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Est. April 5, 2002
February 01, 2018 - Issue 727

Fearful Right-Wingers
Pump Money
Into The 2018 Elections


"The Citizens United case of recent years has allowed
unlimited money to be spent in elections, virtually
guaranteeing that the oligarchs will win in many places
where they previously did not stand a chance.  Their
belief is that the more money spent, the greater the
likelihood that they and their politicians will win and
carry out their instructions in the political arena. 
So far, it has been working well for them."

It’s hard to figure why the oligarchs are fearful of the 2018 elections in which Democrats are expected to make some gains in Congress, because they know that the president’s party usually takes losses in mid-terms.

Yet, they are fearful that their control over the political and economic life of the country will be threatened by any loss, however small. And, if the social aspects of life in America threatens their hegemony over the economics (and, therefore, their galloping accumulation of wealth), they will attack the social and cultural aspects of the nation that threaten them.

The U.S. has always been something of an oligarchy (rule by the few), but the past few decades have proven that the rich handful at the top of the wealth scale surely are the oligarchs-in-charge. It’s not certain that the current president can be counted among the oligarchs, because he has never come clean about his wealth, which some international bankers have speculated falls short of $1 billion, far less than he claims to have.

Even though Donald Trump may be an odious member of the Republican Party to the Koch brothers of Koch Industries, they are going to try to shore up the GOP and, at the same time, shore up Trump’s political fortunes, by pumping some $400 million into the various campaigns later this year. They are demanding that other oligarchs do the same, which could bring the cost of a mid-term election to multiple billions of dollars.

The Citizens United case of recent years has allowed unlimited money to be spent in elections, virtually guaranteeing that the oligarchs will win in many places where they previously did not stand a chance. Their belief is that the more money spent, the greater the likelihood that they and their politicians will win and carry out their instructions in the political arena. So far, it has been working well for them.

Over the past few decades, the rich and powerful have been successful in accomplishing the pacification of the populous by scaring the hell out of them that terrorists will be in their backyards, maybe tomorrow. They have nearly killed the union movement, which long has stood for the people against the depredations of the rich, who control so much of the nation’s life. The relentless attacks on social programs by the oligarchs has reduced them, year by year, and in the process, they have even turned many people who benefit from them against those very programs. They have seen to it that wages of the average American worker have stagnated over the past four decades.

Along comes Trump and he went even farther than most right-wingers would be tempted to go: he has unleashed the inherent racism in a nation that always has been a simmering infection of racist impulses, structural and otherwise, he has brought to a halt the decades of work of rank-and-file citizens to stop the destruction of the global environment, he has put in place as heads of vital agencies those whose only goal is to destroy those agencies.

Like them or not, agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency or Housing and Urban Development were created by presidents and congresses which were alarmed at the rate with which the country was going downhill. Dozens of agencies and departments have had to fight off the minions of the oligarchs, inside and outside the political arena. The president’s relentless attacks on immigrants have allowed the nativists to come out of the woodwork and, even worse, he has given cover to the white supremacists of the country, who have acted as if the civil rights and voting rights laws passed in the last 60 years mean nothing. Voter suppression is rampant in many states. All of this is part of Trump’s goal of reducing the “administrative state” to rubble. Although the term was originally coined by Steve Bannon, Trump has fully embraced it and is doing his best to stick to Bannon’s plan to dismantle the few protections and programs of support that the average citizen has in daily life.

According to the National Priorities Project, the U.S. “outpaces all other nations in military expenditures.” World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015, the NPP reported. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total. U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined. The other countries are in descending order: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan. Even at this level of military and defense spending, Trump is asking for a bigger defense budget, declaring that the military has been degraded by previous administrations, especially the Obama Administration. The general quest by both major parties in the U.S. for hegemony over most of the rest of the world has been escalated by Trump, who is willing and prepared to reduce or privatize the “entitlements,” such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

In his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress this week, he touted his tax “reform” law that gives wage workers some small relief but gives amnesty to corporations that have fled the country to tax havens and now are willing to repatriate their money, if there are no penalties. There are few, if any, penalties for them. In fact, Corporate America has been showered with tax reductions that have most of them paying less than many wage workers. In addition, the debt created is enormous and Trump and Republicans will be looking for ways to cut the federal budget. So, they’ll be looking at what? Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and many other programs. Cuts to these strike a blow at low wage workers and the poor.

His impulse to reduce or eliminate regulations that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink shows him to have little understanding of the world outside of his counting-house mentality. His and the GOP’s health care plan leaves 3.2 million more Americans without coverage, according to Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Even more Americans will be without health care as a result of the repeal of the health mandate under Obamacare. He is bent on opening all coastal waters of the U.S., as well as the pristine region of the Arctic, to oil and gas drilling. And, one of his greatest propaganda lies is that he is ending the “war on beautiful, clean coal,” even though there is no such thing as “clean coal,” but that is consistent with his drive to return the country to complete dependence on fossil fuels. For Corporate America, that’s where the money is.

Even in his faux “bring America together” mode, as in this week’s speech, he carried on his attacks on football players, mostly black, who take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and continuing racism that is evident in most areas of life in America. The people have looked to past presidents to take the lead in stifling racist impulses and have looked to them for words that show that he’s with them in that effort. It’s a waste of time to expect Trump to take the lead in fighting racism, so people are organizing and leading the effort to both end racism and to end Trump’s demonization of immigrants.

In his promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington politics, he was pulling another con, as he had no intention to drain anything. It’s where he feels most at home, even though he doesn’t know anything about politics and how governments work at any level. The swamp of the nation’s capital is made of money and the corruption there is because of money, which floods in from the oligarchs. Trump is one of them and manipulation of money is something he understands. He won’t drain anything because the swamp denizens are his comrades and friends and he won’t do anything to harm his fortunes or theirs.

But even the oligarchs, the small percentage of Americans at the top of the economic ladder that they are, are somewhat worried about Democratic inroads in what has become permanent GOP territory, through gerrymandering and voter suppression. That’s why the Koch brothers and others of their ilk are right now ready to pour money into next fall’s election. Nothing like getting a jump start in corrupting this year’s U.S. elections. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of 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. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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