Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The 2016 election: A real life "Hunger Games" brought to you by the GOP

Disclosure: A young Dem campaign worker introduced me to the book Hunger Games. Now I am a Hunger Games aficionado. No, that's too weak of a descriptor. I am a Hunger Games junky - an addict. I read the whole series and longed for a film version. I've watched every one of the four films on the big screen and try to watch all the reruns.

Given my addiction, it should not be a surprise that I fell hard for this post at Common Dreams by Nomi Prins: The American Hunger Games subtitled "The Six Top Republican Candidates Take Economic Policy Into the Wilderness."

Setting my personal infatuation with Hunger Games aside, this is a very good read albeit a long one. Prins really delivers on the promise of the subtitle and shows (1) how the top six of the GOP candidates differ very little in their economic claims, and (2) how those claims are recipes for economic disaster. So, my recommendation is: if you read nothing else today, read this one! Opening and closing snippets follow, but you need to read what's in between in Prins' essay.

Fact: too many Republican candidates are clogging the political scene. Perhaps what’s needed is an American Hunger Games to cut the field to size. Each candidate could enter the wilderness with one weapon and one undocumented worker and see who wins. Unlike in the fictional Hunger Games for which contestants were plucked from 13 struggling, drab districts in the dystopian country of Panem, in the GOP version, everyone already lives in the Capitol. (Okay, Marco Rubio lives just outside it but is about to enter, and Donald Trump like some gilded President Snow inhabits a universe all his own with accommodations and ego to match.)

The six candidates chosen here (based on composite polling) have remarkably similar, unoriginal, inequality-inducing, trickle-down economic recommendations for the country: reduce taxes (mostly on those who don’t need it), "grow" the economy like a sprouting weed, balance the budget by cutting as yet not-delineated social programs, overthrow Obama’s health-care legacy without breaking up the insurance companies, and (yawn)... well, you get the idea. If these six contenders were indeed Hunger Games tributes, their skills in the American political wilderness would run this way: Ben Carson inspires confusion; Marco Rubio conveys exaggerated humility; Ted Cruz exudes scorn; Jeb Bush can obliterate his personality at a whim; and Carly Fiorina’s sternness could slice granite. This leaves Donald Trump, endowed with the ultimate skill: self-promotion. As a tribute, he claims to believe that all our problems stem from China and Mexico, as well as Muslim terrorists and refugees (more or less the same thing, of course), and at present he’s leading the Games.

When it comes to economic policy, it seems as if none of them will ever make it out of the Capitol and into the actual world of American reality. Like Hillary Clinton, blessed by Wall Street’s apparently undying gratitude for her 9/11 heroism, none of the Republican contestants have outlined a plan of any sort to deal with, no less break the financial stronghold of the big banks on our world or reduce disproportionate corporate power over the economy, though in a crisis Cruz would "absolutely not" bail them out again. Stumbling around in the wilderness, Carson at least offered a series of disjointed, semi-incomprehensible financial suggestions during the last Republican "debate," when asked why he wouldn’t break banks up. "I don't want to go in and tear anybody down," he said. "I mean that doesn't help us, but what does help us is to stop tinkering around the edges and fix the problem."

[Scriber: Lots of good stuff here - too much to even try to summarize.]

Perhaps with such a field of candidates, the classic Hunger Games line will need to be adapted: "Let the games begin and may the oddity of it all be ever in your favor." Certainly, there has never been a stranger or more unsettling Republican campaign for the presidential nomination or one more filled with economic balderdash and showmanship. Of course, at some point in 2016, we’ll be at that moment when President Snow says to Katniss Everdeen, "Make no mistake, the game is coming to its end." One of these candidates or a rival Democrat will actually enter the Oval Office and when that happens, both parties will be left with guilt on their hands and all the promises that will have to be fulfilled to repay their super-rich supporters (Bernie aside). And that, of course, is when the real Hunger Games are likely to begin for most Americans. Those of us in the outer districts can but hope for revolution.

The only thing I would have added to the revised story of the American Hunger Games would be a horde of slavering GOPlins chasing Katniss and Peeta. But that might bring the story to an unfortunately rapid close. Given the pervasive influence of Wall Street and big money more generally, even Katniss' advisor, Haymitch (played by Bernie Sanders), may not be enough to prevent the GOPlins taking over Panem. They're already in the capitol.

"May the odds be ever in [our] favor." Not if any of these clowns become President.

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