The US election campaign in 2012 has been uninspiring from the start. It plays out against a backdrop of declining economic prosperity, endless overseas war and a breakdown in civil and political rights. Incumbent plutocrat-stooge President Barack Obama displays downright diffidence against his equally phony challenger, fellow oligarch ventriloquist dummy Mitt Romney. Years from now, this 2012 election campaign in the United States will be seen as the defining political expression of its current dysfunctional society and economy.
Most polls show President Obama with a small lead over Mitt Romney. But given the byzantine procedural logic of the US electoral system it is perfectly possible in a tight race for a candidate to win a US presidential election with fewer votes than the rival candidate, as George W. Bush did against Al Gore in 2000. This is so because US Presidential elections are indirect, decided by an electoral college of 538 electors composed on the basis of the country’s fifty states Congressional representation.
One important effect of this electoral system is that only a handful of “swing” states generally decide the outcome of US Presidential elections. The outcome in the majority of states is very predictable. In fact, fewer people tend to vote precisely because election results in the majority of states are a foregone conclusion. In this 2012 Presidential election the swing States are generally regarded to include Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa and Florida.
Will Obama win? Or will Romney? Almost all opinion polls currently put Barack Obama ahead of Romney. But with several weeks still to go before election day, bad economic news or some overseas crisis could wipe out Obama’s lead. In this first election after the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, massive corporate funding yet to be deployed in the campaign may well favour Romney. Likewise, dishonest manipulation of electoral rules and election day skulduggery will all play their part as they have in every previous US election, as even former President Jimmy Carter has acknowledged.
Corporate oligarchy, US fascism
In any case, the US political system is a corporate plutocracy operated increasingly for the benefit of the country’s corrupt, repressive oligarchy. As Henry Wallace, Roosevelt’s Vice-President, wrote in 1944, “The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.” – (Henry A. Wallace, The Danger of American Fascism, New York Times, April 9, 1944).
Nearly 70 years later, the processes to which Wallace tried to alert his compatriots are irreversible. The combination of corporate financial, media, military and technology interests in the US now offers the classic profile of a fascist State. Politicians ape democratic processes at the behest of corporate paymasters whose indiscriminate subornment of the nation’s political classes rendered the US effectively a one party State decades ago.
No matter which candidate is elected in November this year people in the US will continue to be deprived of basic civil and political liberties. Their communications are subject to ever increasing surveillance through measures like the FISA Amendments Act. Their elections are dominated more than ever by corporate money following that 2010 Supreme Court decision in the controversial Citizens United case allowing unlimited corporate electoral funding. Before that ruling, election campaign funding was limited to US$2000 per individual citizen.
A recent U.S. Census Bureau report also showed economic inequality in the US is greater than for 40 years. The Gini inequality index is now .463. In 1968 it was .351. Around 15% of the US population, over 45 million people, live in poverty. In practice, the number is much greater because the official poverty threshold does not reflect the true cost of living in many parts of the US.
Median household income is at its lowest level since 1995. Ordinary people suffer from the stagflation effects of stagnant wages and ever increasing basic household costs. The US ranks 49th in the world in terms of infant mortality. Another key health indicator, maternal mortality, has worsened since 1980 to currently double the figure in most Western European countries and in Canada.
Obama’s repeated betrayals
Among the more noticeable of President Obama’s betrayals have been those in relation to ordinary working people. His government failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act which as presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama had promised he would promote so as to help workers organize unions. Nor has the Obama administration increased the minimum wage. Real unemployment including all categories of people covered by the Bureau of Labour Statistics figures, is well over 14%.
In terms of civil liberties, President Obama’s officials have trashed habeas corpus. His officials administer targeted assassination around the world, including of US citizens, both by death squads and by unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) strikes with no judicial control of any kind. This US government contempt for the law is deep-rooted and widespread. It extends into every area of political and economic life, perhaps most destructively in the key area that has sunk the US economy : housing.
Sanctioned systemic fraud
For example, critical informed comment in the US has noted that the Inland Revenue Service has refused to investigate and prosecute wholesale abuse of Real Estate Mortage Conduits. These were entitites established for tax purposes to help render more profitable the securitization of mortgages for Wall Street carpetbaggers and their shadow banking accomplices. From 2004 and earlier, many thousands of these so called REMICs violated the conditions granting them tax exoneration. But, to protect the crooked US financial system, Obama regime officials have pressed the tax authorities not to prosecute.
This failure has deprived the US Treasury of much needed income by many billions of dollars. It has also made it easier for banks and other financial institutions to pile pressure on many thousands of home owners at risk of foreclosure even though their mortgages are of dubious ownership thanks to faulty conveyancing. The Obama regime has notoriously failed to give adequate assistance to home owners in distress following the US financial meltdown in 2008.
That failure to apply tax law has its parallels in the area of financial fraud too. Prosecution records show that individual crooks in Wall Street are extremely unlikely ever to face criminal prosecution. Similarly, delinquent banks like J.P.Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank or Wells Fargo face relatively small fines compared to the scale of the profits they make from breaking the law. The much vaunted Dodd-Frank legislation, supposed to address failings in the US financial system, was just one more ineffectual compromise doing little in practice to address rampant corruption in the United States’ finance, equities and housing markets.
By contrast, individuals who report official and corporate wrongdoing face the full brunt of aggressive government prosecution. Bradley Manning, who revealed the routine criminal murderous behaviour of US troops in Iraq, is the most extreme example. Manning faces a lifetime in gaol while the US authorities reward brazen human rights violators. Numerous other cases abound.
The message is clear. Wealthy white-collar criminals and criminal financial organizations with political influence will be protected. Principled individuals, conscientious journalists and government workers, trying to do the right thing for their fellow citizens will be crushed either via judicial proceedings based, for example, on the 1917 Espionage Act, or through outright threats and harassment.
Every four year’s the US oligarchy offers voters a choice between two flavours of plutocracy mediated through an entrenched corrupt class of politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and psy-warfare journalists. Within that context, the struggle by liberal and progressive interests to maintain credibility has effectively legitimized a relentless rightwards shift in permissible thought and opinion. False beliefs and downright ignorance dominate the intellectual production of the US corporate mainstream media and much US alternative media.
Entrenched media dementia
From a global perspective it has long been entirely reasonable to describe Western psy-warfare information media – especially in the US – as a demented minority-mainstream. NATO country information workers – a tiny minority globally – still dominate global news output thanks to their imperialist countries’ accumulated technological and financial advantage. So it is no wonder false beliefs dominate the current US election campaign.
Among the most typical false beliefs are that the US is the freest country in the world, the most prosperous country in the world, a country that promotes peace, freedom and prosperity overseas. In fact, the US is one of the most intolerant countries in the world where ethnic minorities and migrants suffer notoriously systematic discrimination and abuse, especially in the criminal injustice system. Among OECD countries, the US ranks along with Mexico and Turkey in terms of inequality. Over the last decade, the US and its allies have provoked major wars of aggression, destroying previously stable, prosperous countries like Iraq and Libya.
Domestically, the contradictions between US wealth and the way the oligarchic poltiical system distributes that wealth are insane. The US corporate disinformation media constantly inform their huge national audience that the US cannot afford current funding commitments on health and social security, but that it can indeed afford higher military spending than the rest of the world’s major industrial nations combined. Likewise these same corporate media constantly report that teachers and other public servants in the US have to be fired because there is no money to pay them, but also that, without many trillion dollars in bailouts and soft loans, the US financial system would collapse.
Perhaps the most pernicious and insidious demented corporate media messages are that the US is seriously committed to fighting organized crime and money laundering and decisively combats global terrorism, especially Al-Qaeda. In fact, even the United Nations anti-narcotics office has complained that the US financial system launders hundreds of billions of of illicit narcotics proceeds annually. Nor does anyone dispute that the US and its NATO allies have armed and funded Al Qaeda terrorists in both the Libyan countervolutionary war and the copycat-Contra war in Syria.
The contradiction between the common currency of absurd false beliefs in the US and universally acknowledged reality outside the US is characteristic of a failing empire. It explains categorically why the US government continues to lose influence around the world despite the global power and reach of its military and its corporate media. Constantly deceived US voters may not have an entirely monolithic electoral option, but the differences do not affect the consolidation of the US into a totalitarian corporate militarist oligarchy.
Back in November 2008 when most US voters went dewy-eyed over Barack Obama, it was clear to independent observers that he was a ruthless mercenary social-political climber, ready to say and do anything for the sake of power and personal aggrandizement. The continuity between his regime and that of George W. Bush bears out this judgment. The same continuity will apply if Mitt Romney should cause an upset and win the election this November.
Neither candidate is favoured by current US demographics. Millions of so-called baby-boomers, born between 1945 and 1960, are entering retirement heavily in debt as a result of the housing collapse that began in 2007. Its effects will not work themselves out for another five or six years. That huge demographic segment will work longer and consume less as they seek to pay off debt and eke out their retirement income.
Conversely, for the next five or six years young adults who are college students or recent graduates face bleak unemployment or under-employment while also carrying the burden of debt from onerous student loans. Neither presidential candidate will address the needs and concerns of these huge numbers of people at both ends of the population’s age spectrum. They will not do so because the ruling US oligarchy bought Obama and Romney a long time ago.
Both in foreign policy and on the US economy, Obama has followed long established policy fundamentals espoused by both parties ever since the demise of the Soviet Union. Even if Romney wins, he will do the same. Domestically, that enduring policy consists of promoting a low wage economy, defending elite corporate interests against those of the low and middle income majority. The US plutocrat oligarchy have implemented that programme in a context of increasing domestic repression justified by fake offensives against narcotics and terrorism.
The overseas corollary to increasing domestic economic inequality and repression has been increasing militarist aggression against vulnerable independent small countries and belligerent moves to contain Russia and China. This foreign policy will not change no matter who is elected President in November 2012. These overseas and domestic policies are solidly entrenched under the domince of the US oligarchy whose candidates are the only practical political option on offer to US voters.
This election will certainly mark a decisive turning point in the global decline of US influence. The US “free market” economic model no longer delivers prosperity to its people. The US political oligarchy is incapable of satisfying people’s legitimate aspirations to security and liberty. The US corporate-dominated environmental model has betrayed the very land and water of which the national territory is composed, on which the US population depends for a healthy existence.
While people in the US choose which flavour of oligarchy to endure for the next four years, people in Latin America are making a democratic choice for socialist-inspired political programmes. In Venezuela’s presidential elections, Hugo Chavez looks certain to win yet another huge majority. Likewise in Nicaragua, all the opinion polls show Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista party are heading for another historic triumph in the country’s forthcoming municipal elections.
In both those countries, as in fellow member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) like Bolivia, Cuba and Ecuador, the majority composed of people from low income families have a real political choice. The political opposition in all those countries advocate absurd delusional free market policies of the kind championed by the US oligarchy. It is no surprise voters in the ALBA countries consistently choose reality-based political programmes using socialist ideas to create a newly prosperous and self-confident Latin America free of the dead hand of US political and economic control.