphs and statistics to portray Gov. Romney as a Governor presiding over a colossal economic failure. There is plenty of cannon-fodder for ensuring that both candidates, by the end of this Presidential race, will have lost any luster that they had at the beginning of their campaigns.
While both corporate-candidates will be throwing numbers and percentages around until November, I believe that this time would be better spent examining all of the candidates. Not on their economic track record alone, but on their qualifications for holding office, especially the office of President. This means examining everything they have done, and everything they have failed to do, in their political careers and in their lives.
I would like at this time, to include the candidate from the Justice Party, former Mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson. Evaluating the qualifications of a Presidential Candidate should be an in-depth and comprehensive vetting process. Using graphs and flow charts, along with power-point presentations and ringing endorsements, is just not enough to be able match the candidate to the job. In fact, having only two major political parties to represent over 350 million people with diverse views on everything from economic policies to social activism is patently ridiculous.
Only two points of view shared between 350 million people is mind-boggling, especially when you consider that the two main parties are both controlled by corporate money and don’t operate in the American people’s best interests. They operate in their corporate benefactors’ best interests. This is fact, not fiction. Money decides the parameters of any American political debate today. While this has always been the case, it’s been especially true since the early 70’s. Since the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, corporate political funds will undoubtedly run the discourse in American politics until this decision is overturned by a constitutional amendment.
This state of affairs should be repugnant to anyone that has a modicum of common sense. No matter who wins this presidential race, all American citizens lose. This country is firmly in the grip of two political parties that depend on corporate funding to win elections. The Democrats will appeal to their base and claim that their party represents the much-touted but fast-disappearing “middle-class”. In reality, any thinking person must reject that view. To believe in that would mean that the Democrats will work just as hard to advance the average citizen’s point of view over the wishes of the corporate sector that provides the lion’s share of their campaign funding.
All of this means that the individual American citizen, unless they provide millions of dollars to either party, has no real representation in the White House or in Congress. The days of “one-man (or woman) one vote” are gone. This isn’t something that either candidate will focus on. To do so would mean that corporate America will support the candidate that accepts the status quo. It would mean political suicide for the candidate that rejects it. Maybe, if we are extremely fortunate after this election, brave politicians from the corporate-controlled political parties will fight to change this situation.
We have another alternative that doesn’t rely on the hope that these corporately funded politicians will develop a conscience. We can elect someone that rejects corporate funding of political campaigns. Still, after the debacle in Wisconsin and the demonstration of what corporate funding can do, I don’t see any evidence of conscience-based politicians emerging from either major political party. The only viable solution for getting corporate money out of politics is to elect someone that rejects this scenario, and the only one that has done this is Rocky Anderson.
Anyone that claims that it is impossible to elect a third-party candidate to the presidency should reconsider that claim in light of the new political scenario playing out across the nation. One undeniable fact is that Americans are extremely angry with both major political parties. Both corporately controlled political parties should be extremely nervous right now. The backlash from the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court is still an unknown factor. There is still five months before Americans go to the polls and elect a president.
I don’t see either corporately controlled political party refraining from using the Citizens United ruling as a campaign issue. They may attempt to refrain from doing so in the early days of campaigning, but once things start to look bad for either party, the ruling will become a central issue with both parties claiming that they represent the average citizen.
There is no doubt in my mind that both candidates will try to represent themselves as the champion of the “middle-class”. Once they do this, Americans will be exposed to what the Citizens United ruling really means. When the campaigns of both parties get down and dirty, nothing will be off the table. The more they claim to represent the majority of Americans in the “Middle-Class”, the more Americans will question their relevance compared to those that represent corporate America.
This is when Americans will decide to look around for an alternative. They will realize that the only real alternative is a candidate that doesn’t speak out of both sides of his mouth. This is when Americans will be guided to look at which party is supporting the corporate agenda. What they will find of course, is that both major political parties are funded by corporate America and corporately controlled PAC’s.
Most Americans realize that we have sold much of our manufacturing sector to countries overseas that provide cheap labor. Americans also realize that both political parties presided over this. When it comes to the financial sector’s bail-outs, most Americans have seen little improvement in their financial situation, even though Bush and Obama handed out trillions of dollars to the financial sector. Now they are seeing both political parties pointing their fingers at each other.
The Republicans are claiming that the reason we are in dire straits is because of the budget deficits and uncontrolled spending by the Federal government. They are also claiming that oversight and Federal regulations are strangling our economy. Meanwhile, Americans haven’t forgotten that the unregulated financial sector was responsible for the derivative debacle, and they are seeing this same unregulated economic sector still involved with this type of “casino economics”.
The Democrats are claiming that they are the ones that had to clean up the mess that the Republicans left them in 2008. They claim that they are the ones that stopped the melt-down of the economy when the housing market went belly-up. Still, even though we poured trillions of dollars into the financial sector, most Americans are finding that it is nearly impossible to secure a small business loan or a mortgage. The administration touts the claim that they have enabled millions of Americans to refinance their mortgages, the truth is that in reality it was thousands, not millions, that had their debt refinanced.
I could go on and on about Democrats and Republicans. We could go down the line and examine every decision by every politician and come up with a damning list of bad decisions. It would be a great idea for Congress and the Administration to review all of their decisions over the last few years. This won’t happen of course, but that doesn’t make it a bad idea.
A definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. This is precisely what we do every four years. This is what we will do in November. Maybe it’s time that we stopped this behavior. For decades we have been electing the “lesser of two evils”, voting for whomever they give us to vote for. Stop electing the people whom they decide we should elect. The time is right to start thinking “outside the box”. A vote for Obama or Romney is a decision to allow the “robber barons” to set the direction our nation will follow. Voting for Obama or Romney means more military adventures. A vote for Romney or Obama means ridiculous defense budgets even though there have been no declarations of war by Congress.
Voting for Romney or Obama will give us no effective controls of bad behavior by Wall Street. Voting for the Democrat or the Republican will give us four more years of drone strikes, extra-ordinary renditions, a continuation of the “War on Terror” and a continuation of the loss of our civil liberties. We are doing what Benjamin Franklin talked about and advised us against: Gaining security from the loss of liberty.
We Americans have a choice. We can either continue to make bad choices while expecting different results, or we can refuse to vote and/or work for the lesser of two evils. Both corporate political parties will expound on the differences between Romney and Obama. Both parties will make it seem that the results of this election are extremely important, and that if their candidate loses this election, dire consequences will result.
In reality, there isn’t a dimes worth of difference between ether candidate. If Romney wins, the wars will continue. If Obama wins, the wars will continue. There will be little change on Wall Street no matter who wins the presidency. We will move further towards becoming a fascist security state. This is the direction in which we are headed.
It seems that Americans will be facing a tough challenge ahead. The loss of our democracy, our civil liberties and our representative form of government is at stake. The only way we will stop the slide into fascism is to turn our backs to the corporate political parties, elect Anderson, and amend the constitution so that corporate money, defense industry money and donations from the 1% are limited in order that all Americans have an equal voice in a participatory democracy.
This is our moment in history. Americans will either rise to the challenge, or sink into a society where the richest segment of our society becomes the ruling class. Although the rich in this nation have always had a greater say in which direction we will be heading, soon it will be codified unless we fight back. If we ignore this moment in our history, if we don’t rise to this challenge, we lose our participatory form of government. The majority of Americans will lose their representation. It’s that important.
Some of you reading this might consider me an “alarmist”. I don’t believe I am. When the elections are over and Obama gets four more years or Romney becomes president, will Congress really attempt to amend the Constitution? Are there representatives or Senators that will actually introduce legislation to amend the Constitution? Senator Bernie Sanders has already introduced an amendment to stop corporate influence by changing the Constitution so that corporations do not have First Amendment rights and are not considered “people”. So far, the legislation has been dead in the water since he introduced it.
This is what we can expect in the future. Professional politicians (that make up the majority in Congress) will not support something that will negatively affect their campaign contributions, regardless of what they say in public. The time to have this discussion in America is now. We can’t put this off any longer. Just like the nations that rose up during the Arab Spring, we Americans must rise up and stop this charade now. We have no other options if we want to save our representative democracy.
Tim Gatto is the author of “Complicity to Contempt” and “Kimchee Days” published by Oliver Arts and Open Press. He is the former chairman of The Liberal Party of America. He currently lives in South Carolina.