Our America

It has been said that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

A truer sentiment may never have been expressed.

In this season of presidential electoral politics, there is much going on, but one of the most disturbing things is the massive amounts of money being spent by the presidential hopefuls. This, while even the people most clamoring for relief and change are voicing their anger over having been forgotten and ignored, is an irony not to be ignored.

According to information found on OpenSecrets.org, Outside money raised by Hillary Clinton is $84,815, 067, for Bernie Sanders, the number is $607,096, and Donald Trump has raised $3,294 868. For each candidate committee money raised for each individual, according to the site: $204,248, 301 for Clinton; $207,664, 551 for Sanders, and $57,661.961 for Trump. The total amount of money raised by the candidates is $791 million, and the amount of money raised so far by super PACs supporting them: $462 million.

There is something terribly wrong. The people of this nation are in economic pain; one of the reasons the message of Bernie Sanders resonates is because he touts policies that recognize the economic hardship that Americans are experiencing because of many factors, including the loss of manufacturing jobs which have gone overseas, causing the loss of the middle class. And Trump appeals to a number of people for a number of reasons, among which is likewise a frustration among blue collar white males because they are no longer able to make a living the way they used to.

For those reasons alone, the money being spent on the campaigns for president seems to be a slap in the face. While people go hungry, and kids in some states cannot get health care, and people affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are still trying to get enough money from insurance companies to be able to repair their homes, this inordinate amount of money is being spent for these candidates, and for what?

The working poor are suffering and the elite ...squander literally millions ...close to billions ...of dollars on buying the government, making sure the "right" people are in power. This shouldn't come as a surprise; this government was never intended to be on the side of the working poor. The late historian Howard Zinn quoted historian Charles Beard in his seminal work A People's History of the United States, who wrote that "four groups ...were not represented in the Constitutional Convention: slaves, indentured servants, and men without property. (p. 91) Historian Edmund Morgan wrote, "The fact that the lower ranks were involved in the contest (of the American Revolution) should not obscure the fact that the contest itself was generally a struggle for office and power between members of an upper class, the new against the established." (p. 84)

The framers of the Constitution were clear that one's wealth determined one's importance and place in governing "the American people." Zinn wrote that in Maryland, the new Constitution of 1776, to run for governor, "one had to own 5,000 pounds of property; to run for state senator, one had to own 1,000 pounds Thus, "wrote Zinn, "90 percent of the population were excluded from holding office."

That paradigm seems not to have shifted much at all.

If reports to the same are to be believed, the very wealthy in this nation are still at it, giving their millions to keep their candidates in power while the poor and disadvantaged are pretty much left to fend for themselves. This "dark money" is nothing new, as we have seen, but the Right has been pouring money into local, state and now, the federal elections, to keep power contained and reserved for the very wealthy. Jane Mayer, the author of the book, Dark Money, believes that the Koch brothers and "a small number of allied plutocrats have essentially hijacked American democracy, using their money not just to compete with their political adversaries, but to drown them out."

The ugliness and amorality of all of this is troubling, but what is even more troubling is that the masses of people who are being manipulated by the rich and powerful will again be largely forgotten once the coveted office of president has been won. The intentionality to control government will not cease; in states where, again, people are having trouble making ends meet, there will be millions, maybe billions of dollars spent in future elections to get "the right people" into office, leaving the masses bereft, angry, frustrated and cut off from the American dream.

Edmund Morgan, the historian quoted earlier, said in essence that the idea of a Revolution fought in the name of a government which would be for all the people was always a sham, and another historian, Richard Morris, wrote, "Everywhere, one finds inequality...The people of "we the people" did not mean Indians, blacks, women or white servants." In fact, he said "there were more indentured servants than ever (during the Revolution) and the Revolution "did nothing to end and little to ameliorate white bondage." (p, 84)

It all sounds painfully familiar. Inequality, based on economics, has always been the foundation of these United States, in spite of the glorious language penned in the Constitution. How terribly sad.