Lou Dobbs, American Workers, Politicians And The Press

There are plenty of reasons to complain about Lou Dobbs. He can be a sanctimonious, egomaniacal loudmouth that forces his infallibility down America’s throats. His one-man Department of Anti-immigration trespasses the boundaries of racism. But in the realm of rights for America’s working class, and the economic model for preserving them, he has emerged as a powerful and profound voice. In a column for CNN.com, Dobbs delivers the goods like the best of the holy rollers.

The money that has taken the place of citizens in our democracy has produced a tenacious corruption of the system.

“The ascension of the so-called Lou Dobbs Democrats in the November election gave hope to many that our representatives and senators were awakening to the need to represent the largest single group of voters in the country, 150 million working men and women and their families. The reality is, however, corporate America and special interests still dominate our legislative and electoral process.”

The use of his eponymous label for Democrats, and the assertion that it was their participation that swung Congress last year, is evidence of Dobbs’ sense of self-importance. But his conclusions on reality are incontrovertible. The article went on to cite some facts that ought to be considered shameful for a wealthy, democratic country. Dobbs is right to spend time trying to illuminate these statistics. There isn’t anyone else with that kind of broadcasting reach that is doing so. Even in less well distributed media, there are few such committed voices. Paul Krugman and Thom Hartmann come to mind. Why aren’t there more people asking this question:

“Why are the partisans of both political parties so committed to denying the economic and social reality we face? In the case of the Democratic Party, there seems to be a rising fear that more Lou Dobbs Democrats [them again] are on the way and are going to demand truth over slogans and an improving reality for working men and women rather than ideological posturing that will salve the corporate masters of both parties.”

In his closing, Dobbs makes a poignant observation that is simultaneously a condemnation of Republicans and an opening for Democrats, saying that, “At least the Democrats still have a chance to save their souls.”

In that assessment Dobbs may be optimistic. While I’d have to agree that Republicans have an iron-clad contract with Hades, Inc., I have seen little evidence that Democrats in Congress are paying much attention to their souls, otherwise known as their constituents. Their utter failure to take decisive action to end the war in Iraq, despite the deafening shouts from the public, is mystifying and disgusting. Raising the minimum wage is progress, but it is merely an incremental step in the larger movement to steer this nation away from the international corporatist tyranny that seeks only to expand its wealth and power and recognizes no public welfare, human rights, or democratic ideals.

The money that has taken the place of citizens in our democracy has produced a tenacious corruption of the system. Since we cannot depend on our representatives to act on our behalf, we have to use the only means available to force them to acknowledge our existence. That is the threat that the people will rise up and strip our so-called leaders of their power and access to the life of privilege to which they have become accustomed. That sort of threat cannot be carried out without an independent press that responsibly informs and alerts the people to the risks that we face. Dobbs’ column is doing that, but much more is needed.

Politics, by itself, will never be the answer because its inherent divisiveness projects a division on the population that does not exist in reality. It’s a purposeful severing of popular will designed to protect the status quo. And the media is presently a part of it.

If we can wrest the media from the clutches of corporatist control, we can, ultimately, have a far greater impact on society than that of any political campaign. For one thing, we’ll have campaigns that are open, honest, and result in truly representative government. If that’s your goal as Democrats, as partisans, as activists, then you better realize that it is unattainable without media reform. All of the rallies, precinct walking, voter registration, phone-banking, etc., will be a huge waste of time, because you’ll just end up with the same majority of politicians who are unresponsive to anyone who can’t inflate their bank account.

The real power of the people is in a diverse and independent press, and if that’s not what you are fighting for, you are just going to produce more of what Dobbs calls the, “ideological posturing that will salve the corporate masters of both parties.”


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