Bob Franken

“Divide and Conquer” Politics


One more thought on the Supreme Court ruling that corporations have the 1st Amendment right to free expression and are therefore able to spend on campaigns as if they were individuals.

It’s a human right. Right? Actually that’s the flaw in the decision: Humans have hearts. Corporations decidedly do not. As we’ve witnessed in the massive waves of layoffs to protect profits, in the despicable tactics of those in the big bank and finance companies, in the contemptible treatment of customers with health problems by the insurance companies, they are heart-LESS.

Their interest is not the common good. Their only concern is hoarding as much as they can for the few at the top of their executive garbage pile. Everyone else be damned.

And if any upstarts in government try to make any waves, the company lobbyist enforcers can calm the turbulence and drown the troublemakers with money that’s now even easier to spread over the waters.

So what are the rest of us to do? There is only one answer. That would be to unite in outrage and organize mass pressure groups to scare the hell out of those in power.. to let those desperate to keep political office know that they will be thrown out if they don’t pay attention to the true needs of their populations.

We’ve already seen it work with the “Tea Party” movement. The problem is that one is fueled largely by right-wing, simple-minded ignorance. It is organized by people who want to keep any meaningful protest DISorganized and maintain the status quo that pays them so well.

It’s a classic “Divide and Conquer” strategy, backed by those who want to divide their riches with as few others as possible. To accomplish that they keep those fed up fighting among themselves, calling each other names, instead of coming together and channeling “I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore” passion into meaningful action.

The Massachusetts election certainly represented that kind of valid resentment. The sad thing is the voters there may have added another person to the Senate who is part of the problem, someone who can be counted on to thwart desperately needed health care reform, for instance.

Ben Bernanke’s reappointment to head the Fed looked for awhile like it might go down in flames because of the widespread bitter feelings about way the fat cats are once again gobbling public trillions, while everyone else starves.

Bernanke is an interesting case. Should he be celebrated as a main engineer of the economic rescue, or scorned and tossed out as one of those who helped cause the calamity? At the moment, it looks more and more like he can accumulate enough support from Republicans and Democrats to save his new term and in the process save the face of the President who has cast much of our economic fate with Bernanke

What about the two guys that President Obama relies upon to shape financial policy, Timothy Geither and Lawrence Summers? They raise the same questions. Are they the best public protectors, or are they the foxes in the henhouse and far too cozy with those who want to keep stealing the golden eggs?

What about the members of Congress? Can we take a real close look to see which ones go to the highest bidder when they make their decisions about laws to bring effective controls to what is the lawless frontier of finance?

After that, can we organize to “Throw the Rascals Out”, as they say? Can we work hard to make sure that their replacements are qualified and committed to rescuing our system, as opposed to demagogues and those who come up with catchy slogans and phony promises? “YES WE CAN!!” (I made that up)

Remember that, as they have with the Tea Party movement, the bad guys will muddy the debates. Thanks to the Supremes they can more easily spend even greater amounts of their ill gotten gains on TV ads and other propaganda, deigned to distort the issues and confuse everyone. So a national Peoples’ Rescue won’t be easy. In fact the chances are slim there will actually be “Change You Can Believe In”. (Made that up too. )

If there is not, it won’t long before the voters’ apathy will be complete as nearly everyone will have taken a “What’s the Use?” attitude.

No one will even bother to present alternatives to the ones our wealthy rulers put in charge to do their bidding. It’s up to us to prevent that from happening. To the extent it hasn’t already.

The time will come when the corporations won’t even have to spend on campaign ads.

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