M J Rosenberg writes:
I received an email from a Capitol Hill aide who thinks my criticism of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, is overly simplistic. He doesn’t dispute the fact that AIPAC has a disproportionate influence on our Middle East foreign policy. He argues, however, that AIPAC is no different than other powerful special interest lobbies.
I think his whole email is worth a read:
I work on Capitol Hill and I disagree with you about AIPAC. You make it seem as if AIPAC is the only lobby that gets what it wants through threats of cutting off campaign contributions, as if only AIPAC dictates legislation through intimidation.
WRONG! My colleague who handles the Israel issue confirms your analysis. But it’s no different on the domestic issues I cover. The issues of jobs, health, taxes, the environment, regulation to protect kids’ health, oil drilling, workers’ safety, education, guns…they are all dictated by lobbies just as overbearing as AIPAC. All we do up here is cater to rich, selfish people and their special interests. And their interest is cutting all social programs so we can keep cutting taxes to make them even richer.
True, most of them don’t brag as much as AIPAC but that doesn’t make them any better or worse, just smarter (AIPAC gets more negative attention because of its swagger). Big deal. The public is getting screwed eight ways to Sunday by special interests and AIPAC is just one of them. Don’t mislead your readers into thinking it is unique. Not only is it not unique, it’s insignificant in the sense that it’s not the guys robbing the poor to put money in their own pockets. They own US Middle East policy. But the real fat cats own everything else.
I agree with everything my correspondent writes. The American democracy we learned about in school no longer exists. It’s been sold to the highest bidders. And the highest bidder is not, as the Tea Partiers like to say, “We The People.”
I’m worried about the claim that “The American democracy we learned about in school no longer exists.” It’s not news that it never existed in its safe-for-children form.
The real questions must be something like — how did the country work then, how does it work now, and what’s the difference? Deploying vague, charged labels is not going to cut it.
Along the same lines, observe that we’re in the midst on an international phenomenon. The crash was thoroughly international and is far from over. In terms of social policy politics, the British are doing many things that the right here as well dreams of. This suggests that concentrating on the local drama (O my America!) is likely to be misleading at best.
“He argues, however, that AIPAC is no different than other powerful special interest lobbies.”
Well, they always argue that.
But AIPAC “is” different because it is a “Foreign” lobby lobbying for a Foreign country, period…no matter how they spin it.
But MJ’s responder is correct about all the other lobbies and informed Americans know we are getting ‘screwed’ by a corrupted political system.
Unfortunately “Democracy” seems to prevent us from doing anything about it.
The whole article is full of substance.
It’s clear to me that the weakness that has allowed this to come about is an excess of centrism — whether partisan or non-partisan is immaterial. The establishment is the media and it protects the status quo that enriches it. While the objective of democracy is to allow the social consensus of the centre to rule — there should be no actual bell curve majority at the centre. The mean is an imaginary point where the different values balance out. The centre should only exist as the product of a dynamic process — and the ideas on each side should always be vigorous and unyielding.
Looked at from outside, the US appears to be ruled by one single policy establishment operating under two names. The very idea of voter registration seems a rather totalitarian artifact. More political representation of strongly disparate ideas, and enough passion to establish them is needed. The US needs less not more stability — the present situation can only get worse if left unchecked.