Why do Americans support politicians who do not support their constituents’ real interests

I just read a line in a blog post by Michael Hoexter, Obama and Boehner’s Grand Bargain: Gullible Democrats are Falling for the Ol’ “Good Cop, Bad Cop” Routine at Naked Capitalism which crystallized a concern of mine that stretches back a few years: Why/How is it that Americans can persist in refusing to see their own clear interests and vote for people who support policies that are going to gut their interests?

Hoexter says:

“the appearance of conflict and displaces political conflict away from where the conflict of interests really are…”

Politics is theater, we all know this and it is a show that is meant for consumption by the governed with several goals. At least one of them is to adequately cover the power relationships with a sense of justness and fairness while not upsetting these relationships.The political play is drama to create an appearance of conflict and debate which displaces the arguments away from the real conflicts of interests lie.

The conflict of interest is at the base the power of corporations, their owners and managers vs. the power of the people as workers, consumers and citizens. Long ago tyranny was about kings and despots. Now tyranny is about who controls the major business bodies and their agenda.

In fact the neo liberal catechism of the past 40 years or so has one defining feature in the idea that business, corporate decision making is morally superior somehow to democracy. That the public through its political institutions and systems are not very good at doing things, and that businesses are. Democracy is messy and inefficient. The public is BAD at economic decision making and the ‘free market’ is good at it. It is a moral argument made on the basis of flawed generalizations. This leitmotif in the business and political discourse attempts to justify the fact that money and power have flowed and are flowing AWAY from democratic institutions TOWARD businesses.

This fact is the result of a certain group of people acting in their interest and pulling that money and power toward where they want it: institutions that are subject to their control, not the public’s.It is in this groups interest when moving power and money out of public control and into private control to obfuscate the changes. Now the ‘appearance of conflict’ is of course compelling theater. So the political discourse is charged with drama and partisanship, all serving the same interest. But what is that interest?

The interest of the 1%, the wealthy, the capitalists is to enhance their profits and protect their wealth. This means to safeguard the ability pull money out of the pockets of consumers, to constrain competition, to set the price of labor lower, to the establish laws of the land in their own favor and to avoid justice for their crimes and misdemeanors.

Does the interest of business become the new name for tyranny?

What is the interest of the 99% that is opposed to this? For decent wages for labor, for education, for health, for public infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer systems, for culural products, for clean water and air, open public spaces such as parks. And yet in each of these areas we are told: businesses can make these decisions better for the whole of the people.

Is doubting the current discourse allowed? Is this sturm und drang of fiscal cliff, Medicare cuts, Social Security cuts all just theater hiding the true manipulation of real economic interests underneath?



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