You mean we once did? I must have missed it when I blinked.
Keith Olbermann recently spent several consecutive shows in hysterics over the Supreme Court’s People United decision, announcing in the most dramatic tones that “…we no longer control our government.”
What, exactly, does he mean by “no longer?”
Consider: the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which Cory Doctorow describes as “a brutal, unprecedented copyright treaty being negotiated behind closed doors,” has been in the news recently. Oddly enough, that treaty was drafted with the help of Mr. Faith and Hope’s trade representatives, before the Citizens United decision, as I recall.
The WIPO treaty and Uruguay Round TRIPS accord were ratified by pre-Citizens United Congresses. So was the DMCA.
As a matter of fact, pretty much the whole of U.S. trade policy is drafted behind closed doors by industry representatives and WTO technocrats, and Congress ratifies the resulting treaties without even reading them.
Other major pieces of legislation passed back when “we” still controlled “our” government include Bush-Cheney’s massive subsidies to the oil industry, the accelerated depreciation allowance, the R&D tax credit, the interest deduction on corporate debt, Charlie “What’s Good for GM” Wilson’s Interstate Highway System, and—well, you get the idea.
How about all those vigorous debates we always have before our big wars, when American “Commanders-in-Chief” are grilled relentlessly and forced to prove to the American people, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a genuine threat exists? Eh? Don’t remember that? Come to think of it, I don’t either.
I do remember, however, what turned out to be a lot of manufactured lies about Kuwaiti incubator babies and satellite photos of Iraqi armor massed on the Saudi border. I remember learning after the fact that the U.S. had encouraging the Kuwaiti government to engage in provocative behavior like slanted oil drilling on the Iraqi border, while April Glaspie reassured Saddam that the U.S. really couldn’t be bothered with trivial crap like one Arab country invading another. I remember Bush I immediately beginning the shipment of troops to Saudi Arabia to confront the public with a fait accompli. And I remember that the latter tactic worked, as yellow ribbons infested the country and people began ostentatiously “supporting the troops.”
Of course none of that’s anything new. As a matter of fact, according to Samuel P. Huntington the United States was only able to function as “hegemonic power in a system of world order” because it was governed by (ahem) “the president acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the Executive office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private establishment.”
So the transition from the good old days when we did “control our government” was, shall we say, somewhat less than abrupt.