As the presidential and congressional campaigns move toward their final destination -- Election Day -- this November, it is becoming abundantly clear that we no longer have two distinct political parties offering competing visions of how to address the needs of our country and its citizens. Instead, the GOP has morphed into a legislative arm of multi-national corporations, who have bought them out lock, stock and barrel -- not for the betterment of our society as a whole, but for the benefit of a small group of special interests and corporate elite. The Democratic party, on the other hand, offers little in the way of distinction from or resistance to the GOP, and while the Dems may still be thought of in some circles as the "Peoples Party" -- if only in fond memory -- they have more truthfully degenerated into merely the "lesser of two evils." Both parties have much work to do to regain the trust and respect of the American people.
That the Democratic Party is not denouncing from the rooftops the horrific legislative goals of the GOP is really quite stunning. Simply re-stating the GOP's agenda verbatim and clearly pointing out why they oppose it would likely deliver a clean sweep for Democrats in Congress and a second term for Obama on November 6. The Dems must remove their kid gloves before it is too late. They must stop pretending that there is no planned sellout of our nation by the GOP to the elite, monied 1%, who seek nothing less than to exploit the other 99% of us with impunity. Republicans openly seek to tear apart decades of American progress that created a strong, working middle-class and gave every American -- regardless of race, color, religion or social status -- the opportunity to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams in their lifetime. Instead, Republican-sponsored legislation like deep tax cuts for the wealthy and de-funding of critical government agencies have threatened to turn America into a shell of what we once were, with a bleak future of diminishing prospects for our children and their children.
The Progressive Republican Party of Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is long dead and buried. For the past 40 years, their crude replacements have conducted an unrelenting assault on our nation's democracy, values, humanity and rights, with a sickening greed and lust for power that has perverted our national discourse. Today, we are offered only two parties (if that) to represent us, when we need three or four, with clear differences in policy and purpose that offer real choice to voters. Yes, we have the Green Party and the Working Families Party, but they are mere specks on the radar screen, unable to establish a political presence with any muscle here in the US. How many people even know that the likely presidential candidate of the Green Party is Dr. Jill Stein? She is a remarkable woman who alone could have put any of the GOP presidential contenders to shame simply with her depth and breadth of knowledge on the issues of the day. Yet she is ignored, with little or no media coverage of her campaign and her clear Progressive vision -- a vision that likely frightens establishment Dems, too.
In this election year, we can expect more purging of voters across the country and more super PAC money thrown in by a small band of super-wealthy right-wingers, who will up the stakes as the months roll on with increasing numbers of attack ads featuring distortions and outright lies against Dem candidates. The sheer volume and ferocity of the assault against our President between now and November 6th will be unique in our history, and will lay bare the malevolence of the GOP. The Dems have little hope of competing with the unlimited money being generated by the super PACs, thanks to the Supreme Court's toxic Citizens United decision. The outrage has been so loud nationwide that the Senate is planning to hold hearings at the end of this month on an amendment to overturn this nakedly political ruling by the Court's conservative majority (so where was your willingness to change your mind then, Chief Justice Roberts?). This issue has finally reached the national consciousness, and we must act as a nation to rid ourselves of this scourge if we have any hope to survive as a democracy and salvage our Republic. In the past few days, President Obama has made phone calls from Air Force One to donors, suggesting the GOP could win both Congress and the White House -- a terrifying prospect. And for the first time in history, an incumbent president might not raise enough money to secure victory, and ominous possibility being expressed in fundraising emails both from Vice President Joe Biden and our president.
Today, some 1,300 federal lobbyists are out there plying their trade, influencing legislators and writing bills that shred regulations and gut our cherished safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that helped make America great among the world's nations. Members of Congress leave office to become lobbyists and lobbyists come in to become members of Congress and Presidential Cabinets -- a dizzying merry-go-round of corruption so blatant it astounds. The influence of these political hustlers is a major reason for the quagmire that is Congress, where forward movement is non-existent, even on critical legislation like President Obama's American Jobs Act, or proposals to fight global warming and even deal with the recent wild fires in Colorado. Since January, there have been 40,000 high temperature records recorded, yet the climate crisis continues to be ignored -- and even disputed -- by the GOP.
Republicans offer no solutions to a myriad of other issues, not the least of which is a trade agreement currently being negotiated behind closed doors, dealing with the Trans Pacific Partnership that will out-NAFTA NAFTA. 600 corporate advisors have been allowed to see a draft of the U.S. proposals, while the public denied access, according to Public Citizen. More control and power will be delivered to multi-national corporations, while stripping away yet more consumer protections and rights. And you can bet this agreement will not create new jobs for Americans at home, where employment numbers remain frozen at 8.2%, with a piddling 80,000 jobs added in June. Clearly our "recovery" continues to march to a slow beat. And for a real look at how far behind hard working Americans are in their pursuit of a rapidly fading American Dream, consider that 75% of the country earns $35,000 or less, workers income has increased only 7% since 1973, and 20 million in our nation earn $9,000 a year or less. These shocking facts were revealed on a recent Bill Moyers PBS program and were based on research by Peter Edelman, who worked with Robert F. Kennedy, in his superb book So Rich, So Poor. Meanwhile, corporate CEO'S and banksters are raking in more in compensation and perks than ever before.
With Republican governors conducting voter purges in battleground states and conservative super PACs running wild, the GOP appears to have all of the bases covered in their mission to re-seize control of our government. And let us not forget their in-house PR firm, Fox News -- those masters of fear and confusion that keep so many in our country misinformed. Opposing this juggernaut are the woeful Dems, who still don't even seem to know how to generate a basic, coherent message. The new advice from our President to his troops in Congress is "...go on offense." They certainly must, especially after the emboldening victory for the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court. A few days following the High Court's decision, House Dems raised $2.3 million in one day, their largest grassroots fundraising day in history, according to Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign raked in $4.6 million in the first 24 hours following the ACA decision, and in the month of June, Romney raised a staggering $100 million.
Clearly, both campaigns have been energized, and both Obama and Romney are preparing to come out swinging come convention time. Here's hoping Obama lands a knockout punch with a narrative that galvanizes the nation. Tell the People the truth about the right-wing conspiracy and what America's future will really look like if the GOP gets a stranglehold on the House, Senate and White House. No horror movie plot could be more frightening.
I will end with a quote from one of our most celebrated Supreme Court Justices:
"We may have democracy, or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandeis, Associate Justice of The Supreme Court from 1916-1939
- with Jonathan Stone