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Going from Democracy ... to Plutocracy ... and Now to Kleptocracy

Jim Hightower on

One group of oppressed Americans has become especially outspoken this election year, contending that top government officials (Democrats in particular) are ignoring their community's basic needs and stifling their pursuit of economic advancement.

I speak, of course, about the tragic plight of our nation's downtrodden multibillionaire class. While it's true that Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and these other Silicon Valley sad sackers and weepy Wall Streeters have vastly increased their wealth under Joe Biden's presidency, they wail that he has not properly courted and coddled them. Indeed, Biden set their hair on fire this March by calling out their outrageous tax-dodging ploys, demanding they start providing their fair share of support for America by paying a "billionaire tax."

Thus, these poor, put-upon moneyed elites have been jetting around to Hollywood, Palm Beach and other posh enclaves, holding secret strategy sessions and rallying the uber-rich class to defeat Biden this fall. Of course, since self-centered, plutocratic billionaires are less popular than bed bugs, they can't win with their ideas and votes but only by buying elections -- and these gilded conspirators intend to do just that, amassing billions to bury Biden.

But, oops, one money confab in April exploded into public view when some 20 poobahs of such oil giants as Chevron, Exxon and Occidental conferred with Trump himself. In a straight-out bribery offer, he pledged to repeal environmental protections the industry dislikes -- if they pony up $1 billion for his presidential campaign.

This sordid palace intrigue is the product of the right-wing Supreme Court's 2010 edict letting selfish wealthy interests secretly dump unlimited sums of corporate money into our elections. They're turning our democratic ideals into a kleptocracy.

RETURN OF THE SWAMP DRAINER: MAKING A MOCKERY OF DEMOCRACY

Remember Donald Trump, the "swamp drainer"?

 

In 2016, candidate Trump promised to end the grubby money corruption of American politics. "The special interests, lobbyists, donors," he rightly and righteously noted, "make large contributions to politicians, and they have total control over those politicians." Asserting that he knows the political rot better than anyone, he said he'd "fix that system, because that system is wrong."

Eight years later, here comes the Donald again -- but the swamp is bigger and suckier than ever. And instead of bold talk about draining it, Trump is auctioning off the swamp, flagrantly offering direct presidential benefits to Big Oil, Wall Street hucksters, high-tech tycoons and all other moneyed interests that "make large contributions" to him.

How large? The Washington Post reports that one businessman asked to have lunch with Trump, promising a million-dollar check. "I'm not having lunch," Trump retorted. "You've got to make it $25 million." He has also demanded a cool billion bucks from a covey of Big Oil executives. Promising to cut their corporate taxes and deliver an array of other special benefits, the presidential wannabe punctuated his itemization of political goodies with an unsubtle monetary nudge, saying, "be generous, please."

Since a Supreme Court majority of extreme partisans opened the floodgates 14 years ago, corrupt corporate cash has gone from merely polluting American democracy to now swamping it. Trump is not the only bribe huckster, but he is the most blatant, shamelessly nuclearizing the going rate for buying public policy, mocking the ideal of a citizens' government. Trump himself is fond of telling fat-cat donors that he doesn't spend 10 minutes with anyone who can't give $10 million. Hello -- where does that leave you and me? And our country?

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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