Millionaire versus Billionaire: The Final Frontier?

This year’s presidential contest, now thankfully heading into the final stretch of campaigning, makes one wonder how much longer the American people will tolerate a political system of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich. No matter your political affiliation, ideology or beliefs, it’s likely that both major party candidates strike you as being mucho unsavory.

Of course Donald Trump is the worst. An unhinged egomaniac with few equals, Trump could be called a fraud if he didn’t actually believe his every boast.  Nevertheless, he’s not to be trusted.  Rather than serve as president of the United States, I would think it’s still not to late to either hospitalize him (involuntarily, of course) or incarcerate him for something along the order of business fraud or tax evasion.  Yes, he’s that crazy and that corrupt, and it speaks to our rigged socioeconomic and political systems that a man like him is allowed to get wealthy at the expense of others.

Many people call Trump a fascist and maybe he would become our dictator-for-life under the right circumstances. But he reminds me more of Silvio Berlusconi, the four-time prime minister of Italy who dominated Italian politics for most of the 1990s and the beginning of this century.  A billionaire who, like Trump, adores the limelight (albeit in a much raunchier fashion), Berlusconi flaunted his wealth while claiming to be a man of the people and his nation’s salvation: the name of his political party translates as “Go Italy” in English.

For years, numerous corruption charges failed to stick and Berlusconi became the longest-serving prime minister in post-war Italy.  Finally, the Eurozone crisis weakened him enough in 2011 to politically do him in for good – we hope.

That would be the best possible outcome of a Trump presidency: the man’s policies would surely bring about an economic and social crisis of mammoth proportions, leading to his ignominious downfall as well as (again, we hope) an end to the long-standing aforementioned setup of-for-and-by the rich.

As for Hillary Clinton, we all know she’ll lie at the drop of a hat. The email scandal demonstrates just what your parents told you about liars: after the first fib, they just keep telling more and more, even after they’ve been caught. We know just how venal she is, too, her profitable speechifying and the pay-to-play scandal being just two examples.  As for the business of scamming people, we’ve heard about Trump University but what about Laureate International Universities?

It seems that Bill Clinton was paid somewhere between $16 and $17 million to act as “honorary chancellor” of this for-profit chain of secondary schools from 2010 to 2015.

Suffice it to say that Laureate has a crushing debt load, still managed to generously contribute to the Clinton Foundation, disdains the trappings of ordinary universities (curriculum, syllabi, degrees, grades) and admitted to the Security and Exchange Commission that it has “weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.”

Trust Hillary (or anybody named Clinton)?  I don’t think so.

Ruling-class consensus

Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of this election is that the ruling class is lining up solidly behind one candidate – Hillary Clinton. With a majority of the country’s money- and power-brokers supporting her, which proverbial angel dancing on her shoulders and whispering in her ears, do you think Hillary Clinton is going to listen to: the one advocating debt relief for students, justice for the harassed and incarcerated, a fairer tax structure, etc.; or the advocate of the continuation of trickle-down lite?

And almost certainly, a Clinton II presidency would do nothing to change our government’s aggressive, neo-imperialist foreign policy.

Our senatorial race in Pennsylvania also epitomizes the current situation: millionaire GOP incumbent Pat Toomey is facing off against millionaire Democrat Katie McGinty.  McGinty wins by default over a man who would do away with the increasingly symbolic corporate income tax. However, both campaigns have been absolutely masterful at pointing out the upper-class shenanigans of the other.  Katie McGinty might have working-class roots, but her track record makes her promise to champion the “middle class” hard to believe.

It’s a sad situation. Whether you hold your nose when you go to the polls and vote for a Democrat, or cast a ballot for a third party candidate like the Green Party’s Jill Stein, you know the outcome is going to be less than optimal for those of us who want international peace, an end to institutional racism and sexism, progress toward economic equality, and real action on climate change. Therefore, when the election is over it will be good to remember and heed the words of Joe Hill:

“Don’t waste time mourning.  Organize.”

— James Collins

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