Having spent my entire adult life living through the Clinton, W., and now Obama administrations, not only do I have the intellectual and academic tools to put these political years in proper historical context, I have the sometimes rare blessing of actual real-time critique and analysis—rare to Historians such as myself at least. Around the time Clinton took office, we saw an explosion of cable news and right-wing talk radio, and a little later, the internet became a widely available source for the propagation of information from all corridors of political debate.
By and large, this wealth of information would ultimately serve to further divide what is largely a politically moderate population. Rather than thoughtful debate on real issues, the prevailing apparatus of political discussion was merely more than a screaming match between two sides, “Liberal” and “Conservative,” that produced little actual meaningful dialogue, but further divided an electorate that in reality is not too far apart on most issues.
Coming from what many would consider a “far Left” ideological foundation, my assertion is that this antagonism between the so-called “left” and “right” has been merely a smokescreen to divide us even further while the wealthy interests who actually dictate legislation—buying and manipulating politicians from both parties—continue to plunder our resources and bring our economy to the brink of collapse while we do nothing other than yell and scream at the other side.
The mantra “divide and conquer” most definitely fits this critique. What is most frustrating to individuals such as me, who actually study historical reality rather than blindly blaming “the other side,” is the so-called “liberals” and Democratic Party supporters who blindly assume that everything the Democrats do is done mostly in the interests of the people, rather than the wealthy corporations.
It does no real good for anyone on the left to perpetually grandstand against the obvious hypocrisy and deceit of the Republicans and their ill-informed supporters. This perpetuates the “us vs. them” mentality that allows the wealthy corporate oligarchy to steamroll our economy and our rights while those on the left and right hoot and holler at each other just for the sake of “being right.” It is too easy—for me anyway—to waste time pointing out the obvious lies, deceit and hypocrisy of talking head like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
The real aim of those who seek a true democracy for the people without such blatant corporate influence should be to actually look at the facts: Democrats, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, have done nothing other than perpetuate the exact same Corporate and Imperialist hegemony that Republicans have done. In essence, the Dems and the GOP are one in the same in many regards. While their rhetoric and propaganda are different, the end result is the same.
Let’s take a look at the deregulatory policies of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President. Clinton continued, and even exacerbated the wholesale deregulation of Wall Street and the Banking/Lending Industry started by Reagan in the 80s. Ayn Rand disciple and Reagan economic guru Alan Greenspan was given carte blanche authority to give the Banks what they had always sought: no pesky government oversight over their anti-democratic crimes against American citizens for the sake of profit. During Clinton’s tenure, the derivative market exploded despite the warnings of other economic advisers.
Any legitimate concerns were ultimately vetoed by Greenspan because they went against his core belief of a total and unabated free market system. With the explosion of unregulated derivatives, continuing through W.’s tenure (with Greenspan as his chief economic adviser as well), these speculative markets ultimately led to a near meltdown of Wall Street. It tends to be popular belief, amongst liberals and conservatives, that leveraging so heavily in risky mortgage schemes led to the near meltdown. That did indeed play a role, but those mortgage schemes were a result of trying to profit from the unregulated derivatives market.
Perhaps the most appalling legislation to be endorsed and approved by Clinton is the Telecommunications act of 1996. This would in essence create a monopoly of media giants that have no interest in spreading any real and critical information about the way in which political economy actually works and hinders democracy, but rather further divide the electorate by providing non-stop commentary for the intent of antagonizing and marginalizing rational discussion of any real issues. So many on the left spend so much time getting “fired up” about the latest idiotic ramblings spewing from the mouths of talking heads like Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh.
The only thing this accomplishes is giving even more attention to these talking heads while distracting us from the reality of our political system. Clinton also needs to be held accountable and properly criticized by the left for NAFTA. The North American Free Trade Agreement has done nothing other than further the exploitation of cheap labor, leading to a greater decrease of American Industrialization and Unions and ultimately exacerbating illegal immigration and an easier flow of illegal drugs into the country.
It would not be germane to this article to give a detailed overview of the atrocities of the W. administration as he merely continued and perpetuated many of the same policies initiated by Reagan and advanced by H.W. Bush and Clinton. It should be noted, however, that the W. regime not only perpetuated the deregulation of the financial industry, he took military profiteering to a new level as well with the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps worst of all, he crapped on our faces and smiled while doing it. At least the Democrats have the decency to tell us they are merely capitulating to the Republicans for the sake of “reaching across the isle.”
With all of the “hope” brought about by the election of Obama; the first president of color which is an amazing accomplishment and should not be negated, it should not be ignored the fact that Obama is still following the lead of previous administrations in many aspects. Alan Greenspan continues to have tremendous influence and input into the implementation of economic policy. Henry Paulson, former executive of Goldman Sachs—heard of them?—was originally Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury. With the foxes guarding the hen-house, it appears Obama may very well be repeating recent history.
I truly do “hope” that Obama can accomplish something–anything–that puts us, the people, ahead of the interests of the corporations and the wealthy. Obama seems to at least be making an attempt at real and meaningful regulation of the financial markets by acknowledging the problem exists and that something needs to be done. The Democrats have a large majority in the Senate and need to take full advantage to pass laws that will actually regulate the banking industry rather than allowing them to profit from speculative trading and making risky loans and trades for the sake of a quick buck. If Obama does not stand up to these corporate forces and impose and enforce regulation, he will not only be appeasing Republicans and greedy corporate interests, but he will be setting us up for another economic meltdown.
Todd Curl is a known “radical” and “rabble rouser” who stands up for the little guy and fights Imperialism with rational thought. When he is not cleaning septic tanks the old-fashioned way, he spews radical leftist diatribe on his blog. You can find his blog here: The Todd Blog
Image taken from: hotfile