The US press is reporting that on Thursday the American political system began the process of selecting the next President of the United States.
But that is not true.
The process is already largely completed, in that we already know that the next president will highly likely be one of eleven rich people each of whom have positions that — if implemented — will kill perhaps eleven million poor people.
The plausible candidates — Bloomberg, Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, Gore, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, Rice, Romney, and Thompson — differ in many ways, including differing marginally in their likely body counts, and differing in whether they have already in their lives facilitated gun murders (Bloomberg, Huckabee, and Romney may not have, since they haven’t yet held national office).
But they all oppose even-handed enforcement of the murder laws, and they all oppose shifting enough wealth now to prevent all preventable deaths.
These should not be controversial goals. Most decent people would support them. And even the US rulers themselves often support them — though only on paper, in principle.
Regarding murder, President Bush told the United Nations on November 10, 2001: “We must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just some of them … No national aspiration, no remembered wrong, can every justify murder of the innocent…The allies of terror are equally guilty of murder and equally accountable to justice.”
But as Bush spoke, sitting in the audience, as part of his delegation, was Elliott Abrams who was, and is, one of Bush’s top policy makers on Israel/Palestine, and who ran the ’80s US support for terror killings of civilians in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua (where, as US General John Galvin put it, they went after “soft targets,” like farmers’ coops).
Yet the President did not cap his speech by asking UN security to slap shackles on Mr. Abrams.
And the President did not go to the New York Police Department’s Midtown South to turn himself in for — at that very moment — bombing Afghan villages, or for arming, training, or financing regimes that in several dozen US-allied countries around the world make a practice of murdering innocents.
And none of the possible new US presidents would have done it differently.
They all supported the Afghan invasion (though they vary on Iraq), and none have rejected the routine US practice of yearly support for killer regimes (Congress just passed two big defense and foreign operations appropriations bills that will lethally aid, among many others, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Congo, Pakistan, and Indonesia), and — crucially — none have called for putting US officials on trial for any of these or similar acts.
Its a similar story with preventable death. The US speaks against it and has food aid and world health programs, and Bill Clinton has a foundation that spares some lives privately (as well as providing a conduit for big-money donations to the Clintons).
But taking the theoretically easy step of shifting enough wealth to stop all the hunger? To stop children from defecating to death, anywhere? None of the possible presidents has ever pushed for that.
If the US had wanted to do it it would have been done. Millions now dead would be alive. But they didn’t, either during the Republican administrations or the presidency of Clinton/Gore.
Indeed, if Michael Bloomberg, personally, had wanted to do it — if he had chosen otherwise — the roughly 5 million kids who died malnourished last year could have been fed, and kept alive, with his own personal money, since, according to Forbes magazine, he’s worth 11.5 billion dollars.
Such is democracy in America.
You get a vote, but not a choice, at least if you want to vote against murder and for keeping hungry kids alive and thinking.
No choice, that is, unless you force it. Americans have yet to get that.
ALLAN NAIRN can be reached through his blog.