Politics American Style, Where The Voter Always Loses


Posted by Bob Lord

"Laugh about it, shout about it, when you get to choose. Either way you look at it, you lose."

Those words are truer today than when Simon and Garfunkel first sung them 40 plus years ago. 

So the chest bumping by Democrats over the mess the Republicans have made for themselves on social issues is a bit discouraging. The Democratic playbook these days is to highlight the differences on social issues, while joining the Republicans in shilling for corporate American and the ultra-wealthy on issues of economic justice. 

A case in point: Chris Hedges' weekly post describes the hollowing out of our nation's mass transit system. He discusses the privatization process that has benefitted three multinational firms, only one of which is based here: 

Veolia Transportation, a subsidiary of Transdev, a conglomerate headquartered in France, has 150 contracts to run mass transit systems in the United States. It was Veolia, after Hurricane Katrina, that took over the New Orleans bus system. And Veolia did what it has done elsewhere. It stripped bus workers of their pensions. New York’s Nassau County bus service, once part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), was turned over to Veolia after the French corporation hired former three-term Sen. Al D’Amato of New York as its lobbyist. Veolia—which when it takes over a U.S. property, as in New Orleans or Nassau County, refuses to give workers a defined-benefit plan—is partly owned by a pension fund that covers one-third of French citizens. U.S. workers are losing their benefit plans to a company created to provide benefit plans for the French.

Does the name Veolia ring a bell? Here's Momica Alonzo of the Phoenix New Times a few years back:

The New Times article revealed that Veolia Transportation, the transit company awarded a new $385 million Phoenix city-bus contract, not only has Gordon's girlfriend, Elissa Mullany, on its payroll, but Mullany helped Veolia put together its winning bid for the multi-million contract. 

The article also reported that Gordon met with his good friend Billy Shields, a paid lobbyist for Veolia, and advised him to tell his client to just walk away from its Phoenix contract when city officials wouldn't agree to Veolia's demands for more money. When Veolia reneged on the contract it was awarded, Phoenix officials flew to Chicago where they agreed to pay Veolia nearly $30 million.

Alonzo was focused on Gordon's sleaze factor, but put that aside. When SB1070 first was passed, Gordon was one of few Democrats to take a strong, principled stand against it. Go to any black tie event for Planned Parenthood and you're likely to see Phil there. He's right out in front of every issue impacting the LGBT community. But when it comes to economic justice, he's perfectly happy to work with a company that, as Hedges reports, generates profits by stripping workers of their pensions.

Gordon's actions were not a one-off event. Democrats are barely less eager to please their corporate masters than are Republicans. And nothing pleases those corporate masters more than a two-party political system under which the two parties are differentiated by their respective positions on social issues .