The Freedom of No Choice

[This piece began its life in response to CTMan's Independents, Fastest Growing Block of Voters, Reflect... Me?.]

Back in the dark ages, when I was young and a voter for the first time, I was a registered Independent.  That was partly due to the fact that I'd not enough insight or experience to know my own leanings much less to have tested them against party platforms.

What I call myself now is a lower-case "P" progressive and, like anyone stuck in the bipolar power struggle that disallows new entrants, I consistently aim to choose lesser evil. 

On rare occasion, I've considered "R" but that's become an impossible choice in the last ten years, or so.  Now, there's no choice in light of documents establishing that Republicans have been the proxies of a racketeering operation.

Max Baucus is a capital "D" example of why I can't be a knee-jerk Dem, though there are several I respect on that side of the aisle.

As I've considered the disappointment delivered by the full-house Democratic majority, I've come to a few tentative conclusions as to what's going wrong.

Beyond the adage that it takes time to turn something the size of a Titanic, the most fundamentally important consideration I have had to acclimate myself to is the fact that this full-house majority is not only saddled with the disasters of the Republican Revolution, but their elections depended upon the same campaign finance machine that's been case-hardened by the denizens of K Street while leveraging the GOP for so long. 

The need for campaign finance / lobbying reform -- it needs to be a revolution, not a rehab -- is not even a spark in the synapses of anyone in Congress, right now, and the institutionalized subversion of our democracy by K Street is why the little guy's agenda gets nowhere close to inclusion in 'stakeholder' discussions (Max Baucus had single-payer advocates ARRESTED).

But this issue arises, as I've learned, from Supreme Court decisions made in the 70s which established that corporate free speech is as protected as that spoken by actual persons (ie., we bleed).  When money equates to speech, the little guy has little chance against big profiteers.  I'm finding a very interesting detail of these decisions in an aptly-titled google book offering, "Gangs of America" where I chased down the case I'd heard about, First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti.

Remarkably, a key author in those rulings was one Nixon appointee and former member of the board of Philip Morris, Justice Lewis Powell.  You may know of him through the infamy of his Powell Manifesto

Powell wrote the Manifesto in 1971 before his SCOTUS appointment, in response to an executive of the Chamber of Commerce (now the single largest lobbyist in the country) and the sheer bloody irony of the following passage pretty much tells the story through the contrast of a generation's time. 

The Neglected Political Arena


In the final analysis, the payoff -- short-of revolution -- is what government does. Business has been the favorite whipping-boy of many politicians for many years. But the measure of how far this has gone is perhaps best found in the anti-business views now being expressed by several leading candidates for President of the United States.


It is still Marxist doctrine that the "capitalist" countries are controlled by big business. This doctrine, consistently a part of leftist propaganda all over the world, has a wide public following among Americans.


Yet, as every business executive knows, few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders. If one doubts this, let him undertake the role of "lobbyist" for the business point of view before Congressional committees. The same situation obtains in the legislative halls of most states and major cities. One does not exaggerate to say that, in terms of political influence with respect to the course of legislation and government action, the American business executive is truly the "forgotten man."


Current examples of the impotency of business, and of the near-contempt with which businessmen's views are held, are the stampedes by politicians to support almost any legislation related to "consumerism" or to the "environment."


Politicians reflect what they believe to be majority views of their constituents. It is thus evident that most politicians are making the judgment that the public has little sympathy for the businessman or his viewpoint.


The circumstances which have evolved under Republican-corporate domination are those inherited by Obama and the full-house Democratic majority. 

Until those change, by whatever means, two-party rule will remain dominated by the one-dollar agenda, I'm afraid. 

Somehow, the wisdom of Janis Joplin fits here, with the song about what you do with 'nothing left to lose'.


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