America is a huge country, yet we have to make do with only two major political parties. This might not have been so bad if the two didn’t feel like merely different sides of the same coin. I know they like to profess stark differences and one has been branded the greedy subsidiary of the super-rich and the other the champions of the poor and Middle Class. But just how much of this is really accurate and how much is partisan propaganda propagated by self-interest?
In this election year, the rhetoric is ratcheted up on volume high and the posturing deserves an Academy Award, but when one sifts through the pandering, the brutal truth lies just beneath the thick glossy altruistic surface.
The Democrats have to defend the fort, for one of their own is gearing up for intense battle. The Republicans have to go on the offensive and attack that fort with every weapon in their arsenal, for they want to dethrone the incumbent. The troops on each side have drawn clear boundaries on the battlefield, saying there are stark differences in contrast, with both claiming to have the answers to America’s many lingering woes.
President Obama recently championed gay marriage after his vice president tipped his hand. Tuesday morning on his visit with the ladies of "The View" on ABC, he assured the mostly liberal hosts that his stance on equal marriage rights for all was weeks in the making and that Biden didn’t force his hand. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, for there are so many other inconsistencies and grey areas to decipher.
The recent J.P. Morgan Chase stunning losses of $2 billion have many pundits over-heating on the evening news. The president was asked about his good friend CEO Jamie Dimon and he answered like all politicians do—with the smoothness and dexterity of a pro gymnast on the gymnastic floor. Mind you, the president did not have to execute his more complicated moves for the ladies of "The View" did not bring out the heavy hitting questions.
Questions like: Why after bailing out the “too big to fail banks,” wasn't one top executive was fired or prosecuted? Why the climate of corporate private jets and huge bonuses allowed to continue to exist after they received tax-payers billions in TARP? Did the big campaign contributions he received from financial power-houses tie his hands at pushing for legal action? (Goldman Sachs execs ponied up $1 million for his 2008 run to the White House.) Or why, after he implemented new regulations, did Chase manage to lose $2 billion? Before that, a 31-year-old trader, Kweku Adoboli, reportedly lost a whopping $2 billion in "shady" trading over at USB, in September of 2011. Were the regulations too lax or watered-down to do much good? If so, is another financial disaster looming just around the corner?
According to the Center For Responsive Politics, opensecrets.org, the biggest contributors for 2011-12 cycle so far are the Bankers Association with $679,650; JP Morgan Chase, $591,504; Wells Fargo, $455,048; Independent Community Bankers Of America, $438,200; and Bank Of America, $409,921.
From 1990-2012, campaign contributions from commercial banks alone totaled $40 million. Lobbying totaled another $60 million from 1998-2010.
Top recipients for the 2012 election cycle are Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney with $271,750; Senator Bob Corker, (R-TN), $183,900; President Obama $137,743; Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), $130,669; and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), $118,900.
The sordid menage' between big banks, corporations and Washington may be responsible for most of the problems facing the U.S. today. Campaigning financing is a grey area so opaque with corruption, it is almost jet black this time around. What with the biggest of all Super-PACs vying for top billing and President Obama joining in the fray with his own, Corporate Personhood now has a vice-grip on our political system as unlimited, undisclosed sums of money makes it way from corporations to political campaign coffers.
Mitt Romney says he is the answer and can succeed where President Obama has failed. To hear him tell it, he has a magic elixir just waiting to pour over the many woes to make us whole again. But what has he proposed that is any different from the Republican failed worn-out handbook? The Ex- Bain Capital exec who was heard saying things like he "loved firing people;” “I don’t care about the poor, they have a safety net” to “my wife drives a couple of Cadillacs” while speaking to the folks who were hard hit by the auto industry’s poor performance, is obviously out of touch with a large part of Americans’ reality.
Throw in his proposed plan to continue the failed policies of the Bush era--namely tax cuts for the wealthy, his off shore accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland to “legally” dodge taxes, the scathing accusation that he made millions of dollars for himself and his rich investors by being a corporate shark who raided vulnerable companies and left them bankrupt and the millions he stockpiled over the years while paying little taxes—he doesn’t exactly come out smelling like a rosy alternative to Obama.
Add past teenaged prep school bullying to the present day corporate “bullying” many accuse him off, and we wonder who is the lesser of the two evils come November. Voters will have to look at who will leave less damage as opposed to who will fix the country. Many voters say the Republican war on women and the unfair tax break for the super-wealthy may be the deciding factor when they enter the booth on voting day, while others say it is the economy and jobs that will sway their vote.
The consensus among his supporters is at least the president wants to pay his fair share— although one may argue that not going after the tax cuts for the rich when he had the political capital in both Houses to do so is suspect. Self-sabotage? Democrats wanting to appear like they’re fighting for the little man’ while still being beholden to rich campaign contributors?
Another contrast may be the president wants to lower interest rate on college tuition while Republicans want to increase it—wants every American to have equal marriage rights while Romney opposes it. Thinks women’s rights like abortion is already a done deal while Republicans keep trying to undermine it. Thinks social programs are a necessity while Republicans think cutting help to the poor and elderly is more acceptable than cutting military spending--whose budget is already the size of all entitlements combined.
It is times like these that a viable third party is sorely needed. One where the people truly have a voice and the democratic process is not sullied by lobbyists, special interests and big campaign money from corporations. Where the electoral process is simplified and a vote by every citizen counts as just that—a vote towards who sits in the Oval Office. Where term limits exist not just for the presidency but for Congress, the Senate and Supreme Court judges. Where taxation equals representation and cushy health plans and retirement packages are commensurate with performance.