Articles Examining the Influence of Corporate Power on Candidates, Especially Presidential Candidates
There has been much talk about Hillary Clinton being the inevitable Democratic nominee, unbeatable not only in the primary but also in the general election, and if Democrats know what’s good for them, they’ll unite behind her & nominate her. Anybody to the left of her can’t beat her for the nomination and would have no chance in the general election, so they say. Nobody else has the name recognition necessary & the public won’t vote for anybody left of center. I completely disagree.
We’ve had corporatists as president since at least Reagan, during which time our democracy has decidedly been converted into a corporatocracy. We go back to Eisenhower before we find someone who at least warned us about the military-industrial complex (MIC), which in the last 30 years or so, has gradually but firmly entrenched its hold on the US. Not since FDR have we had a president that clearly chose the side of the people vs. big corporations. He is also the last president to be widely recognized as one of our great presidents. He put people to work on public projects, we got Social Security, our tax system became much more progressive, and unions became stronger under him. And the middle class boomed. The whole nation did.
Our Supreme Court is clearly corporatist. There are a few cases in which Justice Anthony Kennedy will break from the other 4 conservatives, but when it involves corporations, he always stands on their side. Congress is likewise overwhelmingly corporatist. There are just a few who consistently speak out against corporate power in government, most notably Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren.
Do the corporatists in the 3 major branches of government speak for Americans? Are most Americans corporatist? I would say most definitely not. Republican legislators are by & large overwhelmingly pro-corporate, one reason likely being because they get so much money from corporations. For whatever issue, even ones about which Republicans scream loudest on, if there’s any corporate consideration, the corporate preference always takes priority. For example, conservatives cry out loudly about the federal debt, but whenever it is suggested that taxes should be raised on the rich to bring down the debt, they say no way. However, citizens who identify as Republican are a lot more mixed: pro-corporate, anti-corporate or neutral; and it often depends on the specific issue which way they lean. Most voters didn’t think they were voting for a corporatist when they voted for Obama. Many Democrats voted for Obama instead of Clinton precisely because they didn’t see him as being corporate influenced the way they saw Hillary. But he clearly turned out to be, as evidenced by his Cabinet picks, especially his economic team, and his bailouts of Wall Street & the automotive industry, with no bankers going to jail, although some of them certainly deserved to.
There is really one dominant party: the Corporatocrats: they have a Democratic wing & a Republican wing. The Democratic Corporatocrats use the progressives to help win their battles, and the Republican Corporatocrats use the Tea Party & libertarians to back their aims, which aren’t all that different from the other side in the scheme of what really needs to be done, and neither the progressives nor the Tea Party can ascend to the dominant role in either faction (although they can & sometimes do make trouble for their corporate leaders), nor can they get much of what really moves them enacted. The corporatists have adroitly pitted the American people against each other: left against right, progressives against the Tea Party, fighting each other on the basis of divisive social & other issues like abortion, gay rights, gun control, religion, taxes & government size, as a way to keep them occupied over the relatively little things, while they (the corporatists & corporations) have surreptitiously taken over virtually full control of our government, letting other more monumental issues like global warming, environmental degradation, mass extinction, resource depletion, huge & growing wealth disparity, the huge & growing debt, our languishing education system, our fading scientific & medical research, our crumbling infrastructure & the subversion of our democracy (for which they’re largely responsible) all go unaddressed & unabated.
The fact is that the left & right have many of the same concerns, though often the sides attribute these problems to different causes: both sides are alarmed by our current ineffective leadership, although the right tends to focus on government, while the left focuses more on corporate power; in reality it’s the merging of the two into our current corporatocracy that is the gist of the problem. Corporations have control of our government. Our government answers to corporate concerns over the will of the people, because corporations have all the money, to which the corporatists (the vast majority) in our government respond. Civilians on both sides fear the NSA, are suspicious of the TPP, are strongly against messing with internet neutrality, are dubious about GMOs, worry about the poisoning of our environment & water supply, are angry about the Farm Bill & subsidies to Big Ag, are largely dissatisfied with our health care system both before & after the ACA (Obamacare), are against the Patriot Act & other usurpation of our rights, have a dim view of lobbyists, rail against the influence of money in government, believe the system is rigged against the little guy, complain about law enforcement brutality, mistrust the mainstream media & are frustrated at their lack of coverage of important issues, have a low opinion of all 3 branches of government, are cynical about both major parties, are generally either disappointed with or downright contemptuous of our last 2 presidents (and often further back than that), hate Wall Street, are afraid of our loss of freedom & democracy, & have a general feeling of gloom & doom regarding the future. The more I listen to both sides, the more points in common I find (I might point out that we the citizens of America may also have more in common with citizens of countries all over the world than any of us do with the governments & multinational corporations that rule us). All of these fears are justified & all are due at least in part to influence of the MIC in these areas. There are a lot of issues (ignored or aggravated by our corporatist political leaders) of mutual concern to non-corporatist citizens from all parts of the political spectrum. A savvy leader could make cause with both sides & unite us to work on them.
Obama, though he spoke like a populist, has shown himself to be at least as much a corporatist since he got into power. His Cabinet, especially his economic team, said it all. Hillary is even more tied to the corporatists. To many people she exemplifies almost as much as Romney what they hate about politicians and their moneyed connections.
Because she currently leads overwhelmingly in polls against possible Democratic challengers & against likely Republican opponents, she has much greater name recognition than other possible Democratic candidates (that’s why I can use “Hillary” & everybody knows whom I’m talking about), and she is centrist & centrists are supposedly the only kind of Democrats that can win elections, Hillary has been designated the sure Democratic nominee, and let’s all get used to it & rally behind her, more than 2 years before the election. But it is precisely because she has much greater name recognition that she’s so far ahead in the polls. When other potential candidates become more familiar to the public, there’s a good chance their numbers will rise. And whoever ends up winning the nomination, or even putting on a strong challenge, will have plenty of name recognition by then that it wouldn’t be a handicap against the Republican opponent. Hillary was far ahead in the early polls in 2008, but once people became familiar with Obama, his poll numbers rose, and he eventually defeated her.
Hillary romps over any Republican opponent mentioned, but the potential Republican candidates are notably weak this time, and her lead has diminished significantly from earlier in the year as has her favorable ratings. I’d think just about any reputable Democratic candidate would easily beat this Republican field.
Hillary represents to many of the people the same old corporatocracy that has dominated politics since the Reagan era and that is legitimately blamed for the relative slide in the US world position in virtually every aspect but the military. Same old same old! In other words, many people believe that nothing will significantly change under her presidency, at a time when so many important issues need to be addressed and policies radically changed. Therefore, many people, especially the young, would sit it out if the Democratic nominee was Hillary. They ditched her in favor of Obama, because of the hope & change he seemed to represent, but in the end, they were mostly disappointed because he didn’t change our system enough. Many Obama voters are unlikely to even vote this time if their choice is between 2 Corporatocrats.
Only someone who can connect with the ordinary citizen, who expresses their concerns, who shows by example to be willing not only to speak out but to fight the powers that be, who not only talk the talk but walk the walk, can arouse the youth to actively support him or her. 3 people come to mind immediately (though there are other possibilities) who exemplify the candidate they’re searching for: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders & Robert Reich, all who speak to their concerns with conviction, eloquently & forthrightly. While known progressives, I think they’re not only not afraid to, but have the ability to also reach people of different political persuasions, including independents, certain kinds of libertarians & some old-fashioned conservatives.
Warren would be a particularly effective candidate. She speaks with passion as well as compassion. She’s not afraid to dress down hated Wall Street & illuminate the injustices that give advantages to the rich & corporations over the common people. I think many people of all stripes can not only relate to what she’s saying, but see her as like someone they know: a caring teacher, nurse, aunt or friend of the family, who cared about their well-being & would stand up & fight for them. She would be a powerful candidate, and would likely win in a landslide & have the power of the people behind her like no one else in decades, which could help sweep both Houses for Democratic progressives, & give her strong clout. Of course, the powers that be would pour loads of money into advertising to distort her record, but I don’t think it would wash. The public is starting to wise up to that, and Elizabeth’s unimpeachable character can shine through any attempt to smear her. She resonates with everybody I know who’s familiar with her. Women especially love her and look up to her as an inspiration. She says she’s not running, and there are those who think she’d be a stronger force in the Senate. Maybe so, and if so, we have other great progressive candidates.
Bernie Sanders comes across a bit like a crotchety old man. But that may not harm him when he’s also known as a straight-talking person who tells it like it is. He’s not afraid to go to areas of opposition, and he’s not afraid to talk with the opposition to solve problems. He’s all about solving problems and has a pretty good sense of the nation’s priorities. He knows that climate change/environmental degradation & wealth disparity/economic injustice are the very biggest issues of our time and he has good ideas on what to do about them. He recognizes the seriousness of our national debt better than most Democrats & liberals. I agree with him on every position I’ve seen him take, which are a lot. The fact that he’s an acknowledged socialist could give him trouble with some segments of the population, but it has become less of a liability than it once was, especially with the young, who are more positively disposed to socialism than to capitalism. It’s likely that many others could be moved to change their minds about socialism after being exposed to him. His straight talk & the fact that he takes the long view on what’s best for the future will also appeal to the young enough to motivate them to back him. He has shown some interest in running. Since he’s not an official Democrat, I don’t know if he can or would run as a Democratic candidate. But if it turns out he runs as an Independent or a 3rd party candidate against Hillary & whatever Republican, I’d have no hesitation in voting for him, nor would a lot of other people concerned about where our nation & worlds are headed, who realize we need a drastic change in direction.
Robert Reich has been speaking out for the little man lately. As he puts it, he’s been standing up for the little guy against the bullies nearly all his life. He sees a lot of bullies today putting down the rest of us, and he’s pointing out how they’re doing it. He’s an excellent teacher, and he has these great sketches illustrating in clear, concise, easy-to-understand terms how we’re being cheated by the big corporations. He did a great one on global warming that I’ve used a lot, which was essentially that the consequence of not preparing for & trying to avert to our greatest ability global warming if it actually comes is far more catastrophic than preparing & making the relatively modest expenses to avert or alleviate it; in fact it’s actually better to prepare & for there to be no global warming than not to prepare and there to be no global warming, because the steps we’d take would improve so many of our other environmental, health & even economic aspects. In any case, his presentations are so good that I hopes he runs just to show them, or at least use them in support of another progressive candidate. He’s really a smart dude, so I hope he is active in the 2016 presidential campaign.
There are other potentially good candidates. I’ve only recently gotten acquainted with Sheldon Whitehouse. Here is a rare mainstream politician who has prioritized climate change above all else, which more need to do, and he’s a great advocate for taking action. I’ve also heard good things about Sherrod Brown & Alan Grayson, but I haven’t followed them or seen them in action; however, I do like Grayson’s reputation as a maverick, not being afraid to say what he thinks, or tackling the tough issues, and his realization that we need to spend within our means, all attributes that could gain converts from independents, libertarians & fiscal conservatives. A very unlikely candidate but another thoughtful, reasoned straight talker & someone with whom I agree on almost every issue is my very own congressman, Peter DeFazio. Finally, another guy with a reputation of being both a maverick & someone who can get things done, and a very effective campaigner is Jerry Brown. He would be a formidable candidate. He’s solved most of the intractable problems heavily indebted California faced. It’s in much better shape, though it faces that terrible drought & all its repercussions, so the nation looks to Brown to see how he’ll handle it. If he succeeds sufficiently, then I think there’s no stopping him if he decides to run. He’s not as consistently progressive as the other people I mentioned, but he’s very effective, and that counts for a lot. I guess a wishful candidate because he’s so intelligent, reasonable & persuasive would be Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I have no illusions that running for office is his cup of tea, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a scientist as president, who would make decisions based on the best available science?
Let’s not get on the Hillary bandwagon yet. We can do a lot better. And we desperately need a sharp change in direction to correct problems that have festered, been ignored and/or aggravated for decades under a long string of corporatist presidents. The last thing we need is another corporatist president who keeps us on the same course. If the Democratic Party doesn’t get it right this time, they’re in trouble & our nation is in trouble, and I will be actively trying to form a new transparent, anti-corporatist, populist, pro-democratic, anti-industrial capitalist, anti-militaristic, futuristic, visionary, environmental party to not act as a 3rd party, but whose intention is to replace one or both of the major parties, the way the Federalists, Whigs & Know-Nothings were replaced in the 18th Century. It can be done, and must be done to save our nation if the Democratic Party itself continues to fail to show clearly that is stands for the people against the corporate tyrants. There will still be a place for the corporatists: they can take either party they want, but I’m confident that a party that clearly stands for the people can easily overcome the corporatists in a true democracy, because the vast majority of Americans are not corporatists.
If the Democrats want to remain a viable party, they need to appeal to the young (the same would apply to the Republicans, but they’re hopeless). The youth of today are a different breed that’s not sucked into the traditional religious, 2-party, capitalist, consumerist mindset. They could easily go for a socialist, an anti-capitalist, an environmentalist, or a 3rd Party candidate that resonates with them. I’m not even sure they’d need to be convinced that the candidate has any chance to win. Any candidate that doesn’t strongly resonate with the young will not get their votes. Hillary doesn’t and none of the Republicans do, with the possible exception of anti-corporate, anti-war libertarians like Ron & Rand Paul. In fact, if it became a contest between Hillary Clinton & Rand Paul, the Republican might get more of the youth vote. If it were Clinton vs. most other Republicans, she’d get the majority of their votes, but most of the young would sit it out. If it were Clinton vs. a Republican vs. Sanders, I daresay Sanders would get the most youth votes.
This nation & world can’t afford another corporatist administration. No more talk without action: saying what they think the people want to hear, but still doing what the corporations want them to do. The monumental issues that confront us: our debt, economic injustice, the loss of our democracy, & especially climate change, can’t wait any longer. If we don’t make a sharp turn to the left & a big leap forward towards the future, we will be doomed to extinction one way or the other.
Of course, the onus isn’t all on the president. It’s really on us. We have to act, and make sure that we make our feelings very clear and no longer accept the status quo.
Someone asked "why no poll?" Didn't think of it. But now I take your suggestion. If you have a suggestion for someone not listed, please mention it