May 21, 2013
Hope for Corporate America
Posted on Apr 28, 2008
By Chris Hedges
The corporate state is our shadow government. Candidates who aspire to higher office get corporate money if they promote corporate interests. They are shut out of the national debate—look at Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader—if they do not. Defy the corporate state and you get handed a ticket to oblivion. You become invisible. Work for it and you are showered with tens of millions of dollars and the possibility of political power.
Barack Obama’s campaign message, filled with lofty promises of change and hope, is also filled with repeated reassurances to the corporate elite. Pick up a copy of Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope.” The subtext is clear. It is a steady reminder to corporate America, a reminder bolstered by Obama’s voting record, that corporations would have nothing to fear from an Obama presidency.
“Of course,” he writes, “there are those within the Democratic Party who tend toward similar zealotry. But those who do have never come close to possessing the power of a Rove or a DeLay, the power to take over the party, fill it with loyalists, and enshrine some of their more radical ideas into law. The prevalence of regional, ethnic, and economic differences within the party, the electoral map and the structure of the Senate, the need to raise money from economic elites to finance elections—all these things tend to prevent Democrats in office from straying too far from the center. In fact, I know very few elected Democrats who neatly fit the liberal caricature; the last I checked, John Kerry believes in maintaining the superiority of the U.S. military, Hillary Clinton believes in the virtues of capitalism, and just about every member of the Congressional Black Caucus believes Jesus Christ died for his or her sins.”
He praises the “recognizably progressive” Bill Clinton, whose disastrous welfare reform he lauds, for showing that “government spending and regulation could, if properly designed, serve as vital ingredients and not inhibitors to economic growth, and how markets and fiscal discipline could help promote social justice. He recognized that not only societal responsibility but personal responsibility was needed to combat poverty.” Obama excoriates “those who still champion the old-time religion, defending every New Deal and Great Society program from Republican encroachment, achieving ratings of 100 percent from the liberal interest groups. But these efforts seem exhausted, a constant game of defense, bereft of energy and new ideas needed to address the changing circumstances of globalization or a stubbornly isolated inner city.”
“Our Constitution places the ownership of private property at the very heart of our system of liberty,” he writes. “Our religious traditions celebrate the value of hard work and express the conviction that a virtuous life will result in material reward. Rather than vilify the rich, we hold them up as role models, and our mythology is steeped in stories of men on the make—the immigrant who comes to this country with nothing and strikes it big, the young man who heads West in search of his fortune. As Ted Turner famously said, in America money is how we keep score.”
There have been some important investigations into Obama’s links with major corporations, including Ken Silverstein’s November 2006 article “Barack Obama Inc: The Birth of a Washington Machine” in Harper’s magazine. Newsweek has also detailed many of Obama’s major corporate contributors. Obama’s Leadership PAC includes John Gorman of Texas-based Tejas Securities, a major supporter of Senate Democrats as well as the Bush presidential campaigns. It includes Winston & Strawn, the Chicago-based law and lobbying firm. It also includes the corporate law firms Kirkland & Ellis, and Skadden, Arps, where four attorneys are fundraisers for Obama as well as donors. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Henry Crown and Co., an investment firm that has stakes in industries ranging from telecommunications to defense, are all funding the Illinois senator.
Individual contributors to Obama come from major lobbyist groups such as those of Jeffrey Peck (whose clients include MasterCard, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) and Rich Tarplin (Chevron, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers). Exelon, a leading nuclear plant operator, based in Illinois, is a long-time donor to the Obama campaign. Exelon executives and employees have contributed at least $227,000 to Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fundraisers. Obama has also accepted more than $213,000 from individuals (and their spouses) who work for companies in the oil and gas industry, and two of Obama’s bundlers are senior oil company executives who have raised between $50,000 and $100,000. I could go on, but you get the point.
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