Thursday, November 04, 2010

Following the Money

The press analyses and extrapolations based on Tuesday's election results have continued almost unabated in the 48 hours since, mostly presenting it only in terms of the eternal Right vs. Left/Republican vs. Democrat/Conservative vs. Liberal divide.  In a way it makes sense for the media of either partisan stripe to frame the discussion in those terms, because it not only allows the narrative of an unending ideological struggle to continue, but also keeps notions of digging deeper at bay.  In my view, reading any kind of an ideological mandate -- left, right, or center -- into this election is to overlook the elephant in the room: the moneyed interests who've insured that their voice will be heard irrespective of which party holds the reins of power.

Not helping things during this cycle was the impact that the Supreme Court's "Citizens United v. FEC" ruling (which I previously discussed here) had on the race, but it's no secret how even the Obama admin's most progressive initiatives paid undue and, given the circumstances, improper attention to preserving the very status quo that's gotten us into trouble, whether insurance companies or big banks.  It all leaves you feeling like something far more systemic is being ignored in favor of temporary fixes that amount to Scotch tape and baling wire.  A few weeks back, the great Bill Moyers (whose late, lamented PBS show is still deeply missed) gave a talk on the subject of how our system of democracy has already given ground in some very fundamental ways to a plutocracy, regardless of which box you mark on the ballot.  Says Moyers:
Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. The name for what’s happening to our political system is corruption – a deep, systemic corruption. I urge you to seek out the recent edition of Harper’s Magazine. The former editor Roger D. Hodge brilliantly dissects how democracy has gone on sale in America. Ideally, he writes, our ballots purport to be expressions of political will, which we hope and pray will be translated into legislative and executive action by our pretended representatives. But voting is the beginning of civil virtue, not its end, and the focus of real power is elsewhere. Voters still “matter” of course, but only as raw material to be shaped by the actual form of political influence – money.
So, so much more from Moyers at the link, and all of it is worth a read.  And be forewarned that you're in for a very depressing morning.

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