The 2012 Republican Primary is the latest evidence of the complete domination of the nation’s political system by elite interests and a putrid and unholy corporate-government alliance.
The prominent feature of this sham is the spectacle of wealthy donors showering millions on shady, fly-by-night entities called Super PACs. These groups are dedicated to destroying candidates with slick advertising pieces of dubious veracity. Instead of policy, votes are decided by the ability to garner support from the wealthy and the creativity of hacks specializing in political communications.
Back in Washington, Congress has difficulty backing wildly popular and beneficial things like extensions of unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts. But these same corporate-backed legislators shower cuts in capital gains and income taxes on wealthy campaign donors.
Feigned concern about spending is broadly contradicted by support for trillion-dollar defense spending bill and billions in tax aid to oil companies. The passage of laws allowing the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial and the wanton restriction of free speech on the Internet show a false concern for the Bill of Rights.
Now that we know the system is broken, what does the future hold? For one thing, the continued awakening of the American populace to the nation’s appalling levels of inequality of wealth, opportunity, and political influence is cause for optimism.
The tramplers of the Constitution have not yet stripped the non-wealthy of all voting rights, so an awakened populace retains the power to change the national conversation at the ballot box. Their support should go to politicians who will provide funding for social programs, education, and infrastructure. the repeal of obscene tax cuts for the wealthy and investor class would also be a good start, among many other agenda items.
Outside of Washington, it is often forgotten how much power our towns, cities, and states have to change lives through ordinances and statutes and creative uses of funds. Larger cities can achieve progressive policy goals unattainable, thus far, on the national level. One example is the creation of municipal health plans to achieve universal health care within their borders, slashing healthcare costs and muzzling greedy health insurance companies. Others have successfully decriminalized marijuana possession, saving millions in wasteful spending on failed drug interdiction and unnecessary prosecution and imprisonment of U.S. citizens.
The point of all of this is that, as many say, “all politics is local.” Despite crushing evidence of the corruption of Washington, D.C. institutions, citizens can and must take action on the local level to ensure their interests are represented in their local and state governments.
Strong representation on the local and state levels will eventually reach critical mass.
At that point, it will make itself felt in the nation’s capital, in the form of policies and legislation that benefit the many, instead of the few.