UPDATE below

After his first months in
office Barack Obama increasingly perplexed me, particularly for the
fraudulent way he campaigned and then turned on his most dedicated supporters. I was particularly alarmed at his disdain for our constitutional principles and his truly craven subservience to corporate criminals such as BP

No person making it to President these days is stupid.  Not even George Bush. Further, there has been a clear pattern to Obama’s “weakness.”  He has not been weak on serving the
banks, he has not been weak on serving big corporations, he has not been weak
on serving the military industrial complex, and he has not been weak on
amassing executive power.  He has only
been weak on keeping his major progressive

I think a glaring but too little appreciated weakness
in the American political system explains what is happening here.

Plurality election rules
(who has the most votes wins) guarantee that we will almost always have a two
party system.  Under those rules if
you vote for a third party in practice you almost always help the major party
farthest from your position. 
(Think Ralph Nader and Al Gore and George Bush) Throughout our history except just before the Civil War we have had only two major parties.

But today we have three broad
political divisions of (1) moderate progressives – there is no real left in
America, along with some ethnics (2) a combination of religious zealots,
nativists, and the rest of the right, and (3) corporatists and the financial
elite who finance both parties.  So
we have a two party system and a broad three-way division.

The third
corporatist/oligarchical group has a problem – they are supported by the fewest
number of Americans.  They could rarely win on their own.  They also
have an advantage.  Collectively,
they are richer than God and getting more so all the time, and they own the media.

They have always been strong
in the Republicans and especially beginning with the Clintons, have become
increasingly dominant in the Democrats. We do not need to posit conspiracy in this outcome,
though far seeing oligarchs would have seen the possibilities.  Even without deliberate planning by them this result simply
shakes out as the current electoral system operates. 

Whether deliberately or
not, I think we are seeing a “good cop/bad cop” rope-a-dope strategy
played by the corporatists against the rest of the country. Nobody much likes
them, but somehow they always win. It’s no accident.

The most right wing
finance Republican corporatists who talk the tea party/right wing talk.  The more liberal finance Democratic
corporatists who talk a moderate progressive line. The completely cynical
finance whichever they think will win. 

Each such candidate will
support his or her side only when it does not risk the financial interests of
the oligarchs.  Their loyalty is
purchased usually not by bribes but by the promise of lucrative contracts and
positions after leaving office. 

Each candidate also
depicts the other side as demonic. High drama on symbolic issues and issues not
dealing with the income of the rich keep most of us who are politically aware
focused on where the most important action for the country as a whole is not
taking place. 

But when push comes to
shove both sides push the corporatist
oligarchical line incessantly. Obama has been called a socialist, a Hitler, a Marxist,
and such, yet the stock market goes up and the bankers make out like the
gangsters they are.  Anyone who
knows what a socialist or Marxist is, let alone Hitler, knows these charges are utterly absurd.

No matter who wins, the
oligarchs are the major winners and average Americans are the losers. Meanwhile
their path to dominance requires that they continue financing tearing the
country apart because it distracts us from what is really happening, and
guarantees their interests are never really challenged. Yet the mostly
Republican strategy of focusing on “values” makes compromise next to
impossible.  (Democrats are far
less prone to this because their focus has historically been on bread and
butter issues of money, but Republican “values” are so destructive to this country’s well-being that I fear we are reaching a point of serious divorce.) 

This destruction is happening
because Madison’s hope that the constitution would work to reward genuine
compromise has been circumvented, so that its structure exacerbates divisions.  I am sure I am not the only American
who would prefer secession over a lifetime of this stuff.  The small countries of Europe are better governed, more prosperous, and more humane than the US right now, even with their economic difficulties.  But secession is an extreme solution, and there may be others far less extreme.

With that in mind now let’s look again at
Barack Obama.

For Progressives Obama
long posed as the “good cop.” 
But as soon as he took office he hired almost entirely Clinton people
and left out even highly qualified democratic progressives, like Paul Krugman
and Robert Reich, both Novel Laureates. 
Both have proven more accurate in their assessment of our economic
difficulties than the Clintonites he hired, and that has not mattered at
all.  He also let progressive
nominees like Dawn Johnson dangle for months, did not make interim appointments
of progressives, and finally ditched them.  Elizabeth Warren was a last minute nominee done a little
before the election and, to my mind, obviously under duress and grudgingly.  

With Obama’s tax
“compromise” it should be becoming obvious to all that his priorities have
little to do with his promises. In a very interesting columns Bill Black has documented what is really
happening by exposing the dishonesty and conflicts of interest among the most
fervent supporters of his tax deal.  Obama’s much touted “11 dimensional chess” has been played primarily
against his supporters.  They gay community knows this now, as they continually play Charlie Brown to Lucy’s football.  The rest of us should learn as well.

Obama figures we have no
place else to go, and to some degree he is right.  Sarah Palin is not an option.  I now believe Obama was always a corporatist oligarch at heart,
and a fraud to the rank and file where he posed as an alternative to Hillary
for those of us disgusted with Clintonian “triangulation.”  If Clinton had won the primaries and
become president we would be in essentially the same situation with nearly all
of the same people in the administration. Again, either way the corporatists
would have won. 

There is a possible non-extreme solution over the long run, but it is one that most of the progressive wing of
the Democrats and those Tea Partyers who actually believe their rhetoric have
yet to grasp.  We must break the
two party oligopoly that makes us all pawns of the ultra-rich. 
the short run primary challenges against corporatists are really important –
especially in Congress and the Senate. 
But that is a stop-gap.  

Much more importantly, we need to replace plurality elections with election by majority
vote.  This can be accomplished without relying on Republicans or Democrats in every state that has an initiative process.  Majority vote elections will invigorate third
parties and at least make it possible to seriously promote solutions like
public finance of campaigns, a ban on any public corporation political
spending, and prohibiting any elected politician from ever lobbying for pay
after leaving office.

The cure for America’s malaise, if there is one, is more democracy, not less.


I came across the following on America Blog that suggests I am right.  If true, Obama is a cynical, devious, lying enemy of those who voted for him. And I for one am through trying to make excuses for him and the Clintons until I see some decent behavior on their part.

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