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Election 2012

Ike Williams says the popular answer to that question will determine the outcome of this election -- and the outcome of this election could change democracy as we know it. In this photo, American artist Jasper Johns’ painting 'Flag,' made between 1960-1966, hangs on the wall of an auction house in London, Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. (AP Photo)

The present election, perhaps more than any other in American history, focuses voters on the two models of government most likely to be adopted for this century.

One, the traditional model, is a Republic whose mission is to elect its ruling class from broadly educated candidates from all sections of the professional world. They typically choose public service at much lower compensation than they might command in the private sector, at least for their time in office. These officials envision representing their individual constituents to promote a government that provides the greatest benefit to the greatest number of citizens.

The rival model is a bolder new one, a corporate prototype based on successful capitalist models of profit driven companies. This model seems to attract already successful corporate leaders who see their mission as one to make America the most successful corporation in the world — one which delivers value to its shareholders, voters capable of being more successful than others in their education, health and assembly of net worth.

Republics have faced many challenges since their creation in parts of the Greek and later Roman worlds. Their most successful competitors have been autocracies led by charismatic leaders such as Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great; and later imperial dynasties from the Egyptian, French, Russian, Spanish and German empires; and popularly elected parties which transform into dictatorships such as those of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Formidable as many of these threats were, none were based on a profit seeking model.

Somehow, our American Republic has been fortunate in preserving its integrity through swings to the left and the right, but the present candidates exhibit stark contrasts: the Democrat espousing the traditional role of the Republic and its duties to the widest possible citizenry, and the Republican unabashedly promoting a new model based on capitalism and run by narrowly trained “job creators” whose role models are investment banks and multi-national corporations whose only duty is to acquire equity in the venture. Their theory is that we have been poorly governed by non-business leaders who have fallen under the influence of socialist and other non-capitalist models, who have eroded our competitive advantage.

In our lifetime we have never seen so bold a move by the wealthy and corporations to campaign for election without at least the scrim of “democratic” language and purported common goals veiling their mission.

Which side are you on?

Tags: Election 2012

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  • vito33

    We’ve been living in a plutocracy for a long time. Citizens United and the current GOP ticket only ask us to admit it, accept it, and deal with it. “It”, in this case would be a return to America’s Gilded Age of unfettered corporate dictatorship. (Coupled with the far-far-far right’s delusional and dangerous theocratic desires. A theo-plutocratic form of government! Popes of finance and Bishops of the bedroom.)

    How much of their platform could the GOP enact if they actually took office? Hard to say. But they’d give it the old college try, and it wouldn’t be pretty.

  • jwon412

    This is our choice: will it be the Constitution, or the balance sheet?

  • AnnRome

    “One, the traditional model, is a Republic whose mission is to elect its
    ruling class from broadly educated candidates from all sections of the
    professional world. They typically choose public service at much lower
    compensation than they might command in the private sector, at least for
    their time in office. These officials envision representing their
    individual constituents to promote a government that provides the
    greatest benefit to the greatest number of citizens.” –

    This model describes Mitt Romney’s motives perfectly (remember – he took no compensation as Governor of Mass). Obama’s model (not represented at all in the article) is one where we redistribute wealth and is clearly the precursor to a totally socialistic government…not what our forefathers envisioned. I do agree that this election is monumental, but not for the reasons you state. We either bring back core American values (hard work, opportunities only made possible through private sector jobs and reinvestment) or this country will spiral horribly into full-fledged socialism. Balance of powers prohibits the gloom of doom of the leftist threats, but Obama’s #1 fans look more towards the ‘hand out’, instead of a ‘hand up’.

  • jefe68

    “job creators”… What a load of hyperbolic rhetoric.
    Jobs are created in a capitalist system when there is demand, it’s that simple.
    If the economy is depressed, and ours is, there is less of a demand. Hence layoffs and in the midst of these record profits are being recorded by a lot of corporations.
    And yet no jobs. So where are the great “job creators”? Where are they I ask?
    It’s wonderful that the GOP is so enthralled with magical thinking in this and other areas. Such as how a woman’s reproduction system works. The profits are from demand overseas and from the massive shifting of health insurance costs onto employees, layoffs, on top of lower wages and wages that have been stagnant for decades in relation to inflation.

    That such a question needs to be asked is pointing to a larger problem who how perverse our political discourse has become. If as a nation we have to ask if we are a Republic then we are surly lost and the very premise of our nation has been perverted by corporate ideology. Which means we are a plutocracy of sorts.

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