In the last 10 years, the excessively wealthy and the private interest groups within a variety of industries have bought the Republican and Democratic candidates alike by bankrolling their campaigns. The financial industry alone spent about $1 billion towards its purchase.  Enron, which paid $4 million to Bush, Cheney and the Republicans , got the ear of Cheney’s Energy Task Force and dictated the terms of the energy policy to its advantage, and at great cost to the nation, so that it could continue to bilk Californians unimpeded. Americans’ usual resignation on the eve of elections, then, is not a sign of apathy, but an intuitive grasp of the game that corporate candidates are up to. They have correctly surmised that there is no real distinction between the Republican and Democratic candidates.
However, occasionally the policies and actions of the elected-by-default officials become so noticeably inhumane that people can no longer stomach them. At such times, when people become involved and mobilized, a small window briefly opens to the possibility of meaningful change; and not just substituting once charlatan with another. To vote against the blatantly criminal policies of Bush is a first step, but to do so only to start the cycle, yet again, with another candidate defeats the purpose. To have a real effect, the vote against the criminals in the White House should be linked to choosing the right system of governance. Such a choice is predicated on deciding whether U.S. is a corporation for the profit of a few (forever trying to “acquire” others, as it has done in Latin America, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq), or a nation for the benefit of its citizens and a member of a global community.
The choice of a president is usually about personal style and political affiliation. It is often about which candidate seems to better address the concerns of the particular voter. In other words, the choice of the president is usually a matter of degree, not kind. The delusion that the president is a more or less competent representative of people’s interest, however, has finally been dislodged by Bush’s reign. That the presidency is bought in this country has been an open secret for a long time, but no political leader has been as eager as Bush to advertise the fact. More importantly, Bush has not just propped up his presidency by the likes of Enron, but he has also supplanted democratic governance with corporate rule.
Bush’s corporate model of governance confuses democracy with free markets. But the free markets did not create the U.S. Constitution. Free markets may emerge in democracies, but they are not synonymous with them. Countless examples, like Chile, show that free market competition can lead to a healthy economic system, but is no guarantee that such a system will be free of tyrannical rule of the likes of Pinochet.
Unlike the democratic principles that give each citizen an equal vote, the corporation is ruled by holders of unequal shares. The few who own the greatest number of shares rule the unfortunate rest, the majority. This is a good system for the wealthy, the well-connected, and their agents, at the expense of the rest of the citizens who are locked out of corporate ownership. It is no accident that the Bush cabinet is made up of the CEOs of the largest U.S. corporations. The CEOs have always had a disproportionately greater hand in directing U.S. policy. Energy companies like Enron and Halliburton have essentially directed the national energy policy, at the expense of the American public.
Corporations are driven only by the profit motive. The corporate version of America cannot help its drive to acquisition, because it is the nature of the beast. Hegemony, unilateralism, invasion and expropriation of other systems and countries are natural tendencies of this corporate system, while expenditures for the health and welfare of citizens are not. The MBA presidency, due to its nature, is undeterred by considerations of humanist ethics. It cares little about the life of its citizens, which it has endangered by numerous corporate-friendly policies that have weakened the laws and regulations previously put in place to protect the environment and the public. The CEO of U.S. is insensitive to what his corporate policies cost the public, even in the number of lives lost. Corporate ends justify means. We are not fooled by the pretense of ethical consideration when the Bush administration takes on the task of moralizing and preaching, because we know that corporations depend on maintaining a strict corporate culture in order to ensure the unquestioning conformity of their personnel.
In contrast to the CEO president, whose only job is to add to the pile of profits of the top shareholders, the responsibility of the democratic leader is to realize the will of the people. People do not will to be without jobs, health benefits, educational opportunity, and fair pay. People do not want their environment polluted, trampled, and carved up for the business interest of the CEOs. People are reluctant to put their lives in jeopardy to serve the corporate ambitions of narcissist leaders. A democratic leader does not ignore these facts and acts to respect the will of the public. So far, only Ralph Nader has provided a real alternative to the corporate rule.
Kamyar Arasteh is a writer and psychologist. He is the author of
The American Reichstag: A Psychopolitical Analysis of 9/11 and Its
Aftermaths. He can be reached at: