The Great US Presidential Election Show
Like an over-extended series of sequels that have long outlived the originality and vitality of the original blockbuster, so comes the current edition of the US Presidential Election. When looking at the scripted positions of the extended cast of four candidates (yes four, count ’em) registering in national popularity polls an apt title for this sequel would be “Mission Impossible 2000”.
But first the plot as hyped by the current administration and fully supported by the media. It goes something like this. The United States of America is on a roll of the longest uninterrupted period of prosperity in its entire history. This unforeseen and unprecedented prosperity has positioned the United States in the prime spot to be the economic and political dynamo for the entire new century. The question is who is best to maintain this phenomenal convergence of conditions which America has carefully crafted and is benefiting from.
It sounds like an old story and it is. Like any tired sequel the plot gets weaker, more porous the closer one watches and actually thinks about the drama unfolding before one’s eyes.
The CNN.com web site on August 29 2000 featured a story based upon a Justice Department study that showed nearly 1.5 million children in America had a parent in prison in 1999. That is an increase of over 500,000 to be added to this unfortunate class from 1991. Children with mothers incarcerated rose a startling 98 percent over the past eight years. The prison population as a whole grew by 62 percent from 1991-1999. A rather peculiar trend to parallel the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth, one would think. President Clinton himself unwittingly let a cat out of the bag at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. He announced the findings of a study he commissioned on as to why voter participation was steadily declining. The finding was “Lack of time. People just don’t have enough time now to go and vote.”
We the audience can logically conclude that both of these trends are due to the population’s effort to make ends meet. Thus crimes are committed and jobs worked at for longer hours so increasing the extent of not being able to care for one’s own children or participate in the political process. A most flimsy and inconsistent plot indeed. When one looks at the stars and their dialogue this sequel takes a real nosedive.
Bore and Gush
Vice President Al Gore of the Democratic Party plays the role of the dashing lead actor. “I will fight for you!” is his signature line in this year’s political drama. With his book Earth in the Balance and anticipation of the elimination of the internal combustion petroleum engine in his lifetime, he brings a depth and insight not usually found in such a role.
At the 1988 Democratic Convention he gave a heart-wrenching speech about his sister dying of lung cancer after years of smoking cigarettes. It was later revealed that Al Gore himself was a generous recipient of blood money from the same evil interest that he railed against at that convention. His most infamous line, in a typicaly ridiculous hammy fashion of an overgrandiose actor on the political stage, is: “I took the initiative to invent the internet”.
He opposes the Republican Party plan of a $250 billion tax cut saying it would “benefit the rich”. He instead proposes to use the money for paying for prescription pills for the elderly. Now after the elderly have purchased $250 billion worth of prescription medicine guess who will pocket the money? Yep, the rich pharmacutical companies. The same with food stamps, subsidised housing, whatever, they are all about subsidies to the rich. His signature line should be: “I will fight for you to hand over all the money you created to the rich!” Then again this is political theater, not reality, so you will never hear an actor utter such a line in capitalist politics.
It is interesting to note that both lead actors represent a clash between contemporary political oligarchies. Al Gore picked up the mantel of political power from the same political district that his father held in the State of Tennessee. His arch-rival George W. Bush is the son of the recent American President of Gulf War fame.
As the Republican Party arch-rival in the cast, George W. Bush’s signature line is: “I am a uniter not a divider”. This has to be one of the most laughable and politically naive lines ever uttered by a capitalist politician, particularly coming from an actor who as Governor of the State of Texas, has presided over 300 executions in his state and has vigously defended each one of them, including the execution of a retired grandmother. The cold reality is we live in a class-divided society and, like his father, George W. Bush’s means of “uniting” involves being prepared to slaughter people who pose a “problem” for it, whether they be an Iraqi soldier or an American citizen. The Bush family oligarchy has shown a most sinister means of “uniting” people.
In college he was noted for cocaine use and once dancing nude atop a table at a frat party. That alone tells you what an absurd sequel this election has become. His signature line should be: “I am a death presider and class divider”. But alas, such real life preformaces will not be found in the theater of American politics.
It is significant that for the first time ever four different candidates are registering in a national poll on the eve of a US Presidential election. This is because two other parties are starting to gain national support, another indicative trend amidst eight years of so-called unprecedented, uninterrupted prosperity. The American voter is starting to look beyond the two major parties for political solutions.
“The two-party system has become a delusion. On foreign and trade policy, open-borders immigration and corporate influence, Republicans and Democrats are carbon copies of one another. Neither offers voters a real choice. Both parties backed the illegal war in Kosovo. ”
No, the above quote did not come from the World Socialist Party of the United States but was from an internet release by the Reform Party. What was once considered off-the-wall assertions are now gaining currency in the commonsense of American political thinking.
The Reform Party though trots out a most peculiar populist in former Republican lesser player Patrick Buchanan. He is a former speech writer for Presidents Richard Nixion and Ronald Reagan and now fancies himself a wannabe “Peoples President”. True, in the 1996 Republican primary he referred to Senator Bob Dole as “a bell hop for the business round table”. What with those dark suits Dole wore, it was an apt description.
Buchanan decries the loss of jobs in America to overseas factories, giving rise to his “America First” slogan. But, as a vigorous defender to this day of the Nixon administration, he seems to forget about a trade agreement signed under it that dumped cheap China cotton on the American market forcing the closing of dozens of textile factories in the south-eastern United States. But then those commercial interest were prone to donate money to the Democratic Party. And one can also suspect such motives in Al Gore’s crusade against the tobacco industry closely associated with key Republicans. Using state power to wreck the financial backers of one’s opposition party is an accepted scorched earth tactic in American politics. Thus one can see why such a man as Buchanan would strike fear in the two major parties should he attain the White House.
It is only in this context could he be seen as anything remotely resembling a “populist”. Otherwise, he has perfected divisiveness to an art form and generally strikes fear into most everyone else’s hearts as well. This odd populist opposes a woman’s right to an abortion and homosexuals in general. He is also an ardent defender of the 1950s racially-segregated Washington, DC, that he grew up in. To top it off, Patrick Buchanan has raised the alarm that America itself is becoming “balkanized”.
One can plainly see that, far from an alternative to the two major parties, he himself is just another supporter of capitalism having his doubts.
This brings us to another doubting supporter of capitalism, Ralph Nader and his Green Party. Unlike Buchanan who relies on cultural observations to express his doubts, Nader in his acceptance speech of his party’s’ nomination has facts to support his doubts. And plenty of them come from this professional “consumer advocate”:
- Consumer debt is at an all time high, totalling over $6 trillion.
- American workers are working an average of 163 more hours per year than 20 years ago.
- Over 20 percent of children were growing up in poverty over the last decade.
- A majority of workers are making less now, inflation adjusted, than in 1979.
- The top one percent of the wealthiest people have more financial wealth than the bottom 90 percent of Americans combined.
Nader correctly proclaims “we can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of the few. We cannot have both“.
And what is his scheme to defend democracy?
“Pluralistic democracy has enlarged markets and created the middle class. Yet the short term, monetized, minds of corporatists are bent on weakening, defeating, diluting, diminishing, circumventing, coopting, or corrupting all traditional countervailing forces that have saved American corporate capitalism from itself.”
Ah! To save American corporate capitalism from itself! Why has not anyone else thought of that? Or is he really that naive as to the other parties political agendas?
Well, at least he knows his role in this madcap, absurd sequel. Ralph Nader, in his quest to save corporate America from itself, is himself the nadir of struggling actors in “Mission Impossible 2000”.
Hopefully this silly series will soon end to give way to another blockbuster like . . . World Socialist President. If the World Socialist Party of the Unitied States at some point in the future were to run a canidate for President and won, their mission would be to abolish the very office they were elected to. A socialist society would have no need for the United States of America or any other nation for that matter. Much less of a head of state. Such an episode would be a sequel to the real hit watched all across America and the world: WORLD SOCIALIST REVOLUTION IN THE FORMER USA!
WESLEY J LAWRIMORE (WORLD SOCIALIST PARTY OF THE US)