Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 11th 2016 Contents The tight grip of oligarchy upon
the American political system
slipped a little Tuesday night in
On the Democratic side, voters
cast their ballots for one of the most
implausible candidates in modern
presidential history---less because
his rhetoric was so mesmerising or
his programme so inspiring than as
a protest against an expected winner
perceived as a lavishly compensated
servitor of organised wealth.
In her concession speech, Hillary
Clinton boasted of her small donors.
More than 70 per cent had given
less than US$100, she claimed: "I
know that doesn t fit with the nar-
rative." As Ken Vogel of Politico
immediately tweeted, the claim also
distorts the facts. Clinton may have
a lot of donors, but the bulk of the
value of her donations---85 per cent---
has come from the biggest givers.
And her family s personal wealth,
and its foundation s assets, can also
be seen as built on the largesse of
banks, corporations, and foreign gov-
The Clintons method has always
been to dismiss allegations as "old
news" or "distractions" that do not
matter to voters. They present them-
selves as "fighters for you" while
they and their senior staff are simul-
taneously paid by somebody else.
The important thing, after all, is to
elect a woman at last! And there s
a special place in hell reserved for
anyone, especially any fellow
woman, who thinks that the char-
acter and integrity of the particular
woman may matter more than her
ambition or last name.
Women and men in New Hamp-
shire rejected that argument, along
with the coy secretiveness that pro-
duced an evasive promise to "look
into" the release of speech transcripts
contractually owned by Hillary Clin-
ton herself, and that led her to store
sensitive public email on a privately
owned server. Sometimes the only
way to bring sunshine into a locked
bunker is by smashing the roof in---
and that s what the voters of New
Hampshire did last night.
On the Republican side, the upset
was, if possible, even more stunning.
For 20 years and more, Republican
presidential contests have operated
as a policy cartel. Concerns that ani-
mate actual Republican voters---
declining middle-class wages, immi-
gration, retirement security---have
been tacitly ruled out of bounds.
Concerns that excite Republican
donors---tax cuts, entitlement
reforms---have been more-or-less
unanimously accepted by all plau-
Candidates competed on their life
stories, on their networks of friends,
and on their degree of religious com-
mitment---but none who aspired to
run a national campaign deviated
much from the economic platform
of the Wall Street Journal and the
Club for Growth.
This year s Republican contest,
however, has proved a case study of
Sigmund Freud s "return of the
repressed." Republicans, it turns out,
also worry about losing health care.
They also want to preserve Social
Security and Medicare in roughly
their present form. They believe that
immigration has costs, and that those
costs are paid by people like them---
even as its benefits flow to employ-
ers, investors, and foreigners. They
know that their personal situation
is deteriorating, and they interpret
that to mean (as who wouldn t?)
that the country is declining, too.
"Hope," "growth," "opportunity,"
"choice"---those have long since
dwindled to sinister euphemisms for
"less," "worse," and "not for you."
More than US$110 million was
invested in a single campaign to
silence all those internal doubts.
Between them, the so-called "estab-
lishment lane" candidates spent a
combined US$81.8 million of cam-
paign and super PAC funds in New
Hampshire alone. And what did it
all buy? Everything that was sup-
posed to be out is suddenly in.
Everything that was supposed to be
silenced is suddenly being said.
It may not last, not on either side.
As Romney campaign manager Stu-
art Stevens likes to remind over-
excited pundits, "the casino may not
always win---but that s the way to
Very possibly the normal proba-
bilities of politics---and the weight
of money---will reassert themselves
as the presidential campaigns broad-
en to national scale. But something
that had been stuck was shaken ajar
last night. Amid all the shocked
headlines, the most important news
of the night may be: For once, the
system worked. (theatlantic.com)
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 11, 2016
in New Hampshire
Democratic presidential candidate Sen Bernie Sanders, centre left, waves to the crowd with his wife Jane after speaking
during a primary night watch party at Concord High School on Tuesday in Concord, New Hampshire. AP PHOTO
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