We haven’t even gotten past the very important 2014 midterm elections before our attention is already being diverted to the 2016 campaign. If we must then let’s use this time to understand what it really is we should expect from whoever will be replacing Obama more than three years from now.
As reluctant as some of us are to start thinking of the 2016 Presidential race, we are dissuaded from doing so by the political machinery in place. Along with news shows constantly barraging us with this non-news we are already being inundated with ads on all of the websites we visit with the favorites of the D.C. insiders – Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and currently, Chris Christie for the GOP.
In all likelihood there will be no one that the GOP offers up that can entice me to vote for them. That Party has sunk to the lowest common denominator and has less credibility as a viable option at this point in history than they were following the Great Depression. They are wholly owned by the wealthy special interests today. But only slightly better is the Democratic Party who at least still offers a shred of hope for the common man and woman. That is however if we the people prevent them from nominating another neo-liberal.
In dealing with profound changes and crises in our national life, we have two political parties with different philosophies. The Republicans want the government to abandon any pretense of seeking economic and social justice and allow economic power to rule us without opposition. The Democrats still believe in greater equality and the provision of basic services, but they cannot make these things come true because they are now determined to do so within the context of our new economic system and its distribution of economic power. – David Kaiser, The Crisis Goes On
Kaiser’s statement illustrates that the Democratic Party today is not that much distanced from the free-market, anti-government model that Ronald Reagan evoked back in the 1980’s rather than one that built a strong middle class that evolved in the post WW II days by combining a limited, free-market model with enforceable government regulations to check the greed of the wealthiest 1%. Hillary Rodham Clinton is sadly the personification of what the Democratic Party is today.
How Did the Clintons Alter the Party of Roosevelt-Truman-Kennedy-Johnson?
I don’t think I was much different from most liberals back in the 80’s who were crushed by the successes of the GOP on the back of Reagan and his acolyte, George Herbert Walker Bush. When the 1992 elections rolled around many of us weren’t that willing at first to climb onto the Clinton wagon in their early campaign years but did so later when we realized the game had changed. Their ruse to use the free-market model to achieve social changes seemed to be the only way we could take back the White House and sustain Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
The Clinton’s have always had great populist appeal because they have the political savvy to strike emotional chords with the common man and woman. And to their credit they have indeed championed causes that seek to level the playing field for us all as opposed to the deceptive trickle-down mentality championed by the Reaganites. But what lies below the surface that wasn’t apparent to most of us at the time was the collaboration between the Clintons and Wall Street elites.
Hoping that this commingling with Wall Street types was only a temporary maneuver in a long-term effort to bring back the New Deal successes of the Roosevelt era, many of us went along, even though it gave the appearance of capitulating to the type of people who years ago tried to bring down the FDR administration. How naive we were to think these captains of industry were different from earlier periods where powerful wealthy interests controlled the politics of their time to gain an edge over the working class population.
We thought Ross Perot was talking out of his ass when he claimed that the loss of high paying jobs with great benefits would become part of the “giant sucking sound” we’d hear once the Clinton and GOP-favored NAFTA trade agreement went in to effect. How prophetic it all seems now as wages and benefits have dropped even more dramatically since then than were already occurring under Reagan’s policies to deregulate everything. The straw that broke the camel’s back for many of us was when Clinton went along with the Republicans to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act back in 1999, which ultimately led to conditions that enabled the Great Recession of 2008.
This would lead me and millions of others to oppose Hillary Clinton as the Democrat’s nominee in 2008. I admire Ms. Clinton on some levels, based on what little I actually know about her as a distant observer. But what seems clear to me is that she and Bill are made of the same cloth. I sensed that in 2008 and for that reason I wasn’t looking for a repeat of the 1990’s where the middle-class took some serious hits from Clinton’s neo-liberal economic views.
It was my hope that Barack Obama would change that direction which the Clinton’s began and hold to to this day. Like JFK’s daughter, Carolyn Kennedy, who promoted the nomination of Barack Obama along with her Uncle Teddy back in 2008, I too presumed that the junior Senator from Illinois was channeling her father’s political leanings, which hopefully would lead to the end of the Reagan era policies that have been so detrimental to vital social programs, perpetuated by the neo-liberal policies of the Clintons.
I’m older and wiser now and have re-learned the lesson that appearances are deceptive and talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk. Not that I regret voting for Obama over both John McCain and Mitt Romney. He was after all the lesser of two evils and even provided some relief from the ongoing downward trend that the middle class suffers from today. But it’s clear that he is little more than what the Clinton’s were and are – proxies for the wealthy elites.
This small powerful force doesn’t oppose the social issues of gay marriage, abortion, birth control or immigration reform, which gives them the appearance of being friendly, because inherently such issues do not obstruct their primary goal of achieving financial hegemony within our economy. But should that reality change we will discover, I suspect, how quickly the wind changes when the elite’s control and massive wealth is threatened.
For all of the positive things that we can attribute to Obama there is much that he has done to undermine the needs of the middle class while enriching very wealthy people, starting with his appeasement moves toward those who would undermine Social Security and Medicare, his collusion with Congress to gut the STOCK Act, and his failure to prosecute Wall Street Executives for their role in the economic collapse. A failure so bad that one federal judge called it “one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years”.
And like Clinton who helped pass NAFTA, the Obama Administration is fully behind a secretive new trade agreement that “suits the needs of corporate power, while undermining the interests of people and the planet”, hoping to get this legislation fast-tracked through both Houses of Congress before the public is aware of this sell out to the American consumer. Then there is his Justice Department’s unprecedented assault on whistle blowers who are revealing unwarranted spying on U.S. citizens
The astounding income disparity in this country exists today, not because as free-market devotees presume is the result of capitalism’s success, but because the wealthiest have a stranglehold on our political machinery that allows them to dictate policy. There is no real competition when 10 giant corporations essentially control, “either directly or indirectly, virtually everything we buy”. It makes no difference to the 1% which Party is in power provided that those who get elected are in line with the for-profit mentality that has ushered in a new Gilded Age period in the 21st century.
So if not Hillary, who then?
It remains to be seen I suppose on who all the options are for the Democratic nomination. Right now there are stirrings aimed at getting Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 Presidential race.
WASHINGTON — Could Sen. Elizabeth Warren run for president in 2016?
The New Republic makes the case for the liberal Massachusetts Democrat as a potential rival to presumed front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in their latest cover story.
Warren declined to speculate to TNR about 2016. “You’ve asked me about the politics. All I can do is take you back to the principle part of this,” she said. “I know what I am in Washington to do: I’m here to fight for hardworking families.” SOURCE
You can’t help being drawn to Senator Warren. On close examination her ideas are more populist than her attackers who want to paint her as a socialist are willing to concede. She shows a lot of that same empathy for middle class concerns that Obama did in 2008. And like Obama in 2008 Warren is an expressed opponent of the Wall Street excesses that have continued despite the weak and ineffectual attempts by Democrats to rein them in. But unlike Obama she is bent on breaking up the banks considered too big to fail. It is likely too that she will be more willing to prosecute those bankers that engaged in unethical practices that led to the Great Recession.
But is Ms. Warren beyond that lure of fame and promised wealth and power that ultimately led the Clintons to dance with the devil. The age-old axiom that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” tends to hold true. If it can happen to a poor boy from Hope, Arkansas and a mixed-race lad from a middle class family who once championed the plight of the disenfranchised in his Chicago neighborhood back in the 1980’s, it can happen to just about anyone who, once elevated to the oval office, can now rub elbows with powerful, influential people with more money than they can spend in ten life times.
That’s the lesson for us all this time around. The Obama critics in 2008 were right for the most part. There was more glitter than there was substance. The criticism however was as much from those who wanted Hillary as it was from the GOP. The very people who have done the greatest damage to the American middle class. The only alternative they were offering was much of the same, just in a different package.
We need to go beyond the rhetoric and look deeper into the soul of people who want to tackle this awesome job of herding cats. There of course are no guarantees that we will find what were looking for but we need to search for that person who has endured this trial by fire and remained relatively true to the values that made them popular with the electorate. We assumed too quickly that Obama’s background had helped to develop this set of values without understanding that he had already been mesmerized by the advantages of wealth that would shield him from being the disciplinarian he needed to be towards those who take advantage of working class people everyday.
Well-financed campaigns who oppose people who aren’t corporate friendly will bust the balls of those who don’t play by their rules. Such people have influenced both major Parties to block any threat from 3rd Party candidates as was the case last year when Jill Stein and Cheryl Honkala of the Green Party were arrested when they attempted to attend the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. last year.
Perhaps now though with the successes of the Occupy movement and the growing awareness of the ever-expanding income gap between the haves and the have-nots we can gain a foothold in achieving what we have failed to do since Kennedy was in office
But first, we need to be sure not to overlook the importance of imposing this type of scrutiny in next year’s midterm elections lest we allow yet another set of incompetent, self-serving people to fill some of the seats in Congress like we did in 2010. We can achieve this by staying properly informed and active. Below I have provided resources to help achieve this. Do what you can when you can. Doing nothing however is not an option.
Media & Information Sources
Lone Star Project (For Texans)