The US Non-Campaign Of 2012 – OpEd
Media reporting on the campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney shows the clear lack of difference between the two major American political parties and also the demise of good journalism. This campaign ought to be treated like the important story that it is but instead is nearly devoid of serious content, and there is no worthwhile discussion of the most serious issues facing American voters in their daily lives. That is partly the result of the way the corporate media operates and also the result of President Obama and the Democrats now supporting policies which used to be the province only of the Republicans. The old saw that there isn’t a dimes worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans is truer every day.
Because the differences which remain continue to diminish, issues which shouldn’t be significant are given undue attention and those which are important are ignored. The president’s announcement that he personally supported gay marriage is the latest example. The brouhaha began after Vice President Biden once again showed his amazing ability to blurt out his opinions in ways that most mid-level managers know would get them fired. Without informing his boss, Biden announced on Meet the Press that he approved of gay marriage, and thus forced the president’s hand. The supposedly progressive Obama was thus dragged, kicking and screaming, to do the right thing.
Marriage equality is supported, obviously, by the LGBT community, but also by millions of other people too. Most of those people are Democrats, who now care only about issues of personal choice, the only issues which now separate Democrats from Republicans. Obama and his supporters are at great pains to remind voters that he assassinated Osama bin Laden and that he continues to kill people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is willing to let Israel kill people in Iran. The bailouts of the banks continue and the president and his attorney general loudly proclaim that they have the right to lock up or drop drones on American citizens, without having to so much as give a reason. None of these positions has lost the president much support among his party.
The gay marriage story has now taken up a disproportionate amount of time in the news cycle. The news that even the mighty J.P. Morgan Chase can lose $2 billion on bad trades took second place in the amount of airtime and newsprint generated when it is actually the event which effects us more. The loss isn’t just about incompetence at a big bank, or why more regulation is needed, but about how Chase and its counterparts do nothing but gamble and create financial bubble after financial bubble. That is all financial capital is capable of doing at this juncture in history, and it is why our financial future continues to look bleak.
Employment numbers may go up or down, but jobs have been lost forever because the people at the top don’t need employees anymore. The government at the local, state and federal level does nothing but serve the interests of Chase and company because finance capital has swallowed government whole. Of course, this is the story which should be on the news every day.
Capitalism has reached its inevitable crisis, but because there is little acknowledgement of this fact, there has been almost no discussion of what that means not only for 300 million Americans but for people around the world.
Instead of getting thorough information about the world’s economy, we are told which celebrities support gay marriage and which do not. There is endless rehashing of faulty assumptions and dubious data alleging that black people are more homophobic than anyone else.
When North Carolinians passed a law which forbade gay marriage in that state the news was disseminated far and wide. Democrats suddenly demanded that the national convention be moved away from the city of Charlotte. Never mind that Charlotte does not have one unionized hotel, an issue which should have sparked outrage yet that went unnoticed among the supposedly pro-labor Democratic party.
This year will be remembered as the year of the non-campaign. Was Romney a teenage bully? Did Obama really ask his kids what they thought of gay marriage? Who knows, and who really cares. (Actually, if Romney was a teen torturer, he proved himself a worthy candidate for the presidency.) We know what Bristol Palin thinks of Obama and we know about the dog atop the Romney family car. Anyone who relies on the corporate media for information won’t know much else, and that is just fine with Obama and Romney. They wouldn’t have it any other way.