If the past decade has taught the poor ordinary American voter anything, it's that no one is ever really at fault.
When a Republican Administration proceeded to discard the morality and respect for basic human rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention, unleashing a systematic regime of torture, "rendition," "black sites" and "collateral damage" in the name of prosecuting a war based entirely on lies, and killing hundreds of thousands in the process, no one was held accountable.
When the same Administration blithely swept away equally "quaint" notions of privacy and due process and instead secretly wove a patently invasive web of arbitrary and intrusive surveillance over the American public, no one was held accountable.
When a Democratic Administration sowed the seeds of future financial collapse by deregulating the banking and finance industry, no one was held accountable.
When millions were thrown out of work and saw their futures collapse after the consequences of waging a pointless, trillion dollar war while tilting the economy to serve the interests of the wealthiest finally manifested themselves, no one was held accountable.
When our democratic political process was literally sold out by a fanatical Supreme Court Majority carefully cultivated and nurtured by the same coterie of reckless, self-serving and self-interested people largely responsible for all of the above, still no one was held accountable.
Instead, we were told that we--the American voters--were really the ones at fault, because, after all, we were living in the best of all possible Democracies and we had freely chosen these leaders to represent us. We were told we shouldn't dwell on the past--that we had to move "forward," let bygones be bygones. Rehashing the sins of previous follies and missteps would be too "divisive." And "divisive" is not good. As if punishing those whose greed, venality and incompetence trashed the values of the country and brought disaster down on all our heads would be something akin to refighting the Civil War. It would just tear the country apart.
And, probably most important of all, we were told to pay no attention to the men behind the curtain.
Well we have moved forward. We've let bygones be bygones. And it's brought us to this. We now have "Government by Billionaire." We see our supposedly representative government officials grovelling before a Strangelovian toad. We see one half of the U.S. House of Representatives robotically thwarting any assistance to American families decimated by the twisted and tilted economy their own conservative ideology spawned. The same Republican House that robotically voted fifty times to repeal a law that provided Americans with a modest degree of health care coverage. The same Republican House that has not advanced a single piece of legislation designed to replace the jobs lost in the Great Recession. A Republican House that sees nothing, hears nothing, speaks nothing, almost determinedly obstructive except when their billionaire masters command them to vote for some legislation spit out by ALEC, legislation written by and designed to serve the interests of those same billionaires.
Why? Because they don't expect to be held accountable either.
In The Godfather, Part II, Michael Corleone blackmailed and bought a Senator by setting him up in bed with a dead hooker. Today's Republican Congressmen and Senators are blackmailed with billionaire-financed primary challenges and the dead hooker hanging over their heads is better known as the Tea Party. The role of Michael Corleone is played by Charles and David Koch.
In the 2012 campaign President Obama held Mitt Romney accountable for the damage he worked on ordinary Americans through his leadership of Bain Capital. By the time the campaign was over Romney was widely (and correctly) perceived as a callous plutocrat utterly indifferent to the needs of ordinary Americans. Romney's buyouts and bankruptcies left in their wake a trail of victims only too happy to shine a light on his predatory business practices. It was a strategy that worked because Americans were wiling to hold Romney accountable.
Senate Democrats, prompted by Majority Leader Harry Reid, have settled on a similar strategy to hold their Republican opponents accountable by focusing on their allegiance to the Kochs.
By drawing public attention to layoffs by subsidiaries of Koch Industries across the country — a chemical plant in North Carolina, an oil refinery in Alaska, a lumber operation in Arkansas — Democrats are seeking to make villains of the reclusive billionaires, whose political organizations have spent more than $30 million on ads so far to help Republicans win control of the Senate.The tactic is already spawning distress and pushback from the GOP's official and unofficial mouthpieces, who have decided to double down on the Koch's behalf in hopes that Americans will stay too uninformed to care about who is buying up their Republic. And as we saw last week, at long last the Kochs themselves have begun to emerge from under their rock, hissing about their so-called "free-market principles," and demonstrating better than anything else the effectiveness of holding these people accountable for their actions:
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry – especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests. ... Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a 'kingpin of climate science denial.' The report purported to show that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outspent ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies – from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program – that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the "Kochtopus."In a column for Salon, Elias Isquith focuses on accountablity for what his publication has called The Greediest Family on Earth. Speaking of Charles Koch's wounded response to the Democratic effort to unmask him:
Beyond his comically exaggerated sensitivity, what Koch’s mini jeremiad shows is that the man can’t quite fathom the idea that free speech is not the same thing as freedom from critical speech. At no point in his many attacks has Harry Reid — or any other Democrat of significance, for that matter — said anything about Koch’s private life or soul. Throughout, the criticism has been directed toward his politics and the groups he pays to promote them. Reid has said that Koch wishes to establish a political status quo that shields his power and wealthy from scrutiny or competition. Reid cannot authoritatively speak to what goes on inside Koch’s brain, but his interpretation of Koch’s motives is hardly outside the realm of acceptable discourse in American politics. Keep in mind that ours is an era in which politicians malign the the poor as having bad values, bad habits, bad families and bad minds. People infinitely less influential than Charles Koch, in other words, routinely suffer much worse.Americans expect their Representatives in government to explain why, in spite of all the technological advances that have sprung up over the last ten years, in spite of mind-boggling CEO salaries, record corporate profits, and corporate bailouts, they still feel as if a trap-door has suddenly opened up beneath them. They want to know why nothing is being done to create jobs, improve the economy or move the country forward. They want to know why their retirements are no longer safe, why even in two-worker families they still fear for their jobs and livelihoods. They want to know why their schools are crumbling at the same time their children are being tested to exhaustion. They want to know why their college degree has become next to useless and how they are supposed to pay off their debt while never getting a raise. And they want to know why their Representative is doing absolutely nothing to improve their situations. In other words, they want some accountability. And if the reason is that their Representative is completely beholden to the campaign money supplied by these two billionaires, then they deserve to know that.
In the words of Mr. Koch himself:
A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens.There can be no greater disrespect than abandoning the people you've been elected to represent in order to serve the interests of two greedy plutocrats.