The labels ‘democrat’ and ‘republican’ have little meaning – Example: Senator Mark Warner
When it comes to core issues relating to living standards, income security, and overall quality of life, the differences today between a generic democrat and republican are so slight that party labels provide little meaningful information. The fundamental conflict is not between the two parties; it’s between the power of what can only be described as an aristocracy of wealth and the interests of the vast majority. We live today in a society in which 72% of all productive wealth is owned by only 5% of the population and where the bottom 80% have just 7%. The latter have no option but to work for the elite few and their only real defense against ever greater exploitation is the strength of our democracy. But democracy is failing as politicians in both parties rely on the aristocracy to fund their elections and, just as importantly, to provide them with lucrative opportunities after serving in office.
We should, then, evaluate politicians not by their party labels but on where they stand in this fundamental divide. Of course all politicians claim to represent the majority, so we must disregard the rhetoric and look instead at actions. But actions can also be deceiving since it’s possible to argue that any action can somehow indirectly benefit the majority. When evaluating actions, therefore, I think an excellent rule is to identify the direct beneficiary and reject ideas of trickle down indirect effects. I suppose there can be theoretical exceptions to this rule but I think they would be few.
Since many of our institutions, the Senate for one, are a throwback to ancient Rome, why not adopt the Roman terms “patrician” for the wealthy 5% and “plebe” for the bottom 80% and use them for identifying the interests a politician serves? They seem far better identifiers than the liberal / conservative or democrat / republican oppositions we presently use. And they reinforce how little we’ve changed from the corrupt society of ancient Rome. A representative of the patrician class favors anything that directly helps the top 5%: lower and less progressive income taxes, reduced social spending, expanded global trade and free capital movements, big business incentives and tax credits, labor flexibility, etc. A plebian politician favors the opposite.
We should also note that neutral sounding terms like “private sector” and “business community” are widely preferred by patrician politicians when referring to the elite class. We can see this is true when we consider that rank and file employees of firms represent the vast majority of the “private sector” and “business community” but everyone knows their interests are not at all the ones being talked about. We’re safe in substituting “patrician class” whenever we hear a politician warmly speak of the “private sector” or “business community”.
Which brings us to an all too typical democratic senator – Mark Warner of Virginia. He’s an excellent example of the state of our politics today. Warner is an up and coming “moderate” democrat. He gave the keynote address at the 2008 democratic convention and was considered by Barack Obama for the vice presidency. He can safely be considered a typical democrat. But what does that tell us? Does he represent the patricians or the plebes?
Like most democrats, Mr. Warner is clearly a patrician. He has a net worth estimated at $200 million and has devoted his political career to “centrist” “pro-business” policies. He wrote an article in the Financial Times yesterday entitled “Obama’s alternative to repeal of the Bush tax cuts” in which he voices the typical democratic “centrist” view of compromise that must be seen as nothing more than a defense of the patrician class. He takes an apparently plebian view in calling for the tax cuts on the top 2% to expire but then, showing his true colors, says “we should work with the business community to enact $65 billion in new, targeted business tax cuts and incentives to spur private-sector investment”.
He acknowledges that “investment and job creation by businesses remains anemic”, “corporate America is more profitable today than in the years leading into this recession”, and that “leading US corporations reported nearly $2,000 billion in cash on their balance sheets at the end of the second quarter”. Despite this abject failure on the part of the patricians to circulate their massive hoards of cash, Warner proposes to give them even more! We need to do so in order to “encourage the private sector to move their trillions in cash off the sidelines and back into the economy”. “It would also”, he revealingly adds, “provide an excellent opportunity for policymakers to begin to repair their recent frayed relations with leaders of the US business community”.
These views are a perfect example of patricianism in that they directly benefit the wealthy few and do nothing in a direct sense for the vast majority. He and many in his party get away with somehow being branded “moderate” or “centrist” only through the skillful use of rhetoric and the powerful support of the patrician owned media and other key institutions. The few who bravely represent the interests of the bottom 80% are, in contrast, branded as radicals and borderline lunatics.
Following in the noble footsteps of his parasitic Roman Senate forefathers, Senator Warner and his fellow patricians have nothing to offer the vast majority other than endless upward transfers of wealth. The majority have no clear direction to turn in our rapidly diminishing democracy. But one thing is clear: the identifying labels of democrat and republican have little meaning.