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Falling In Line

by Sudhama Ranganathan Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2012 at 6:02 AM

It is easy to get sucked into the ups and downs of elections. This year's presidential campaign is no different. The idea it's anybody's race and can go any way at any time gets played over and over for us like a two song playlist on repeat and shuffle. Except this two song playlist has added live commentary telling us every time that there is the distinct possibility the song could end up differently than we pretty much already know it will end up. We keep hearing in convincing fashion there is still the chance it could go differently this time. Yet if we've been paying attention we may see... well a distinct pattern perhaps.

lining up

For example, there are the GOP primaries. They have been going on for some time now, and throughout we have been told there was a candidate favored by the GOP establishment – Mitt Romney. The majority of campaign donations and party bigwig endorsements during this primary favor the establishment candidate.

The idea of an establishment candidate is not merely about what candidate has the best chances not only of winning, but also those candidates with a consistent record of of being fairly pliant regarding political stances. Paint him any color you wish, but history does not lie, Mitt Romney is no fire and brimstone conservative. He has been consistently willing to bend and even contradict his party on certain issues like healthcare, same sex unions, global warming and others.

Yet, now as he campaigns he is turning around and claiming otherwise, but as Governor of Massachusetts, a state that is very middle of the road if not more left leaning, he made the choices that would be pleasing to a large number of people within the state – his constituents – GOP or no. Personally I don't necessarily oppose those choices. I believe in healthcare for all, the rights of gays to marry if they choose and that global warming exists – I believe in science. My point is he is not a staunch conservative or a staunch anything really.

Mitt Romney wants to get elected and will do what it takes and that is what the establishment wants in a candidate. President Obama has done the same in the past, is currently doing so and will be doing the same soon enough. They don't want someone that will pull the kind of surprises on the campaign trail that won't look good to a wide swath of voters and they certainly don't want a person that, once in office, will pull unexpected surprises leaving the kind of establishment folk that poured money into backing a candidate and expecting a return on their investment, feeling they got a duped. Whether or not establishment friendly decisions rattle the majority of voters after they are in office is of no consequence - that's what campaign pr, ads and spin are all about.

And despite the fact Rick Santorum is far behind in the delegate count, the idea that this is a tight tension filled race fills the media's coverage of it. As of right now the delegate count for the GOP primaries, according to the Wall Street Journal, is Romney 568, Santorum 273, Gingrich 135 and Paul 50. (http://projects.wsj.com/campaign2012/delegates) As the La Times says, “Romney has won more than 55% of the delegates allocated to date and needs about 45% of the remaining delegates to go over the top. Rick Santorum's extremely slim chance of becoming the nominee depends on a contested convention rejecting Romney on the first ballot and then turning to him as an alternative. That scenario, which has never materialized in the modern primary era, has become even more remote as Romney has won pivotal victories in Michigan, Ohio and, most recently, Illinois.” (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gop-delegates-20120326,0,908418.story)

Yet we still get the headlines about the recent win for Santorum in Louisiana being a sign the race is still neck and neck. If they don't come right out and say it, that certainly is the implication. Like the headline from March, 25 stating “Santorum: Louisiana vote shows the race goes on.” (http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/25/politics/campaign-wrap/index.html) Despite the fact the chances are slim to none the basic tenor is “this race is still on and charging.” No it's not; that isn't true at all.

In fact the very next day Santorum said he would be interested in running as Mitt Romney's VP if asked. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/rick-santorum-vice-president-mitt-romney_n_1380279.html) Huh? You mean against the guy that would have no chance because he isn't a true conservative? Methinks the script is getting a little sloppy.

This isn't about being negative, but about seeing that by pouring money into backing campaigns and purchasing influence, corporations buy elections and the rest is just a scripted reality TV show. There may be some surprises here and there but ultimately the players that will win got picked a long time ago – and even back up winners should something go wrong. It's just a matter of convincing those watching that anything could happen at any time since as far as we can see, things are unfolding right in front of our eyes. We've all seen the interviews afterwards from contestants about the way things get set up and what producers tell people behind the scenes to do.

In the same way big money donors are essentially telling people which way to endorse. If current office holders want the support of such and such a corporation and the related Super PAC they pour money into, they need to come out and help this or that candidate get elected. That is the way politics is and was way before there ever were Super PACs. Now, like a reality show we get the drama and the twists, everything but something substantial.

Reality shows can be fun and entertaining, no matter what we know, but unlike reality shows, elections decide extremely important issues. They decide what happens with our nation's security, where our tax dollars get allocated and courses of action in times of crisis, like with our current financial predicament, for example. The problem is not the GOP's solely, but is endemic to both parties and they are both complicit in being more interested in fooling the public by saying whatever during election campaigns and then doing as big money donors bid once in office.

It may give rise to the appearance our votes count for nothing, but that's just part of the sham. They still count, but we have been lulled into a cycle of voting for one of two sides of the same coin and believing they are so very different. They aren't – not on the big issues. The idea of an individual mandate regarding healthcare reform was originally introduced by Republicans. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/health/policy/health-care-mandate-was-first-backed-by-conservatives.html) A large number of conservatives including former President Bush, former Vice President Cheney and John McCain fully supported immigration reform. (http://www.usimmigrationsupport.org/immigration-reform.html)

President Obama after saying he would work to end the Iraq War as soon as possible ended up trying to extend it when the Bush timeline was almost up. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/21/iraq-rejects-us-plea-bases) President Obama derided the decisions to send troops into two simultaneous military engagements made by the Bush administration when campaigning in 2008, but as president has tried to keep forces in Iraq, is keeping forces in Afghanistan beyond the goal he set of finding Bin Laden and sent additional forces into Libya and Uganda.

Both the Bush administration and the Obama administration injected cash into the financial sectors and instead of into programs focused on creating jobs like FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps under the new deal, or just using the cash to give the loans themselves to small businesses with good credit that pay their bills to keep people employed. Bush said it, then Obama, if we don't give money to the banks and financial companies those financial services particularly banks would not be able to lend and the engine of job growth – small business – would collapse. The majority of us believed this. They gave them billions and those banks sat on the cash and held lavish parties and weekend retreats on our dime. Did the economy collapse?

Wall Street sure made out like bandits and was booming while the rest of us were living like stressed out peasants about to lose our homes and simultaneously having our rulers raise our payments. The biggest Super PAC donors are people from the financial industry. If there's another financial industry created collapse - think they won't bail them out again? Dodd-Frank? They'll find a way around it or just locate holes as it currently stands.

If we are to be serious about an America focused on rebuilding the middle class lest we all slip into poverty, we need to take back control. It has to do with the money you or I can't compete with and the control the two parties and their backers have over a system which is supposed to be for the betterment and benefit of us all, not just a playground for less than 1% of us. We can take it back by introducing new parties over the coming years. Parties that will break up the old boy network for a new America. Everything else in our lives gets updated and upgraded, yet we're still running on the same two parties we have been running on for over one hundred years.

It's about time for real change. We deserve better.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

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