Retired, irrelevant, I sit at my computer in a small Florida town and write blogs about the way the world is going. Just another old codger letting off steam. And for what?
What does it matter to me personally?
I will be gone in a few years no matter who is in the White House, or who runs what country – anywhere.
And in the meanwhile, nothing much will change for me. Nobody is really going to take away the Social Security stipend that’s deposited in my bank account each month. Social Security might be “reformed,” or “privatized,” even abolished. But not for me. For my grandsons, Jonathan and Adam, perhaps. Possibly for my children. But not for those of us already sucking on what an official recently referred to as the government’s teat.
The Democrats might lose control of the Senate and even the House of Representatives in November. President Obama might be defeated in 2012 – if he runs again, and I am beginning to doubt that he will.
Sarah Palin might become president of the United States, with Glenn Beck as her running mate. Or Newt Gingrich might shake off the mud of his disgrace to take the reins of power. Or some other slick con artist might persuade the American people that they have the balm to soothe the irritation created by a swarm of lies.
It’s a revolting prospect, of course. But nothing much would change in my personal circumstances because of it.
But what about you, whoever you are?
Do you have a stake in what happens in Washington DC?
You might look around you and dismiss the sound and fury of politics as meaningless theater. Or you might indulge in the emotional luxury of rooting for one party or another, despising those who would dare to root for some other “team.” Or those who belong to some other race. Or those who follow some other religion. Or those who disagree with your other beliefs, whatever they might be.
But, as Shirley Sherrod (lower photo) so astutely observed, that’s not what politics is about.
In America, Canada, Jamaica, Britain, France, Germany… wherever you are reading this … politics is about money and who gets how much of it.
The eternal battle is not between ethnic, religious or cultural groups but between the rich and the poor.
The rich know this. But, apparently, the poor don’t.
That’s one reason the rich stay rich – and get richer.
In 1986 Forbes Magazine listed 140 billionaires around the world. By 2007 the total had risen to 946. And the number has increased exponentially since then. These people (most of them men, of course) control trillions of dollars. And they use their wealth to ensure government policies that help them get even richer.
Jane Mayer of The New Yorker recently detailed the part played in today’s American politics by David Koch, the founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which is a driving force behind the Tea Party movement, and his brother Charles. The bottom line is that these two billionaires are putting their monetary muscle behind a no-holds-barred war to defeat President Obama.
David and Charles Koch (top photo) have used their billions to block “progressive” policies for years. And they are now among President Obama’s most effective – yet almost invisible – opponents. For example, as health care reform protesters descended upon Washington recently, few were aware, as they were greeted with doughnuts and coffee, and provided with protest signs, that one of the billionaire brothers had paid for the meals, the buses and the guides.
Using their deep pockets to promote “causes” designed to keep voters worked up, rich and powerful people like the Koch brothers have created a conservative “groundswell” in America,
This crusade has been going on for years, with the founding of “think tanks” such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, endowment of conservative college programs and – more recently –the encouragement of a swarm of right-wing web sites.
And the billionaire activists saw a unique opportunity with the election of America’s first black president. They knew many white Americans would find Barack Obama an irresistible target.
How dare this black man become so educated? So urbane? So charismatic? How dare a black family move into the White House?
And, to put the icing on the cake, Obama’s father was a Muslim.
It didn’t take much to get bigoted white voters screaming for a return of “their America.”
Sadly, this has become the main theme in the Republican Party’s playbook.
By distracting the poor and middle class with threats of Muslim mosques, Hispanic invaders and a black “Socialist” president, they hope to obscure the real issue – the eternal struggle between the “haves” and “have-nots.”
A struggle in which the rich always seem to win and so many of the poor seem eager to help them.