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Wall Street Caucus and Oligarchy Primary: the Corporate Faces of Voter Nullification in the 21st Century

I am pretty certain that this article will not be too kindly received by the political class in Iowa and New Hampshire. That said, contrary to popular opinion—and at the risk of offending the sensibilities of the establishment—the first caucus/primary will not take place in the Hawkeye or the Granite State. More than 12 months before the first votes are cast in the dog and pony shows that are the party selection process, politicians with big dreams of capturing the White House are already jockeying for the attention and largess of major corporations while groveling at the knees of billionaires.

Yesterday morning, news broke that Senators Kristen Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have been courting Wall Street executives and trying to get the blessings of big money donors. In America, politicians give platitudes to the people and respond to the richest 1%. The Federal government shutdown is a perfect illustration of this fact; while 800,000 workers are furloughed or working without pay and millions more are not receiving services we have already paid for with our tax dollars, feckless Democrats and Republicans are rubbing elbows with the neo-aristocracy, nibbling caviar and sipping Chablis as they trade access for kickbacks.

The primaries and caucuses that will take place next year are mere formalities; after powerful interest groups and their wealthy benefactors settle upon a slate of acceptable candidates, the citizenry get to pick between pre-vetted puppets and mannequins who are in the pockets of to their donors. There is nothing representative about our democracy, the two parties have colluded to successfully monopolize elections and invalidated the power of ballot in the process. What remains are symbolic votes where we get to choose between two equally reprobate factions.

The election of 2016 was a crystallizing moment that jarred millions of Americans out of the illusion that our votes actually matter. Democrats rigged primaries and caucuses to ensure that Hillary Clinton gets the nomination come hell or high water. The Republican contests were equally rigged as the corporate owned “free press” effectively handed Donald Trump over $2 billion worth of free ads by way of wall-to-wall coverage. We were left to choose between John McCain in pantsuits and a megalomaniac carnival barker. Heads we lose, tails plutocrats win.

In a most revealing development, the Democratic National Committee admitted in court that political parties are not beholden to the will of voters. Bruce Spiva, the lead attorney for the DNC, noted that political parties are corporations that do not have to abide by the outcome of elections.

“We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have—and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.”

These were words that Spiva actually spoke in court when Jared and Elizabeth Beck sued the DNC in 2017. In a stunning moment during oral arguments, Spiva argued that nomination process belong to the insiders who run the party not the people who vote in them . The primaries and general elections are nothing more than a carefully choreographed and expensively produced kabuki dances meant to give us the illusion that we have a say in our governance when we have as much influence on the outcome of policies and legislation as a tick has over the direction of a rhinoceros.

2020 promises to be more of the same. Democrats are so bereft of ideas that their campaign slogan will effectively be “we are not Trump”. After tying their own hands with PayGo and spending two more years supporting Trump’s military-financial complex enrichment schemes, they will make a show of being outraged by Republicans only to turn around and offer nothing burgers with equal parts BS to their voters.

One of the names being bandied about as a “sexy” pick for 2020 is Beto O’Rourke. Hoping to repeat Obama’s successful campaign of false hopes and token change, the neoliberal crowd is betting that Beto can be another blank slate that voters can believe in without understanding where he stands. Never mind that Beto voted time and again to enact Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to the rich, no need to examine his continued support for oil industries and fracking corporations, party insiders think his rolled up sleeves and skating tricks will be enough to excite Democrats. Those who dare highlight his voting record are tarred and feathered as “Bernie bots”, Republican operatives or Russian trolls.

Then there is Hillary Clinton’s favorite politician and the junior Senator from New York Kristen Gillibrand. This is the same Senator who spent her career in the DC raking in money from Wall Street giants like Pfizer, Corning and a slew of securities and investment firms. In response to David Sirota’s tweet about Gillibrand’s donors, she retorted by highlighting her votes against bank bailouts, her support for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act and the fact that she co-sponsored the financial transaction act.

What Gillibrand omits from her response is the fact that she tried to undermine the Lincoln Amendment which aimed to limit major banks and financial institutions from acting as derivative swap dealers. Firms like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo immediately protested when regulations were proposed after they gambled and bled the economy ten years ago and Gillibrand dutifully snapped to attention as she began a crusade to cripple regulations meant to curb banking excesses like credit default swaps that led to the implosion of the economy and the Great Larceny of 2008.

Five years ago, Gillibrand also worked hand in hand with Chuck Schumer and four other Democrat senators as they lobbied Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to delay a new guideline that would reign in the ability for US financial firms to be at once lenders and traders—a practical invitation to turn banks into gambling parlors with tax payers guaranteeing their risks. There is a vast difference between taking symbolic no votes when the laws and policies that Wall Street favors are all but forgone conclusions to pass versus leading the fight to ensure that corporations are not given preferential treatments above and beyond the interests of the American people.

To be fair, Gillibrand is not the exception but the rule. Cory Booker has been just as reliable in his obsequiousness to Big Pharma, Big Banks and Big Money as have the rest of the Democrat field. In fact, Booker is one of the top destinations in Congress for Wall Street’s pay to play schemes. Then there is Senator Kamala Harris, who has a different face for each identity group she panders to, who recently stated that the 2012 mortgage settlements that did little to help homeowners and everything to proliferate home foreclosures, was a “good deal” for the victims of the banking mafia. For those who prefer folksy talk sans substantive action, there’s Elizabeth Warren who is a pro at giving fiery speeches and railing against income inequality. In the end, she does nothing but give cover to the status quo—she is the very definition of controlled opposition meant to sheepdog the base with pablum and empty rhetoric.

Politicians have perfected the art of telling half-truths in order to obscure their intentions and blur their insidious actions. Beto, Gillibrand, Warren and the leading Democrat contenders swear they are disavowing corporate contributions and PAC money. What they won’t tell you is that they will be taking boatloads of donations from individual donors who are tied directly to the corporations they are supposedly rebuffing. Politicians want us to suspend logical thinking and believe that they will take millions from billionaires and retain their independence. Take this to the bank, the uber rich don’t give a red cent unless they are guaranteed a return on their investment. More importantly, pols like Gillibrand don’t mention that their own parties are incorporated entities that act as capos of Wall Street conglomerations—it’s impossible to say quit corporate money when their party is a corporation.

Despite the fact that both parties are wholly own subsidiaries of globalists, elected officials continue to pretend that they are defenders of the public interest. The sleight of hand of a magician has nothing on the deceitful tongues of politicians. Take for example how some candidates brag about the average donations of their small donors, this is a lie that proves that statisticians are the most deceptive con artists. If 999 people donated $1 apiece and 1 person gives $10,000, a politician can claim that he received an average of $10 per donation. Does this trick sound familiar?

Most people point to the Citizens United case the pivotal moment when our Republic was destroyed by dark money and the influx of corporate cash extortions. In reality, our government has been hijacked by the influence and affluence of private interests for more than a century. The Federal Reserve was created at the behest of JP Morgan who cratered the US economy in 1907 and then demanded a banking cartel to be in charge of national monetary policies as his price for bailing out the United States. Create a crisis then offer solutions that enhance the fortunes of rank opportunists, this is something as American as apple pie.

We were taught in civics class that our form of democracy is built on the cornerstone of “one man, one vote”. What is left out of this quaint narrative is that the checks of billionaires cancel out the votes of the entire electorate. A Princeton study by Professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page revealed that the preferences of voters are negligible at best compared to the demands of the plutocracy.

“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.” ~ Testing Theories of American Politics

There is a reason why establishment voices can’t get enough of Donald Trump, he is a perfect strawman who distracts us from the fact that our government is no longer responsive to our needs. As long as they keep us focused on one man and condition us to act like a cult of personality, we never get a true sense of how corrosive our political system has become. Manufactured outrage, never ending sensationalism and identity politics on all fronts prevent a consensus among Americans and keep us perpetually shattered along sectarian lines.

This is precisely why more and more voters are exiting the two political parties and refusing to partake in the racket of the duopoly. Sadly, the minority who remain wedded to ideology and parties above their self-interests continue to give legitimacy to system that is rejected by a super-majority of Americans when you take into account people who have been driven from political participation by a lack of viable options.

In a little more than a year, Americans will be treated to a farcical election season where we will be led to believe that our votes make a difference when the results have being predetermined at this exact moment. Far away from public view, candidates are groveling on bent knees to get the attention and the contributions of the American oligarchy. Beto, Gillibrand, Booker, Harris and their fellow candidates will give carefully crafted speeches in an attempt to highlight their independence. What will be hidden from the citizenry is that these speeches and policy positions must first be cleared by their corporate donors and their billionaire patrons.

During the Civil Rights Era, voter nullification—a systematic effort undertaken by southern states to disenfranchise “African-Americans”—was being unleashed with brutal efficiency. Voter nullification has a new face in the 21st century, instead of targeting specific groups, the corporate class have nullified all of our votes and rendered the citizenry passive observers while policies are shaped by a few who have weaponized their wealth. A government of the people, by the people for the people has perished, we are now governed by corporations and their courtiers who pretend to be serving us while they do the bidding of their corporate masters. Click To Tweet

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” ~ James Bovard

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Teodrose Fikremariam
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Teodrose Fikremariam

Writer at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal.
Teodrose Fikremariam
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