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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

US: presidential race « Previous | |Next »
November 1, 2012

It is difficult for me to assess the state of play in the US presidential elections. I can report that the standard view based on the national polls is that the Republicans had the momentum before the Sandy super storm, its a tight presidential campaign, and the state polls suggest that Obama has the edge in the Electoral College.

It's difficult to say more in terms of analysis because there's just too much partisan noise in the context of the current adversarial divide, "sure things" in the media are generally illusions, the polls in the battleground states (Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin etc) have little certainty with respect in forecasting, and there is too much cherry-picking of polls that confirm political biases of the pundits.

BellSUSpresidential.jpg Steve Bell

What was obvious was that the three presidential debates were not much of the guide to the deep issues that confront the US in a global world, to the deep discontent circulating throughout the nation from the growing inequality, or to the failure of governance with respect to the financialization of the US economy.

Both presidential candidates shied away from the issue of who was responsible for the global financial crisis that caused the deep recession and the slow recovery of the last five years and they both work within the politics of austerity.

This suggest that there is large and growing distance between the rhetoric and pronouncements of the politicians and pundits and the actual deepening, immense, and largely ignored problems that afflict the people of the United States. US democracy is more akin to form of plutocracy---the rule of money rather than the rule of the people---and the corruption in Congress and across the government today is a structural dependence upon corporate money built into the DNA of the political system. This plutocracy is one in which the neoliberal mode of governance has transformed the political domain into a domain of money.

We have a situation today where the politics of austerity is used to oppose the view that the use of government to build infrastructure, create jobs, and end stagnation, even though the historical record appears to demonstrate that democratic governments have it within their power to make capitalism operate far more efficiently and effectively. Government, according to neo-liberal's politics of austerity, is inherently bad, whilst the corporate interests effective domination of government, means that the capacity of the democratic state to address market failure on behalf of the general public is undermined.

The politics around the global financial crisis in Washington suggests that the politics of austerity is primarily interested protecting Wall Street's financial assets and capital gains than in the risky enterprise of investment in new productive capacity. What is always opposed is anything that jeopardizes their control over the government and their dominant position in society.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:29 PM | | Comments (8)
Comments

Comments

"Both presidential candidates shied away from the issue of who was responsible for the global financial crisis that caused the deep recession "

Financial crises destroy growth – and for a long period of time. The Financial industry--Wall St---want regulators back off and supervision to become super-light. Their agenda is one of special interests and their lobbyists work to advance an agenda that helps a few powerful people while hurting the rest of the US.

'"sure things" in the media are generally illusions'

it is best to read the mainstream press for entertainment.

"The three presidential debates are not much of the guide to the deep issues that confront the US in a global world, to the deep discontent circulating throughout the nation"

in a free market, poor people won’t get any health care, and middle-class people won’t get very much. The current level of inequality in the US means that many actual families won’t be able to get the health care they need.

Wall Street says that their profitability should be paramount because this would serve the broader social interest in financial stability and sustained economic prosperity.

The conflict between Wall Street and Main Street arises because the financial institutions on Wall Street got themselves into great trouble from their casino-like speculation, and the crisis in the free-wheeling financial sector impacted heavily on Main street.

"the deep discontent circulating throughout the nation from the growing inequality,"
Joseph Stiglitz says:

“The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had.

The US does inequality very well.

The deep inequality in the US reflects the naked, brute power of corporations---increasingly Wall St--- and the wealthy over the political process. Neoliberalism represents the political counterpart of this more financialized system.

" Both presidential candidates....accept the politics of austerity."

The politics of austerity holds that:

Budget deficits are the main problem of the economy and their elimination is a necessary precondition for growth:

Business creates jobs and government basically interferes with the private sector as it attempts to create jobs;

The environment is not an economic issue, and efforts to address ecological calamity should not put additional expenses on corporations or interfere with profit making.

This politics has become the default position of economic debates within the mainstream, because they reflect the values and interests of very powerful interests, of corporate America.

" the failure of governance with respect to the financialization of the US economy. "

Lawrence Lessig in Republic, Lost (New York 2011), says that the first and immediate effect of the corrupt political regime in Washington is bad governance.