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John Chuckman


Shielding Israel From Popular Outrage

Anti-BDS laws like the one being prepared in America cut right to the heart of a free society.

Imagine legislating away an entire people’s right to peaceful, voluntary protest against what they see as oppression and abuse abroad?

And doing so to serve lobbyists who make generous campaign contributions to the very legislators pushing the undemocratic law?

Response to a reader who said:
“If BDS can be made illegal, why not campaign contributions?”

Well, yes, but that’s too logical for America.

Most Americans have no idea of the massive role of money in American politics.

A US Senator spends on average – and this has been studied – two-thirds of his or her time raising funds. A US member of the House of Representatives spends hours every week at a bank of dedicated phones, trying to raise money.

I think were the humiliating day-to-day realities of the situation revealed in a short hard-edged documentary film everyone could see, there would be widespread shock and revulsion.

All of America’s accommodating the brutal excesses of Israel pretty well stems from the campaign finance system because well-organized and well-financed lobbyists like those for Israel know how to manipulate it.

But so do many other excesses. Money rules in almost every aspect of American national politics. The joke about the best government money can buy is no joke.

But the existing establishment of American politicians appears quite satisfied with the corrupt system, and America’s Supreme Court has ruled that money is free speech – a ruling about as sensible and ethical as Dred Scott was. How many American national politicians do you hear complaining? How many clamor for serious reform?

The campaign finance system is a self-inflicted horror, but given America’s attitudes and prejudices – as, say, towards government-supported election expenses which, I am sure, would be just as anathema as government-supported health care – I see no way out.

At the Presidential level, it took man reputedly worth 8 billion dollars to defeat Hillary’s spending somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8 billion dollars, all of which came from special interests and big corporations who expected a return.

But, as we can now see, Trump’s personal wealth purchased no independence of action from the money-driven establishment dominating Washington. He is having a hard time even keeping his head above water and flaps his arms around to no effect.

America is in reality a plutocracy, just one with a lot of window dressing and stage acting around the idea of democracy. That is not an exaggeration. It only sounds exaggerated to those who do not think and do not inform themselves.

The entire tableau of the Founding Fathers in their wigs and frock coats gathered to create something new and honorable – a tableau much beloved by Trump’s base supporters – is no more than a pleasant, childish fantasy, having absolutely nothing to do with the way America actually is governed.

Think of any number of American politicians, some of reasonably humble origins, and look at how rich they’ve become. How do people on government salaries get to be worth millions and millions of dollars, especially when the costs of maintaining yourself in office are high in everything from wardrobe and grooming to maintaining more than one home?

We see this not just in egregious examples like Hillary Clinton, but in many, many others. Bernie Sanders is worth millions. Good old rebel rouser Maxine Waters is, too. Former Senator and “environmentalist” Al Gore lives in a massive house where the utility bills alone are said to be $30,000, and he is worth literally hundreds of millions of dollars. It appears a life of government service in America can be remarkably rewarding.

America is a plutocracy, not just in its campaign finance system, but through and through.

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