Mitt Romney and the best Democracy money can buy
Mitt Romney has finally emerged as the Republican nominee in November’s US presidential election. But is he really the best man for the job? Or is he just the puppet of the big business backers who funded his campaign, which allowed him to massively out-spend his opponents namely Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, in his media campaign. Charges no one knows what Romney really stands for were far less easily leveled at his rivals and yet he remained the favourite for the nomination virtually throughout the campaigns. The question then surely is why? In these times when political certainty of candidates views are seen to be crucial how could someone like Romney hold the lead in the nominations for so long when no one seems to know what he really stands for? Unless of course it was simply a case of who had the most to spend on the campaign.
So could America really elect their next president not knowing what he will do when he gets into the Whitehouse? And if the American people do choose this man to become the most powerful position in world politics was it true democratic choice which got him there, or simply capitalist advantage and privilege?
We are told a free press is fundamentally crucial to the operating of a free and open democracy, but anyone who has taken only the briefest of cursory glances at the Leveson Enquiry could fail to see just how insidious the effects rich individuals can have on our whole society. Rupert Murdoch of course denies ever asking any prime minister for anything, but more than one prime minister called as a witness has contradicted his claims. It seems quite clear that every UK government of the last thirty years has hamstrung itself worrying about what Mr Murdoch would think about their policies and how they would be treated by his media empire should he disagree with them. So even if Mr Murdoch has never asked for anything in return for his support, the threat of losing it by introducing policy he isn’t in favour of has had a deeply undemocratic and harmful effect on our democracy and the common good for decades.
It is in the interest of big business to have a politically apathetic and ill informed society, but it can also be argued the newspapers are far less politically influential than they were in the past. However I would suggest newspaper sales are not the same as influence and in this soundbite age partisan headlines may become part of the national lexicon with very few people having even read the headline, but had merely overheard them repeated in the workplace, in the pub or on tv. We live in a technology enabled age of media saturation and personal entertainment, with very little time given over to any single pursuit, so is it really any wonder people have so little time to ponder on the political realities and instead ingest their politics more by osmosis than by controlled intellectual curiosity?
The inconvenient truth is democracy and free choice are an illusion and it is the relative wealth a person controls which determines the relative effect they have on our society as a whole, which includes who should rule over us. Nero understood the way to control the people was through bread and circuses. The only thing that has changed is our capitalist dictators have merely changed the bread for McDonalds and the circuses for X Factor.
When all things are considered we are going to have to face up to the fact that capitalism and democracy are incompatible, and the reality we need to face up to is how and when we tell the children.