Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Politics in the "Land of the Free (to be Bought & Sold)"

America loves to thump its chest about its "democracy". But the facts say something else. Here is a bit from an article by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone magazine:
But the ugly reality, as Dylan Ratigan continually points out, is that the candidate who raises the most money wins an astonishing 94% of the time in America.

That damning statistic just confirms what everyone who spends any time on the campaign trail knows, which is that the presidential race is not at all about ideas, but entirely about raising money.

The auctioned election process is designed to reduce the field to two candidates who will each receive hundreds of millions of dollars apiece from the same pool of donors. Just take a look at the lists of top donors for Obama and McCain from the last election in 2008.

Obama’s top 20 list included:

Goldman Sachs ($1,013,091)
JPMorgan Chase & Co ($808,799)
Citigroup Inc ($736,771)
WilmerHale LLP ($550,668)
Skadden, Arps et al ($543,539)
UBS AG ($532,674), and...
Morgan Stanley ($512,232).

McCain’s list, meanwhile, included (drum roll please):

JPMorgan Chase & Co ($343,505)
Citigroup Inc ($338,202)
Morgan Stanley ($271,902)
Goldman Sachs ($240,295)
UBS AG ($187,493)
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher ($160,346)
Greenberg Traurig LLP ($147,437), and...
Lehman Brothers ($126,557).

Obama’s list included all the major banks and bailout recipients, plus a smattering of high-dollar defense lawyers from firms like WilmerHale and Skadden Arps who make their money representing those same banks. McCain’s list included exactly the same banks and a similar list of law firms, the minor difference being that it was Gibson Dunn instead of WilmerHale, etc.

The numbers show remarkable consistency, as Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup all gave roughly twice or just over twice as much to Obama as they did to McCain, almost perfectly matching the overall donations profile for both candidates: overall, Obama raised just over twice as much ($730 million) as McCain did ($333 million).

Those numbers tell us that both parties rely upon the same core of major donors among the top law firms, the Wall Street companies, and business leaders – basically, the 1%. Those one-percenters always give generously to both parties and both presidential candidates, although they sometimes will hedge their bets significantly when they think one side or the other has a lopsided chance at victory. That’s clearly what happened in 2008, when Wall Street correctly called Obama as a 2-1 (or maybe a 7-3) favorite to beat McCain.

The 1% donors are remarkably tolerant. They’ll give to just about anyone who polls well, provided they fall within certain parameters. What they won’t do is give to anyone who is even a remote threat to make significant structural changes, i.e. a Dennis Kucinich, an Elizabeth Warren, or a Ron Paul (hell will freeze over before Wall Street gives heavily to a candidate in favor of abolishing their piggy bank, the Fed). So basically what that means is that voters are free to choose anyone they want, provided it isn’t Dennis Kucinich, or Ron Paul, or some other such unacceptable personage.
Go read the original to get the whole story and the links to follow up.

When will the American public wake up to the charade that passes for "democracy" where the rich have bought and sold the whole process and only let the "little people" play bit roles before they are shuffled aside to let the big boys milk the system for what they want.

The whole process is so predictable that Taibbi can already read the presidential election results ten months before the election is held:
Most likely, it’ll be Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama, meaning the voters’ choices in the midst of a massive global economic crisis brought on in large part by corruption in the financial services industry will be a private equity parasite who has been a lifelong champion of the Gordon Gekko Greed-is-Good ethos (Romney), versus a paper progressive who in 2008 took, by himself, more money from Wall Street than any two previous presidential candidates, and in the four years since has showered Wall Street with bailouts while failing to push even one successful corruption prosecution (Obama).
When the "voice of the people" can be ignored because the rich have already bought the result, that isn't "democracy". That is plutocracy.

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