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"So what we have here with these 17 bozos is a level of hypocrisy that has seldom – if ever – been seen in our political discourse, and a corporate media that all but ignores it." (Image: DonkeyHotey/flickr/cc)

Americans Have a Chance to Declare Independence from the Corporate Oligarchy

John Atcheson

For the first time in a very long time, a candidate who represents the average citizen appears to have an outside shot at winning the Presidency.  Will we have the good sense to elect him? 

First the facts.

If you were to examine which candidate most closely represents the expressed will of the people – including the voters -- it would be Bernie Sanders

  • Bernie favors raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans – so do nearly 70% of Americans;
  • Bernie advocates closing overseas tax loopholes for corporations – so do 85% of Americas corporate leaders and 68% of the voters;
  • Bernie favors aggressive campaign finance reform – over half of the voters agree with him;
  • Bernie wants to expand Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – so do the vast majority of America’s voters (Republican candidates have been trying to cut them since they were passed, and Hillary? She’s been all over the place on these issues);
  • Bernie wants to cut subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, but he supports them for renewable energy – so do the vast majority of American voters.

Pick an issue, any issue, and Bernie and the majority of American people are likely to be in lockstep. Financial reform, income disparity, health care policy, jobs, foreign policy, economic policy, climate change, environmental protection -- even on the so-called wedge issues such as gay marriage, abortion etc – for the most part the majority of voters agree with Bernie.

We know this agreement is real, because Mr. Sanders speaks in clear, unequivocal language about what his positions are on the issues of the day.

Where’s Hillary Clinton on the Issues?

In contrast, we have Hillary, the cipher candidate, who won’t answer questions; who equivocates on the issues; and who speaks in vague generalities and stunningly calculated language that is designed to say nothing. Of course, her end game is to try to con progressive voters into supporting her without alienating her corporate funders.

As a result, her campaign is completely devoid of substance, passion and principles. For example, when pressed on trade, the best she could come up with was, “listen to Nancy Pelosi,” then followed it up a few days later saying she “…probably” would not vote for it …at this time …” Can you get any squishier?  Just ask outgoing leader of the Communication Workers of America, Larry Cohen, who tried desperately to get a clear stance on Fast Track from Clinton and couldn’t.  He’s now backing Bernie.

Hillary seems willing to say just about anything she thinks voters want to hear, if it doesn’t lock her into a policy position.  In fact, that’s been precisely the case in the past.  Remember her comments about “dodging sniper fire” in Bosnia?  Brian Williams got suspended for these kinds of lies.  In our reason-free elections, Ms. Clinton gets to be the front runner. 

And How About the Gaggle of Anti-Enlightenment Hypocrites Running for The Republican Nomination?

Speaking of a flight from reason, how about those 17 or more Republican candidates?  Here, we have a complete retreat from the Enlightenment – and positions that are almost exactly opposite to what the vast majority of Americans embrace on the issues voters say they care about most.

All of the Republican candidates favor some form of “trickle down” economics; they all favor tax cuts for the rich at the expense of programs supporting middle class and low income Americans; they all want to roll back financial reforms on Wall Street and the big banks; gut environmental regulations; continue subsidies to oil and gas companies while gutting subsidies for renewables. Most want to privatize social security, Medicare, and Medicaid ... the list is endless.

It’s not a crime to go against the grain of the American voter if it’s done out of principle.  But the Republican’s positions are an illogical assortment of irrational rationalizations designed to disguise the fact that they are a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America. 

It only works because the press gives them a pass on an astounding mix of willful ignorance and rank hypocrisy.

For example, Republicans have recently taken to railing against income inequality, after advocating the policies that created it for more than 30 years and counting.  Does the press note this blatant hypocrisy?  Hardly at all.

Republicans tell us “government is the problem,” then do everything they can to make sure it can’t provide solutions -- like arsonists posing as firemen.

Or consider their rabid rhetoric on the dangers of deficits – spoken while they simultaneously cut taxes to the uber-wealthy, support overseas tax shelters and domestic loopholes for corporations, and refuse to pay for more investigative positions requested by the IRS which would enable them to collect an additional $300 billion or more a year in lost revenue.

Of course, much of that missing revenue would have to come from the uber-rich or corporations.  Oh, and if you were to add legal tax dodges – again mostly benefiting the rich and the corporations – the total lost revenue to the treasury is in the trillions. Simply collecting taxes due and closing these loopholes would make balancing the budget and paying down the deficit a snap. 

But hey, cutting deficits only seems to matter when it makes government smaller and less able to constrain corporate excess.  After all, didn’t Saint Ronnie say gubmint is the problem …

Then there’s the annual Paul Ryan fantasy budgets that jack up the deficits by as much as $63 trillion for 50 or more years in order to give fat cats and corporations huge tax cuts, while screwing the poor and the middle class. Republicans enthusiastically vote for this absurdity, year after year, while – again -- simultaneously ranting about deficits.

And each year, this bit of fiscal pornography is delivered with straight-faced pronouncements about balanced budgets. Huh?  And year-after-year, the press, sprinkled with magic trickle-down fairy dust, calls it a “serious” document and lets the Republicans get by with presenting these budget busters as a “deficit-reducing budgets.”  Double huh?

Oh, and while they rail against big government and government intrusions, they want to authorize government to bug your phone, home, internet connection and mail without a warrant.  They also want government to tell you who you can marry, what sexual practices you may – or may not -- engage in … on and on the parade of irrationality goes.

Big government seems fine when it’s in your pants, bedroom or home – but not if it inconveniences corporations and the uber-rich.

Or take austerity budgets – which they claim to support. As Paul Krugman has been pointing out since 2008, the empirical data – you know, reality -- shows that austerity budgets, which Republicans claim will grow the economy and create jobs, slows down both economic growth and job creation.  In fact, at a time when borrowing costs are near –- and in some cases below -- zero and we could put people to work fixing our decaying infrastructure, austerity is not only inhumane, it’s grotesquely stupid.  But hey, those are just facts. Inconvenient facts if your real agenda is to gut government for your corporate cronies.

Speaking of irrational – what’s a good climate denier supposed to do when the science and the reality of anthropogenic climate change become so obvious that denial begins to appear … well … stupid?  Why, pass a law forbidding your scientists from mentioning it.  Orwellian newspeak ain’t got nothing on the Republican Party.

So what we have here with these 17 bozos is a level of hypocrisy that has seldom – if ever – been seen in our political discourse, and a corporate media that all but ignores it.

There Can be No Independence While Plutocrats Control Elections and the Government

Both Hillary’s general platitudes and the completely whacked out inconsistencies of the Republican Party are rooted in the outsized roll corporations and the rich play in US politics. 

You would think the press and the people would take note that only one candidate is reflecting the values and positions favored by most Americans, rather than those of corporations and fat cats.

But chances are, you would be wrong.

The corporate-owned media, and the simple-mindedness of most Americans will assure that one of the 17 mental midgets and/or hypocrites on the right will face Hillary Clinton – who is basically to the right of most Americans – and Bernie Sanders, the guy Americans agree with, will be tarred and feathered and run out of the elections with an ad-hominem like “socialist” or “communist.”

Unless, of course, a miracle happens – the Americans people dig into their wallets and put a little bit of their money where their mouth is and give Sanders a fighting chance in our bought and sold elections.  If we buy the elections for ourselves, we just might elect the one candidate who would make it impossible to buy them in the future.

It would be a fitting celebration of Independence Day if Americans did just that, but don’t hold your breath.  In our quadrennial flight from reason, we rarely exhibit such wisdom.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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