In response to an FT article by Edward Luce on 6th November 2016, entitled ‘American democracy’s greatest trial’
“America’s system of democracy is teetering, whether or not Mr Trump wins on Tuesday…
Imagine two kinds of threat: one where a bear breaks into your cabin, the other where termites eat it from within. Mr Trump is the bear. The upside to a Trump victory is that he would be unable to claim the election was stolen. Far from it. The 2016 vote count would be the cleanest in world history. America would be great again! That aside, it would be a disaster…
How could a Clinton victory possibly compare? If she won by a landslide — and the Democrats regained control of Congress — all bets would be off. But that is not going to happen. No poll has put her close to 50 per cent since the election began. The dangers of a Clinton presidency are no less troubling for their subtlety.
Before Mrs Clinton is elected, Republicans are vowing to block whatever she tries. John McCain, her closest Republican friend, says he will oppose any Supreme Court nominee she submits. Others have threatened impeachment hearings…
The good thing about a bear is that you can see it coming. Termites are invisible. It is hard to pinpoint when they began to eat away at the foundations. When and why did Americans lose faith in their system?” – Edward Luce
Termites are not invisible and it is entirely possible to see them eating away at the foundations, if you actually look at the foundations.
1. Military Foundations:
As far back as 1960, as he was leaving office, President Eisenhower made the following warning to the American people:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together"
That warning was ignored, at least in the White House, when within just a few years, America was embroiled in Vietnam, spending billions of dollars and thousands of lives losing a war it should never have been involved in.
Since that time, we have had an escalating number of wars and foreign interventions, paid for by mountains of unsustainable debt and the lives of innocents, which have made the defense industry and their political branch, the neocons, very rich, at the expense of the poor - who have provided most of the dead bodies, and the middle classes, who have provided much of the taxes that have kept alive the charade that the debt will ever be paid back.
2. Financial Foundations:
In the 1990s we saw the final removal of the barrier between bank depositors and Wall Street speculators, when Glass Steagall was abolished. The laws concerning derivatives were also thrown out of the window, both courtesy of President Clinton and his little team of Wall Street gophers that included Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Simultaneously Fannie and Freddie were encouraged to lend to anyone with a pulse…these pulse free loans were then packaged up, securitized and sold as triple A, by the rating agencies who were afraid to lose business from the banks, who also ‘owned’ the regulators who should have backed them up. The cherry on the top of this little scam cake, was a Federal Reserve led by a guy, Alan Greenspan, who forgot everything that he knew about economics once he tasted power and discovered that he had a printing press in his basement.
Fast forward to 2008 and we had the financial crisis, the institutionalization of moral hazard through the bank bailouts, followed by the weakest recovery ever - one fuelled entirely by QE, benefitting, again, the 0.1% at the expense of the rest of society
3. Legal Foundations:
An easy one to describe – how many Wall Street crooks have gone to jail? The rule of law is not applied to the establishment – it is therefore now becoming a sick joke.
4. Democratic Foundations:
Despite the fact that we all know it goes on, and both parties give lip service to cleaning it up, we still have a system characterized by a Congress that is bought and paid for by Wall Street and other lobbyists, gerrymandered boundaries, and campaign finance rules that the mob would be happy with.
So ‘no’ Mr. Luce, termites are not invisible, and it is entirely possible to see them eating away at the foundations, if you open your eyes. Anyone who cannot see them is either not paying attention, or is looking the other way.