US Presidential Elite Puppet Show

By Finian Cunningham:

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. For many years, he worked as an editor and writer in the mainstream news media, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now based in East Africa where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring. He co-hosts a weekly current affairs programme, Sunday at 3pm GMT on Bandung Radio.

US presidential puppet show (Press TV, Nov 5, 2012):

In two days, Americans go to the polls in their country’s presidential elections. There are two names and two parties on offer, but in reality, there is no choice – a stark contradiction of the supposed fundamental concept of democracy. Incumbent President Barack Obama and the contender, Mitt Romney, are bought and paid for by the moneyed elite.

Each candidate is reckoned to have spent up to USD1 billion to get elected. That money has largely come from super wealthy individuals and the corporate elite – the ruling American aristocratic class. Indeed, many of the corporate sponsors are known to have donated to the campaigns of both candidates. That fact alone tells you how little tangible difference there is between the two politicians in terms of the policies they will oversee once in office. Big money will yank the strings on either winner. In that way, for all intents and purposes, the American presidential election is more accurately a puppet show. Voters can watch one candidate bashing the other in some kind of faux contest, but behind the curtain, both are under tight control. And the voters are really just spectators that cannot exert any influence on proceedings.

Put another way, American presidential elections are a bit like the delusional choice consumers are presented with when they shop at their supermarkets. There are row upon row of seeming dazzling choice, but most, if not all, of the products are manufactured by the same monopolistic companies. Fizzy drink A may have a different colour and wrapping from fizzy drink B, but they are both the products of the same corporate entity. Choosing one against the other makes no difference. The consumer, or voter’s, ‘choice’ is in the last analysis paying homage and tribute to the same economic power behind the products.

The same analogy can be made with many other cultural products in America: fast food, popular television programming, news media, and automobiles. Choice in the US is in reality a chimera. This is because, under capitalism, power, wealth and control inevitably become concentrated in the hands of a few. This is nowhere more apparent than in the political system itself and the presidential election in particular.

The presidential election of the United States of America, which boasts of being the greatest democracy on earth, is in truth the greatest charade on earth, and the least democratic. What makes the proceedings pathetic is the illusion that it is a democratic process.

To be specific, there is no substantive policy difference between Obama and Romney. Any perceived difference is entirely rhetorical and irrelevant in practical terms for the majority of working Americans. Both candidates are committed to implementing the agenda of the financial and corporate aristocracy – the one percent – which will see the continuance of the long-term trend in American capitalism of the rich becoming obscenely richer and the poor becoming more numerous and poorer.

Neither candidate has even voiced the slightest cognition of the social meltdown that is America today, where 50 percent of the population is poor or subsisting on threadbare low incomes. The devastation wrought on America’s east coast last week serves to expose how numerous and vulnerable poor communities have become.

Over the past four years, Obama, like his Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton, has overseen swinging cuts in social welfare spending. The destruction of labor union rights is a major factor in the burgeoning of poverty and insecure hourly-paid jobs. Meanwhile, the erstwhile “hope and change candidate” handed out trillions of dollars to bailout Wall Street banks. This is a measure of Obama’s class allegiance – despite demagogic rhetoric and attacks on Romney as being a “vulture capitalist”. The latter charge is undoubtedly true, but Obama’s supposed populism is cynically hollow.

The cloning effect of being owned by capital is especially apparent in international relations. The third and final presidential “debate” was a cloying spectacle of both candidates trying to best each other in who would lead America forward in war-mongering and lawlessness – in the service of the financial-military-industrial complex.

As Israeli warplanes were pounding the Gaza Strip, killing civilians as usual, all that Obama and Romney were both concerned about was to outdo each other in vowing unwavering support for Tel Aviv and its criminal war machine. So, more of the same crimes against humanity there.

Both are committed to seeing through the bogus “war on terror” in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia and its forthcoming expansion into Mali and West Africa, with use of assassination drone attacks drawn up every week in the White House. More crimes against humanity.

Both are singing off the same vile hymn sheet when it comes to destabilizing Syria and other parts of the Middle East with covert war and state terrorism. Both contenders exulted in “crippling sanctions” enforced against Iran that are putting millions of civilian lives at risk from shortage of medicines and other vital goods. More crimes against humanity.

Like puppets on a stage or commodities on a supermarket shelf, Obama and Romney are but different brands owned by the same American ruling class. This elite class can only survive by massive exploitation of fellow human beings both at home and abroad. War, imperialism, lawlessness, crimes against humanity and plunder of other nations – all paid for by the majority of working people – are the unspoken policies that American people are voting for this week. (To be fair, European countries share the same death in democracy owing to the same slavish prostration of mainstream parties before their capitalist elite.)

It is to the credit of ordinary, decent Americans that nearly half the electorate – some 100 million people – will not even cast their vote this week. These people know that the election is a disgusting charade that is all about giving a veneer of democratic legitimacy to an ongoing gargantuan criminal enterprise. It is telling that the American authorities have refused to confirm the expected abysmally low voter turnout. For what does that tell the world? In the supposed Land of the Free, at least half the people know that their would-be president is a pathetic puppet who is anything but free. 

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