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A Democracy-Killing Duo: How the Supreme Court and the Morbidly Rich Are Ruining Democracy in America

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/10/30/democracy-killing-duo-how-supreme-court-and-morbidly-rich-are-ruining-democracy

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I would, in addition, raise the article written by NNA President Bonnie Castillo: What Algorithms Tell Us About Structural Racism in Health Care because of the advertising influence generating morbid heaps of money deciding policies and practices.
Even in the online world of Youtube, Creators Think They’ve Reverse Engineered the P-Score, YouTube’s Monetization Algorithm.
My concern is that old saw “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe”. H. G. Wells

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I agree that change is needed, but let’s not mourn the loss of something that has arguably never been there. If this country truly was a democracy and had been founded as a democracy, that kind of power would not have been given to a small handful of people for life. In all these SCOTUS decisions favoring the wealthy, the Court is actually following in the tradition of the Founders who granted the right to vote only to the land owning, white, male aristocracy. Indeed, many of the Founders were wary of allowing the general public to pass laws that would threaten their wealth and status. The Supreme Court has a long tradition of protecting the status quo. It’s the very reason it exists. This hardly started in 1976.

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A century ago SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis noted that “You can have concentrated wealth or you can have democracy but you can’t have both”.

The paragraph on the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act barring Medicare from negotiating drug prices needs to also address the fact that Louisiana Congressman Billy Tauzin, the architect of that legislation, immediately resigned from Congress to take a K Street drug industry gig paying $2 million per year (back when that was real money). In February 2009 Obama launched ACA development with a secret meeting with Tauzin wherein he assured Tauzin that the ACA would preserve the no negotiation travesty.

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Thom Hartmann makes the common argument that money poured in and Republicans such as Reagan got elected. That more money spent on advertising explains why Republicans got more votes.

Reagan was elected nearly four decades ago in 1980. Since then, every sentient human can see that Republicans actively support and promote the concentration of wealth and the rule of corporations.

So why do so many middle class and lower class Americans continue to vote for them?

Why do 45% of Americans today, before any 2020 campaign ads, continue to support an arrogant and corrupt billionaire who has made clear to the planet who he is and what he stands for?

In the end, you either have to believe that conservative voters are incredibly stupid, incredibly gullible, or both.

You could also ask why 40 million Americans still believe that we are living in biblical end times.

I don’t think it’s just a matter of campaign finance laws that are the root problem here.

I believe it is something far deeper and more intractable.

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A significant minority of the populations of most nations are simply fascists who believe in a governing style that is top down with a dictator in charge. That significant minority serially trumps the majority by applying gerrymandering, voter suppression, keeping the electoral college extant, etc. Money in politics enables those tactics and results in only candidates beholden to moneyed interests being able to stay in office.

The time to abandon the myth that US voters have EVER been unified behind democracy is long overdue. During the 1930s and into the World War II era Prescott Bush (Dubya’s grandpa), Henry Ford, and other 1%ers wanted the US to be fascist and they had a lot of followers. Fortunately their attempt to assassinate FDR failed.

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It’s all at the top of the article. “This is not a democracy.” Period. So, explain it for me again: what use is voting?

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A Wealth Tax can’t fix it. A Wealth Cap will.

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While the campaign finance laws are to blame for some of the reasons we no longer live in a democracy, the corporate takeover of our media is an even bigger problem. This is why 45% of Americans support a corrupt billionaire. Too many people believe that they’re getting both sides of an argument when they watch TV, tune in to Rush Limbaugh or pick up a newspaper. In reality though, corporate influence has ensured that any debate, discussion or proposal, is always framed within the Great Western Narrative. The resulting corporatization of America has led to a very warped reality while most of the population has been completely unaware of the transformation of the society around them.
Unless the public is exposed to a free and unbiased media and/or educational system, the stream of misinformation will continue to dominate the American political landscape.

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Until I went to college, I was taught that the government has three co-equal branches operating under a system of checks and balances and functioning like a well-oiled machine (kinda like the invisible hand of the market). Then, I had a social science professor who taught me otherwise using readings of Charles Beard, Thorstein Veblen, Herbert Marcuse, John Stuart Mill, Marx and Engels, Upton Sinclair, and others. Clearly, this was not my high school history and government class and I learned there was more to know than what I had been taught. He was probably a democratic socialist or even a communist. The department dean and provost eventually drummed him out.

I think conservative voters are just “otherly-educated”. They believe what they were taught just like I do, but for lots of them their formal education stopped after high school or before. We all have our vested interests, including holding on to what we believe to be true about our political system because of what we were taught.

A deep and intractable problem is the electoral system. If the warning bells set-off by the 2016 election are ignored or efforts to reform the system fail, the democratic republic is doomed.

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Let’s not forget Moscow Mitch’s role in the whole debacle.

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Moscow Mitch is the hub of the organized crime syndicate disguised as a political party. Trump performs the role of the distractor-in-chief while Mitch and the Senate rapidly stack all levels of Federal Courts with fascist judges. Within a year or so the courts will be stacked to the extent that the 1% will take any legislation from Congress that they don’t like to trial and be assured of all judgements being in their favor.

It won’t matter if a green party member occupies every seat in Congress…the courts will be the defacto legislative branch.

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What you’re missing is that there’s no one to vote for–by design. Both parties are thoroughly corrupt. Both parties have taken any sort of real economic reform off the table, and all they permit is bickering and whining over identity politics, whether it’s the absurdity of white nationalism, the absurdity of contemporary feminism, or the anti-black racism of both parties–aimed at black men and women by the GOP, and aimed at black men by establishment Democrats.

In the end, you have to believe that anyone who thinks there’s a meaningful difference between the parties is, as you say, “incredibly stupid, incredibly gullible.”

Or, to paraphrase you, "Reagan was elected nearly four decades ago in 1980. Since then, every sentient human can see that Democrats and Republicans actively support and promote the concentration of wealth and the rule of corporations.

“So why do so many middle class and lower class Americans continue to vote for them?”

—Because there’s no one else to vote for. Well, there was charisma-free Jill Stein, the repeat, vanity candidate with the breathy voice and rushed delivery who, in all those years, couldn’t be bothered to take a few weeks and work on her delivery, and who was unable to persuade anyone to vote for her who didn’t already agree with her on pretty much everything.

Anyway, I could have left this very brief and just written, “everything you said of Republicans is true of Democrats. Why did you omit them?”

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With all due respect, I see a difference between the parties in degrees of indentured servitude to corporate power and in core beliefs (aka, the hard libertarian streak in most conservatives).

Two generations ago, the Republicans and the Dems were more liberal if one takes into consideration tax rates, public investment, anti-trust rules, the labor movement support, and so on.

With an enduring and persistent effort, and if united, working class Americans may be able to pull Dems and Republicans back to the left after five decades of being yanked to the right.

I say may. I’m not confident that will happen.

The deeper problem I alluded to had to do with the beliefs now held by so many Americans. Too many people over 35 today have been persuaded to believe in the supremacy of the private market over the public commons. Like Reagan said, government is the problem (never the solution).

Like religious beliefs, economic beliefs tend to not fade much or quickly. Evidence of modern capitalism’s failure is all around us and most Americans still cling to fantasies about white picket fences and the land of opportunity.

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You’re correct that there are cultural problems but they have been exacerbated by the SCOTUS decision. When the GOP took power one of their goals was to damage or privatize the education system. Uneducated people who aren’t taught how to research or critically think are easy to manipulate. Eliminating money in politics would allow our educational institutions to refocus without state and federal requirements that only put money in testing corps pocket and do nothing to prepare our students for life. Education is the silver bullet. Educated people don’t watch and believe things like Fox, it beggars credulity.

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Some of it is due to single-issue voters, where what they want on their one issue will determine their vote regardless of all else. These single issues include maximizing the “right to bear arms”, outlawing abortion, serving Israel to bring about the “end times”, dispelling the threat of the scapegoat de jure (like immigrants), racism, etc.

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Obama-The kind of president who mines little victories for the people and gives big money clad victories to the GOP.

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Wasn’t it Emma Goldman that said, “if voting made any difference, it would be illegal”?

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You are so right with what you wrote. Most of “America” bastion of hope and freedom and democracy is pure unadulterated mythology and the oligarchic founders clearly intended it to be so. And the little people they sold it to believed it as fact and believe it to this day…
For my job I have lived and worked in various countries around the world for decades and every place we have lived people ask me if Americans really believe the ‘America is the greatest country in the world’ crap. Sadly I have always had to tell them “most do and act accordingly and that’s why America does the awful things it does all over the world”.
If we lived in a country that spoke English or Spanish our two kids always went to the local school. If not we looked for a school not connected to the american embassy sponsored school. By high school it was easy to find a good local school as many taught high school in English anyway (we were always in cities - rural was usually in the local language) so they would not be fed the america is superior garbage and plus The Ed was so much better. They were asked to explain the same thing all the time too- “ why does America think it’s so much better than us?” …
I think that why my kids both are in helping professions now and not cashing out on Wall Street.
An objective view of your country and its mythology and propaganda are invaluable. I’d like to send every one of these myth believers and founder worshippers abroad for a couple of years to work ( not the Peace Corps though spouse and I did two years in the Philippines while Marcos was in power ‘78- ‘80 because they try to get you to spout the same America is great crap at every opportunity) . It might beat out some of the mythology…

So true. Spouse’s life long friend is a middle school science teacher. About to retire. She was showing us recently the first text and curriculum she used in 1978- her first year teaching. And showed us this year’s. She has been saying for years (er students are getting dumber and dumber but seeing how the level has fallen in 40 years is pretty shocking. This year’s text looks suitable for third grade…
My son in law is a middle school English teacher in his 12th year. He says the decline in understanding and critical analysis of a text is clear even to him even in that time.
I could tell you stories about how my staff report writing and field abilities have dramatically declined as well.

Some scary future ahead. The movie Idiocracy is accurate…