Bill Moyers offers a trenchant illustration of why this country’s drift towards oligarchy is irreversible:
“The flimflam-ery goes on. In 33 other cities, stations that are supposed to be competitors have found clever ways to undermine the existing rules, mergers and takeovers. For example: Remember when Viacom married CBS and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp ponied up for the television stations owned by Chris-Craft? Those deals put both conglomerates in violation of the rule that no one company can control stations that reach more than thirty five percent of the total audience. But so what?……. A little time passed and this summer the FCC raised the limit to give the big guys what they wanted, anyway.”
Of course, the people rose up in anger, and the Congress is now poised to reverse these rules, right? Uh, no:
“…General Electric, owner of NBC; News Corp, owner of Fox; Viacom, owner of CBS; and Walt Disney, owner of ABC, brought on the hired guns … the lobbyists … to wage a Trojan War on Congress. A passel of former insiders moved through the revolving door, rolodex in tow, trading their influence for cash — top aides of the Senate Majority Leader, the House Majority Whip and of John Ashcroft himself.
“Now the most powerful Republican in Congress, Tom Delay, the House Majority Leader, won’t let a vote happen. The effort to reverse the FCC is dead in the water, sinking the democratic process with it.”
Most Americans, including many Blogcritics, have a hard time accepting that democracy in the United States is on its last legs. But time and again, policy makers have circumvented or simply ignored overwhelming popular opposition to specific government policies like managed care, environmental deregulation, and, of course, media consolidation–to the point where this behavior is now routine. Paul Krugman refers to the policy makers in Washington as “a revolutionary power” that has successfully seized the machinery of state, and has no intention of releasing its grip. Nor is there any institutional force capable of making it do so.
The question isn’t what can save American democracy but what type of malignancy is about to replace it. The historical precedents are not encouraging.
Too bad, really. It used to be a nice country.