The 2016 presidential election was an excruciating experience for millions of Americans. Many are in a state of despair and disbelief. Like me, they wonder how we could possibly have elected Donald Trump as our president.
This election pitted the Establishment against the Anti-Establishment. A great number of Americans, including many who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, were fed up with a self-serving Establishment. After decades of being left on the sidelines, millions of voters enthusiastically backed Donald Trump, the political outsider who shrewdly crafted a message that addressed their frustrations. Finally, someone understood their anger and resentment.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton represented the epitome of the Washington insider. Most Democratic, and even some Republican, officials supported her. She had been around D.C. for almost 25 years. She knew how to play the game well and accomplished a good deal for our country over the years. But, in the end, Clinton had too much baggage to carry the day and win the big prize.
Nevertheless, despite the looming darkness of a Trump presidency, there just may be a silver lining to this election. I have long thought that things may have to get worse before they could get better. Many of us have been willing to go along with the status quo because our own lives have not seemed to been affected very much by the corruption and gross inequality in our country. While we might donate to various social causes and/or write a letter to our state or federal representatives, the vast majority of good Americans have had little time for organizing and volunteering to build a fairer, more just political system.
The election of Donald Trump very possibly changes all that. We have received a wake up call signaling that we are losing our democracy and becoming an oligarchy. With the implementation of Trump’s programs, I believe many more Americans will grasp how much politics and government policy can personally impact us in a negative way. Consequently, Trump’s election can be a great organizing tool for Democrats and progressives.
Moreover, if Hillary had squeaked out a victory, Trump and the Republicans would have constantly been attacking her. It would have been as bad, if not worse than how they obstructed Obama. She would have had a hostile Republican House and Senate on her back all the time. We would have had more Washington gridlock, another government nightmare with little chance of Clinton successfully pursuing much of her agenda. And, what she was able to achieve would, most likely, have been watered down to meet Republican and, quite possibly, her own donors’ objections. While progressives would have been lobbying for stronger social programs and climate change legislation, it’s really hard to imagine how they could have achieved very much under such conditions.
Now, instead, Trump and the Republicans control the whole government, ready to advance a right-wing agenda that favors big business, non-regulation and large tax breaks for the wealthy. Additionally, many of the hard-won, social justice advances of the last fifty years are in serious jeopardy. The lines between Trump’s course and one that would truly serve most Americans and our planet are now clearly drawn. That should make the need for building a broad-based, non-partisan national movement to revive our democracy even more urgent and, hopefully, our goal of a just society more obtainable. So let’s come together and get to work!
Go to www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com to learn how to get started. And, if you are in Santa Fe, come to the next meeting of the Democracy Organizing Committee on Monday, November 14, at 6:15 in the LaFarge Library Community Room.
It’s been way too long since I’ve written here. Now, however, I’m setting the intention to blog twice a week, if not more. So, here goes….
While the 2016 election cycle is about to end, our work as engaged citizens is just beginning. I believe this election, regardless of who wins, has finally awakened the American people to the fact that we are responsible for the state of our union.
Whether our government functions in the best interests of the people is up to us. Too often we have allowed the politicians and special interests to determine policy without regard for the public interest. For example, when President Bill Clinton negotiated NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement, was he looking out for American workers or big business? And, whose concerns guided our government’s decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial banking from investment banks? Wall Street or Main Street?
In 2003 when the Bush Administration promoted and initiated a war against Iraq, was that in the best interests of the American people? With then Vice President Cheney leading the way, Halliburton, Cheney’s former company, and other Big Oil corporations sought to profit from the needless killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the wasteful expenditure of trillions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.
More recently, when the 2008 Great Recession crippled the country, President Obama used our money to bail out Wall Street while doing little to help millions of his fellow citizens save their homes from foreclosure. In all these and other similar situations, the vast majority of Americans felt helpless, watched their government act against their best interests and did nothing.
But, the times they are a changing. A great number of Americans from all political persuasions are fed up with government as usual. They are giving notice that they will no longer stand by and allow Big Money and special interests to run the show. Whether they support Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, voters are angry and ready to fight for what they believe in.
When President Obama was elected, people thought he would deliver the”change you can believe in” that he had promised. They did not hold his feet to the fire to assure he would make good on his promises. While one can argue that Obama faced much opposition which obstructed his performance, we, the people, were not organizing the mass movement that would have provided the necessary support and force to overcome some of the obstacles he faced.
This time is different. We are under no illusions that either Clinton or Trump will produce the change most Americans desire. This time we know that it is up to us to battle for the kind of country we want. We must make our voices heard and demand real change for the public good, not the special interests. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
The Democratic Party is a disgrace and not worthy of its name. It is not democratic and has used its great influence to assist Hillary Clinton’s campaign and produce a very biased primary election process. The Party needs to be rebuilt by honest Americans, or we should create a new progressive party in 2017. See http://observer.com/2016/03/the-countless-failings-of-the-dnc/.
The bottom line in the Democratic primary race is: Do the American people want to continue to have a government run by the Establishment. Or, is it time we actually had a government of, by and for the people? That is really what Democratic primary voters will decide in the next few months. Who controls our government and who should be calling the shots?
Yes, there are real differences between Clinton and Sanders on policy issues. But, the big question is whether the Democratic Party will continue to be dominated by Big Money and centrist Establishment thinking, or will the rank and file members who know the system is rigged against them stand up and demand fundamental changes that will level the playing field and give regular people real political power.
In the recent New Hampshire Democratic debate Hillary Clinton claimed that big donors have never influenced her votes. While that may be true, big donors clearly have a lot more access to lobby her to adopt their positions on specific issues than average voters do. There’s no question that money buys access. You can bet that Goldman Sachs did not pay Clinton over $200,000 per speech just to hear her talk about her experience as Secretary of State. So, it’s not hard to imagine how Wall Street’s access to Clinton impacts her decisions; for instance, that a new Glass Steagall Act to rein in the big banks is not needed.
If the American people continue to allow this kind of high donor influence to control our government, then we will be complicit in the establishment of a government of, by and for Big Money and corporate America that will never meet the real needs and desires of the American people. Bernie Sanders is offering us the opportunity to end our corrupt campaign finance system and make our country a more equitable society. Call it revolution or call it democratic socialism. Whatever you call it, we’ll all be a lot better off if we actively work with him to revive our democracy.
It’s a new year with so much on the horizon. And, so much uncertainty. Who will win the Republican presidential nomination? As the actual nominating process is about to begin in earnest, it seems five or six candidates are still viable contenders. In fact, we may not know until their national convention next summer who will actually be the Republican standard bearer.
While the media and the Democratic establishment believe Hillary Clinton has the nomination all but wrapped up, Bernie Sanders’ campaign continues to build momentum and support. So, it’s quite possible Sanders could pull a populist upset and not only win the nomination, but also be our next president. (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/bernie-sanders-will-be-sworn-in-as-americas-45th-president_b_8909356.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592.)
I think, however, the bigger question is: What will you and I do to help determine the outcome of this pivotal election? Over our lifetime, whether you are 18 or 80, the prevailing trend in American electoral politics has been that fewer and fewer people participate in the process of selecting the leaders of our government, the people who control our lives and our country in very significant, even critical, ways.
Of course, we have many good reasons for not participating. Our political system is corrupt. Our votes don’t matter. It’s a waste of time and energy. It’s fixed. The establishment always wins. Why bother?
I must admit: It’s hard to argue with someone who holds that point of view. But this year just could be different. The anti-establishment contingent may be so big in 2016 that the old order finally gets thrown out. Trump and Cruz appear to have captured the majority of Republican primary voters. And, the Sanders campaign claims to have more individual financial supporters, over than 2.5 million, than anyone in the history of American politics. The voters are very upset.
Since I came of age in the early Sixties, we have witnessed one American tragedy after another. From the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations to the catastrophic blunders of the Vietnam and Iraq wars. As if that wasn’t enough, millions of people lost their jobs and/or their homes in the Great Recession of 2008 due to Wall Street fraud and irregularities. And, if that wasn’t enough, our government bailed the big bankers out with out tax money. Still, if that wasn’t enough, we stood by and let them get away with it. Today, those bankers are doing better than ever while most Americans have a difficult time just holding their own. The voters are very, very angry.
I saw “The Big Short” the other day. I highly recommend it. The movie clearly lays out exactly how Wall Street and the big mortgage lenders knowingly and fraudulently created a housing bubble that had to burst. Their greed and disregard for their fellow Americans threw the country into the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. “The Big Short” should be required viewing for all Americans.
But, perhaps the greatest tragedy is we, the American people, did not demand that those fraudulent bankers be prosecuted and held responsible. Just like we did not demand that the Bush Administration be held to account for the lies that got our country into the costly, needless Iraq War.
What is wrong with us? Are we Americans so weak, helpless or apathetic that we will allow Big Money to overrun our government and do anything it damn well pleases regardless of the consequences for our country and the rest of us? Are we too afraid? Do we have no self-respect?
Yes, Big Money is a powerful force to overcome. But are we going to succumb to serving its interests to the great harm of most Americans without a fight for what we know is right? Millions of Americans have fought and died since our country was born so that, as Lincoln vowed at Gettysburg, “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
This is Our Time. We cannot allow a plutocracy by and for the very wealthy to destroy democracy during our watch. Working together we can revive democracy in America. Read Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America and visit http://www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com for how you can help.
Hi! I’m back. I’m sorry that I’ve neglected my blog for the last 5 months or so. I was busy finishing, editing and preparing to publish my book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America: Working Together To Revive Our Democracy.
I’m happy to report that the book is going to the printer this week. The ebook should be on sale in the next few weeks and the paperback should be available the first or second week in December. At the same time, I’ve gotten my website, breakingbigmoneysgrip.com, up and running, though it still needs some finishing touches. Hopefully, they will all be done in the next couple of weeks as well.
So, why did I write Breaking Big Moneys Grip on America?
I wrote this book to focus attention on a very critical issue that Americans need to understand: the United States is on the brink of becoming a plutocracy run by and for the very rich. Our political system is broken, and we must fix it before we lose our representative democracy. Both as a nation and as individual Americans, we are in grave danger due to Big Money’s increasing control of our government. Here are just two examples of how Big Money’s control over our government has caused tremendous harm to our nation as well as to a great many Americans.
The Iraq War
When George W. Bush became president in 2001 the giant oil corporations led by oilman-turned-vice president Dick Cheney manipulated the country into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that posed an international security threat. While Ambassador Joe Wilson tried to alert us to the truth, Cheney’s Chief of Staff “Scooter” Libby lied and was later found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Big oil’s extreme influence over our government resulted in the United States initiating the Iraq War to gain access to Iraq’s huge oil and gas reserves. In doing big oil’s bidding, our country spent close to $2 trillion of our tax dollars; sacrificed thousands of American lives as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives; and effectively bred more support for militant extremists.
The Great Recession of 2008
During the Great Recession of 2008, while our government bailed out the big banks that had been primarily responsible for the economic crash, it did not aid the millions of Americans who had lost their homes or jobs. Despite the fraudulent and unethical business practices that had caused such devastating hardship, the Obama administration never prosecuted any of the Wall Street executives who had been largely responsible for it. Since Democrats and Republicans alike receive huge campaign contributions from Wall Street, no one in Washington wanted to risk damaging those relations. Now Wall Street is aggressively lobbying for less government regulation with some success, which may well lead to another financial disaster.
A current example of Big Money’s control of our government which will also cause great harm to a majority of Americans is the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. I will address that in my next blog, which will appear in the next couple of days. I will be blogging regularly from now on, at least 2-3x per week. So, stay tuned and pass the word on to your friends and others. More information about my book can be found at breakingbigmoneysgrip.com. Thanks! And hope you’ll join in the conversation.