Stagecraft: Our Presidential Contest Has Devolved Into Little More Than A Fake Wrestling Match
For those on the Left, one of the most frustrating aspects of this Presidential election has been following the narratives of both establishment parties, each aligned with the other in their complimentary fictions, as they deceive the American voters into believing there is an actual choice to be made here.
Beyond the rhetorical divide, the actual differences between Obama and Romney are minor, if not downright trivial. Each candidate, regardless of how he has actually governed in the past, uses the talking points from his party’s platform to tap into the ideological preferences of his base. The contest is little more than a theater of deception.
Romney, who governed like a Clintonian Democrat, now speaks in ways that appeal to his base, which continues to drift rightwards a la Tea Party.
As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney implemented what would become the blueprints for Obamacare, and offered generous subsidies for those in his state who couldn’t afford it. He embraced a pro-choice position, favored gun control, was pro-gay-rights. He opposed the flat tax, was critical of Bush tax cuts. He believes in global warming, and has supported ‘cap and trade’ policies.
Whereas Romney has been forced to move rhetorically to the right, Barack Obama, who himself has governed from right-of-center, needs to reestablish his own cred with his liberal base, and is thus, only too happy to accommodate Romney in aligning their fictions.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle that both candidates have had to overcome with regards to their respective bases is in trying to convince them that there actually are fundamental differences between their visions for America’s economic model.
The Obama campaign was the first to seize on a distinction when it released a video showing Mitt Romney at a Boca Raton fundraiser expressing disdain for Obama voters, suggesting they are “dependent upon government” and feel entitled to handouts.
But this video revelation actually enhanced the far-Right cred that the Governor had been so desperate for. You might think his own campaign planted the video. In fact, he proudly wore the video revelation around like a medal. The Tea Party won’t see me as a RINO anymore, he likely surmised.
Seeing this as the perfect red meat issue needed to re-energize his base, Romney pivoted to the hot-button ‘Socialism’ charge. He charged Obama with being another Socialist-minded liberal who wants to take money from those who work hard and succeed, to then redistribute it to those who don’t.
“He [Obama] really believes in what I’ll call a government-centered society. I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America,” Romney said Wednesday at an Atlanta fundraiser. “There’s a tape that came out just a couple of days ago where the president said yes he believes in redistribution. I don’t. I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others but to create wealth for all.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus seconded that description of Obama, and now all GOP surrogates are on message, making the ‘redistribution’ buzzword the central theme in Romney’s campaign.
But of course this depiction of Obama couldn’t be further from the truth. Obama has actually governed like a starry-eyed Milton Friedman disciple. Bloomberg News decided to investigate Romney’s ‘redistribution’ charge, and here is what they found:
If President Barack Obama is trying to spread the wealth, he doesn’t have much to show for it. […]
[S]ince Obama took office in January 2009, wealthy Americans have continued to pull away from the rest of society. In the aftermath of the recession, income inequality in the U.S. reached a new high in 2011, Census Bureau data show.
Even as the president has decried the hollowing out of the middle class, the fortunes of labor and capital have diverged on his watch. Quarterly corporate profits of $1.9 trillion have almost doubled since the end of 2008, while workers’ inflation- adjusted average hourly earnings have declined.
“At the very high end, people got a whole lot wealthier whereas income stagnated at other levels,” said Anne Mathias, director of Washington research for Guggenheim Securities LLC. “Fifty years ago, people talked about the other half, how the other half lived, and now we’re talking about the other 1 percent.”
But, forget reality — back to the fantasyland that is our Presidential Election.
Knowing his progressive base sees the U.S. economy through the 1% vs 99% prism and views his last 3 1/2 years as a monumental sellout to the 1%, Obama likely sees an opening in Romney’s ‘redistribution’ charge. This Republican accusation may be exactly what he needs to energize his own base. Perhaps it can help him to get his populist mojo back.
And the theater just continues on and on …
But make no mistake about it, whichever candidate wins — be it Obama or Romney — things will continue right along this Neoliberal road we are on, and the firmly-entrenched 1% will have their man.
Edit: In response to reader who questioned the validity of statement re: Mitt Romney’s alleged support of gay-marriage when Governor of Massachusetts, and after further review myself, I have decided to remove the statement: (he implemented same-sex marriage by executive fiat).
Noam Chomsky Endorses Green Party’s Jill Stein For President Of The United States
“Dear friends, I hope you’ll take the opportunity of the March 6th Green-Rainbow primary to cast a vote for resurgent democracy. A democracy that thrives outside of the Democratic and Republican Parties that are sponsored by and subservient to corporate America. And I hope you will consider joining me in supporting Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein – both with your vote and with a contribution to her campaign for people, peace and the planet.As you know, popular anger at the political and economic institutions, and the subordination of the former to the latter, has reached historic heights. And for sound reasons. There could hardly be a better time to open up the political debate to the just anger and frustrations of citizens who are watching the country move towards what might be irreversible decline while a tiny sector of concentrated wealth and power implements policies of benefit to them and opposed by the general population, whom they are casting adrift.
Jill Stein’s campaign is unifying the national Green Party, and ensuring that an urgently needed voice for democracy and justice will have a place on the ballot in the November election. Please join me in supporting Jill on March 6, and securing a voice foe a peaceful, just, green future in the presidential race.”
Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Addresses The 5 Most Important Issues Facing The U.S.
On October 24, at the historic State House in Boston, The Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein announced her candidacy for President of the United States. She is running as the alternative to the two ‘Wall Street’ parties that have remained steadfast in selling out the interests of the American people for the enrichment of the corporatocracy.
A couple months before her Presidential announcement, Dr. Stein was asked to identify five pressing issues facing our nation, and how she would resolve them as President of the United States:
CREATE JOBS THROUGH A GREEN NEW DEAL – an emergency program to achieve full employment and jump start a green economic recovery. This would provide a Manhattan Project/WWII scale mobilization to transition to clean renewables and related green sectors of the economy (including local food and recycling manufacturing) to avert climate catastrophe while achieving energy independence, improving trade balances and meeting urgent transportation, energy, housing and environmental infrastructure needs for the 21st century.
It will be funded by taxing the rich and large corporations, through trillion dollar savings from single payer health care and the associated reduction of health care inflation, and through downsizing the bloated military.
The Green New Deal will get economic help directly to people – and end the Obama/Bush trickle-down philosophy that forces ordinary people to subsidize the massive transfer of wealth and power to the super-rich.
Restoring the American Dream:
The Green New Deal will include an ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS, including the right to living wage jobs, health care, quality education, retirement security, and affordable housing.
PEACE NOW – End the needless wars that have drained America of the resources we need to fund our communities. Bring the troops and war dollars home now. Reduce the bloated military budget to provide defense not empire building.
Imperiled U.S. Democracy & Civil Liberties:
RESCUE DEMOCRACY — Restore our freedom of political expression, our imperiled civil liberties, and protections from government surveillance by the swollen Homeland Security complex.
End the hijacking of political speech by the biggest spender, (resulting from the Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo supreme court decisions).
Create real freedom of political expression, full public participation, and informed voter choice – free from fear and intimidation – at the polls through policy reforms including: publicly funded elections, free access to public airwaves for all legitimate candidates, instant runoff voting and proportional representation, fair ballot access for all political parties and candidates, safeguards against electronic election fraud, and an end to voter suppression schemes, the corporate-electoral revolving door, and rampant influence-peddling by lobbyists.
SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE (improved Medicare-for-all) to provide quality, comprehensive health care to all as a human right.
Single payer saves money by ending the 30% administrative overhead of private insurance and by controlling the runaway health care inflation that is bankrupting families, business, and all levels of government. And it puts an end to insurance company meddling in personal health care decisions and choice of doctor.
For those who wish to learn more about Dr. Stein’s policy positions, she did a Q&A session this week with the CA Independent Voter Network, where she expounds on her vision for a new America. In the interview, she addresses the importance of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the commonalities between the Green Party and the Ron Paul wing of the Tea Party, RomneyCare and ObamaCare, how Bush and Obama have egregiously abused their executive powers, and how both Presidents have violated our civil liberties in ways that signal the beginnings of a ‘proto-fascist state.’