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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rep & Dem: What difference is there anymore?

* This is a long post but this important question couldn't be concisely explained in just three to five sentences.

There used to be a time in American politics when the two political parties, Democrats & Republicans, stood for separate causes & beliefs.  In fact this was the case throughout much of US history.   And the differences of opinion on everything from economic/finance to social issues, particularly in the 19th century, were so dramatically distinct that in many major cities you'd have two newspapers- one would call itself the 'city name' Democrat  and the 'same city name' Republican.  People were very loyal to the parties they supported and that allegiance would be carried down generationally.

This political distinction was pretty clear cut until the early 1990's.  Then the parties began to blend.

So, what happened?

In summary- both parties began sucking off the same financial teat.

The current economic homogamy amongst the parties actually started with President Reagan, who in 1981 during the Air Traffic Controllers strike, decided to fire them all.  While big business and anti-unionists cheered (current Wisc. governor Scott Walker refers to it as the Inspiration in his fight to destroy the unions), it also began a rapid decline in the rights of workers and the economic and political influence of unions in elections and campaign donations.

It is no secret that most unions from AFL-CIO to state teachers unions support the Democrats.  So as unions were weakening drastically in influence and their treasuries dwindling, as companies were just in the infancy stages of shifting jobs and whole factories overseas, Reagan won re-election over Walter Mondale in 1984.   Reps beat the Dems badly that year, taking 49 of 50 states' electoral college in the process.  Then came 1988, where George Bush Sr. soundly defeated traditional liberal candidate Michael Dukakis while the Rep. party wildly outspent the Dems in the process.

By 1992, the Democrats knew they needed a different kind of Presidential candidate to compete, and they also knew as a party they couldn't rely on the same financial streams as before.   So what happened?

The Democrat party took a dramatic turn to the center on economic/finance issues and the once core constituents of the party suddenly became the 'fringe'.  The Dems nominated and eventually elected a pro-business, pro-Wall St. candidate- Bill Clinton.  And during the election, the party began courting the same corporations, industrials and power-brokers that before, would almost exclusively support the Reps.

Thus, the Dem. party took the White House and Clinton brought pro-corporation people onto his economic team like Robert Rubin and Larry Summers..  And Clinton kept re-nominating fiscally Conservative Republican Alan Greenspan to head the Federal Reserve.. And Clinton got NAFTA passed which has decimated the US manufacturing base...  And Clinton's support in the business community grew and Grew- he got re-elected in 1996, then signed the pro-conservative, pro-business Welfare Reform act and helped push the bubble.

Then in 2000, Republican George Bush, Jr. won in a highly contested election over Al Gore that many to this day believe he didn't really win, then reelection in 2004, followed by Democrat, Messiah-wannabe Obama's victory over a weak, impotent candidate in John McCain in 2008.

By this point, elections and campaign funding had changed forever.  Corporations and influentuals realized they didn't have to support one party over another-- you simply support Both.  Perhaps you give one party candidate $50k, the other party candidate gets $45k, and now you have your bases covered.  Whoever wins, you have a 'foot' in the 'door'.

So to the present-  Here's President Obama, who in many ways has conducted his economic policies exactly as his predecessor, Bush had. People forget that during the campaign trail, his team of economic advisors were very traditionally liberal and his campaign speeches were full of promises to help all the people and economic groups Bush ignored.  Then immediately after winning election, he fired that team and replaced with an economic team of pro-business, pro-Wall St former-Clintonites.

Then under his watch, trillions more in taxpayer dollars went to the banks, the corps and Wall St.  This is followed by Obama re-appointing Ben Bernanke, a fiscal conservative Republican to to continue heading the Fed (notice a similarity?), and the post-midterm capitulation to the Reps by extending the Bush tax cuts for even the filthiest rich, while increasing the National Debt by over a trillion due to lost tax revenue.  Currently, Obama and the Reps are engaged in a battle to determine which social safety nets are to be decimated and by what percentage.

The power elites- they don't just financially support anyone for public office-- there's a criteria. It must be candidates who share a similar world view; who agree with a specific, shall we say  "World Order". Candidates can say any campaign rhetoric they wish but they better have a pro-business, pro-Wall St fiscal policy or those campaign funds will dry up by re-election, or in the case of a second-termer,  no funding for a vanity-driven Presidential Library.

If you are going to find any clear distinctions between the two parties left, it will be found at the local level- city and state governments.  And of course you will still find social policy differences because power elites don't really care about hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage or illegal immigration as long as they come out on top financially by the policies put in play.  In fact, to policy makers, hot button issues are godsends because they easily distract people from real economic policy

When you strip away the left v. right nonsense, most Americans want the same things economically.  They want jobs.  They want to work hard and be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors while having enough to save for a rainy day.  They want job security, protection of their retirement pensions, Social Security, etc,  They don't want to be taken advantage of and to be protected against those who do. And they want their children to have a better life then they currently enjoy.

And right now both parties are failing miserably in this...

 Because there is really one party.

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