The Illusion Of Political Choice At The Presidential Debate

Via the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald on the matters for which there is no choice between the two major parties:

Wednesday night’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney underscored a core truth about America’s presidential election season: the vast majority of the most consequential policy questions are completely excluded from the process.

Penal policies vividly illustrate this point. America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation on earth by far. Professor Glenn Loury of Brown University has observed that these policies have turned the US into “a nation of jailers” whose “prison system has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history”. Yet none of these issues will even be mentioned, let alone debated, by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

A long list of highly debatable and profoundly significant policies will be similarly excluded due to bipartisan agreement. The list includes a rapidly growing domestic surveillance state that now monitors and records even the most innocuous activities of all Americans; job-killing free trade agreements; climate change policies; and the Obama justice department’s refusal to prosecute the Wall Street criminals who precipitated the 2008 financial crisis.

This same dynamic repeats itself in other crucial realms. President Obama’s dramatically escalated drone attacks in numerous countries have generated massive anger in the Muslim world, continuously kill civilians, and are of dubious legality at best.

On still other vital issues, such as America’s steadfastly loyal support for Israel and its belligerence towards Iran, the two candidates will do little other than compete over who is most aggressively embracing the same absolutist position.

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  • David Howe

    fair enough, but it makes a big difference on the Supreme Court.  It also makes a big difference on Executive Orders (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for example) and vetoes.

  • David Howe

    fair enough, but it makes a big difference on the Supreme Court.  It also makes a big difference on Executive Orders (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for example) and vetoes.

    • Yournamehere

       Does it really? Citizens united ring a bell? How about the NDAA? I think the whole system is rigged, we are not in control of this monster.

    • Nunzio X

      I’d change the rule about Federal judges (including, of course, The Supremes.)

      No lifetime tenure. You serve ten years or up to age 70, whichever comes first. Then you’re out.

  • DetainMeYouFascists

    It’s accurate that there is absolutely no policy difference of substance between the two. BUT, Mitt’s a shitty liar. No one swoons over his pretty words. No one really believes Mitt’s on their side. That, to me, makes him preferable to the man who is very intelligent, popular and… self interested.

    Not that our support or opinions count in matters of state. That’s what the electoral college is for.

  • DetainMeYouFascists

    It’s accurate that there is absolutely no policy difference of substance between the two. BUT, Mitt’s a shitty liar. No one swoons over his pretty words. No one really believes Mitt’s on their side. That, to me, makes him preferable to the man who is very intelligent, popular and… self interested.

    Not that our support or opinions count in matters of state. That’s what the electoral college is for.

    • I_have_three_eyes

      Well Putin had said he would rather work with Mitt Romney over Obama. Despite Mitt Romney had stated Russia is still a large issue for the states. Just like you said Mitt is a bad liar. Putin see’s him as less dangerous than Obama.

  • alizardx

    The range of policy choices we get among major party candidates for public office is between left-centrism and right-centrism, the core value is centrism, i.e. this generation’s rationale for upward transfer of wealth with the pretense that trickle-down is going to benefit all of us.

    The difference is marketing strategy, the GOP’s current marketing strategy is based on xenophobia directed towards US minority groups aimed at the NASCAR-country music (i.e. aging white male) voters. Minority groups include the obvious ones, add scientists and intellectuals to The Usual Suspects. (if this reminds you of 1930s Germany, it should)

    Which makes it marginally more dangerous to the rest of us.

    But centrism regardless of marketing strategy endangers technological civilization and civil liberties, and we don’t get the choice on the fundamental question as to whether this is what we want or not.

  • alizardx

    The range of policy choices we get among major party candidates for public office is between left-centrism and right-centrism, the core value is centrism, i.e. this generation’s rationale for upward transfer of wealth with the pretense that trickle-down is going to benefit all of us.

    The difference is marketing strategy, the GOP’s current marketing strategy is based on xenophobia directed towards US minority groups aimed at the NASCAR-country music (i.e. aging white male) voters. Minority groups include the obvious ones, add scientists and intellectuals to The Usual Suspects. (if this reminds you of 1930s Germany, it should)

    Which makes it marginally more dangerous to the rest of us.

    But centrism regardless of marketing strategy endangers technological civilization and civil liberties, and we don’t get the choice on the fundamental question as to whether this is what we want or not.

  • Ted Heistman

    So the question of the presidential election is “Do
    we want to keep fooling ourselves or to acknowledge the reality?”

    So we have WYSIWYG Plutocrat vs. Fake “liberal” fake “reformer” But We live in a Plutocratic Oligarchy.

    Obama is a Phony representative of “the people” of “the down trodden” he’s phony. He’s a Judas, a turn coat.

    Romney is a Capitalist. He is what Marxists would
    call “a member of the capitalist class” He is representative of the
    ruling class

    Why do people like Romney end up in charge? Any takers?

    Obama has an ingratiating conciliatory smile. Has it served the American people well?

    Obama is not Power hungry. He’s just a Yes man for the Powerful.

    I am for Democracy and Individual Rights, but I almost prefer a Fascist to a fake sneaky liar.

    I think Romney is a Robber Baron. Which is kind of
    bad ass if you think about it. Obama is just a mouth piece.

    I think Romney could kick most peoples asses.

    Thing about that for a second. Romney has agency.

    Romney’s done some evil things no doubt, but at least he’s done things.

     

    • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

      > Why do people like Romney end up in charge? Any takers?

      I spent a lot of time with people like Romney, while working for companies like: Citi, GE, Thomson, Seimens and at high levels in sales & marketing (psyops). As far as I can tell, it’s the Peter Principle, they rise to their level of incompetence.

      Most American Romney types are not well read, have few cultural interests, not very self-reflective and are able to follow someone else’s script without faltering, as long as it fits their personal goals.

      They can be single minded in pursuit of their goals, but subservient to their masters at the same time. Those affected by their actions are rarely considered by them.

      It requires a high level energy and industriousness, but not intellect. It helps if you attended the right schools, but thinking outside the box is not encouraged. If you can produce results without ruffling any feathers of the big bosses, your on your way to the top.

      What I discovered was, they needed me to think outside the box for them. Find new ways for them to make more money, seduce more clients and exploit unexploited opportunities.

      One day I realized that I could never be one of them and I didn’t want to serve them any longer and I walked away from it and have lived a much better life ever since. Though I have to admit, I really enjoyed the ride while it lasted. Unlimited expense accounts are fun! Fucking with the heads dumb elites can be even more fun, but eventually it becomes tedious.

    • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

      > Why do people like Romney end up in charge? Any takers?

      I spent a lot of time with people like Romney, while working for companies like: Citi, GE, Thomson, Seimens and at high levels in sales & marketing (psyops). As far as I can tell, it’s the Peter Principle, they rise to their level of incompetence.

      Most American Romney types are not well read, have few cultural interests, not very self-reflective and are able to follow someone else’s script without faltering, as long as it fits their personal goals.

      They can be single minded in pursuit of their goals, but subservient to their masters at the same time. Those affected by their actions are rarely considered by them.

      It requires a high level energy and industriousness, but not intellect. It helps if you attended the right schools, but thinking outside the box is not encouraged. If you can produce results without ruffling any feathers of the big bosses, your on your way to the top.

      What I discovered was, they needed me to think outside the box for them. Find new ways for them to make more money, seduce more clients and exploit unexploited opportunities.

      One day I realized that I could never be one of them and I didn’t want to serve them any longer and I walked away from it and have lived a much better life ever since. Though I have to admit, I really enjoyed the ride while it lasted. Unlimited expense accounts are fun! Fucking with the heads dumb elites can be even more fun, but eventually it becomes tedious.

    • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

      > Why do people like Romney end up in charge? Any takers?

      I spent a lot of time with people like Romney, while working for companies like: Citi, GE, Thomson, Seimens and at high levels in sales & marketing (psyops). As far as I can tell, it’s the Peter Principle, they rise to their level of incompetence.

      Most American Romney types are not well read, have few cultural interests, not very self-reflective and are able to follow someone else’s script without faltering, as long as it fits their personal goals.

      They can be single minded in pursuit of their goals, but subservient to their masters at the same time. Those affected by their actions are rarely considered by them.

      It requires a high level energy and industriousness, but not intellect. It helps if you attended the right schools, but thinking outside the box is not encouraged. If you can produce results without ruffling any feathers of the big bosses, your on your way to the top.

      What I discovered was, they needed me to think outside the box for them. Find new ways for them to make more money, seduce more clients and exploit unexploited opportunities.

      One day I realized that I could never be one of them and I didn’t want to serve them any longer and I walked away from it and have lived a much better life ever since. Though I have to admit, I really enjoyed the ride while it lasted. Unlimited expense accounts are fun! Fucking with the heads dumb elites can be even more fun, but eventually it becomes tedious.

      • Ted Heistman

        Yeah, I think that’s probably a pretty good insight. especially these lines here:

        Most American Romney types are not well read, have few cultural
        interests, not very self-reflective and are able to follow someone
        else’s script without faltering, as long as it fits their personal
        goals.

        They can be single minded in pursuit of their goals, but subservient
        to their masters at the same time. Those affected by their actions are
        rarely considered by them.”

        I look at them as a recurring type that’s existed throughout history, but a lot of people don’t have a feel for this type of person because in America, we like to believe We are all egalitarians living in a democracy. But I think you just described what Plutocrats throughout history have been like.

        Because really all these Empires have been war machines and these are the types of people that run them. And its still a war machine today. They like sports too and sports analogies. Because that’s what they do. obey orders in order the dominate and kick the other teams asses. Dumb jocks. And their conformists, not very deep.

        A good character sketch is Thorstein Veblen’s “Theory of the Leisure Class”

        But I go down a rabbit hole that you may not with this stuff. I think there is a collective intelligence behind these empires and that it chooses these people to do this stuff. Its like an ant colony selecting which embryos become what. Its like an intelligent  machine, and we live inside it. 

        In a big enough machine, you can have a lot malcontents passing judgement from the side lines, but the fact is we aren’t running shit.

        Not in terms of the machine anyway.

      • Ted Heistman

        Yeah, I think that’s probably a pretty good insight. especially these lines here:

        Most American Romney types are not well read, have few cultural
        interests, not very self-reflective and are able to follow someone
        else’s script without faltering, as long as it fits their personal
        goals.

        They can be single minded in pursuit of their goals, but subservient
        to their masters at the same time. Those affected by their actions are
        rarely considered by them.”

        I look at them as a recurring type that’s existed throughout history, but a lot of people don’t have a feel for this type of person because in America, we like to believe We are all egalitarians living in a democracy. But I think you just described what Plutocrats throughout history have been like.

        Because really all these Empires have been war machines and these are the types of people that run them. And its still a war machine today. They like sports too and sports analogies. Because that’s what they do. obey orders in order the dominate and kick the other teams asses. Dumb jocks. And their conformists, not very deep.

        A good character sketch is Thorstein Veblen’s “Theory of the Leisure Class”

        But I go down a rabbit hole that you may not with this stuff. I think there is a collective intelligence behind these empires and that it chooses these people to do this stuff. Its like an ant colony selecting which embryos become what. Its like an intelligent  machine, and we live inside it. 

        In a big enough machine, you can have a lot malcontents passing judgement from the side lines, but the fact is we aren’t running shit.

        Not in terms of the machine anyway.

        • Ted Heistman

           and really the machine lives off of conquest. Its like a big organism that eats other organisms.

        • Ted Heistman

           and really the machine lives off of conquest. Its like a big organism that eats other organisms.

        • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

          Obama and Romney are not your normal elite servants. Romney’s family have been elites for over a century. And as far as can be seen from the public record, Obama’s family was a more recent addition. (His mother & grandmother worked for/with CIA honcho Peter Franz Geithner, Tim’s father. His grandfather’s work is completely off the record.)

          Yes, the egalitarian nature of American culture tends to obscure the division between elites and the herd. I used to play golf at Pebble Beach with clients, most of whom were millionaires, and they were awed by the wealthy enclave that is Pebble Beach. One once said to me, “I’m rich, but I ain’t that rich.”

          Yes, this type of person always exists in these types of environments. The history of the Roman Republic is a naked metaphor for the state of things in the US, except that the Roman Plebs tended to be more assertive about civil rights.

          Yes, the actions of the elites is not well thought out or well organized, more like reflexive responses to stimulation. But their machinations are destabilizing and debilitating for billions of people; something the elites completely ignore.

        • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

          Obama and Romney are not your normal elite servants. Romney’s family have been elites for over a century. And as far as can be seen from the public record, Obama’s family was a more recent addition. (His mother & grandmother worked for/with CIA honcho Peter Franz Geithner, Tim’s father. His grandfather’s work is completely off the record.)

          Yes, the egalitarian nature of American culture tends to obscure the division between elites and the herd. I used to play golf at Pebble Beach with clients, most of whom were millionaires, and they were awed by the wealthy enclave that is Pebble Beach. One once said to me, “I’m rich, but I ain’t that rich.”

          Yes, this type of person always exists in these types of environments. The history of the Roman Republic is a naked metaphor for the state of things in the US, except that the Roman Plebs tended to be more assertive about civil rights.

          Yes, the actions of the elites is not well thought out or well organized, more like reflexive responses to stimulation. But their machinations are destabilizing and debilitating for billions of people; something the elites completely ignore.

          • Ted Heistman

             I look at it sort of through a Gnostic lens.

            Like Philip K Dick’s “Black Iron Prison” and the intelligent yet blind deity behind it. But the people playing the roles through history do seem really a lot alike.

            Leo Strauss seemed to have totally looked at the World in a Classical Greek lense. And for some reason it seems to work. I mean its a disaster, but they are able to exploit the World effectively and be very powerful.

            Maybe PKD was right and its really AD 50 and the appearance of time is just part of the illusion.

          • Ted Heistman

             I look at it sort of through a Gnostic lens.

            Like Philip K Dick’s “Black Iron Prison” and the intelligent yet blind deity behind it. But the people playing the roles through history do seem really a lot alike.

            Leo Strauss seemed to have totally looked at the World in a Classical Greek lense. And for some reason it seems to work. I mean its a disaster, but they are able to exploit the World effectively and be very powerful.

            Maybe PKD was right and its really AD 50 and the appearance of time is just part of the illusion.

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            the system (blind deity) creates the people
            most people caught-up in the system never question it
            and when you do question it
            or point out that Emperor has no cloths
            you’re labeled cynical and negative

            however, I do agree with Terrence on his point:
            “The real truth that dare not speak itself is that no one is in control, absolutely no one.

            This stuff is ruled by the equations of dynamics and chaos.
            There may be entities seeking control, but to seek control is to take enormous aggravation upon yourself.

            It’s like trying to control a dream.”

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            the system (blind deity) creates the people
            most people caught-up in the system never question it
            and when you do question it
            or point out that Emperor has no cloths
            you’re labeled cynical and negative

            however, I do agree with Terrence on his point:
            “The real truth that dare not speak itself is that no one is in control, absolutely no one.

            This stuff is ruled by the equations of dynamics and chaos.
            There may be entities seeking control, but to seek control is to take enormous aggravation upon yourself.

            It’s like trying to control a dream.”

          • Ted Heistman

             Yeah, that’s pretty trippy. But that’s how I see it too. But I like to feel I can get outside it at times. If only for brief moments.

          • Ted Heistman

             Yeah, that’s pretty trippy. But that’s how I see it too. But I like to feel I can get outside it at times. If only for brief moments.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    not surprisingly
    most Amerikans seem to be unaware of this

    the Puppet Prez election is now officially showbiz
    and the show is so good
    a majority of Amerikans think its real & that their vote matters
    until that changes
    nothing else will change

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