The Coastal Post - December, 1996

Corporate Democracy

BY FRANK SCOTT

The most expensive and boring presidential campaign of the century is history, but political hustlers are already hyping the next episode of virtual democracy. Are you ready for Gore and Kemp in 2000? Or, like a majority of citizens, are you growing ever more disgusted with the whole charade?

The smallest turnout in seventy years assured that Clinton and the Republicans would maintain tenuous control , but there were signs that the next four years might be less painful than the last, and more hopeful as well. The revolutionaries of the right have become a bit chastened and may proceed more carefully, while the moderate center can muddle along and perhaps allow progressives some time to get themselves together. That would mean ending the single issue fractionalizing of the nation, and beginning to practice inclusive politics in substance, rather than rhetoric.

Substance would demand pursuing the greater good for the many, and not procuring in corporate capital's fashion, playing one group off against another like commodities fighting for market share. This invariably leads to the least good for the many. California's results were a mixed bag of corporate politics, as its voters passed a campaign finance reform measure, while defeating HMO controls and affirmative action.

The campaign reform and HMO issues found measures in competition with each other, foolishly causing battles among forces that should be united. The campaign measure that passed-208-has a better chance of withstanding the court challenges that always follow propositions. Actually, this well meaning reform will amount to little once capital turns the new rules to its advantage. Remember-PACs originated as a reform, and have now become part of the problem. But for the moment, some controls will be put in where none existed before. This was a small victory.

Ultimately, we must have some form of public financing that completely removes money from the process, or we will never have democracy. Progressive activists who work for anything less will have only themselves to blame for the continued apathy and anger of the people.

Two measures also competed to bring about control of HMOs, as well-intentioned unions looked out for their own membership first, and the public second. In the face of a megabuck insurance industry counter-attack, both were doomed. This is further proof that struggles for social change cannot be carried out to favor one group, or any part of the majority, over another. Reforms that only benefit some will lead to defeat for all. We desperately need single-payer health care, but we won't get it until we develop unselfish unity that brings a majority together. Only by creating a formidable public organization can the health insurance money-machine be defeated

Then there was 209, with David Duke and the Revolutionary Communist Party at opposite sides on the issue, highlighting the extremes inherent in the presently practiced divisive action called "affirmative." While liberals feel warm and fuzzy at token gestures exercised for a few and paid for by many, conservatives reach feverish frenzy at the injustice of it all. Hello? The most wretched racism remains unchanged by reforms that help one group feel less guilty, another group feel more ripped off, and the great majority

feel disillusioned and confused.

In a display of double standards and twisted words, we had "good guys" explaining why discrimination and preferences were okay, while "bad guys" spoke for civil rights and social justice. At least this was how the entire sordid affair was performed, with the righteous on both sides unconsciously revealing that the time has come for substantial change, before divisive corporate reforms drive us all to ruin.

The social force that supports HMOs and finance-dominated elections is behind affirmative action as it has been practiced. This force imports cheap labor, downsizes American industry and drives citizens into a near frenzy, in essence tricking them into perpetuating the very system that some truly wish to change. Citizens need to understand that they confront corporate capital, which has financial and media power that can easily defeat single issue, narrow-focus opposition.

Ninety-four percent of all financial wealth in the nation is in the hands of the top 20 percent of the population. We will never defeat that power by having 80 percent of the people battling among themselves over financial security, jobs and education. Less than one percent of American corporations own more than 80 percent of all manufacturing assets. We'll never change that by reducing 99 percent of corporations to fighting for the 20 percent of assets that are left. Nor will we overcome our disgraceful racism simply by sending token numbers of black citizens to school or work. At the rate of presently practiced affirmative action, we may achieve racial equality by the year 3000.

In accepted American fashion, losers in the election are now in court trying to subdue voters by exercising minority power. And both the right and what passes for a left will take part in this process, rationalizing the bankrupt nature of our political system. Only corporate wealth can win such struggles. Democratic majorities do not originate in court; they are supported by the law because they create the law. Our present system of corporate domination will not be changed by suing, any more than Dole can sue to get the White House from Clinton. Political power creates the law; it doesn't work the other way around. The people need to change the laws that give corporations power over time, space and humanity, and that calls for a democratic majority movement. Stay tuned.

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