The Fake Election: 10 Arguments The Republicans Aren’t Making

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can follow him at and he can be reached at stoller at

Even authoritarian systems require legitimacy to retain the support of the governed, and the new authoritarian America is no exception. Since 2004, the brilliant public journalism advocate Jay Rosen has been asking, what is the point of a political convention? No news is made, yet over 15,000 journalists show up, ostensibly to cover the pomp. But everyone knows that coverage isn’t so much the point; these conventions trade shows for the political class, where party insiders, journalists, politicians, celebrities, corporate types, and lobbyists mingle to organize political hierarchies. The public is simply irrelevant, a mass of jeering and cheering message imbibers or apathetic and cynical former citizens, people who are unseen behind their TV screens. The only fresh elements are protesters, and they are met by a police state, lest they disrupt the insider deal-making.

In fact, elections, over the past few years, have become mechanisms for sustaining the legitimacy of this political class, not contests designed to be won by either side. Neither side would ever admit to not trying to win, at least publicly. Privately, political consultants will count their winnings happily after each election, regardless of the outcome. So the way to see the lack of competitiveness now is to examine the moves that both parties are not making.

The Republicans have a clear strategy to win, which they are not using. Obama is liked but unpopular, seen as a pseudo-honest lightweight who can’t govern, even as the GOP are considered more competent but downright evil. In politics, you have to get more votes than the other guy; you don’t have to prove you’re an angel. You can even change the voting universe, rather than persuading people of your merits. And indeed, a small but significant minority of Obama voters don’t really want to vote for Obama, they are unenthusiastic but feel they have to pick the lesser evil.  They can be pushed into apathy. So the Republicans’ best strategy would be to dampen enthusiasm for Obama among these voters, while pulling a few weak Obama voters over to their side with a populist campaign. Would it be dishonest for Republicans to promise populist policies they have no intention of following through on? Sure! Has that ever stopped them before? Of course not! Remember George W. Bush and compassionate conservatism? Now that was some artful lying. The Republicans were really trying to win that time. This time, not so much.

If the Republicans were interested in winning, you’d see a very different campaign. Here are ten ironclad arguments you’d see. These are arguments the Republicans could make, but aren’t.

1) The Tax Cheat Administration – When the Obama campaign brought out Bain and tax avoidance, the GOP would have gone after health care czar Tom Daschle ‘s tax cheating and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tax problems. Daschle didn’t pay over $120,000 of taxes, and had to withdraw from consideration for the cabinet. Yet Obama still used him as a health care czar, even as he was on the payroll of big law firms. And Geithner’s problems were worse. As Neil Barofsky noted in Bailout, Geithner’s tax problems weren’t simple mistakes, they were more ominous than that, and revealed someone willing to cheat to keep a few more bucks. Geithner hadn’t been paying his full amount of taxes for several years. This was discovered, and he paid back taxes. But at first, he only paid back taxes for the years the statute of limitations hadn’t expire, keeping his tax cheat winnings for prior years. Only when prodded by the administration did he make up the full amount.

2) Obama Doesn’t Keep His Promises to You – During the 2008 primary, Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA. He didn’t. Obama also promised to raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation. He didn’t. The NAFTA promise is especially powerful, because anti-NAFTA sentiment cuts across party lines, and Obama pretty clearly was lying in 2008 when it emerged that his campaign economist Austan Goolsbee had assured the Canadians that Obama did not intend to honor his campaign promises.

3) Obama Administration, Brought to You By Wall Street – The Obama administration has very few high level Treasury officials who don’t have significant experience in large too big to fail banks. His chief of staff Bill Daley came from JP Morgan, an Jack Lew came from Citigroup. The revolving door argument is a natural television advertisement. The Republicans even cut an ad to portray Obama this way, but never put any real dollars behind it.

4) Obama Administration’s Handling of the Foreclosure Crisis – The Obama administration said that its main housing program would help 4 million homeowners. It came nowhere close. Recently, we’ve learned that the entire premise of the administration’s housing efforts was based on helping the banks, or “foaming the runway”, as Geithner put it, rather than stopping foreclosures. This is directly at odds from what the administration presented to the public. This is particularly significant in certain swing states, like Florida, Nevada, and Ohio. The Republicans could simply make this a broken promise argument, and again, the ad writes itself.

5) Inequality Skyrocketing Under Obama – Growth of inequality is higher under Obama than under Bush. This is because Obama reflated financial assets and not housing assets, and has compounded that by legalizing fraud among elite financial actors. The lack of prosecution angle isn’t just an ad that writes itself, it was an Academy Award winning documentary (Inside Job).

6) Obama Administration Is Corrupt – The examples here are numerous. There was the secret deal with pharma to spend money on elections if pharma got certain multi-billion dollar concessions in Obamacare. There’s the pay to play revolving door, such as Peter Orszag going to Citigroup after running OMB. In the first chapter of Bailout, Herb Allison essentially offered a bribe to Neil Barofsky if he’d go easier on Treasury around TARP. This is corruption. It’s not hard to prove.

7) Obama Pushing Offshoring of American Jobs – The massive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or NAFTA on steroids, is a global secret deal to subordinate American sovereignty to international tribunals of private corporate lawyers and offshoring whatever jobs are left in America. I’m not kidding. It’s that bad. And it’s being negotiated right now.

8) Subversion of the Rule of Law – This is everything from refusing to prosecuting Wall Street bankers to having a kill list to destroy real estate law through the mortgage settlement. Any number of eminent lawyers or thinkers could, or has, made this point.

9) Suppression of Dissent – The administration’s DHS collaborated with local and state law enforcement to get rid of Occupy encampments.

10) Endless war – Obama’s national security apparatus has been keeping us in Afghanistan, at higher troop levels, than Bush did.

These arguments, if put into widespread play, could keep voters at home, or even shift some groups away from Obama.  And because of outside SuperPACs, none of these arguments have to be made by Romney himself, there are a host of groups that could make them. Though you might think it would be appallingly hypocritical if the Republicans made these arguments, when has that ever stopped them before? It isn’t honesty and integrity preventing the GOP from going there. Or if it is, then one would have to concede that the Republicans are running a principled campaign, on plutocracy. More likely, the answer is that winning the race isn’t as important as ensuring that the political class is protected from democracy.

The Republicans don’t want to discuss tax cheating, offshoring, corruption, inequality, dissent, the rule of law, endless war, or Wall Street criminality. They’d rather lose. It’s not that they want to lose in 2012, it’s just that they aren’t going to go after every vote. It’s the same reason no one talks about how Romney is a flip-flopper anymore, or points out that Romney is the architect of Obamacare, or was a moderate Republican governor in Massachusetts. Those arguments are worse for the political class, and better for the public. And that is how elections operate in authoritarian America. The secondary goal is to win the election, the primary goal is to keep the public out of the deal-making.

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About Matt Stoller

From 2011-2012, Matt was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters, focusing on the intersection of foreclosures, the financial system, and political corruption. In 2012, he starred in “Brand X with Russell Brand” on the FX network, and was a writer and consultant for the show. He has also produced for MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. From 2009-2010, he worked as Senior Policy Advisor for Congressman Alan Grayson. You can follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.


  1. John Regan

    Of course. Haven’t watched a convention in years. They’re just more bread and circuses, and have even degenerated into weird pagan-like coronation festivals.

    Even so, the solution to our economic woes is political in the formal sense: we change the constitution, our basic legal/political document:

    Our electoral process is way too far gone to expect anything from it. They’ll never do a jubilee, or anything like it. They’d rather die than de-politicize money, for this is the sources of their power.

    This is something we have to do ourselves.

    1. RanDomino

      That would require organization, which essentially requires a different worldview (against the atomizing individualization of the dominant society), at which point we might as well just have a revolution and organize the new society in the same style that we were organized to bring it about. The political class and economic elite won’t respond unless it’s shown that there’s a serious threat that can’t be broken with sheer force, and then they will try to strike bargains that buy enough time to destroy our organizing. That’s the lesson that should have been learned from the Great Depression and New Deal- from the general strikes of 1934 to Taft-Hartley in just 13 years! So, next time, which may be this time, we can show no mercy.

      1. John Regan

        I have to recognize the force of your argument at first blush, but bear with me a bit with a couple of observations.

        First, because the amendment process was built in, the constitution is ultimately a populist legal and political tool to address serious governance failures by the political and ruling class. That it has historically been poorly used (e.g., prohibition) or not used at all (Great Depression) doesn’t mean it can’t be properly used, or that we can’t learn to properly use it, right?

        It just seems to me it would be tragic if violence and revolution result from all this when there is a spcific mechanism, within our legal and political blueprint, that could restore some semblance of justice without all that.

        Does it look like a pipe dream? Sure. But factor this in: the 20th century was an era of profound centralization, especially with respect to government; by contrast the 21st century looks to be an era of profound decentralization, in which populist movements that coalesce around this or that idea – like, for instance, a jubilee constitutional amendment – might be the only game in town. And it might be peaceful and lawful, too.

        Just something to think about.

        1. Mel

          True enough. I wonder though, amending the Constitution takes organization. By the time the people have taught themselves to organize that well, they may already have organized a way of life that has no need of that Constitution.

          Or maybe a better way to put it, a way of life that sidesteps the powers that would be affected by amending the Constitution.

    2. Elizabeth

      “They’ll never do a jubilee, or anything like it.” Love that, and I hope the other readers get the historical reference, but they’d have to be reading economist Michael Hudson’s brilliant blog. A Jubilee Year (or in Gospel terms, the “Jubilee Year of Our Lord”) is very specifically a general write-off of debts to start from a clean slate — the very reason ancient empires lasted so long. Hammurabi did this; the Romans didn’t, and forget about the theories about decadence, Barbarians and water poisoning from lead pipes — this is what led to the Dark Ages and feudalism, the ultimate foreclosure scam in which the ruling class literally owns YOU.

      Thank you for this reference!

      The reason a “jubilee” is necessary — in whole or in part — is written into the math itself on the “miracle of compound interest.” As long as interest keeps compounding, while true economic growth isn’t, you’ve got an increasingly unstable, unsupportable system in which the creditor class hoovers up money from everyone. As that “everyone” creeps up the class ladder, endangering even rich industrialists and landlords, the system just implodes on itself. Everyone loses except the banks and their illegitimate kings.

      The theory here is not utopian or fantastical; it is simple math. Believing otherwise, you need just the kind of cheesy poofs the Republicans and Democrats alike are talking: “freedom” and “American enterprise” and the “American dream,” and how about “liberation” and “supporting education”? Just empty talk to avoid the reality of the freight train that’s about to hit you.

      Sure, the Republicans could win by talking reality, as laid out in this post, as laid out in the simple math of compound interest. In fact, they’d have my vote. Common sense on such issues, individual freedom, limiting corrupt government power, have always been advertised as Republican values. But to take back reality they’d have to face reality — when election after election since Reagan, fantasy always wins. Just look at who’s paying the bills over there, and you’ll see how reality just isn’t on the agenda. You really thought Karl Rove got to where he is by telling the truth?

      A Canadian friend of mine once pointed out that Obama’s stance on such things as gay marriage costs him nothing. In fact, the administration doesn’t even have to DO anything to support these initiatives. No memos go out to the Justice Department, because there’s nothing to do except talk pretty. None of my Democrat friends are demanding anything better than that, anyway.

      Same thing with the Republicans. Talking about Joe the Plumber and flashing Sarah Palin’s legs and trotting out Paul Ryan as some kind of genius you’d love to have over for a church barbecue doesn’t promise a whole lot of specific action.

      It costs them nothing. Zero.

      You’re ignoring what it gains them: everything. Because their true constituency is a group of people who agree on the level of fear and loathing that only mean, authoritarian, dishonest realpolitik will save them. Just like how they grew up. Don’t question anything, or you “deserve” to get whipped, tortured, dispossessed of your house. That’s the real message here, isn’t it? Matt Taibbi said in his current Rolling Stone article on Mitt Romney’s actual business practices, something about Paul Ryan being the kind of guy who would be “honored to tell Oliver Twist there’s no more soup left.” The only kind of people who would be honored to love that message are the self-loathing kind themselves.

      I’m guessing they deserve the kind of America they’ve got. Personally, I don’t feel I deserve that. I have a better self-image than whiny Joe the Plumber. I can leave if I want, without apology to this gleaming “America” on a hill. It doesn’t exist anyway. I suppose I smell like narcissism, but honestly, what about this whole situation isn’t narcissism at its very worst?

      If you want a picture of what a post-fantasy society looks like, check out Google images of Berlin, 1945.

    3. Richard Kline

      So Mattie, buddie . . . you realize that there is no way _possible_ that the Republican Party could make A SINGLE ONE of these arguments, I assume. These are _Democratic_ [sic] arguments against Obama; quite rightly because Obama is a Republican in everything except the visuals. There may be arguments the Republicans could make, even against a fellow Republicanl like Obama—but not these. Every single point you make cuts directly against the [mindbending] philosophical ethos of contemporary Republican political advocacy. Here, I’ll handicap it for you:

      1) Repugnicants want _all_ taxes abolished. Pointing out that someone isn’t paying them is logically incommensurable with the notion that taxes are inherently sinful. Indeed, Repugincants might argue that cheating on taxes is a natural resistance to an unnatural obligation.

      2) Repugnicants don’t think NAFTA should be ‘renegotiated,’ they think it should be unilaterally abrogated as a globopino abomination against nationalist supremacy, ahh ‘national sovereignty.’ It isn’t functional for Repugnicants that Obama didn’t do what he said here; they’d rather argue, as they do, that what he said was a sellout and shows he’s in league with the Grand World Confederacy he’s going to spring on us any day now.

      3) Obama may be brought to us by Wall Street, but frankly the Repugnicants have just as many friends there as he does. Running against Wall Street steps on the toes of friends who give $$$, and any schulbb making such noises from the Repugnicant platform will have Very Important People calling their personal cell within the hour saying that they are dead to them. That’s bad, and hence out. Sniping at Obama’s pigmentation and lack of godliness just plays better for them.

      4) Wait, wait: there _is_ no ‘foreclosure’ crisis. True, a lot of dead beats and welfare cheats stole money from banks they never meant to pay back, and we’re ALL hurting because of that. But government intervention in natural market clearing processes is BAD. The only crisis is that some people are interfering with the markets’ natural wealth transfer function. Nobody who really counts is having any problem refinancing their mortgage; hence, no crisis.

      5) What’ve you got against inequality? The Republicans are BIG on inequality. Some God’s are righter than others. Social inferiors have to get it through their heads they need to work harder, quit agitating, and get better genes; or at least act whiter. And the Repugnicant rich have got this inequality thing _wired_ man, the money just all flows uphill. Don’t mess with a good thing by stirring up class resentment from the losers.

      6) Look, putting a sticky hand in the petty cash drawer is gauche, fersure. But the revolving door is an integral cog in the ‘special economy’ of the Repugnicant apparatchik class. Go to work for rich man’s dirty not-for-profits; shift to a government hatchet job sinecure; on to a lucrative trade-on-connections private sectore assistant assistantship; launder and repeat at a higher pay grade. NOBODY is throwing around verbiage regarding ‘the system’: the public might notice its all on their tab and against their interest. So what if Obama’s boys jig the same wires, they’re pikers compared to the Repugnicant looting class.

      7) Offshoring has been very profitable for American corporations. Repugnicants of any affluence have a chunk of personal money in equities and corporate bonds. Offshoring has been very, very good to them, and bitching about the pinch dumbass prole losers are getting misses the point: ‘market discipline’ of the latter is g-r-e-a-t for the former: that’s a feature, not a bug. And true, the teapotters are a bit starchy about all the ‘good jobs’ going sucking sounding out of the country. But the teapotters have their own solution to that. Just ship all those filthy illegals home to their slums and get those women back to inside their nuclear homes and there’ll be _plenty_ of jobs for white male nativist engineers and middle managers. Just ask ’em, they’ll tell you what the plan is. Bring back regulations and commie synicate jobs? Hellllllll, no.

      8) The Repugnicants wrote the book on subverting nonsensical, commie, paper laws. We have too many protections for the guilty and the bleeding hearts: what’s needed are camps for them. And the Repugnicants are working on that. It would be nuts for them to point out that Obama is better (i.e. slicker and more secretive) at this then they are—somebody might vote for him if _that_ got out, goes the rationale.

      9) ‘Suppression of dissent?’ Who said those treasonous hippies and resident foreign agitators get to abuse our democracy with their sedition? Yes, Obama’s too weak on this as the Repugnicants are quick to report. A few assassinations; camps going up; tighter monitoring: that’s good money, since spytech and private security are Repugnicant economic fiefs in the US. Bring it on, baby.

      10) The only problem with endless wars is that Obama isn’t winning them, that’s the Repugnicant’s gripe. There are just so many jihadanarchofascits out there one hardly knows where to begin. Obama’s a mook popping of drones when he should have carpetbommed a godless Third World latrine of a country or two by now to put fear and groveling into the reast; the guy’s _lazy_ that’s what it is.

      Come own to it, Mattie, I wonder if I’m misreading you, if your post is really a desert dry and super-subtle essary in sarcasem. Because, to repeat, you’ve outlined the ten points of _a Democratic campaign_ against a Republican incumbent, which is Obama to a t. And four years abo the Demugglicans ran just that campaign against a Republican incumbent, plus or minus a few jots and a tittle. And won. And within six weeks Obama had wiped his arse with the lot and flushed it down the loo. But the Republicans? Take up THOSE points? Every single one is at odds with their preferred reality, and they prefer that ‘reality’ very, very strongly. So never will they carry a single one of those water cans for the Democrats. The Repugnicants will win or try again with their on nostrums.

      1. Heather

        Agree! Republicans can’t make these arguments because they can’t attack Obama (publicly) for doing what they would do themselves.

      2. Charles Herold

        Exactly what I was thinking. The article does a solid job of pointing out places where the Obama administration is a disaster, but the conclusion that Republicans would rather lose the election than challenge Obama on these things is just plain silly. It’s a vision that comes out of the idea that U.S. politics is pure theater, a show for the masses that has nothing to do with governance. But that is only true in part. If you’re on the far left (or, for that matter, on the far right) then you see both parties as essentially the same thing, in the way two telephone polls far down the road look like they’re next to each other. But if you’re in the middle (well, let’s say the middle-right, since politically this country isn’t actually in the middle) then the differences between the two parties are actually quite stark. In other words; Matt thinks they’re peas in a pod, but he’s wrong in thinking they see themselves the same way.

  2. Jill

    I think there is ample evidece that this election is fixed. Both parties have found men without an ounce of integrity. Mitt has been told to throw the election and he’s doing it. If Obama was told that, he’d do it as well.

    Here’s the set up. Lambert asked if there was something Obama knew that the rest of us didn’t. I’d say yes, there is: Obama said: “..And for me to be able to say to the Republicans, the election is over; you no longer need to be focused on trying to beat me; what you need to be focused on and what you should have been focused on from the start is how do we advance the American economy—I’m prepared to make a whole range of compromises, some of which I get criticized from the Democratic Party on, in order to make progress.” from an AP interview.

    Obama knows he will win and he will have a Republican win in Congress. This will set up the “need” for “compromises” {aka, the fulfillment of US power brokers’agenda}.

    I think David Swanson has one of the best approaches to a fixed election and the general show that elections have become in this nation. I want to quote from him: “”So, who are you going to vote for?”

    “Well,” I said, “you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day. If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that’s great. Knock yourself out. But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year. If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil. One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda — that is, to partially trash Social Security. So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?”

    “Yeah, I see, but I’m trying to understand who you think we should vote for.”

    “Let me try again. Take Obama’s kill list for . . . ”

    “His what?”

    “President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill. It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican. Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don’t mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?”

    “Well what’s the alternative?”

    “The alternative to murdering people? Well, I don’t know how to put this. The alternative is essentially not murdering people.”

    “No, what’s the alternative to Obama? Isn’t the other guy worse?”

    “Let me try again. You’ll grant me that women didn’t vote themselves the right to vote. Will you go along with that? They didn’t get the right to vote by voting for it?”


    “And the civil rights movement didn’t end the sit ins and marches and endorse Democrats and pack events like this one to cheer loudly? That wouldn’t have worked as well and wouldn’t have been required in order for those activists to be serious activists, right? We don’t accuse Martin Luther King of not being a serious activist because he didn’t endorse candidates, right? And if you’d asked him what the alternative was to your candidate, would you be shocked if he had replied that the alternative was educating, organizing, mobilizing, and engaging in nonviolent resistance to evil?”

    “So, you’re not going to vote for anybody?”

    “I’m not sure I’m being very clear here. 70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended. Neither candidate is willing to end it. Obama pretends he’s ending it. Romney doesn’t mention it. Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed? Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we’re satisfied — regardless of who we’re going to vote for?”

    1. F. Beard

      If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that’s great. Knock yourself out.

      Nope, I won’t. My faith tells me that God is sovereign even over the hearts of kings but if I deliberately vote for known evil then why should He bother.

      If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil.

      Especially if you reinforce that message by voting for neither.

      We can survive, the good Lord willing, either candidate or ANY candidate for the next 4 years or the next 400 years if He so wills. Let’s vote our conscience so that He might so will.

      1. Janet Camp

        I won’t bother with the god stuff in the interest of tolerance.


        “If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil.”

        “Especially if you reinforce that message by voting for neither.”

        All I can say to that is: Remember Ralph Nadar.

        If you don’t think either of the two candidates is suitable, then work for campaign finance reform so more people can get into the process. But how does voting for a minor candidate “push” anyone in any direction?

        If you vote for “neither”, what is it that this will accomplish other than making you feel just super for a while?

        I’m not thrilled with many of Obama’s positions, but he’s done enough to earn my vote and is miles ahead of the opposition in thought and deed, so I won’t be throwing away or forgoing one of my most fundamental rights either

      1. Jill


        You are missing Swanson’s point. He’s at the DNC talking to one of the Obama crowd who is in the stadium screaming their love for Obama. The same people who asked the police to arrest the protesters, of which Swanson was one.

        He’s showing a way out. “Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don’t mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?”

        He’s saying even to this guy, a man who will not look at the facts and see that he is cheering for evil, should not be cheering for the killing or any of the other things Obama has done. He should be opposing these actions with everything he’s got.

        F. Beard, I’m not voting for evil either. I’m voting Jill Stein. I hope you will read on and see the action Swanson is talking about taking as citizens. It’s important and worth hearing out even though you, like me, disagree with saying that even a die hard Obama worshipper should vote for him under any circumstances. Try to read on and put it in the context it was written. Thanks, Jill

        1. Bev

          Support and Protect Good and Brave Dennis Kucinich:

          H.R.6357 – To prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens, and for other purposes.

          Dennis Kucinich

          Rep. Raul Grijalva [D, AZ-7]
          Added August 03, 2012


          Recent Blog Coverage

          Hmmmm, no blog posts found for this bill at this time. This means that this this bill has not yet been mentioned on a publicly-searchable blog by either its official number (for example, “H.R. 3200”) or title (for example, “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009”). As soon as that changes, our daily automated search across the Web will catch it and include it here. If this bill is of interest to you, you can write a blog post referring to this bill by its official number or title, and once it’s published online, a link back your blog post will appear here within about one day. Or, if you know of a blog post about this bill to display here, email us the web address of this page and the web address of your suggested blog post: Our editorial team will post relevant links as quickly as possible. Thanks for helping to build public knowledge about Congress.


          1. Bev

            Has anyone looked to see if the Obama law is retroactive…say to Sept 2001, or May 1968 or Nov 1963. I contend that it is the crime that is worse than the coverup.


      2. Lambert Strether

        Yes but The Obama also tax returns and Chris Christie is fat ha ha ha plus Bin Laden.

        * * *

        Swanson’s trying to talk to them where they are. It has to be done (unless one is into vanguardism (meet the new boss (same as the old boss)) | off the gridness).

    2. Elizabeth

      Tom Hayden was hanging around this place last week, and somebody asked him if he thought the Republicans were throwing the election. His reply was that he never knew Karl Rove to try to lose anything.

      The obvious answer to this is, They don’t have to lose anything. They both try as viciously as they can to annihilate the other side, with attendant millions spent on ads and consultants and celebrities and favors. And no matter who wins, the banks win.

      1. Waking Up

        Elections also siphon off additional money from the working and middle class who still believe the legacy parties represent their interests. That money goes to the wealthy in the media, etc.

      2. hermanas

        “The Republicans don’t want to discuss tax cheating, offshoring, corruption, inequality, dissent, the rule of law, endless war, or Wall Street criminality. They’d rather lose.”
        I think that is their policy.

  3. F. Beard

    Yep. The Republicans want to lose. With Obama in the WH they get all the benefit of government for the rich but none of the blame!

    The only danger, of course, is that Obama will find his spine and end this depression.

    1. Elizabeth

      Oh, sure, Obama’s going to grow a pair and do what he really wants . . . Dream on.

      What Obama really wants is to implement ever more right-wing solutions to these problems, while talking as if he just did something revolutionary and communistic. Hence selling the mortgage settlement as a “homeowner relief program.”

      And then, when right-wing solutions don’t work (they don’t usually, because, duh, withholding and hoovering up money from an economy tends to starve it), the Republicans say, Oh look, “socialism” doesn’t work!

      And then we’re back in a Republican administration, doing the same damn thing. When that doesn’t work, we believe the next hopey-changey liar and he repeats he process.


  4. jerry

    Your list does not include any items that the right would have any alternative to, so of course they wouldn’t be brought up. No one in politics, on either side of the article, wants to bring up free trade deals, foreclosures, the warfare state, etc., in the middle of an election.

    Like you said, a fake election. It only matters that they make it to the finish line while having avoided as many of the big issues as possible, and keep the conversation about Romney’s taxes, abortion, Iran, “you didn’t build that”, and on and on we go.

    Garbage politics, through and through. At least we had a moment of realism with Clint.

  5. Wells Fargo Must Die

    The Republican establishment definitely does not seem to have their heart in it. Probably because they know they have Obama’s number and he will deliver more than Romney possibly can.

    They also know that an Obama victory will likely set up a complete sweep in 2016 when they can get everything they want done. A Romney win could be disaster just as the Bush win was.

    This is an election where you should root for the other side to win.

  6. Mcmike

    Consider the possibility that the fix is indeed in… For Romney.

    Voting machines, roll purges, etc

    There’s no reason to campaign except to whip up the faithfull. The voting results are predetermined.

  7. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for articulating what so many of us feel and for concisely documenting many of the reasons why we feel this way. This, like so much of your work, is extraordinary.

    What was the Old Chinese Proverb that Dubya had so much trouble with?… “Food me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.”

  8. Jeff

    When did the conspiracy theorists come out? Or is it because don’t normally read the comments. Anyway… you can’t bring up most of these points for political reasons.

    1. Taxes brings up Romney’s tax problems, can’t bring it up
    2. If the GOP says “Obama said he would raise the minimum wage and he didn’t,” the question will get turned around into why the GOP is against it. Same with NAFTA. You can’t say “he didn’t do this” when you’re against the promised change.
    3. Romney, probably will be in as deep or deeper with Wall St.
    4. See point 3. Now, if the GOP had a good solution here, this would hurt. They’re in too good with the banks and establishment.
    5. Fair point, this could be used to some degree. Have to be careful unless Romney is asked if he’s going to prosecute, and I’m sure he won’t.
    6-10. Not sure what a Republican play is here. GOP wants Occupy less. “Yeah, Obama is for endless wars….just like we’ve been…um…nevermind…” That’s how it will spin

    I mean, these are mostly progressive reasons not to vote for Obama. To say the GOP can make these arguments means betraying their own platform. I think they would bring this stuff up if it didn’t make their side look worse in many cases.

    1. Mcmike

      Jesse calls it the credibility trap. Neither party can discuss real issues or actual solutions since that would reveal their own complicity and corruption.

    2. oooh, touchy!

      Hey Cass, is that you? Nice try dismissing the overwhelming weight of evidence of US government crime evaluated to forensic standards in a court of law! It’s like hitting the government’s knee with a hammer, boing, Conspiracy! Conspiracy conspiracy conspiracy!

      So get over it, the interagency task force cc’d King’s assassination order to the White House. So the Obama administration’s Attorney General is in on the coverup. So big deal, if you step out of line, US government death squads will blow your brains out like they did to MLK. Let’s talk about important stuff like President Obama’s leadership.

    3. Cujo359

      I think you’re missing the point. Matt’s point wasn’t that the GOP needs to look better on these issues – it’s that the Democrats aren’t any better. That thought can increase both apathy and third party votes on the part of the Democrats’ base.

      The best part is that it’s largely true.

      So, no, they don’t need to make any case that they’d be better at it. What they need to do is point out that the Democrats’ talk isn’t at all like their actions.

  9. JTFaraday

    “If the Republicans were interested in winning, you’d see a very different campaign. Here are ten ironclad arguments you’d see. These are arguments the Republicans could make, but aren’t.”

    The Republicans may well want to win, but they can’t very well feed these things to the R-base because these 10 things are things they themselves do and intend to do, or things that have long been on their own agenda.

    When running against Obama would be running against yourself, it’s best to just shut up and start yelling “23% unemployment! Obama economy!”

    There’s really nothing Obama can say either, although I imagine thanks to Todd Aiken they’ll be “talking to women below the waist” again.

    Nothing like the fear factor to motivate the 20 something female demographic. The idea that the D-Party is pro-woman in reality is nuts.

    1. RanDomino


      OT: Going to be watching the Epic Chris Hedges Vs CrimethInc. Debate of Certainly Epic Epicness next week? I’m surprised he agreed to debate someone who can give him the drubbing he richly deserves.

  10. steelhead23

    Matt, You are right when you say: “The Republicans don’t want to discuss tax cheating, offshoring, corruption, inequality, dissent, the rule of law, endless war, or Wall Street criminality. They’d rather lose. It’s not that they want to lose in 2012, it’s just that they aren’t going to go after every vote.”

    But the rational may not be so much that they would rather lose, it may be that they believe they have the election in the bag. Voter suppression and ballot stuffing are alive and well according to Greg Palast.

    So, let’s see, GWB and Co. committed heinous war crimes. Obama said we should look forward rather than backward and effectively exonerated them. The banksters stole so much money its hard to keep track – let’s say a couple trillion, yet, last I saw, Corzine was still wandering around Manhattan. Based on this history, if indeed the Republicans stole the election, would Obama investigate and prosectute them? Oh hell no. He would just move over to the board of directors for several Wall Street firms, make half million dollar motivational speeches and move on. It is the USA that will lose this election.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Re: … “It is the USA that will lose this election.”

      We the People lost this election long ago. When and how, who has been and is behind it, and why that is so, are all questions that will need to be answered. But the more immediate questions are whether change is truly desired by a sufficient number of citizens, and if so to what extent and to what alternative? Further, how do we prevent our leaders and legislators from being co-opted by the same individuals and organized groups that now control them to our detriment, and what are we prepared to give up to realize such change?

      My own view is that We the People h/b so manipulated, diverted, abused, and the issues identified in this post and by respondents so obfuscated, that there is today an insufficient number of concerned citizens to effect systemic change. IMO meaningful change will require the march of events and the situation becoming significantly more dire for the majority of people before a sufficient critical mass necessary to overcome resistance to change is achieved. Even then, should it become a reality, the ongoing challenge will be that which Ben Franklin identified over two centuries ago: …”If you can hold onto it.”

  11. Bev

    Has anyone looked to see if the Obama law is retroactive…say to Sept 2001, or May 1968 or Nov 1963. I contend that it is the crime that is worse than the coverup.


    If retroactive, see Darryl Schoon’s brave and good article (though historians, journalists, professors still need to verify)

    “9/11 & Gold, Money and Power”

    Schoon’s article, unlike others, goes to motive.


    And, why are we now getting articles like this:

    As rightist terror surges, Obama’s DHS shuts down its rightist terrorism unit

    Daryl Johnson: I tried to warn them

    I wrote the infamous report that led Homeland Security to gut its right-wing terrorism unit
    By Daryl Johnson


    Why would that be? Who would they run into?

    Read a few past articles (also needing verification by historians, journalists, professors) by Dan at

    He says Romney has hired the Bush 911 “national security” people.


  12. Milton Arbogast

    Matt, you are the go-to guy in US political analysis. Case closed.

    And commenters, please, this isn’t a conspiracy. This is in-the-open, day-to-day business as usual. It isn’t special. These guys aren’t turning their cars into Formula 1 racers, they’re just rotating their tires.

    And think about it… You’re Sheldon Adelson. Brains were never your strong suit. Cupidity and luck, sure. Brains, no. So, when you finally figure out that you’ve been had for a few hundred million dollars, what do you do? Contribute money to Obama? Nope. You already know it’s going to the same people. Say you’ve been cheated? They might throw you out of the club, a membership you value more than a few hundred million… definitionally.

    Nope. You tell yourself it was a fair fight, you did your best and you go back to noshing with your pals. After all, it was excess cash to begin with.

  13. T

    Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. I suspect that the lack of an economic populist argument from the Republican party is itself a product of their own biases. They rejected economic populism as fundamentally illegitimate generations ago and aren’t about to re-examine that decision now. In a sense they are running a “principled campaign, on plutocracy”, or as they would have it, on meritocratic economic elitism. It’s not an honest campaign in the sense of being based on facts, but it does fleck the nonsense they believe.

  14. ep3

    isn’t the reason republicans do not use these against obama is because they do the same things while in office and support the same policies? the only thing they are fighting over in this election is to be the group that gets those perks.

  15. Waking Up

    Once a President has an “assassination list” and shreds the constitution in so many ways as Obama has, he can no longer be considered the “lesser evil”. He is complicit in the destruction of our country.

  16. Nphyx

    Sadly even this little list isn’t going to polish the Romney turd. But like the Kerry campaign, they’re clearly not in it to win it. Alienating the libertarian crowd that they’ve always relied on to deliver victory was an obvious giveaway that they’re playing to retain control of the party, not to put a president in office. Extending an olive branch to the libertarian ideas that really form the core of what americans believe in would have meant embracing some of their ideas and conceding welfare/warfare state policy. If I had to guess, this is so they could continue to get “traditional” republican candidates (read: big defense/big ag/big pharma/etc plants) into congress. But they may just be clueless jackasses.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Indeed, playing to retain control of the party. As Matt argued in an earlier post, the division of spoils by the politicos, and the maintenance of the gravy train for special interest groups remains paramount. This post further advances that argument by adducing evidence of all of the political ammunition that is – strangely – being left unused. Strange that is, until one reflects on the essential role that the shadow play of the Duopoly plays in sustaining the dominance of the rich and powerful, in contradistinction to striving toward the well-being and best interests of hoi polloi. You know, the citizens. If the O-man bids fair to be The More Effective Evil toward attaining Our Betters’ self-perceived best interests, well, Four More Years it is.

      An insightful post from a few years back concerning the Iron Law of Institutions from Jonathan Schwartz at his blog, A Tiny Revolution, casts some light on the operations of party organizations and their captivity to the interests of insiders. Applicable to either side of the Duopoly, with the requisite adjustments, of course.

  17. Jane Doe

    Doesn’t your post assume that the American public wants a real debate?

    I don’t believe they do. The middle class is happy in their delusions.

      1. Jane Doe

        One is relevant to the other.

        If the public endorses this Sophie’s Choice or Kabuki Theater, then I think its hard not to conflate.

        Look, I am not really progressive or conservative or libertarian. I am pretty much a realist. That means that I don’t think there is suddenly going to be a light switch that produces real change by pointing out what is pointed every cycle: that our system is corrupt. No. Duh. Really.

        The real issue for me at this point is this: Will the American people change?

        Anything else is just frosting on a poop cake.

  18. Crazy Horse

    The idea that “The Republicans don’t want to discuss tax cheating, offshoring, corruption, inequality, dissent, the rule of law, endless war, or Wall Street criminality”
    because they want to loose the election is utter fantasy.

    If the Party of Greed were to construct a campaign around those ideas it would have to discard its soul and would certainly loose all its campaign contributions. And even worse, threaten the delusion that there are actually two political parties in the country that serve different masters. After all Corporations are People my friend, and People don’t like to consider ideas that threaten their bottom line.

    Far better to build a campaign around the more basic instincts of fear, greed, ignorance, and the power of propaganda to build belief from continually repeated lies.

  19. Chris A

    “The massive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or NAFTA on steroids, is a global secret deal to subordinate American sovereignty to international tribunals of private corporate lawyers and offshoring whatever jobs are left in America. I’m not kidding. It’s that bad. And it’s being negotiated right now.”

    The part about offshoring whatever jobs are left in America merits more discussion, no? What I know about these negotiations is limited to IP issues and the secrecy with which they’ve taken place.

  20. William

    Of course. The Republicans don’t want to go after Obama using these things because they want to continue these things.

  21. games

    Niečo by som mohol napísať… je tam viacej možností
    čo robiť a to je hrať hry, pozerať video a nachádzajú sa tam celkm v pohode seriály.
    Hlavne tie moje najoblúbenejšie a rpeto tam tak rád chodím.

  22. avg John

    Instead of forming a political alliance to fight our corporate masters, what if we formed a consumer alliance? Target all the energy and resources of the alliance to boycotting a single multinational and it’s products, one at a time. An organization that could run a national or global advertising campaign, complete with celebrities endorsing the boycott (fight fire with fire).For example, the worst offenders of global wage arbitrage, targeting the worst of the worst for starters. I think there are people on all sides of the political aisle that could rally around an issue like that. Or maybe a multinational tax dodger. Sign up and coordinate a huge base of people via an internet site, conduct television and radio advertising. Reach the ordinary person on the street. How much would it take to significantly impact their bottom line and stock price. Not only could it empower ordinary people but could focus people’s attention on the corrupt practices of corporatism. At first, maybe pick a multinational with a product that competes with a domestically produced product so we can promote an alternative to our consumer base. Any ideas out there?

  23. free speech

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    I have very little understanding of programming but I had
    been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, should you have any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners please share.
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  24. Laura

    The only way I see for people to be free of the ‘game’ is to be self-reliant. Once we re-learn how to be self-reliant, we are no longer dependent on any of the game-players for our ‘politics’, food, ‘money’,or anything else. Being self-reliant takes away their self-imposed control.
    Boycotting one faction on a multi-tentacled monster is not going to seriously slow their action down. They’ve got their bases covered.Forming a political alliance plays into their game, just as a consumer alliance would also, simply because these control networks go far deeper than most suspect. For example, let’s say you buy Stonefield youghurt- it’s organic, etc- well, it’s owned by Dannon, who has ties with Lever, who has ties with Pepsico, who is in cahoots with Coca-Cola under World Beverage Partners…Each company has lists of hundreds of subsidiaries- they aren’t competitors; they are all joined at the hip. The way to NOT support them is to make your own, or find someone who can/does & trade for something you can do/make. Or say, 7th Generation- green products, right? Nay. They BUY their products from a variety of “unknown” sources & slap their label on them.Most of these mega corps have the same directors on several boards of several other corporations- Take UPS.Not just shipping, but connections to GM, Coca-Cola, etc.;they own communications,finance,& conglomerate of other non-shipping companies.Same with Coca-Cola;owns water bottling companies, has hands in utilities, manufacturers, clothing, personal goods, name it.ALL have someone with some political position. Even though most of their company headquarters are no longer in the US; they have heavy foreign ties (and most are NOT US companies any longer).It isn’t about greed; it’s about control.
    If you don’t want someone controlling you, you have to do things for yourself ie.self-reliance Start w/family, then neighborhood, then community, etc. Keyword:network Everybody knows how to do something, and that something can be traded/exchanged to achieve self-reliance. Without support,the big guns cannot control. Stop using/giving them money, stop using their ‘network’, stop using their products, etc. It may take time to get your/our thing going, but not too long- after all, there are things essential to living, and necessity is the mother of invention.We’ve managed before;we can manage again. Only THIS time, govern our/yourselves.That is what our Founding Documents give us the right to do- Uphold that right by DOING it, instead of handing over that job to others who do NOT have your/our best interests at heart. If every nation did that, we’d have a great place because we’d finally experience freedom.
    America is the place to get that ball rolling- and it CAN be done. Self-reliance is the foundation of freedom. If you want a free country, become self-reliant. Stop waiting for a saviour to fix the problems. We (as a country) created the problem by giving up our self-reliance. We trusted others to handle things for us. That trust was misplaced.We’re the only ones who will/can fix that.

  25. Woody 99er Konopak

    The simple truth is that “mega-Austerity” is looming within the next two years, and the Owners, Oiligarchs, and the Oners, don’t want a “white” face attached to that much misery.
    Plus, of course, large, but decreasing number of people still blame the Busheviks for the economic chaos. All that will change in the NEXT four years, preparing the way for Bush/Cheney, redux: the Jebbie & Lizzie show.
    O’Barry’s given them everything they wanted, anyway. They control Congress. The stock market is thriving, corpoRat profits are at all-time highs. And he’s painfully eager that his “legacy” should be one as a “compromiser.” He’s ALREADY talking about how much he’s willing to compromise with the GOPhux, even if it angers his base.
    Both this year, and in 2008, the GoPhux were on orders to mail it in, and they are.
    Though they’re spending like coke-dealers on “down-ticket” stuff…

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