Joseph Cotto, 11/11/2014 [Archive]

Party of the 99 Percent Undone by Limousine Liberals

By Joseph Cotto

The Democrats got another midterm drubbing. Everyone who doesn't live under the heaviest of rocks must know why: Millennials and minorities headed to the polls in small numbers.

For most of those who did vote, though, it is clear that arguments of a "99 percent" pitted against extreme concentrations of wealth, some "War on Women" being waged by angry chauvinists, and "structural racism" keeping Jim Crow alive fell on deaf ears.

Whether it was claiming the governor's race in staunchly progressive Massachusetts, giving Virginia's highly popular Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner the fight of his career, or amassing the largest U.S. House majority since Herbert Hoover's day, GOP successes cannot be understated.

None of this even begins to tread on the Republican victories in state legislatures, such as flipping the long-Democratic West Virginia House of Delegates, securing a super-majority in the Florida House, and reasserting control over the New York Senate.

Of course, the U.S. Senate's incoming GOP majority will likely make whatever President Obama hoped to see pass an already fractious congress moot.

All this raises the question of what went so wrong for the Democrats. Back in 2008, it seemed they were on the cusp of a multi-generational power trip from San Diego to Boston and back again. Now, they've been reduced to celebrating victories in reliable locales such as Hawaii. While the Republicans certainly have their flaws — too many for mention here — millions upon millions have decided that they stand for something worthwhile.

It seems that part of the Democratic problem is reliance on funding from billionaires and less wealthy, yet highly influential "limousine liberals". Despite claiming to be in favor of average-to-downtrodden folks, most Democratic politicians go out of their way to forge alliances with individuals whose interests they publicly revile. The hypocrisy of this is plain to see. Understanding how and why such a setup works, though, is complicated.

The oft-derided one percent consists of capitalists who have such tremendous net worths that their respective spheres of influence extend far beyond the private sector. Indeed, these billionaires have the money to buy entire legislatures, let alone the key committees that amend any given bill before it reaches a floor vote.

Quite often, it is not beneficial to support the system which afforded them prosperity. As free enterprise requires constant change, after a period of time, each member of the one percent will almost definitely fall back into the remaining 99. This is generally a result of new entrepreneurs participating, and by far most threateningly, succeeding in the market.

The only way for the status quo to remain entails restricting the market from within.

So, the extremely wealthy establish various special interest groups dedicated to crafting draconian regulations in the name of the public good, tackling hot-button social issues, and riling the hopes of easily led ideologues. These groups then contribute heavily to the coffers of receptive politicians. As word gets out that the aforementioned groups pay well, the number of public officeholders willing to listen grows.

Sometimes no groups are formed at all. Rather, teams of formidable lobbyists are hired to engage lawmakers directly. In any case, the ultra-wealthy secure a lofty perch by decimating the ladder that leads to it. Thus it becomes clear why a startling number of anti-business organizations receive what can only be described as executive level funding.

The decidedly none-too-affluent street activists in socialist/anarchist/radical green/whatever movements do not see what is really going on. The same goes for reactionaries on the right who consume themselves with such poignant issues as overturning a Supreme Court decision written over forty years ago: Roe v. Wade.

As extremists busy themselves building sandcastles, those select few at the top of the pyramid are quietly cashing in. Quashing competition is smart business, and what better way to go about this than through readily accessible and totally legal means?

The Democratic Party is merely a convenient vehicle for tycoons who want total domination. Perhaps the progressives who stayed home caught on to this.

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Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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