Our Corporate Democracy

Democracy is never perfect, of course, even in a majority-ruled society of twenty people somebody is always going to be unhappy with the final vote.   On the other hand, ideally, the minority gets a fair chance to persuade the others of their point of view, influence the conversation so that compromises can be made to protect their interests before the final vote.   An important element of democracy is protection of the rights of minorities, those who lose the vote.   Democracy is not supposed to be a zero sum game where 51-49 always wins and those with the 51 votes get everything and the side with 49 votes gets to simply suck it, losers.   That’s democracy by schoolyard bullying.

Rule by the people, in America, is done through elected representatives who are supposed to advocate for us.  It is far from a perfect system, we know.   In New York City, where I live, a billionaire who was mayor for the first eight years of the decade decided he wanted four more years.  In NYC mayors are limited to two terms by law. This super-wealthy businessman turned politician was intent on a third term.   He enlisted key ambitious city politicians to overrule the will of New Yorkers that mayors be limited to two terms, a will expressed twice in recent years, so that he could run for a third term.   It was to be a one shot deal, special for him, because of the Great Recession of 2008, a steely billionaire genius of business was needed, he argued.   He outspent his Democratic opponent $108,371,688 to $9,352,416 and narrowly won his third term. [1]  Money talks, bullshit walks, it was the rich fuck’s own money, nothing to see here, freedom of speech, blah, blah, blah.

Democracy, as it is explained in American civics class, is rule by the majority respecting the rights and needs of the minorities.  Democracy is an imperfect and messy system, as prone to corruption as any, but in theory and practice it is superior to having a king, a dictator, military rule.   

Sadly we have some very privileged people, born into obscene wealth and believing, no doubt, their high birth reflects the will of God, who have worked hard and shrewdly the last forty or fifty years to change our political system, to move it away from democracy and toward something else, a system that protects their super-precious liberty above all else.   They have moved America toward a system that actively and increasingly protects the liberty of a few to have everything, to destroy the earth itself in pursuit of even more wealth, the liberty to do whatever they want with nobody to tell them no.  An end to government coercion and tyranny, so-called health, safety and environmental regulations that kill the initiative of our most valuable citizens, the “job creators”.  

After all, poor people who do dirty and dangerous jobs have taken on the risk themselves– liberty!   Assumption of risk!   Why should a coal mine owner be forced to pay if a careless miner is dismembered?   Liberty.   Same goes for so-called health regulations — everyone has the liberty to guard their own health.   Drinking water, the tap water piped into your house is unsafe to drink you say?   Have bottles of it flown in from Fiji, that artisanal water is said to be the best in the world.   As for the earth, it is ours to do with as we please, in the name of liberty and unlimited profit, just as Jesus himself drew it up.

These ultra-wealthy “libertarians” have been organizing and spending pallets of money to advance their extremist views, with increasing success in recent years.  In addition to spending billions on electoral advertising they have formed numerous “think tanks”, some of which have become prestigious, funded academic programs, created a corporate entity that writes laws for state legislators (ALEC) established a nationwide, ideologically pure right-wing business network for law students and prospective federal judges (The Federalist Society) and taken dozens of other intelligent steps to influence public policy.  The fucking Koch Brothers, the main architects of this political revolution, have recently crawled out from under their $100,000,000,000 rock to take a few victory laps before they die (they are both around 80).  

I have to touch up this piece about the history of their movement, with its roots in the lunatic fringe John Birch Society (Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Commie, so was the Republican Earl Warren) but you can get more details of their successful long game here. 

I encountered this great quote from one of our incompetent president’s most manifestly incompetent cabinet secretaries, Betsey DeVos.   The controversial Ms. DeVos won confirmation as Secretary of Education by a single vote — the tiebreaker cast by fellow Christian zealot Vice President Mike Pence. [2]   51-50, fair is fair, Ms. DeVos, who gave so many of her family’s millions to extreme right wing causes over the years, got her reward.  She is currently in charge of the educational policies of our great nation.   Here is what she said about her family’s political generosity (from Wikipedia):

The Atlantic noted that DeVos had indicated in a 1997 op-ed that she expects results from her political contributions. “My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” she wrote. “Now I simply concede the point. They are right.”[39]She also stated in the op-ed, “We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues … We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican Party to use the money to promote these policies and, yes, to win elections.”[40]

Her expectations have certainly not been disappointed, even though she supported first Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina, before switching to another Republican loser Marco Rubio.   As the Wiki on this fine woman points out, she may have hesitated for a moment, before throwing her support to the candidate the Republicans eventually chose in 2016: 

In March 2016, DeVos described Donald Trump as an “interloper” and said that he “does not represent the Republican Party”.[14]

But now Trump is the Republican Party.  Look, Betsey, you get what you pay for.  She’s not kicking, she and her husband are currently saving tens of millions in taxes every year and she is in charge of American educational policy, 51-50, fair is fair. Plus, they got Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, two extremely conservative Catholic lads from the finest Christian prep school in the nation.   Not bad!  Soon poor women may not be able to get abortions in America anymore.  Won’t Jesus be happy!

 

 

[1] Juan Gonzalez, Reclaiming Gotham, Bill De Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities, 2017, p. 154.

[2]  Wikipedia:

As expected, there was a 50–50 tie on the final vote, with all Democrats and independents, along with two Republicans (Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski), voting in opposition to DeVos, while the other fifty Republican senators voted in support of the confirmation, including Senator Jeff Sessions, who himself had been nominated by the Trump administration for the post of United States Attorney General. Republicans scheduled Sessions’s confirmation vote after DeVos’s so that he would be able to cast his vote in support of DeVos. Had his confirmation vote been earlier than hers, he would have been forced to resign from the Senate, therefore losing a vital vote for the Republicans on the confirmation.[74][75][76] Since there was a tie, Vice President Mike Pence had to step in to decide the vote as the President of the Senate.[77] He cast his tie-breaking vote in favor of DeVos to officially confirm her as education secretary.[78] This was the first tie decided by a vice president on any vote in the Senate since theGeorge W. Bush administration.[79][80]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s