Click here to go to the Home Page Two Parties Converge to One Path When Receiving Corporate Largesse - Solidarity America - By John Funiciello - BC Columnist

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Who can blame the American electorate if it can�t distinguish between the two parties?

For a long time, it has been said by some of the more astute observers of the political scene that there is not much difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. It was third-party candidate, Ralph Nader, who said there wasn�t �a dime�s worth of difference� between the two, and that drove the liberals crazy.

Our �leaders� seem to be afraid of coming out from under the protective wing of Corporate America.

Even though that observation did not garner Nader too many votes, it did win him the enmity of many voters who clung desperately to the Democratic Party and who blamed him for losing two presidential elections (even though Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 and John Kerry likely took the deciding Ohio vote in 2004). Those outraged at Nader firmly believed that the Democrats would drag the country back from the economic and political chasm it seemed to be falling into. As for the Republicans, in recent memory, their only reason for existence seems to be bringing to a halt any possibility that Congress will take any action to benefit the people. Their plan seems to be working.

No one who reads a newspaper or spends time on political websites is unfamiliar with the brouhaha over President Obama�s commercial on the GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney�s way of doing business through his founding and directing of Bain Capital, a company that made hundreds of millions of dollars buying companies, stripping them down to their essentials, firing workers, then selling the firm or, at least, bankrupting them. Thousands of workers and their families were shunted to the unemployment lines as a result of Bain Capital�s species of capitalism.

One can quarrel with most campaign ads, but this one seems pretty straightforward and it stung the Romney campaign, which cried foul and said that the former Massachusetts governor did nothing wrong and his spokespersons explained carefully that Bain Capital�s way of doing business is nothing short of The American Way. In that, they can�t be faulted. It is the way Corporate America does business.

If there ever was a perfect example of the way America does business, it is Bain Capital, for the firm is in business to make a profit, not to make a product or provide for the common welfare. And, Romney and his cohort at Bain made no apologies about it: they were in it to make money. According to Bain�s website, it handles some $60 billion of other people�s money, keeping some of it for themselves, of course. The companies and workers falling by the wayside were just so much collateral damage.

So, there were the usual charges of unfairness from the Romney and GOP operatives, since no laws were broken and it is, after all, the way business is done in America. That was all to be expected and, in the meantime, the GOP and its tricksters were dreaming up attack ads that will show Obama to be a foreigner operating out of a suitcase in a room next to the airport.

They stand firm in their effort to fill the coffers of Corporate America, slashing government, and letting working men and women fend for themselves.

The surprise came within the past week, or so, when Newark, N.J., mayor, Cory Booker, who is scheduled to act as a surrogate for Obama in campaign stops between now and November, said that the president�s attack ad against Bain was �nauseating� and, covering all bases, said that such ads should be eliminated by both sides. Booker, quickly continuing to cover tracks, reassured Democrats and others that he was fully behind the president�s reelection, gave Obama high praise, and promised to campaign for him.

A quick follow-up to Booker�s attack on the attack ad was fired off by Bill Clinton, former president and husband of Obama�s secretary of state. Clinton took issue with the ad�s main thrust and said that Romney had had a �good business career� and that his work had been �sterling,� in operating Bain, which brought him some of his net worth, said to be about $250 million. The former president made his comments on the Piers Morgan Tonight television show, in which he predicted that Obama would win reelection by at least five points. He has not seemed inclined to make any apology or further explanation of his comment. Booker did apologize�sort of.

It could not have been a coincidence that two very high profile Democrats (who are expected to be heavily involved in Obama�s campaign) would so openly and vehemently criticize Obama�s reelection plan. Clinton even went out of his way on the same show to praise Romney, saying that his operation of Bain Capital was �good work.� They would not so openly criticize the president�s campaign, would they?

Rarely do we get to see the agony of the 1 percent displayed so clearly. Both Clinton, who has become very rich since he left the White House, and Booker, who can be expected to do very well in politics and, through that, become very wealthy, have been the beneficiaries of association with the folks who own the political and economic system. They want their guy, Obama, to win in November, but they are loathe to turn their backs on those who have been very, very good to them, so their conflict is out there for all to see. Booker, it has been reported, received heavy campaign contributions from the likes of Bain Capital, and Clinton has been rubbing shoulders with the Bush family (which contains two living ex-presidents), as well as people like Bill Gates and world movers and shakers in politics and world trade.

Once they have run in what they consider to be �elite circles,� it�s hard for politicians to endanger that heady position in any way. They are left with a delicate kind of fence sitting and it�s not a pretty sight. And, it makes them less effective as politicians. That could explain recent polls, which show that American voters who consider themselves independents outnumber those who register in a political party.

Rarely do we get to see the agony of the 1 percent displayed so clearly.

President Obama finally has been taking his campaign on the offense, to a small degree, claiming that the GOP in both the House and Senate are obstructing development of programs that will jump-start the economy and create jobs. He still appears, though, to be hesitant to mount a full-scale assault on the refusal of the GOP leadership to participate in governing the country. He wants their participation or approval, or both.

He wants a small increase in the top marginal tax rate, from 35 percent, to 39.6 percent and the Republicans, stonewalling to the end, refuse to consider. They prefer to continue to cut social programs and cut taxes on corporations and the rich, while whittling government down to providing nothing more than defense and some infrastructure maintenance.

GOP resistance to the small tax increase he is suggesting ignores history: Under (Junior) Bush, it was 35 percent; under Ronald Reagan, it was 50 percent; under Richard Nixon, it was 70 percent, and under Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was 91 percent. They stand firm in their effort to fill the coffers of Corporate America, slashing government, and letting working men and women fend for themselves. And, they blame Obama.

Most Americans never wanted it to come to this pass, in which the people are divided against one another, groups are against one another, divided by class, region, race, religion, and myriad other factors. Politics was the (usually) bloodless way of settling differences and living in peace with one another, but that avenue seems to have been cut off as a solution. In the end, we are, indeed, divided among the wealthy and the rest of us. It�s the 99 percent versus the 1 percent. You can fiddle with the numbers, but, in the end, it is the overwhelming majority of the people ruled by a very small elite.

The companies and workers falling by the wayside were just so much collateral damage.

Over the past generation or two, the two major political parties in our two-party system have inexorably moved toward the same policies, domestic and foreign, and the globalized economy, supported by continuous wars, is the way we do the business of America. Unfortunately, one thing has not changed: When the politicians of both parties decide that the nation will go to war, it is the sons and daughters of the working class and the middle class and the poor who do the sacrificing and dying.

And, when they get home, if they are not too injured or psychologically damaged to work, they find that there are no jobs and little prospect of job creation, because the politicians of the �two-party� system have their well-paying jobs, nepotism takes care of their families, and the rest can fend for themselves.

Criticism of Obama by members of his own inner circle is merely a symptom of the political problems of the nation. Neither party seems to be willing to solidly stand and say that government is for the people, freedom is for the people, and the people�s welfare comes first. Our �leaders� seem to be afraid of coming out from under the protective wing of Corporate America and its rulers. Until that changes, we�re in for a rough ride. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a labor organizer and former union organizer. His union work started when he became a local president of The Newspaper Guild in the early 1970s. He was a reporter for 14 years for newspapers in New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Click here to contact Mr. Funiciello.

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June 7, 2012 - Issue 475
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