The Special Interests Won Again

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

The election that was supposed to be too close to call turned out not to be so close after all. In my opinion, Obama won for two reasons: (1)  Obama is non-threatening and inclusive, whereas Romney exuded a “us vs. them” impression that many found threatening, and (2) the election was not close enough for the electronic voting machines to steal.

As readers know, I don’t think that either candidate is a good choice or that either offers a choice. Washington is controlled by powerful interest groups, not by elections. What the two parties fight over is not alternative political visions and different legislative agendas, but which party gets to be the whore for Wall Street, the military-security complex, Israel Lobby, agribusiness, and energy, mining, and timber interests.

Being the whore is important, because whores are rewarded for the services that they render. To win the White House or a presidential appointment is a career-making event as it makes a person sought after by rich and powerful interest groups. In Congress the majority party can provide more services and is thus more valuable than the minority party. One of our recent presidents who was not rich ended up with $36 million shortly after leaving office, as did former UK prime minister Tony Blair, who served Washington far better than he served his own country.

Wars are profitable for the military/security complex. Israel rewards its servants and punishes its enemies. Staffing environmental regulatory agencies with energy, mining, and timber executives is regarded by those interests as very friendly behavior.

Many Americans understand this and do not bother to vote as they know that whichever candidate or party wins, the interest groups prevail.  Ronald Reagan was the last president who stood up to interest groups, or, rather, to some of them. Wall Street did not want his tax rate reductions, as Wall Street thought the result would be higher inflation and interest rates and the ruination of their stock and bond portfolios.  The military/security complex did not want Reagan negotiating with Gorbachev to end the cold war.

What is curious is that voters don’t understand how politics really works. They get carried away with the political rhetoric and do not see the hypocrisy that is staring them in the face.  Proud patriotic macho American men voted for Romney who went to Israel and, swearing allegiance to his liege lord, groveled at the feet of Netanyahu.  Obama plays on the heart strings of his supporters by relating a story of a child with leukemia now protected by Obamacare, while he continues to murder thousands of children and their parents with drones and other military actions in seven countries.  Obama was able to elicit cheers from supporters as he described the onward and upward path of America toward greater moral accomplishments, while his actual record is that of a tyrant who codified into law the destruction of the US Constitution and the civil liberties of the American people.

The election was about nothing except who gets to serve the interest groups. The wars were not an issue in the election. Washington’s provoking of Iran, Russia, and China by surrounding them with military bases was not an issue.  The unconstitutional powers asserted by the executive branch to detain citizens indefinitely without due process and to assassinate them on suspicion alone were not an issue in the election. The sacrifice of the natural environment to timber, mining, and energy interests was not an issue, except to promise more sacrifice of the environment to short-term profits. Out of one side of the mouth came the nonsense promise of restoring the middle class while from the other side of the mouth issued defenses of the offshoring of their jobs and careers as free trade.

The inability to acknowledge and to debate real issues is a threat not only to the United States but also to the entire world. Washington’s reckless pursuit of hegemony driven by an insane neoconservative ideology is leading to military confrontation with Russia and China. Eleven years of gratuitous wars with more on the way and an economic policy that protects financial institutions from their mistakes have burdened the US with massive budget deficits that are being monetized. The US dollar’s loss of the reserve currency role and hyperinflation are plausible consequences of disastrous economic policy.

How is it possible that “the world’s only superpower” can hold a presidential election without any discussion of these very real and serious problems being part of it?  How can anyone be excited or made hopeful about such an outcome?

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  His latest book,  Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is How America Was Lost.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece