Saturday, June 2, 2007

"Congress, Impeachment and the 'Black Hole'" by Maire

I just found this wonderful posting by Maire at What Would Lincoln Do? I share it with you because it deserves exceedingly wide circulation and I encourage you to check out her site and to pass on her posting(s). I would note, for instance, that her suggestion in another posting that we take up T-shirts that say "I am Cindy" is a marvelous idea. It reminds me of the extremely moving scene from the film classic "Spartacus" after the slave revolt led by Spartacus is finally defeated by Rome. The Legionnaires come around looking for Spartacus so they can crucify him. Before Spartacus can identify himself, one by one people other than Spartacus leap up and claim: "I am Spartacus!" "I am Spartacus!" "I am Spartacus!"

On Maire's question about why the Democrats refuse to impeach and refuse to end the Iraq war, which she does an excellent job of explicating, I am posting at the very end of this post an excerpt from my book, Impeach the President, on this question to add to what Maire states.

Her posting reads:

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am simply an American citizen.

Because I am outraged by the outright refusal of congressional Democrats to bring impeachment charges against Bush and Cheney, even amid mounting evidence of treason and high crimes, I have done quite a bit of digging.

A lawyer would be a much better at this... but as a citizen, I have the right to expect action and I believe I have a personal duty to my own democracy. Quite a number of reputable lawyers have already laid the groundwork for impeachment. What is needed now from Congress is the will to proceed: on behalf of our nation and our very democracy.

By refusing to put impeachment on the table - and if it is indeed true that Democratic leaders are willfully advancing the partisan agenda of keeping Bush and Cheney around as a 'punching bag for Democratic candidates' - congressional leaders are ignoring a myriad of critical consequences, and playing partisan, political games with lives and with our very democracy.

An argument could also be made that they are breaking their oaths to 'protect and serve the Constitution of the United States,' which has been directly undermined by the illegal and warrantless wiretapping of American citizens without their knowledge:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Not only has the Democratic majority taken ownership of the Iraq war and its consequences when it was in fact holding all of the cards, but Pelosi's refusal to allow the impeachment process to commence has also made this Democratic majority complicit in any future bombing of Iran, any further erosions of our Constitutional protections, and any lasting damage to our planet due to our refusal to take immediate action to curb carbon emissions.

In the face of an outraged country, and accusations of betrayal from the very people who elected them, the only answer seems to be this lame excuse from some nameless Democratic aide:

"No American troop will go without … just so the most liberal activists in the country can be quieted," said a senior House Democratic aide. "If it means Democrats in Congress get tea bags and hate mail, so be it - we will not be irresponsible with the lives of our troops."

Ah yes, the 'we can't leave our guys out there, throwing bullets at Al Qaeda' argument again. "Our hands were tied."

Believe me, this may fly with those who haven't learned how the system works, but it is a lie. The Democrats have the power of the purse - the power to end the war. They chose not to use it. They had Bush on the ropes, but they chose to let him go. And now the war will drag on forever -- or until the GOP base finally revolts and Bush backs down from the people who will stand up to him: his own party.

Once again, and so predictably, the Democrats were 'afraid' of what the GOP would say about them, forever locked in the victim mindset. Just look at Harry Reid... and then Dick Cheney, and tell me honestly: who is the bully, and who is the skinny little kid with glasses? Does Cheney take Harry's milk money too, or simply beat him up on the way home from school?

If you see a crime being committed and you refuse to take any action, you are complicit. You are obstructing justice and betraying the public trust. I believe a case could be made that congressional Democrats' unwillingness to take action when faced with mounting evidence of executive lawlessness, and with the very real danger that we could fall into a dictatorship with little or no warning, is in and of itself 'treasonous.' It is also obstruction of justice.

Both are impeachable offenses.

Are these fighting words? You betcha. There are very real consequences for inaction. Just ask Neville Chamberlain.

Any elected official in our government can be impeached, and impeachment charges have been brought against 16 officials in our history as a nation:

Since 1797 the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen federal officials. These include two presidents, a cabinet member, a senator, a justice of the Supreme Court, and eleven federal judges. Of those, the Senate has convicted and removed seven, all of them judges. Not included in this list are the office holders who have resigned rather than face impeachment, most notably, President Richard M. Nixon.

Impeachment is the process by which any civil officer can be removed from office: for treason, bribery, or other 'high crimes and misdemeanors.'

As stated in our Constitution:

Article. II.

Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

We have never - in our entire history - actually removed a president from office via the impeachment process. Impeachment is not (as many believe) an outcome, but rather a process - a trial - that leads to a final outcome of either conviction, or acquittal. The process is an investigation into apparent unconstitutional and criminal behavior; with charges filed by the House, and the case tried in the Senate with the Supreme Court acting as the judges.

For the purpose of comparison, the actual impeachment of Bill Clinton proceeded as follows:

The infamous "Starr Report" outlining the findings of the Independent Counsel's investigation was delivered to the House of Representatives on Sept. 9, 1998, and subsequently made available to the public. Many felt the report, filled with lurid details of Clinton's sexual encounters with Lewinsky, to be a political attack against the President rather than a legal justification for his impeachment. Of the 11 possible grounds for impeachment cited by Starr, four were eventually approved by the House Judiciary Committee: grand jury perjury, civil suit perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power.

Clinton was impeached on two counts, grand jury perjury (228–206) and obstruction of justice (221–212), with the votes split along party lines. The Senate Republicans, however, were unable to gather enough support to achieve the two-thirds majority required for his conviction. On Feb. 12, 1999, the Senate acquitted President Clinton on both counts. The perjury charge failed by a vote of 55–45, with 10 Republicans voting against impeachment along with all 45 Democrats. The obstruction of justice vote was 50–50, with 5 Republicans breaking ranks to vote against impeachment.

Even with a Republican majority, Clinton wasn't actually convicted.

Compared with the case against Bill Clinton, the charges leveled against Richard Nixon were much more serious -- and this undoubtedly led to his resignation before the impeachment process began. It was the threat of impeachment (and the dirt that would be uncovered in the process) that led to Nixon's resignation... not impeachment itself. Nixon was never convicted, although many people now believe he would have been found guilty due to the seriousness of the evidence against him.

Charges against Bush and Cheney are remarkable in their similarity to those leveled against Nixon:

After five men hired by Nixon's reelection committee were caught burglarizing Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate Complex on June 17, 1972, President Nixon's subsequent behavior—his cover-up of the burglary and refusal to turn over evidence—led the House Judiciary Committee to issue three articles of impeachment on July 30, 1974. The document also indicted Nixon for illegal wiretapping, misuse of the CIA, perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice, and other abuses of executive power. "In all of this," the Articles of Impeachment summarize, "Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States." Impeachment appeared inevitable, and Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974. The Articles of Impeachment, which can be viewed at, leave no doubt that these charges qualify as "high crimes and misdemeanors," justifying impeachment.

The precedent has been established.

What congressional leaders don't want the average American to know, is that the House doesn't have to prove its case in advance before bringing the charges and starting the impeachment process. Dennis Kucinich has already filed impeachment papers against Cheney. Many are now calling for the impeachment of Alberto Gonzales, because he lied under oath and deliberately obstructed justice. Somehow, the Democrats can't even pull that one off.

This raises a very serious question: why are the Democrats so afraid to act?

Impeachment would kick off a very thorough and public investigation -- something that is much needed if we are to protect our democracy. Some question whether powerful Democrats in leadership positions are compromised by lobbyist ties, and thus fear that they may be caught in their own investigative net. Of course, this has everything to do with partisan politics, and their chances in the 2008 election.

Without this as a possibility, their actions are truly implausible. Pelosi won't say why she won't allow impeachment 'on the table.' We are left to speculate and question on our own.

Democrats have already managed to clutch an enormous moral defeat from the jaws of victory with their refusal to force Bush into accepting a timetable in Iraq. The have alienated not only the many independent and even Republican voters that backed them in the 2006 elections -- but they are now losing their own base as well:

The number of Americans who identify themselves as independent voters is on the rise. According to an average of CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls, this year, 42 percent of Americans now consider themselves to be independent.

Thirty-three percent identify themselves as Democrats. Twenty- five percent now say they are Republicans.

Why on earth would the Democrats implode like this - and apparently doom their own 2008 election hopes - while claiming that they are in fact trying to protect them?

In a terrific commentary titled 'Cowering In The Suburbs of Berlin,' David Michael Green, professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York, rails against the apparent implosion of Democratic leadership when dealing with the Iraq war:

What choices remain for Americans today? They have an administration which they despise, enacting policies they loathe. So they did what the good citizens of a democracy are supposed to do, they went out in large numbers and voted in a new government. We should make no mistake about what the landslide election of 2006 meant. Democrats had no agenda to put forth and were not chosen for the purpose of advancing any such non-agenda. They had one qualification going into last November’s contest, and it was the one which got them elected: They were the non-Republicans, the non-regressives. Their singular mandate was to curb the excesses of the insane kleptocracy which, by all manner of nefarious techniques, had seized control of the American democracy and was taking every step imaginable to destroy it.

So what did the Democrats do? They immediately put impeachment off the table. We should understand clearly what that meant. By doing this, the Democratic leadership was saying that no matter what crimes might be uncovered, their sense of political expediency in serving their own personal interests would come before those of the country they were paid to be serving instead.

Next, they have demonstrated the depth of their impotence by refusing to impeach Alberto Gonzales, despite the fact that his transgressions - which now manifestly also include perjury and obstruction of justice - are as obvious as they are deep, and despite that these crimes involve the Justice Department, a part of the federal government that is supposed to be most insulated from Rove style politics. Instead of impeachment we’re to be treated to a Senate vote of no confidence. Golly, that’s bold. Knowing that nice man in the White House as I do, I’m sure that will compel him to do the right thing about this darned vexing situation!

What’s most astonishing about the whole affair is that Democrats still haven’t awakened to the fact that the core thrust of the entire scandal was yet another scheme to steal elections from them. Why don’t they just get it over with and form the Caspar Milquetoast Society for the Slow Suicide of Superfluous Political Parties? Just as in the case of the elections of 2000 and 2004, these guys don’t even put up a fight when it comes to the one issue you’d think even such self-serving sycophants might actually care about, namely, keeping their jobs.

It’s absurd and it’s tragic that the Democrats will not touch Bush, Cheney or Gonzales, but this week’s caving on funding for the Iraq war is in a league by itself. When they took over Congress, these guys had just one thing they needed to get right. They didn’t. They had a moral responsibility to end a war which they’ve long known, and which Harry Reid has even publicly admitted, is lost. They wouldn’t. They had virtually all the right political conditions in their favor, from a public mandate to a despised president for a political opponent. Still, they couldn’t.

And why exactly were their hands so very tied when they had the mandate of the American people and held the power of the purse?


Are the lobbying groups and the corporate behemoths they represent now so powerful, and our representatives so compromised by lobbyist ties, that Democratic leaders (along with their GOP counterparts) are nothing more than puppets serving a corporate master? Did the master in fact lay down the law and refuse to allow any impeachment process to take place?

Something stinks here.

It is impossible to know the true extent of congressional complicity while Congress continues to refuse impeachment... and the only branch capable of bringing impeachment charges against this president and vice president is our Congress itself. In spite of a mandate by the people and a whopping House majority, the Democratic Congress refuses to even discuss impeachment. This speaks volumes.

None of this is really new:

Since President McKinley and the Spanish-American War, overseas adventures have been the oligarchy’s response to the public’s demand for reform. Whether it was Populists or Progressives, rank-and-file Republicans or Democrats leading the charge for domestic change, the major party bosses and their partners on Wall Street have worked together in “collusive harmony,” in the words of political historian Walter Karp, to divert the country from its just demands by embroiling them in deadly foreign entanglements.

Reform movements are an ever-present worry for both parties’ bosses, because any successful reform put forward by regular citizens and insurgents in Congress tends to excite the electorate with the possibility of actually controlling their own government. The ruling class well understands that as the engagement of the citizenry waxes, their own power wanes. And it is war and the threat of war that provide the best excuse for not passing social-welfare legislation, and calling anyone who demands it “unpatriotic.”

It is obvious how we got here: corporate interests. Oil. The lucrative 'war contracting' business, and the Military Industrial.

The system 'of the people, by the people and for the people' has been compromised by money interests, and Lincoln's great fear has come to pass: corporations have been enthroned. These corporations have no intention of giving up the power they have gained under this administration. Their best guarantee of continuing the gravy train is by 'buying' representatives from both sides of the political aisle, possibly blackmailing them, and effectively undercutting efforts to fix the system from the outside.

It is working beautifully, I might add.

We have the right to demand an investigation. The question now is how to overcome our current 'rulers;' the ones we can see, and the ones behind the scenes.

I call these behind the scenes manipulators the 'black hole.' We can tell something is there, even if we can't quite see it. We can 'see it' by the uniform pull it manifests on all surrounding 'objects', which include the three branches of our Federal government and our media. Someone or some organization is quietly pulling strings, and the marionettes are all dancing their complex choreography to a tune we citizens cannot hear. Its no wonder we are confused and dismayed.

If 70 cities, 11 state legislatures, numerous state Democratic parties and hundreds of thousands of average citizen voters (this is unprecedented in our history) are pressuring Congress to impeach, and credible legal minds have listed impeachable offenses and laid out a prosecution groundwork... well gosh, there might actually be a FIRE somewhere under all of this smoke:

More than 70 cities and 14 state Democratic parties have urged impeachment or investigations that could lead to impeachment. The most common charge is that Bush manipulated intelligence to lead the country into the Iraq war. Other charges include spying on Americans and torturing suspected terrorists in violation of U.S. and international law.

Most recently, the Massachusetts Democratic Party voted to push impeachment of both men. The 2,500 state convention delegates voted almost unanimously against Cheney; the vote against Bush was closer.

Massachusetts' Democratic Party thus joined 13 others on the investigate-or-impeach bandwagon, including: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Among the cities and towns, the largest and most recent is Detroit, where the city council voted 7-0 this month to urge Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney for "intentionally misleading Congress and the public regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify the war."

The probability that Bush would be impeached by a two-thirds vote in the current, partisan Senate seems remote, but the point is to bring due process anyway, force White House compliance, and get to the bottom of these charges. Let the democratic process work. We the people are the rightful owners of our government in a democracy, and as such we have the right to know what crimes have been committed by our elected officials.

A few days ago I read a story explaining why the Democratic party doesn't want to impeach.

The writer states that Democratic leadership won't consider impeachment because they believe that allowing Bush and Cheney to stay in office will actually help their party's chances in the 2008 election. I strongly disagree. The longer the Democrats refuse to act, the greater the likelihood that the American people will decide that Democrats are weak, capitulating windbags without any teeth.

The story begins by describing apparent worries within the Democratic leadership that there just 'isn't enough proof' to bring impeachment charges, and fears that there will somehow be a political backlash - among the people, rather than the obvious objectors, the corporate lobbyists.

According to the article, there are three "policy and political reasons that Democratic leaders are risking the anger of their base:"

Some don't see an impeachable offense in what Bush has done, what the Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." They might find such evidence in any of the many congressional investigations, but they haven't yet.

Let's debunk that one right now.

There are are now countless volumes of legal arguments, written by experienced and brilliant legal minds - all laying out the framework for impeachment.

Any activity that deliberately undercuts the Constitution is both a 'high crime' and treasonous. The president and vice president both took an oath to uphold the Constitution as part of their swearing in process. Bush, Cheney, Gonzales -- all swore the oath. Any direct action they have taken against the wording of our Constitution is grounds for impeachment.

Impeachable offenses include:
Outing Valarie Plame, a verified covert CIA agent. Felony offense, high crime.
Lying to Congress and to the American people, with the intent of invading a foreign, sovereign nation. High crime, possible war crime, and treason.
Misrepresenting information provided by the CIA. Obstruction of justice, high crime.
Illegal rendition. High crime, possible war crime.
Refusing to turn over evidence such as emails. Obstruction of justice
Using outside email accounts for White House correspondence. Obstruction of justice, violation of the Hatch Act.
Destroying logs of official visitors to Cheney's residence to avoid having them entered into the Presidential record. Obstruction of justice, abuse of power.
Holding prisoners without due process. High crime.
Secret torture camps. High crime, potentially war crime.
Promoting CIA torture practices. High crime, possibly war crime.
Tampering with election outcomes. Felony, high crime, treason.
But the biggest case for impeachment, according to most legal scholars, is the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. This can arguably be considered both a high crime and treason.

Even Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said:

"I think if we're going to be intellectually honest here, this (domestic spying) really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed."

Elizabeth De la Vega, a 20-year federal prosecutor has probably laid out the best legal case for impeachment in her book "United States V. George W. Bush et al." This is a brilliant and well crafted legal analysis, and there are many others.

Here are a few of the better ones:

The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office, by Dave Lindorff

Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush, from The Center for Constitutional Rights

Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush And Cheney, by Dennis Loo

George W. Bush Versus the U.S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, Coverups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying, by John Conyers Jr.

The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens, by Elizabeth Holtzman
The Democrats are either remarkably illiterate when it comes to the impeachment process, or are pretending to be ignorant in the hope that the American people will believe that they are helpless, none of this is their problem, and that impeachment is a waste of time.

I have also heard them say that they would rather concentrate on the real issues (issues? You mean like getting our troops out of Iraq?) They would like everyone to believe impeachment isn't viable. And as always, Democratic leaders are acting out of fear of GOP reprisals, rather than from a strong and forceful position of principle and moral strength.

Americans want strong leadership. The Democrats are in the drivers' seat and in the perfect position to show that they are strong and moral leaders. Instead, they seem determined to prove that they are weak and afraid. I cannot see how this can possibly be successful.

The second reason for not impeaching Bush and Cheney is that the Democratic leadership apparently fears...

a political backlash from voters similar to the one that punished Republicans after they impeached Bill Clinton. One factor on the side of the pro-impeachment crowd: Clinton was much more popular than Bush.

Backlash? From the voters? Hardly.

There apparently wasn't enough 'backlash' against the GOP after their impeachment of Bill Clinton to keep George W. Bush out of the White House in 2000.

In spite of our collective distaste for the GOP's hatchet job on Clinton, the Monica debacle did affect the campaign of then Vice President, Al Gore. It was the invisible albatross around his neck throughout the entire campaign -- his unfortunate association with a President embroiled in a 'sex scandal'.

There was absolutely no backlash against the GOP at all -- none -- although God knows there should have been. The media should have led the charge against this ridiculous charade and mockery of the impeachment process, but of course they were delighted by the sensationalism, and wallowed in the muck. Coverage of the Clinton impeachment was decidedly x-rated. I found it remarkable that a party so anti-sex and loudly 'pro-Christian, family values' could leak and publish documents so explicitly sexual in nature that parents were forced to keep their kids away from newspapers.

If the GOP could negatively affect Gore's campaign with a bogus impeachment trial against a very popular president -- how on earth could impeaching an extremely unpopular president with a 28% rating cause a backlash? This president started an entire war based on lies, undercut our Constitution protections and our Bill of Rights, spied on American citizens without a court order, leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent, completely dropped the ball after Katrina, gutted our EPA, our FDA, FEMA and other governmental oversight agencies, tampered with election results... how could prosecuting Bush and Cheney bring any sort of public outcry?

And don't confuse the will of the people with a backlash from the media. You know who they report to.

Defend us, already. Defend our Constitution. Hell, show a little patriotism!

If there will be a backlash, it will be the Democratic majority's failure to impeach when it became obvious that over 70% of Americans now believe this president is leading our government right off a cliff. Failure to impeach proves both weakness and capitulation. And perhaps something more sinister:

The third is that they're eager to keep Bush and Cheney around as punching bags for Democratic candidates in the 2008 campaign.

Ah, here it is. This is all a partisan game. And if this is true, it is... profoundly and unforgivably immoral.

It is hard to believe that any person or party would put partisan gain ahead of lives, morality, justice, and the future of life on our planet. If the Democrats are truly motivated only by the 2008 horse race to the Presidency - how are they really any different or any better than Karl Rove? So much for holding the high ground.

Lack of action is action.

If Democratic leaders want to prove that Democrats aren't the cowering weaklings the GOP claims they are, they must do a lot better than this. It is time for them to muster some courage, face the neocon bullies and their corporate power brokers, and act on behalf of the nation. John Ashcroft managed it from a hospital bed... surely Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi can reach deep and find a little patriotic fire and loyalty of their own.

It is time for the Democrats to take a strong and moral position against the crimes committed by this administration. Dedication to the rule of law will earn the respect of the people -- not capitulation. Strength and justice will earn success in 2008. We are not idiots out here. We know courage when we see it. We also recognize cowardice and betrayal.

If Congress doesn't take real action soon to impeach Bush and Cheney, there may not be much Constitution left to uphold -- and we will no longer be having this discussion. The future of our democracy can now turn on a dime, and entirely at 'the pleasure of the president.' At his own discretion and without any warning, the president can now declare martial law. Habeas corpus has already been taken away. Our liberty is in very real danger.

We're out of time, Nancy. I'm tired of calling your office. Everyone I know is tired of calling your office. We're tired of asking. Now we are telling you...


End of Maire's posting.

From Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, Chap. 2:

"... a full-scale uncovering of the fraud runs the risk of mobilizing and unleashing popular forces that the Democrats find just as threatening as the GOP does.

Our Hope: the Popular Forces

Who are these popular forces? There are two groups here, the lower strata and the middle class. The lower strata includes the working class and it includes people like those left to fend for themselves, to drown and die in New Orleans by the Bush administration, who had no way out of the city and who couldn’t afford even bus fare, who were called “looters” by the media and government when they broke into stores and restaurants in order to feed and give water to everyone who hadn’t had any in days. These people recognize from their everyday experiences in this society that those who rule, those who run this country, aren’t compassionate and aren’t legitimate. The lower strata only go along with the status quo because they know that if they don’t they will get cracked on the head by a policeman’s club or worse.

Belief in the system’s legitimacy plays an absolutely crucial role among the middle classes in the U.S., but not among the disenfranchised lower strata. While illusions and hopeless dreams—such as hoping you’ll win the lottery—definitely help to hold the more oppressed in line, intimidation and the ubiquitous use of force are the main way they are kept down. Police in communities of color and among the poor are the most obvious symbols and first line practitioners of this. Social workers and other 'professionals of the poor' also play an important role 'managing' the lower strata. One need only note what happens when a citywide blackout occurs, for example, to see what the oppressed will do when the normal forces of order are unable to perform their usual functions.

The cynicism the oppressed feel about the legitimacy of those who rule over them and over the whole of society comes from the lessons of their everyday existence. The dispossessed do not rise up in ordinary times not mainly because they are under illusions about the system’s nature but mainly because they know that if they rose up they would be immediately crushed by the forces of the state. Only during times of general upheaval in the society where those who rule over them everyday are preoccupied with internecine battles or handicapped or wounded because of some other crisis or crises do rebellions and insurrections stand a chance.

The middle classes, by contrast, go along because they have a strong belief in this system’s legitimacy and the electoral process in particular. They believe that the candidate with the most votes takes office. They believe that their vote matters and that public opinion overall guides public policy. They believe that America is a democracy. Should enough of the middle classes conclude that the process is rigged, illegitimate, and corrupt, that those who lead us are dangerously incompetent, and that they are endangering our lives and this planet, elements of the middle class will, together with the lower strata, begin to act outside the normal channels of electoral politics and shake this system to its core.

Any serious attempts to change a society must involve the lower strata together with the middle strata. The Democrats find the prospect of the genie being released from the bottle in the form of the masses springing into political life just as threatening as the GOP does because they agree with the GOP that this system of globalized capitalism, this new American Empire, is the proper order of things. Recall that Kerry and Edwards promised to continue the war in Iraq. Their platform, in fact, was Bush-lite. Their platform was essentially that of W’s dad when he was president. This tells you something crucial about what is afoot in a larger sense.

Globalization and the Rise of the Neoliberal/Security State

We have been witnesses to momentous public policy changes over the last thirty years: the systematic dismantling of the New Deal/welfare state and its replacement by the security or neoliberal state. The neoliberal state (which takes its name from liberal in the sense of laissez faire capitalism a la 18th C. economist Adam Smith) features deregulation, deindustrialization, re-engineering, privatization, downsizing, globalization, and in our case, an American imperialist empire. It means that social safety net programs are being slashed right and left while the state’s coercive apparatus—the military, the criminal justice system, security and surveillance activities and agencies—are being vastly expanded. When the GOP speaks of curbing government (or as tax activist Grover Norquist has famously stated, shrinking the government so much that it can be drowned in a bathtub) they mean curbing the social safety net. They don’t mean shrinking military or police or spy functions.

The key figures in this new economic and political order are transnational corporations that dwarf most of the world’s national economies. As of 2000, of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 of them were transnational corporations. Wal-Mart was larger than 182 countries. The 200 largest corporations’ combined sales were larger than all of the world’s countries’ economies less the top 10 countries in economic size! Moreover, this concentration of wealth and power is accelerating. The dominance of these giant conglomerates and their allies in government means that we can expect ever-rising levels of job and social insecurity since this is the fundamental logic driving globalization. The Democrats are not going to stand up to these transnationals; they have not, nor are they capable of it. Hoping and praying that electing Democrats in 2006 will somehow turn this around is a losing strategy. The main problem isn’t that the Democrats are spineless or that they can’t get their act together. The main problem is that both major parties are the political representatives of big capital and of globalization.

It’s important to further recognize that this isn’t just because the Democrats are beholden to big campaign contributors, resolvable through campaign reform legislation, although that is obviously part of the picture. The essence of the problem is that this situation is precisely what we should expect. When you’re talking about economies on a world scale in which the major players are monstrously large and the stakes involved are gigantic, there is no reason to expect that the people who run in these kind of circles, whether they are CEOs or public officials, are going to truly subject their fantastic power and wealth to the whims of an electorate in which everyone rich and poor alike has one vote. Would you, if you had their level of power and wealth and their ideology? If you had more power than 182 countries and you were one corporation, would you let the electorate decide they were going to, for example, nationalize you? Would you put the fate of your extremely concentrated power and wealth in the hands of 'the people?'

Both major parties in this country are in agreement that this new economic order of globalization, this security state, is the right thing. They differ somewhat over some particular policies, with some sectors, for example, more based in science and more concerned about the environment (e.g., Gore), but they don’t differ on the fundamentals. The media are themselves fully embedded within this new economic order; they are themselves major corporations. The Democrats aren’t the leading political representatives of this new order because in their highest and best expression, the Democrats are FDR New Dealers, and the material basis for that stance has been getting wiped out systematically over the last thirty years. That is why the Democrats appear to be so hapless and so feeble against the GOP’s cutthroat viciousness, for the GOP represents the most aggressive, most in your face cutting edge of the ascendant neoliberal state."

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