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John Chuckman



What many readers in Russia undoubtedly do not understand is Washington’s election campaign finance rules and their relationship to special interest groups like the Israel lobby and the never-ending turmoil of Israel-Palestine.

There are basically – despite a complex web of rules – no limits on money given to candidates for election to office.

The Supreme Court, under the influence of decades of conservative appointments, has ruled that money is free speech.

Well, you could not come up with a more corrosive rule for democracy if you tried.

The best organized and financed special interest in the United States – the Israel lobby – is able essentially to buy the loyalty of most congressmen and senators and presidential candidates.

That sounds like exaggeration, but it absolutely is not.

Money is so important in Washington elections because you must travel extensively, buy television air-time, have professional commercials produced, commission endless polls and studies, and purchase the services of costly experts. It all precisely resembles the marketing and selling of a product by a great multi-national company rather than an exercise in democracy.

This is especially true of American presidential elections, which effectively stretch out over a year including primaries and caucuses.

A year of spending like a drunken sailor!

Imagine the vast costs?

That is the American presidential campaign system in a nut shell.

This system achieves several things. One, an entrenched, well-financed special interest can stay entrenched indefinitely. Two, all the serious candidates – those with hundreds of millions in their pockets from donors and the promise of more (the Hillary Clintons or Jeb Bushes) – are effectively vetted by their existing establishment donors. They are safe bets on key matters. Nothing can really change, including major policies. The system is built to achieve that result.

Then along comes an ambitious character like Donald Trump who can finance his own campaign, there being very few people who have or are willing to spend a billion dollars of their own on a campaign.

This is part of what makes the Israel lobby in the U.S. extremely suspicious of him. Then add the fact that he is very independent-minded and says America should get along with Russia and China and that it shouldn’t be in places like Syria, and a form of panic ensues.

I dislike most of Trumps’ views, but on the Middle East and some foreign policy he could represent important and overdue change. The Israel lobby understands that and already on many fronts is getting ready for one ugly fight. We see former New York Mayor, and billionaire, Bloomberg talk of running as an independent, The Weekly Standard, voice of Neo-cons and the Israel lobby is screaming about Trump, and some newspapers have already engaged in underhanded stuff like reporting that a distant relative of Anne Frank’s says “Trump sounds like Hitler.”

If Trump gets the nomination, there’s going to be a really dirty fight with the Middle East at its center, but Trump’s opponents will not openly make the Middle East the issue as it is much safer with the general public and easier to talk about Trump’s sometimes wild words and more extreme ideas. But the intensity of the fight will be about the Middle East.

It will be an interesting political year.

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