How the Billionaires Control American Elections
The great investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald gave an hour-long lecture on how America’s billionaires control the U.S. Government, and here is an edited summary of its opening twenty minutes, with key quotations and assertions from its opening — and then its broader context will be discussed briefly:
The Intercept, 9 July 2020
2:45: There is “this huge cleavage between how members of Congress present themselves, their imagery and rhetoric and branding, what they present to the voters, on the one hand, and the reality of what they do in the bowels of Congress and the underbelly of Congressional proceedings, on the other. Most of the constituents back in their home districts have no idea what it is that the people they’ve voted for have been doing, and this gap between belief and reality is enormous.”
Four crucial military-budget amendments were debated in the House just now, as follows:
- to block Trump from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
- to block Trump from withdrawing 10,000 troops from Germany
- to limit U.S. assistance to the Sauds’ bombing of Yemen
- to require Trump to explain why he wants to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty
On all four issues, the pro-imperialist position prevailed in nearly unanimous votes — overwhelming in both Parties. Dick Cheney’s daughter, Republican Liz Cheney, dominated the debates, though the House of Representatives is now led by Democrats, not Republicans.
Greenwald (citing other investigators) documents that the U.S. news-media are in the business of deceiving the voters to believe that there are fundamental differences between the Parties. “The extent to which they clash is wildly exaggerated” by the press (in order to pump up the percentages of Americans who vote, so as to maintain, both domestically and internationally, the lie that America is a democracy — actually represents the interests of the voters).
16:00: The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee — which writes the nearly $750B annual Pentagon budget — is the veteran (23 years) House Democrat Adam Smith of Boeing’s Washington State. “The majority of his district are people of color.” He’s “clearly a pro-war hawk” a consistent neoconservative, voted to invade Iraq and all the rest. “This is whom Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have chosen to head the House Armed Services Committee — someone with this record.” He is “the single most influential member of Congress when it comes to shaping military spending.” He was primaried by a progressive Democrat, and the “defense industry opened up their coffers” and enabled Adam Smith to defeat the challenger.
That’s the opening.
Greenwald went on, after that, to discuss other key appointees by Nancy Pelosi who are almost as important as Adam Smith is, in shaping the Government’s military budget. They’re all corrupt. And then he went, at further length, to describe the methods of deceiving the voters, such as how these very same Democrats who are actually agents of the billionaires who own the ‘defense’ contractors and the ‘news’ media etc., campaign for Democrats’ votes by emphasizing how evil the Republican Party is on the issues that Democratic Party voters care far more about than they do about America’s destructions of Iraq and Syria and Libya and Honduras and Ukraine, and imposing crushing economic blockades (sanctions) against the residents in Iran, Venezuela and many other lands. Democratic Party voters care lots about the injustices and the sufferings of American Blacks and other minorities, and of poor American women, etc., but are satisfied to vote for Senators and Representatives who actually represent ‘defense’ contractors and other profoundly corrupt corporations, instead of represent their own voters. This is how the most corrupt people in politics become re-elected, time and again — by deceived voters. And — as those nearly unanimous committee votes display — almost every member of the U.S. Congress is profoundly corrupt.
Furthermore: Adam Smith’s opponent in the 2018 Democratic Party primary was Sarah Smith (no relation) and she tried to argue against Adam Smith’s neoconservative voting-record, but the press-coverage she received in her congressional district ignored that, in order to keep those voters in the dark about the key reality. Whereas Sarah Smith received some coverage from Greenwald and other reporters at The Intercept who mentioned that “Sarah Smith mounted her challenge largely in opposition to what she cast as his hawkish foreign policy approach,” and that she “routinely brought up his hawkish foreign policy views and campaign donations from defense contractors as central issues in the campaign,” only very few of the voters in that district followed such national news-media, far less knew that Adam Smith was in the pocket of ‘defense’ billionaires. And, so, the Pentagon’s big weapons-making firms defeated a progressive who would, if elected, have helped to re-orient federal spending away from selling bombs to be used by the Sauds to destroy Yemen, and instead toward providing better education and employment-prospects to Black, brown and other people, and to the poor, and everybody, in that congressional district, and all others. Moreover, since Adam Smith had a fairly good voting-record on the types of issues that Blacks and other minorities consider more important and more relevant than such things as his having voted for Bush to invade Iraq, Sarah Smith really had no other practical option than to criticize him regarding his hawkish voting-record, which that district’s voters barely even cared about. The billionaires actually had Sarah Smith trapped (just like, on a national level, they had Bernie Sanders trapped).
Of course, Greenwald’s audience is clearly Democratic Party voters, in order to inform them of how deceitful their Party is. However, the Republican Party operates in exactly the same way, though using different deceptions, because Republican Party voters have very different priorities than Democratic Party voters do, and so they ignore other types of deceptions and atrocities.
Numerous polls (for examples, this and this) show that American voters, except for the minority of them that are Republican, want “bipartisan” government; but the reality in America is that this country actually already does have that: the U.S. Government is actually bipartisanly corrupt, and bipartisanly evil. In fact, it’s almost unanimous, it is so bipartisan, in reality. That’s the way America’s Government actually functions, especially in the congressional votes that the ‘news’-media don’t publicize. However, since it lies so much, and its media (controlled also by its billionaires) do likewise, and since they cover-up instead of expose the deepest rot, the public don’t even know this. They don’t know the reality. They don’t know how corrupt and evil their Government actually is. They just vote and pay taxes. That’s the extent to which they actually ‘participate’ in ‘their’ Government. They tragically don’t know the reality. It’s hidden from them. It is censored-out, by the editors, producers, and other management, of the billionaires’ ‘news’-media. These are the truths that can’t pass through those executives’ filters. These are the truths that get filtered-out, instead of reported. No democracy can function this way — and, of course, none does.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.