Sometimes, protests have impact

Published 6:07 pm Friday, October 21, 2011

Isn’t it strange how someone can run for political office, have all the right stuff on their side, then utter one silly goof during the heat of a debate and have that comment hold the anchor to possibly sink his ship?

At the Republican Presidential debate this week, Mitt Romney said to Rick Perry that when he discovered the company that was servicing his lawn had illegal immigrants on its staff, Romney told the company that he was running for political office, and could not afford to have illegals working on his property.

That means, it would have been OK — had he not been running for political office — to have illegals cutting his grass.

Email newsletter signup

Then Herman Cain comes along and gets a big positive hoot from the audience when he says the Occupy Wall Street protesters are lining up at the wrong address, when they should be picketing the White House.

Cain misses the whole point of the demonstrations, and by not understanding its ramifications, it could be his anchor too.

Warning to candidates — dismiss this movement at your own peril.

Ever since the big bank bailout in 2008, there has been a significant word creeping into our vocabulary. It’s been a slow intrusion, but as the political season wears on, it’s going to continually surface.

TARP Oversight Chairwoman Elizabeth Warren has been running with this new issue. The word is “oligarchy,” government by the few. Yes, government by the few who have the power to call the shots. Government by the hugely powerful with millions of dollars to buy the government of the United States. With some success, she has been calling attention to it and making some headway.

In an interview with Bill Moyers on PBS, economist James K. Galbraith said our “democracy increasingly is one ruled by an extremely small number of extremely fortunate, which is not a democracy at all.”

He was discussing the five big powerful Wall Street banks, the same banks headquartered where the Occupy Wall Street protesters are now on the streets, trying to make a significant point.

Moyers’ book, Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation, includes written interviews from his PBS series. According to many of those interviewed, and it’s not all economists, the threat of the banking oligarchy is real with the central issue in politics as the rise of corporate power. Why are the big banks budgeting half a billion dollars into this election? Because it’s all about deregulation. Less government interference so they can make more and more money for bigger and bigger bonuses.

Don’t kiss off this issue. It’s extremely important.

From a CBS interview from one of the Occupy participants — “Wealthy individuals who own giant corporations have bought off Congress and bought off our government and the people no longer have a voice anymore.”

The message we are receiving from the Occupants is that they no longer wish to tolerate greed and corruption of the top 1 percent of the population — the bankers. They want to end the domination of big money interests, to protest a broken political system and the unprecedented consolidation of wealth and power, plummeting household income, skyrocketing school debt.

Journalist, author and columnist William Greider told Moyers that the bailouts of the banks and of the financial institutions have only spurred the avarice of the banking business. “When the day of reckoning arrived, the powers of Wall Street — as shameless as they were soulless — threw themselves on the mercy of the taxpayers they had so royally fleeced,” he said. “Then resumed business as usual.”

There’s a book out, If the Gods Had Wanted Us To Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates. The author is Jim Hightower, former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, and now book writer, columnist, radio talk show host, and editor of an award winning political newsletter. The central issue in politics, he writes, “is the rise of corporate power — overwhelming, overweening corporate power that is running roughshod over the workaday people of the country.”

From Moyers’ book, in a wrap-up of important issues, here is what these people are telling us: “The health care reform story is far from over, as the Republican leadership and the Chamber of Commerce vow to have it changed or completely destroyed. And we continue to look away as American soldiers die in Afghanistan; we worry about poverty, hunger, and the quality of the food we eat; the degeneration of our cities and the education system; race politics and injustice; human rights and torture during an age of terrorism; the war between Palestinians and Israelis; aging in America; capital punishment and the blighted penal system; the conflict over gay marriage; and the politicization of our courts.”

With all that, it would seem in these political debates, that we might get some more meaningful discussions than spending a lot of time on what kind of fence we need to build across our southern borders.

Jim Smith writes a weekly column for The Post-Searchlight. He can be reached through commentary online at the end of this piece, or e-mail at: