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America's Ideological Crisis

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I recently wrote about "Romney's 3 Big Lies," and didn't even mention Obama's name, because Mitt Romney's biggest lies concern himself and the Republican Party, and not actually his opponent, Barack Obama. Romney, I reported there, is lying about himself and the Republican Party, and so there was no need to mention Obama in that news article. However, elsewhere, I have explained at length why the failure of the Democratic Party to run someone against the incumbent President Obama in Democratic primaries would constitute a historic failure for American democracy; and, now, this has actually come to pass, since no one came forward on the progressive side to challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination, and so our nation will now be compelled to choose between a bad president, and someone who would probably make an even worse president.

The problem with America that is displayed in this Hobson's choice of an "election" (if it should really even be called an "election" in the wake of the Republican U.S. Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision -- more like a money-race, actually) is ideological: In this presidential contest, voters are being compelled to choose between, on the one hand, an elitist version of liberalism, in which there is no accountability because the leaders of finance and of government who produced the 2008 crash are being protected by the White House from prosecution, and, on the other hand, conservatism itself, which is elitist by its very nature, because conservatism consists of opposition to accountability. Conservatives, like everyone else, endorse responsibility, such as the obligations that an employee has to his or her employer; but conservatism is opposed to accountability, such as the obligations that an employer has to employees. For example, employers -- who are actually a corporation's stockholders and executives -- possess collective-bargaining rights by virtue of their very corporate existence, but conservatives oppose the granting of similar rights to the workers, who must therefore "bargain" individually against any such collective entity, in a society where employees come a dime a dozen, and employers can play one job-seeker against another in a contest to see which applicant is the most desperate and so willing to do the specified job for less.

Notwithstanding the support of liberals for Barack Obama, he is -- just as certain as is the actual conservatism of both candidates -- an outlier for the Democratic Party: the most conservative "Democratic" president in history (since James Buchanan, anyway, 1856-60). In fact, whereas even Bill Clinton hadn't extended NAFTA to Colombia, which was the Hemisphere's top nation for assassinating labor leaders, Barack Obama did. On July 20, 2011 Dave Jamieson at The Huffington Post bannered "Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Violence, Potential Job Losses Hang Over Deal," and then on April 15, 2012 the AP headlined "US, Colombia Trade Deal to Be Implemented in May." Whereas Obama, on the campaign trail in 2008, had criticized Hillary Clinton for supporting NAFTA, Obama during his own re-election year of 2012 is actually extending NAFTA to the one country that Bill Clinton would not. Obama's agreement with Colombia included no safeguards for Colombia's workers or union leaders, not even benchmarks to reduce the numbers of union leaders assassinated each year. America's own AFL-CIO was opposed to the deal because it rewarded Colombia for treating its workers even worse than America's. This deal will mean exporting American jobs to Colombia because wages there are lower and unions there are crushed by the fascist (i.e., extreme conservative) fist. The stockholders and executives in international corporations will benefit by this international race-to-the-bottom for workers.

The situation is even worse with regard to what Democratic U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, on the Senate floor on May 23, 2012 said "might prove to be the most far-reaching economic agreement since the World Trade Organization was established nearly 20 years ago," which is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that the Administration is negotiating with Pacific Rim countries. Wyden said, "TPP will set the tone for our nation's economic future." And yet, he noted, "The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations," in contravention of the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. Even "the staff director of the Senate subcommittee responsible for oversight of international trade continues to be denied access to substantive and detailed information that pertains to the TPP talks." A few months earlier, on March 9, Scoop Indepedent News headlined "TPPA Negotiations Slowed By US Demands," and reported that Obama's man Ron Kirk was fronting Philip Morris's pro-smoking demands, and fronting the PhRMA (Big Pharma) demands to impose in all nations the high-drug-price system that PhRMA had thus far succeeded at imposing in no other country than the U.S., and was also fronting anti-labor-union demands that outraged the Australian and some other delegations, as well as outraged labor unions such as the AFL-CIO. Then, on Wednesday June 13, 2012 Zach Carter at The Huffington Post headlined "Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises," and reported:

"A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations," to ride roughshod over U.S. laws protecting the environment, workers, and consumers. "But while the current trade deal could pose a challenge to American sovereignty, large corporations headquartered in the U.S. could potentially benefit by using the same terms to oppose the laws of foreign governments."

The only net beneficiaries of the Obama demands, if agreed to by all of the negotiants, would be the executives and stockholders in huge international corporations, whose products and services would become freed from existing government regulations, and whose market power to set prices and to block smaller firms from entering their markets would become an international economic-political stranglehold, corporate fascism. Zach Carter reported that, "The deal is strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top lobbying group for American corporations. Obama's Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential elections, Mitt Romney, has urged the U.S. to finalize the deal as soon as possible." Many Republican members of Congress had already come out publicly in support of quick congressional approval of this international treaty that not only had not yet been written, but whose progress and terms and conditions the Obama administration wasn't even revealing to any member of Congress, but only to the lobbyists from firms such as Philip Morris, Glaxo, Microsoft, and Halliburton. "'Bush was better than Obama on this,' said Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, referring to the medication rules. 'It's pathetic, but it is what it is. The world's turned upside down.'" Democrats in Congress are quietly appalled. Might the TPP agreement end up being passed by a "Democratic" president and Republicans in Congress?

By now, this storyline seems grimly familiar. Rawstory.com bannered "U.S. Trade Proposal Would Let Corporations Overrule Laws," and noted that the draft language that Obama's man Kirk had been hiding from lawmakers "proposes an independent dispute arbitration process that would be empowered to supersede domestic laws or regulatory actions in member states." Public Citizen bannered "Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked," and reported that, "U.S. negotiators are alone in seeking to expand this extra-judicial enforcement system." None of the other member-states wanted the extreme subordination of national sovereignty to international corporations that Obama was pushing for on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other Republican interest-groups.

So, the ideological crisis in America is that we are now compelled to choose between a liberalism that is elitist, and conservatism itself, which is elitist by any honest definition of that very term. Progressivism, which is a rejection of elitism but a respect for science, has lost out in this country, and is not on the political menu here at all, except in a few isolated political contests, such as those of Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Democratic Senatorial challenger Elizabeth Warren in Massachussetts, and Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in Vermont. Although some other politicians, such as Michigan's Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin, evidently understand what progressivism is and support it when they can, most of them are too afraid of aristocratic money to challenge the existing elitist stranglehold upon American politics -- in both parties.

And that's the ideological crisis in America today.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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