The American political system is profoundly deformed. It is deformed by the now limitless power of unaccountable corporate money. (I would remind folks that, in 1972, unaccountable corporate money in a Republican campaign safe was what the Watergate scandal ultimately was all about.) Nothing that happened last night in any way changes that. The American political system is also deformed by the nearly limitless power of concocted narrative, reinforced by an elite political media locked into a self-contained, airless universe, and completely incapable of recognizing a luxurious farce even when there right in the middle of it. For six months, we have heard from the more polite precincts of this universe that the Republican field is made up of second-raters. (Politico, The Daily Racing Form of that universe, ran a piece only just yesterday saying exactly that.) Rick Santorum's sudden ability to garner 25 percent of the Republican caucus voters in Iowa last night doesn't change that simply because it happened. When that unaccountable corporate money is the silent engine behind the creation and maintenance of concocted narrative, the system cannot prevail left to its own devices.And if I haven't linked to it before, Tim Dickinson did a long piece for Rolling Stone last year on How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich 11/09/2011:
This is the beginning of a watershed election in the history of the country. It is the first presidential campaign that we have had since the turn of the last century that has to be contested while everyone involved has to cooperate in the fiction that the whole process isn't completely for sale.
"It's a vicious circle," says [Nobel laureate economist Joe] Stiglitz. "The rich are using their money to secure tax provisions to let them get richer still. Rather than investing in new technology or R&D, the rich get a better return by investing in Washington."Tags: 2012 election, citizens united decision, republican party
It's difficult to imagine today, but taxing the rich wasn't always a major flash point of American political life. From the end of World War II to the eve of the Reagan administration, the parties fought over social spending – Democrats pushing for more, Republicans demanding less. But once the budget was fixed, both parties saw taxes as an otherwise uninteresting mechanism to raise the money required to pay the bills. Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford each fought for higher taxes, while the biggest tax cut was secured by John F. Kennedy, whose across-the-board tax reductions were actually opposed by the majority of Republicans in the House. The distribution of the tax burden wasn't really up for debate: Even after the Kennedy cuts, the top tax rate stood at 70 percent – double its current level. Steeply progressive taxation paid for the postwar investments in infrastructure, science and education that enabled the average American family to get ahead.