by Luke Hiken and Marti Hiken
We are entering the last stages of what appears to be an incredibly close election for the office of President of the United States. That Barak Obama, an opportunistic, unprincipled sell-out would be running neck and neck with Mitt Romney, a chameleon-like, vacillating, multi-millionaire who would sell his own mother to pick up a few electoral votes, is an hilarious contradiction. It is fortunate that Romney does not take his campaign on the road, because if he were to do so, he would probably forget who he was traveling with, and leave Ryan tied to the roof of his car as he drove from city to city.
How is it possible that this will be a close election? After all, Obama is a good-looking, articulate man who talks as though he actually cares about people. Romney, on the other hand, is so patently dishonest that no one in the country can identify an issue that he has not waffled on. He has even gone so far as to refuse to share his tax records with a public that recognizes what a manipulative opportunist he is. His tax records would undoubtedly provide stand-up comics with enough material to keep an audience in stitches for years to come. So why is the election not a foregone conclusion?
The reason is obvious: Obama has not spoken a truthful word in the four years since he took office. The only campaign promise he has kept was to raise a billion dollars to get re-elected. Every other promise, from closing Guantanamo, to ending the wars in the Middle East, from the NDAA to controlling the Pentagon budget and to deporting more immigrants than Bush -- everything he said has turned out to be a lie. The list of broken promises set forth in the section of the Progressive Avenues website entitled “Obama’s Hypocrisy” identifies the depth and breadth of his shameful conduct while in office. They need not be reiterated here. Romney’s hopes in this election have nothing to do with his own qualifications or integrity. On the contrary, he is even more of a danger to peace and prosperity than Obama, but how does one choose between a proven failure and the one who might take his place? Even the marginal benefits of an Obama appointment to the Supreme Court does not make up for the criminal foreign and domestic policies of this President.
The American press, shallow and obedient to the end, attributes the close election to various possibilities: “youth are disenchanted with the electoral process,” or “the middle class is unhappy because of the dismal economic reality facing the nation,” or “it is Obama’s inability to win any of his wars in the Middle East,” or “maybe it is because he is too ‘liberal’ for middle America.” This sort of reasoning is not only nonsensical, it does not even approach the reasons that this election is a close one.
The obvious reason that people could not care less which of these undesirable candidates will win the election is that it does not make a bit of difference which clown wins office. The energy present in Obama’s first election has disappeared; young people rightfully want nothing to do with him or the voting process. Decades have passed since there was a Democratic Party that gave a damn about social justice issues or the needs of working people in this country. Health care, education, financial security, safe communities are all a thing of the past insofar as either Obama or Romney are concerned. The rich have seized our country and our wealth, and we are on our own.
Our media’s infatuation with individualism, to the complete exclusion of community or social justice, is reflected in the discussion of the presidential election. There is barely a word spoken about Obama’s failure to complete or effectuate any of the promises made during the campaign. Instead, the political struggles of the last four years are described as though they are a personal wrestling match between Obama and whichever Republican has publicly attacked him most recently. That there is some relationship between the politics of both the Republican and Democratic parties causing a college education to become unattainable for most Americans is clearly too subtle a concept for the media to tackle. Instead, the cost for a college education is somehow beyond the reach of both political parties.
Similarly, health care continues to be dominated by insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and the AMA. The Democratic Party has been impotent to stop the evil empire from effectuating affordable health care. That the voting public is “uninterested” in this charade is an understatement. It is like watching a rigged sporting event where whatever the issue (prisons, wars, billionaire oligarchs, benefits or pensions), neither political party can or will provide relief to the masses of U.S. citizens. Only the rich get tax breaks.
Congress certainly could not stop or limit the Pentagon’s ability to wage endless, permanent wars in violation of every international treaty ever signed. That U.S. assaults oversees are now carried on by mercenaries, drones, and special forces, i.e. “civilian contractors” instead of American soldiers, is surely something that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, could (or want to) do anything about. The list is endless.
The virtual coup that has taken place in the U.S. has resulted in the replacement of a democratic government with an oligarchy that runs the military industrial complex according to its own needs. Why should the public care what figurehead the Republocrats put up as their “leader?” Neither Obama, nor Romney will have any say over the major decisions facing this nation and the world for the next several decades. Until people throughout the world gain some form of control over the oligarchs, we all will continue to be bludgeoned by austerity programs for the poor, and the ever-expanding consolidation of wealth and power in the hands of the rich.
For change to take place, the nation must begin to build the momentum that will alter the concentration of power in the hands of the few. Since we will never be able to raise the billions of dollars at the disposal of mainstream Democrats or Republicans, our power will have to depend upon a different style of resistance to the sort of slavery and imprisonment currently wielded by those who own our government and military.
Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law.
Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues. She is the former Associate Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force.
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