December 3, 2010
And the 30-year war to destroy American democracy
Andy Kroll is a reporter for Mother Jones magazine and associate editor at TomDispatch.com. Yesterday, he published an opinion editorial, “The New American Oligarchy”, about the so-far successful effort to transform the United States of America from a middle-class powerhouse into the country club and cash cow for a new ruling class of mega-rich elites.
The entire article is a must read, but here’s an excerpt where Kroll talks about how outside interest groups like Karl Rove’s “American Crossroads” – funded by unlimited cash from undisclosed corporate and individual sources – are waging a non-stop war on the democratic process:
“This is what nowadays passes for the heart and soul of American democracy. It used to be that citizens in large numbers, mobilized by labor unions or political parties or a single uniting cause, determined the course of American politics. After World War II, a swelling middle class was the most powerful voting bloc, while, in those same decades, the working and middle classes enjoyed comparatively greater economic prosperity than their wealthy counterparts. Kiss all that goodbye. We’re now a country run by rich people.”
Who are these American oligarchs?
“Let’s call those select few in the penthouse the New Oligarchy, an awesomely rich sliver of Americans raking in an outsized share of the nation’s wealth. They’re oil magnates and media tycoons, corporate executives and hedge-fund traders, philanthropists and entertainers. Depending on where you want to draw the line, they’re the top 1%, or the top 0.1%, or even the top 0.01% of the population. And when the Supreme Court handed down its controversial Citizens United decision in January, it broke the floodgates so that a torrent of anonymous donations from this oligarchic class could flood back down from the heights and inundate the political lands below.”
It’s no accident that we find ourselves in the political climate we’re in today. It has been a long-time in coming, beginning in an unlikely place with President Jimmy Carter and a Democratic controlled Congress which slashed income tax rates on corporations and top-earners, opening the door to President Reagan’s successful efforts to transform tax law in favor of “winner take all outcomes”.