A couple of weeks ago, President Obama, in the darkness of night, signed legislation that obliterated something called the STOCK Act – it was an act that demanded that senior, high-ranking federal employees disclose their financial holdings so taxpayers could be certain that there were no conflicts, bias, or favoritism in their decision-making. The bill was designed to prevent insider trading. It was there to help taxpayers understand how a high-ranking federal employee might come into office with $100 thousand dollar net worth and leave office a multi-millionaire.
As a matter of fact, you might remember the ceremonial signing of that act just a year ago, where President Obama signed that Act with cameras flashing, and TV cameras rolling, when our president proclaimed that the STOCK Act was vital to stop corruption, to make sure that transparency would be preserved in his administration.
When President Obama signed the bill erasing all that transparency, and enabling Senators and Congressmen to help themselves to self-dealing insider trading, and everything else at the political feeding trough, there weren’t cameras flashing, there were no grand speeches being made by this president who has become Wall Street’s closest and most reliable best friend. It took place behind closed doors out of the vision of the public.
So how does such a dramatic, ideological shift take place with a president that talked like a committed populist when he ran for president both times, and acts like such an elitist, Wall Street insider both times he is elected? The best spin we can put on it is that he is just as weak as Bill Clinton where it comes to resisting the hypnotic lure, the powerful influences of America’s new and growing Wall Street plutocracy.
Plutocracy is ridiculously easy to understand – it’s a word that most Americans have been hearing a lot these last 10 or 12 years. It simply means that established government, whether Democracy or a social democracy, becomes commandeered by money. It is plainly rule by the wealthy elite, both directly and indirectly. Any honest political sociologist would not even blink or hesitate a second to tell you that the US is a fully developed, thriving plutocracy. And if they were honest, whether they are an Obama apologist or not, they would have to admit that our president has been fully co-opted by that government of America’s super wealthy elite.
Here is the America where our president finds himself: He is the leader of an America where 80% of our wealth has moved to the hands of 2% of our population; 65% of our wealth has moved to the hands of 1% of our population; the top 1% of our households gained 8 times more wealth than 60% of our entire population – just since 1973.
You can’t blame that on Obama, but you also cannot ignore the obvious, and that is that a well-run plutocracy has the ability to co-opt, not only senators and congressmen and judges – there is no inoculation you can give most presidents to help them overcome the impact of a Wall Street flush with cash or a corporate media that creates and promotes all the talking points for government by and for the wealthy.
Or a political electoral system that is no longer one person, one vote; but merely a playground for capricious, piggish billionaires who directly and indirectly buy our Congressmen and our presidents.
There is no one immune from the greed frenzy created by a true to life plutocracy. A successful predatory extraction of money and power from our Democracy requires the help of our Congress, and our courts, and our media, and our President. And the truth is that predatory extraction has been just as effective with this president as it was with Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton or George Bush.
A few years ago, I wasn’t sure about how to respond to what this administration has evolved into. I remember that day when President Obama described Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein as “savvy, successful businessmen,” even after those thugs helped hustle the American economy into the abyss. And I suppose at first I was mystified when I saw our president appoint an entire gaggle of Goldman Sachs con men to his cabinet to help carry out his pro-Wall Street, anti-Main Street policies.
And I became a little more awake when I heard Obama’s most key friend and advisor Rahm Emanuel call progressives like me “effing retards” for being too critical of Obama’s love relationship with Wall Street.
But what I really woke up to is that a plutocracy is supremely powerful in the way it attracts and co-opts people who occupy the White House.
We are living at a time in America when all the moving parts have come together to diminish the reality of a true democracy. The corporate media, corporate loyal judges, corporate-owned Senators and Congressmen virtually insure that it is Wall Street CEOs and hedge fund managers are able to establish an elite government that overpowers Democracy to the point that even the most powerful leader in the world either does not recognize that he has been co-opted, or worse yet, he has surrendered willingly.