Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, July 2011
Two Cracked Political Parties, One Scrambled Nation
By Ben Tanosborn
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 25, 2011
It’s truly illusory for anyone occupying the White House these days to think s/he is the president, the leader of all Americans. In political legalese, maybe; in reality, not the slightest chance… for we are the prototypical major society split between haves and have-nots. And to this day in his presidency, Barack Obama talks and acts clueless as to that irrefutable fact.
Although the socioeconomic divide between haves and have-nots is the norm in most nations of the world, how Americans view that condition is quite different from the rest. When have-nots in the United States look in the mirror, the vast majority of them still see themselves as haves, that’s how gullible they have become. Perhaps it has to do with past economic dominance of the US, still lingering in past glory and an unreal sense of nationalism, often promoted by politicians of the two brands as exceptionalism.
America’s powerless super-majority is being foolish to let Obama negotiate the debt ceiling and deficit reduction on their behalf. Obama may be bright and articulate, even well-intentioned, but he is putty in the hands of the ruling class, whether corporate moguls, generals at the Pentagon, or conservative politicians such as Speaker Boehner. In fact, things became so frightfully ridiculous in the negotiations, with Obama capitulating to the extreme Right that progressives had to send emissaries to stop such political masochism by clueless Obama. And that’s when Boehner walked out.
It might seem strange to people elsewhere in the world how a government that holds the executive branch and half of the legislative branch is so intimidated by a party that represents a minority of people, albeit most of the wealth and power. It all comes to numbers as to how small that minority is. And that’s where we go back to that deceiving mirror where have-nots Americans see themselves. Pseudo-exceptionalism and religious Christian fundamentalism have had a de-evolutionary process in America, turning the Homo sapiens (wise) population into Homo incautus (unwary, gullible).
The only items which appear to have been on the table during these negotiations dealt, for the most part, with social expenditures – not military – with a virtual hands off on revenues in an obscene tax system that is not only unjust but ineffective. And, as usual, the American have-nots are deceived with slogans that are not just mythical but outright lies, such as “you don’t tax the rich because they are the job creators.”
For a columnist dealing in sociopolitical and economic commentary, there’s at times gratification found in the modified echo received from the readership in the form of information [with sources cited], suggestions, and even literary contributions; valuable material which occasionally lends support to future columns.
One such contribution by a doctoral student in Economics at the University of Washington (Seattle) – who has followed my constant criticism of the Tweedledum-Tweedledee politics in the United States – is a poem he composed two weeks ago on the national debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations taking place in our nation’s capital; well, not really a poem but his take on the eighteenth century English nursery rhyme whose characters I often cite. This eight-verse summary is, according to this student, what’s about to happen, and nothing will be resolved that will have a positive impact beyond the August 2 deadline to increase the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. And that deadline might only be met by unilateral action from the president, without Congress’ approval; such constitutional authority or lack of it sure to be tested by the courts.
Republicans and Democrats
Agreed on a confrontation;
For Republicans, said Democrats
Bankrupted our great nation.
Just then reality showed the truth
As ugly and corrupt corporate gabble;
This frightened both parties so
They agreed to create another bubble.
Americans have been so thoroughly brainwashed by the two-party system of Tweedledum-Tweedledee politics that they have lost sight of what might be good for the people as a society: the well-being of the commons. Compromise, they insist, must always be the answer whether the confrontation is with the power held by war-makers, or by wealth-holders or by empire-dreaming rights-poachers. But, should there really be compromise between right and wrong; between powerful and powerless?
This attitude for compromise, of finding consensus somewhere in the middle has a major drawback to it. The conservative lot, those who hold the lion’s share of power in this nation, never put themselves at risk, handpicking what’s to be negotiated, and that’s usually the three basic things that the overwhelming majority of people have been counting on for the lack of other assets: jobs, healthcare and pensions.
Sadly, Barack Obama likes the idea that he is the president of all the people, and that makes him a poor and ineffective leader for the 80 plus percent population of true have-nots, whether they see themselves as such.
By the way, my student friend failed to tell me what the next bubble would be.
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