One of America's greatest satirists and author of The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce had a highly nuanced view of American politics. He defined Republicans as those who think Democrats will ruin the country, and Democrats as those who think Republicans have ruined the country! It seems there are few areas of American political life where these sentiments come into their own than when looking at the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
We will return to the GFC shortly, but firstly, some background.
As a result of my research into all things suspect about the Home of the Brave, I am constantly amazed, horrified and bewildered in roughly equal measure by the discoveries I have been making about this beacon of democracy, accountability, transparency, equality, justice, and equal opportunity and all the other fruit that purportedly comes with the 'main menu' that is the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ignorance, stupidity, corruption, duplicity and self serving arrogance of the ruling elites – whether in the judiciary, Congress, the Executive or the Federal bureaucracy – appears not to recognise any boundaries defined by any notions of equity, fairness, morality or ethics.
Put simply, it is difficult to determine much distinction between the two parties when assessing their adherence to the principles in those venerated, indeed sacred, documents, the feel-good rhetoric of political stump speeches and State of the Union addresses and the like notwithstanding. In respect of looking at the GFC, any distinction between the two becomes very difficult.
By the same token, occasionally one is encouraged by the reality that there are many decent, upstanding folks from all walks of life and from many unexpected quarters in the US who are desperately concerned about their country's direction, and are putting 'skin in the game'. And here I'm not talking about 'Alice in Blunderland' Tea Party types or their loony equivalents on the notional left. It does include though not just folks from both sides of the Congressional divide, but many other ordinary Americans who are indifferent - indeed resistant - to the partisan political process. For them the left-right divide is not just passe, it is counterproductive!
Which is to say, the current state of play in America and the direction it is heading in cannot be attributed solely to partisan politics and the machinations of successive presidents and their administrations past or present. Nor will real solutions come from either side. Those with a deeper insight into US history know all too well that the malaise in the American polity long ago transcended such simplistic interpretations. This is another crucial insight I have made on my 'journey' to the outer reaches of American political reality, one which keeps reinforcing itself every step I take.
To illustrate the above observations, let's consider the rising star that is US Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose integrity, character, intelligence and sheer courage came to prominence in the aftermath of the GFC by her interrogation of people like Tim Geithner, the former Treasury Secretary, and one of the principal architects of the taxpayer funded bailout of the Big Banks, the so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
Yes Warren is a Democrat, but a sensible one it seems. Yet in this quixotic endeavour she is supported by Republican Senator John McCain. Warren's been on my radar ever since the principal 'perps' of the GFC knocked down the front doors of the American economy and proceeded to trash the joint like a bunch of hormonally fuelled, coked-up teenagers who have just graduated from high school with self replicating fistfuls of taxpayer 'Benjamins' and an almighty hard-on for creating mayhem and running amok without anything resembling adult supervision or expecting anything approximating accountability much less reprisal resulting from their actions.
A welcome voice of reason in this Sometimes Great Nation that inside and out is descending inexorably into hell and lunacy in a hand basket with large holes, Warren seems to be one of the few people in US public/political life prepped to stand up and be counted when attempting to hold the Too Big to Fail Banks and their Too Big to Jail Executives accountable for their actions and seeking meaningful, lasting reform of an inherently corrupt, top heavy financial system.
Of course someone has to do it. Because the 'Bank Bitch' Obama – aka the Great Black Hope, aka the Judas Goat and Lame Duck president – has completely blown it. Seems the current POTUS never had any intention of doing anything of the kind from the off. After all he got the gig largely due to the support of the Big Swinging Dicks on The Street to begin with, something that at the time was not widely publicised. Of course we can expect President 'BOB' to get a cushy gig at a major multi-national corporation or Wall Street behemoth when his lease on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave lapses and he snatches the keys to the Revolving Door of Opportunity that is the next step on the road of forward and upward mobility for the political and financial elites.
That Senator Warren, in attempting to seek and obtain a measure of justice on behalf of the hapless US citizens and taxpayers, is doing so against what are surely extraordinary – possibly insurmountable – odds, is obvious to anyone who has any inkling of how America derailed itself in the Great Financial Train Wreck, ably and enthusiastically assisted by the modern day 'Lords of Creation'.
The system however is stacked against anyone even with her profile, measure of determination and political conviction. It is no overstatement to say the already precarious future of the American economy – and by extension the global financial system – rests on more and more people like Warren to apply the blowtorch to the belly, and the Powers That Be (PTBs) and the guardians of the status quo know that all too well. It is moreover no exaggeration to say that the Power Elites will do anything and everything to shut people like Warren up, and then if necessary, shut them down and out. In this they have an impressive track record.