Commentary: The many shall get what the few paid for


By Dan Carpenter

When conservatives can run successfully against a president who has presided over reduced government spending, reduced deficits, lowered unemployment, record heights of corporate wealth, a health-care program that pleases both the public and the health-care industry, and even sub-$3 gas, perhaps irrational fear of the first man of his color to occupy the White House could be said to have infiltrated the voting booth.

When big business, directly and through its surrogates, pours hundreds of thousands of  no shadowdollars into a school board race and achieves a majority, perhaps control of the targeted school system has left the voting booth.

The consequences of Tuesday’s rout of citizenship by Citizens United may turn out to be less profound in Washington than in Indianapolis. It is hard to imagine Republican obstructionism of President Barack Obama getting any worse, and these days only a filibuster-proof Senate could hope to pass significant legislation. As if the GOP in six years of Obama-bashing ever has offered solutions to the problems for which it blames Brother Barack.

Locally, the triumph of candidates bankrolled by Stand for Children, the Chamber of Commerce, ex-Reagan administration operative Al Hubbard and other benefactors from far beyond the cracked sidewalks of Indianapolis Public Schools has to mean more shrinkage of the once-dominant school system and thus less of a voice for those who reside within it. In other words, more “entrepreneurial” reform – that is, more charter schools to siphon off tax dollars into private hands with dubious public oversight – along with the nation’s most promiscuous program of private school vouchers. Look for a school system that once topped 100,000 pupils to be left with an overwhelmingly poor population of 20,000 or so by decade’s end. Maybe then, milked dry by those who covet its funding, it will cease being hammered for its failure to fix poverty.

As for the voice that would be lost, it’s hardly worth mourning. After all, it’s gotten little use. Here, as in all those gubernatorial and congressional elections around the country where corrupt and incompetent tools of Wall Street rode tidal waves of dollars into office, poor and working people had no reason not to know what was going on and no excuse for their pitiful turnout at the polls.

They knew what the GOP-engineered voting restrictions were all about; and they knew, or should have known, that far higher barriers were surmounted in the Jim Crow South.

They knew the avalanche of TV assaults and gaudy flyers said nothing true that wasn’t an insulting platitude.

They knew their president and their school system, flawed as they were, deserved defense at fundamental – indeed, existential – levels.

They have to know their interests don’t coincide with those of the financiers of election campaigns.

They didn’t vote. Not at nearly the level of the rich and white. So they’ll live with plutocracy.

Apathy is understandable. Disillusionment is a fresh wound. The people’s mobilization that swept Obama and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz into office a few short years ago was answered by shameless sabotage of their mandate. What this shows, though, is that democracy is a fulltime job. Every election is a start-over; and besides that, all the time between elections must be spent reminding whoever is in power that the boss is watching.

It’s hard work. So tempting to stay home and hope they don’t sell off the company.

Dan Carpenter is a freelance writer, a contributor to The Indianapolis Business Journal and the author of “Indiana Out Loud.”


  1. With 31 Governorships, Control of the Senate and more Conservatives seated in the House than since Herbert Hoover,
    Carpenter’s rational that he/Obama are divinely right falls as flat as his accusation that racist attitudes toward Obama are the problem and not the Liberal agenda,–
    –As the Voting booth facts bite his philosophy in the ass, the bitterness and despair that this Socialist/Liberal/Communist Obamabot, puts on display here is very satisfying to witness.

    • Herbert Hoover We know what happen under his (lack of)watch! Hope your not asking for a economy meltdown as in 1929. Stock market appears overinflated now, as it was in the roaring twenties.

    • Forgot to add Calvin Coolidge and his “hands off” approach to business endeavors.

      If a republican is the answer, then we need Teddy Roosevelt reincarnated!

  2. Gee, I gather big Dan ain’t diggin’ the outcome of the election. I mean with all the half truths and whining that’s just my take.

  3. wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……ol dan sounds like a crying lying little boy……..pathetic……..

  4. The wringing of hands is directly proportional to the level of rejection from the voters.

    Now we need to apparently address the non voice of the non voters!

    I am finding that contention a clear indication of the schizophrenic nature of the left.

  5. Apparently most Democratic candidates were afraid of the first President of color. They ran as fast as they could from the President. The Democrats failure is more about their poor message than anything else. The message that the Koch brothers were the boogie man did not sell or they would have had better turnout.

Comments are closed.