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Most of us Americans have our own simplistic methods of evaluating candidates for political office during our uniquely perpetual, very costly, time-consuming, energy-wasting and exhausting campaign seasons. Increasingly, state and national politicians are out of reach for most voters. Local candidates for mayor, city council and school board are increasingly the only politicians that can be personally approached by average voters.
We lowly cash-strapped voters know that we have no real influence on the secretive, unelected elites who essentially control the planet’s resources and our nation’s and state’s elected officials and economies. Wealthy and powerful entities, with the willing and eager help of the corporate-controlled media machine, the military elites and our increasingly militarized police (all three of whom serve the corporations and the wealthy elites - and not the poor) are the ones that know how to distort domestic and foreign policy, even to the point of fomenting another profitable – but very “patriotic” war fever - knowing that they and their partners in the military industrial complex will turn a profit from yet another military misadventure.
Do we Have a Two Party System or a One Party System?
Many thoughtful, progressive proponents of true democracy have come to realize that America’s so-called “Two Party System” is largely myth. Our political “system” is often logically parodied as America’s “One Party System” because both parties are so easily seduced by the corrupting influences of Wall Street and War Street. Wealthy, unelected corporate elites offer both parties access to hundreds of millions of undisclosed Super-Pac dollars that come from the war profiteering, crony capitalist, multi-national mega-corporations that have never seen a war that they couldn’t make money on.
The system I’m describing has two wings. The Democratic Party wing is (with a small remnant of pro-labor, Wellstone-type left-leaners) basically moderate, pro-corporate, militaristic, centrist/right-wing, and the Republican Party wing (with a small remnant of frightened moderates) is extremist, pro-corporate, militaristic, and far right-wing. The corporate and military powers-that-be are happy with it, as long as both wings keep accepting their money.
<<<Corporate World Domination is Here>>>
“It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions - you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.” ? Noam Chomsky
Multinational corporations are comfortably in charge of the world’s economy. Just witness the anti-worker, pro-unemployment, pro-corporate NAFTA, WTO and now the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), all of which are designed to “equalize world markets” (that is, drive down worker’s wages toward Third World status). If jobs are coming back, it will be the dollar-a-day jobs from Bangladesh.
Secretive corporate scoundrels have been radically shaping international trade agreements that favor corporate entities. These agreements are written in secret by lobbyists and corporate lawyers, often without either Republican or Democratic Party input! Some unknown entity has had the power to deny any legislator the ability to read the TPP treaty at his or her leisure or be in possession of a copy of the bill! Amazingly, whoever made that rule has also had the power to decree that, when the game-changing TPP comes up for a vote, legislators will not be allowed to propose amendments! And the media talking heads seem to be forbidden to allow any expressions of justified outrage about the TPP or, for that matter, the disastrous Citizen’s United ruling on their talk shows, nor do they seem interested in discussing the obvious pivot toward corporate fascism (or militarism) in America.
Corporate Federal Domination is Here
The unelected global elites who make planetary economic policies favorable to them are certainly also conspiring with any number of their bribed politicians who have national legislative control over America. So, as could be predicted, too many of our lapdog politicians are being increasingly co-opted by billionaires who take secret oaths to hidden entities who have been “purchasing” the blind allegiance (and loyal vote-casting) of both Republicans and Democrats.
In 2010, the Robert’s court made on of the most anti-democratic, Constitution-shredding decisions in the history of the nation. It was called “Citizen’s United vs. the FEC”. The court’s five pro-corporate members granted US-based multinational corporations (and their billionaires) unlimited and anonymous rights to legally fund political campaigns with massive amounts of campaign bribes, thus solidifying their power over everything federal.
Corporate State Domination is Also Here
Over the last decade or two, the corporate-conceived American Legislative Exchange Council has dominated state politics (more-so in Republican-dominated Wisconsin than DFL-dominated Minnesota) (Google “ALEC Exposed” for the sobering details of this cunning right-wing think tank that writes sample pro-corporate state legislation - all or most of which is then championed by various equally pro-corporate sycophants, such as the national and state Chambers of Commerce that work to encourage legislators to introduce and/or promote the bills. Ever since its inception, most politicians in the secret ALEC cabal have been, not surprisingly, Republicans.
Local Corporate Domination is Closer Than you Think
And now that mega-corporations have achieved control over the planet, the nations and the states, these sociopathic entities are not forgetting about the local and regional governments that control coveted resources such as minerals, oil, gas, timber and drinkable water. Shareholders demand a steady, growing stream of profits from their investments, ethics and the common good be damned!
But the stench from the toxic corporate by-products and effluent is getting stronger, and sooner or later real patriots will have to disinvest, stand up, start choosing altruistic candidates (that are the least influenced by corporate polluters) who will be the most committed to a sustainable future for our increasingly polluted and over-heated planet.
<<<In Politics as in Life, Whoever Pays the Piper, Calls the Tune>>>
Many politicians are sick and tired of playing “dialing for dollars” 24/7 (ie, shamefully asking for money in order to mount a competitive re-election campaign). The deals are made over the phone, in private. What the paymasters demand of the politician may only be implied.
The wealthy entities that provide the largest “contributions” are not in the game because they are generous – or nice. They play hardball with their millions, and they know how to swim with the other sharks. These entities are making “investments”, and both sides of the “bargain” know it. And the ones who write the checks expect a return on their investments.
Both briber and “bribee” know who is the slave-holder and who is the enslaved. The indebted one knows that sometime in the near future the paymaster will demand his pound of flesh.
Before it is too late, we lowly voters need to start understanding the dynamics of American-style, electoral politics so that we will not be so shocked when our legislator or governor or president votes against the desperate needs of the 99% (“We The Little People”) and for the greedy desires of the over-privileged 1%.
The wealthy campaign contributors who are in the game for money, power and control are the very ones who, if left to their own devices, will be unjustly deciding the fate of the earth, the climate, the food, the water, the air and the public health - and the fate of our innocent and vulnerable progeny - as they repeatedly fail to do the right thing for humanity and the planet.
A dogmatic principle for entrenched political operatives is to “never change the status quo if the status quo is going well’ and, even if reforms might result in positive changes that might enhance the common good, continue to resist the urge to reform.”
In the case of Duluth on November 3, think Ranked Choice Voting.
American voters could use another set of criteria for choosing what party to support and what candidate to vote for. Further below is one set of criteria that I use that I hope others will adopt when choosing what candidates to vote for. Besides understanding a given candidate’s ethical values, one should also try to uncover the identity of the candidate’s paymasters. Do any of them possess any of the traits of “Sociopathic Personality Disorder” or the “14 Characteristics of Fascism”? Before voting, one should google both those phrases and try to match them up to the candidates.
Candidates With Truly Green Values, Just Like Bernie, Don’t Accept Corporate Money!
The Green Party of America has put together a useful list of ten key ethical values that would have made Paul Wellstone proud (with his green bus, green campaign posters, green politics and green ethical values). Wellstone, firmly in the leftist wing of the Democratic Party, was always popular with folks that have given up with the DFL and are now Green Party members. (As an aside, it is pretty well established that Wellstone was assassinated for his anti-fascist stances, his green values and his opposition to the Cheney/Bush push to illegally and unethically invade Iraq. (Google “Wellstone: They Killed Him” for the unassailable evidence.) Watching that documentary should make every courageous, true believer in democracy aspire to the Green Party vision.
10 KEY GREEN PARTY VALUES (Abridged)
(for unabridged list go to: http://gp.org/tenkey.php)
1. Grassroots Democracy
We will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them.
2. Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
We will confront all barriers such as racism, class oppression, sexism, homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.
3. Ecological Wisdom
We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation.
We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will work toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
We support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few.
6. Community Based Economics
We must restructure our patterns of income distribution in favor of those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc and restrict the power of corporations.
7. Feminism and Gender Equity
We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of male domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender.
8. Respect for Diversity
We value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.
9. Personal and Global Responsibility
We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.
10. Future Focus and Sustainability
We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival.
My Endorsements for City Council
I have not had the time to fully vet many City Council or School Board candidates for their green values - except for one. Her name is Kriss Osbakken, and she is running for one of the two at-large seats for City Council. (I also like what I know about Gary Anderson and his politics, and I also like what I know about fellow Reader columnist Loren Martell, who is running for school board on a reformist agenda.)
There are likely others who rate high on green values. I leave those evaluations up to my readers, but I can guarantee that if Osbakken is elected on November 3, Duluthians can rest assured that she will be working hard and applying those green values as she carefully ponders each issue. Her pertinent local campaign issues include affordable and equitable housing, Sustainable Green Duluth, renewable energy, climate change, and opposing polluting mining interests.
I have always been for the underdog. And I have always detested the increasingly obscene amounts of money that are wasted on political campaigns. I sometimes try to vote for the less well-healed candidates who have the scrawniest coffers. And those are two other things that I like about the Osbakken campaign.
She, like Bernie Sanders (with whom Osbakken agrees on most issues) accepts no corporate money. Therefore she will be beholden to no moneyed special interest groups. Such campaigns therefore necessarily have to be run on a shoestring. So if voters have not seen many Osbakken street signs, it is not because she isn’t working hard on this campaign. Being an under-funded candidate has no relationship to the worthiness of the candidate.
Lord Acton said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So if power corrupts and money is power, maybe we should be electing more worthy, albeit underfunded candidates that don’t serve big power and big money.
Interjecting Green values when voting in this year’s local elections - and continuing to do so next year in the state and national elections – is a good place to start.