One of the most widespread and stubbornly pervasive myths told about US multi-party “representative democracy” is that the elected officials are accountable to the people.
After the criminal invasion of Iraq we were told that the public will pass judgment on each of them. That the people who started the Iraq war have paid and will pay a political price. The US White House and Congress concocted and promulgated hundreds of enormous lies to justify the invasion and destruction of an innocent country, killing perhaps a million civilians–most of whom were women and children–while formally establishing the most evil torture regime in our history.
How did that whole accountability thing turn out?
Bush and his merry band have been rehabilitated thanks in large part to the election of Donald Trump where subsequently W. became a hero of the Resistance because he expressed misgivings about the interloper. And now war criminal George W Bush and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be appearing at an event next week at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, in partnership with US government-funded narrative management operations Freedom House and National Endowment for Democracy.
Then there’s the Great Wall Street rip-off. With the 2008 financial collapse, the US government conspired with domestic and foreign bankers to perpetrate what was surely one of the greatest and most fraudulent thefts in history, and all members of both groups remained in power and were handsomely rewarded for their crimes while fully half of the nation’s middle class evaporated into the lower class and is now living on food stamps in a van down by the river.
Isn’t it wonderful how we hold our elite accountable?
Still, grifters gotta grift.
The sad truth of it is that in the US elected representatives are accountable to no one except their campaign funders. But certainly not to you and I. Our dear leaders have grown accustomed to being unaccountable and their main concern is grifting, as the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine demonstrates. The US seems to be waging war in the way that it has become accustomed to as well. Make sure everything happens a long way from home, propagandize like crazy that this is all about “democracy” and peace, get other people to do most of the the dying, send awesome high tech weapons and bully everyone else in the world to be your ally. Create support by throwing money at local “client” leaders, enable the military/industrial/complex to get even richer from open-ended contracts and provide new career opportunities for the officer corps, think tank denizens and politicians. Then let the whole thing go on for ever until you are ready to move on to the next pork barrel opportunity.
Sorry, I meant the next crusade to preserve democracy.
Let’s not forget the elite response to Covid 19. This YouTube video–How to Hide a Plague: How Elite Capture and Individualism Made Covid Normal, should be required viewing. “The US has experienced among the highest cumulative mortality rates from Covid-19 in the Global North. This lecture will argue that the failures of the US pandemic response were mainly driven by economic elites who used their influence to undermine public health protections. The initial phase of the Covid response was collective, including a massive temporary expansion of the welfare state, but this approach threatened the power of the capitalist class. In response, there was an abandonment of economic interventions followed by a wholesale reframing of the virus as an issue of personal responsibility and individual choice. This lecture will explore how the exertion of elite influence went far beyond lobbying politicians, extending to government bureaucracies and civil society institutions such as news media and schools of public health. This process of constructing a new, deadlier normal holds lessons that can be transferred to climate change and other collective crises of the 21st century.”
All of these calamities have a back story: elites being feted for epic fuck-ups instead of being held accountable, largely due to ideology. For the last 40 years, under the rubric of neoliberalism, both Republicans and Democrats have held this very same theory: regulations and laws only apply to the little people, while the innovators and entrepreneurs that create wealth should be free from such nuisances because their honor and reputation would keep their animal spirits in check.
In An Economic Theory of the Criminal Law, 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner states that the poor require criminal law to keep them within the confines of the “market.” “The major function of criminal law in a capitalist society is to prevent people from bypassing the system of voluntary, compensated exchange-the “market,” explicit or implicit-in situations where, because transaction costs are low, the market is a more efficient method of allocating resources than forced exchange.”
The flip-side of Posner’s theory was that unlike the poor, the wealthy required only tort law to ensure their proper behavior. “This means that criminal law is designed primarily for the non-affluent; the affluent are kept in line, for the most part, by tort law.”
What’s become manifestly clear is that the managerial elite of our country are no longer trustworthy. The crimes they’ve gotten away with has only made them bolder and more reckless.
Update: Wow! Even I can’t even make this shit up.