Voices from Russia

Friday, 12 January 2018

Why is America Grovelling for a New Billionaire Leader?

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After her Golden Globes award speech, neoliberals are jumping for joy at the prospect of Oprah Winfrey potentially running for US President and challenging Donald Trump in 2020. Oprah’s speech acted like a religious cleansing, forgiving Hollywood for its sins, and propelling Winfrey into the role of neoliberal messiah and saviour, leading Michael Krieger to ask:

Is this the future the plutocrats have planned for the people? Are Americans now meant to grovel every four years for a new billionaire leader, to come and save them from the other billionaire leader in office?

In 2017, I wrote a lot about how dangerously centralised the US political system has become, and how we need to decentralise governance in order to restore power, liberty, and policy experimentation to the local level. The notion that a sprawling and culturally diverse nation of 325 million individuals should constantly battle to the death over the ring of political power in Washington DC to impose their view on the other half of the country, which completely disagrees, is patently ludicrous. States, and even metro areas themselves, should be making most of the important decisions that affect their citizens’ lives on a day to day basis. This isn’t complicated. People who live in Boulder CO (like me) have a very distinct worldview on most things, quite different from the average resident of (let’s say) Houston TX. This isn’t to say one is superior to the other; we’re just talking generally different mindsets and cultures. The residents of these distinct places should be able to express themselves via policy in a way that most fits the desires and values reflective of these particular regions. While this does happen to some degree, all US citizens are still beholden to the whims of centralised political power in Washington DC to a very unhealthy and dysfunctional degree.

One of the worst side effects of centralised power in Washington DC is that most Americans waste all their political energy speculating on, or rooting for, who will be the next supreme ruler (President) every four years. This is such a gigantic waste of time and energy, but one reason it happens is that the USA has an Imperial Presidency these days. The executive simply acts in a manner that the founders never intended, and the other branches of government (legislative and judiciary) permit it. Congress deserves a huge part of the blame, as its members intentionally refuse to exercise their Constitutional duty to handle war. Our so-called “representatives” consistently just allow the President to do whatever they want when it comes to the exercise of state violence abroad, whether that President is George W Bush, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump.

It’s pathetic that less than two weeks into the New Year, all I heard about yesterday was how Oprah might run for President two years from now. Think about how insane a society has to be (in light of all of our enormous current problems), to start already manically obsessing about who could be our saviour if we just vote properly in 2020. Didn’t Obama’s presidency, who said all the right things, but coddled the plutocracy for eight years straight, teach you anything? It’s not just Oprah though. Last summer we learned that the Hamptons oligarchs had already decided Kamala Harris (more than three years before the next Presidential election) would be their pick for the Democratic nominee in 2020. Primary voters need not apply. Naturally, Mark Cuban chatter never goes away either, as I pointed out the other day. Meanwhile, what do Oprah and Cuban have in common? Both are billionaires, just like Trump. Is that the future the plutocrats want for us? Grovelling for a new billionaire Dear Leader every four years? Sorry, but I have too much respect for myself to ever do that. I’m not playing this childish game.

The spark that inspired this post was actually a tweet I sent out this past weekend. Its reception was very encouraging and told me that many people around the world are coming to a very similar conclusion. This is important because we can’t change things until we realise how completely ridiculous our current paradigm is. Here’s the big secret. People create the world we live in. Neither nature nor the divine provides anything about our governments or economy. People that came before us created the insufferable centralised hierarchies we live under, and those currently in power aggressively multiply them. There’s absolutely no reason we need to accept these systems as permanent or perfect.

Looking for a saviour in a President is a slave mentality. We need to stop being slaves. Oprah, Trump, Mark Cuban… it doesn’t matter. Nobody’s coming to save you. It’s time to grow up. The real power resides in us. The world of the future will be the world we create. If we want that world to be vastly better, we need to stop looking outside of ourselves for the answer. We need to look inward, find our strength, and get to work. If you expect someone else to come in and fix things, you’ve already lost.

10 January 2018

Alex Christoforou

The Duran

http://theduran.com/why-is-america-groveling-for-a-new-billionaire-leader/

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Oprah for President: Another American Delusion

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Oprah Winfrey, the American queen of TV talk shows, is reportedly set to run for the US presidency… and liberal Hollywood and the media are ecstatic at the prospect. “Oprah for president” broke out like a delirium across social media after the TV star made an “electrifying” speech at the Hollywood Golden Globes ceremony last weekend in which she spoke eloquently in defence of women over sexual harassment and for racial minorities. The 63-year-old African-American Winfrey declared, “A new day is on the horizon”. She is one of the most-recognised celebrities in America after decades hosting a top-rated talk show. CNN and other media outlets (who hate Republican President Donald Trump vigorously) think that they’ve found their political saviour in Oprah. CNN reported that she’d be the “perfect anti-Trump candidate”, on breaking the news from “close friends” that Oprah is considering a run for the White House at the next election in 2020. A CNN comment swooned:

Winfrey has deep pockets, an even deeper well of charisma, and instant name recognition, thanks to decades on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

On a superficial level, Oprah might seem the perfect ticket. She has millions of fans amongst ordinary Americans due to her years of hosting wildly popular TV shows and also from an award-winning acting career. She had an Oscar nomination in 1985 for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s film, The Color Purple. Oprah has the backing of legions of celebrities and media because of her undoubted charisma and humanitarian character. This week, Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep was one of the first to hail her presidential ambitions. “She’s got to do this”, Streep emphatically told the Washington Post.

Oprah’s life story is also appealing to masses of ordinary folks. She was born into poverty to an unmarried mother who worked as a housemaid in the Deep South, in Mississippi. Through sheer talent and grit, she worked her way to the top of the entertainment business. Today, Oprah personal net worth is about 3 billion USD (170.66 billion Roubles. 19.56 billion Renminbi. 191.4 billion INR. 3.74 billion CAD. 3.84 billion AUD. 2.52 billion Euros. 2.22 billion UK Pounds), and owns her own cable TV network and a movie production company. She’s also given hundreds of millions to charitable causes in both the USA and Africa. There’s no doubting her empathy with the downtrodden in society, owing to her own experience of hardship and pain. Her younger sister died from cocaine addiction, and as a child Oprah used to wear clothes made from potato sacks, such was the grinding poverty of her family’s life.

Previously, at the height of her TV fame, she campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 when he became the first African-American president. She also backed Hillary Clinton in 2016. Therefore, in many ways, Oprah has impeccable credentials to galvanise the American electorate behind a liberal Democrat president… and become the first woman to occupy the White House. However, here’s where the fairytale story starts to unravel. It really is a sign of how decrepit the American political system is when the parties are obliged to seek celebrities as their figureheads. It’s a sign of how the public holds “professional” politicians from both parties in such low esteem that the parties have to court a reality-TV-type candidate to represent them. Ironically, the Democrats and liberal media pundits deprecated the Republicans for recruiting reality-TV star Donald Trump as their leader. Now, the Democrats are mulling the same formula by choosing Oprah Winfrey.

Admittedly, Oprah has a very different character and set of moral values from Trump. Her lifework and charitable giving mark her out as a genuine humanitarian with natural leftwing social sensibilities for justice and equality. Nevertheless, putting faith in Oprah to transform American society into something more “progressive” and humane is a pitiful delusion. It really is a touchstone of how degenerate US politics have become when so many people might even contemplate that one benign individual could overturn a backlog of systemic problems, from gross wealth inequality to a culture of endless war-making around the globe.

Oprah’s would-be campaign slogan, “A new day on the horizon”, sounds a lot like Obama’s “hope and change”. Or, Trump’s “America first”. In the end, it’s all soundbite and no substance, much like an advertising jingle. American politics now has sunk to being a commodified pursuit, like buying soap powder or a fast-food snack. It’s delusional for Americans to think that they can solve the many deep-seated problems in their nation through one individual, no matter how well-intentioned that individual might appear.

America’s political problems are systemic in nature. They arise from the plutocratic nature of how it runs its capitalist economy for the benefit of the élite few. Trump’s recent 1.5 trillion USD (85.33 billion Roubles. 9.78 billion Renminbi. 95.7 billion INR. 1.87 billion CAD. 1.92 billion AUD. 1.26 billion Euros. 1.11 billion UK Pounds) tax giveaway for Wall Street and corporate America is a classic example. So too is the relentless annual military spending… 1 trillion USD (56.9 billion Roubles. 6.52 billion Renminbi. 63.8 billion INR. 1.24 billion CAD. 1.26 billion AUD. 840 million Euros. 740 million UK Pounds) by some estimates… by the American government. A fraction of this allocation of taxpayer money would provide all Americans free education and healthcare if the government chose to. However, Washington doesn’t provide that humane option because the military-industrial complex dominates it; it dedicates itself to élite corporate interests, not those of the ordinary people. America’s systemic problems require a systemic solution. That involves electing a president and an administration that truly represent the interests and needs of the majority of working Americans. That, in turn, depends on Americans mobilising as a mass movement of informed citizens aware of what needs to change… the systemic corruption stemming from a capitalist economy dedicated to oligarchic privilege and war-making.

Indisputably, Oprah Winfrey is a wonderful human being and an inspiration to millions from her soulful life. All credit to her for what she stands for as an individual. However, for Americans to place faith in Oprah as a would-be political leader is pathetically misplaced. Americans need to stop looking for individual “saviours” and to start organising themselves as a mass movement for a socially-just and peaceful government. That’s a tall order. Nevertheless, they need to do it. The flurry of media excitement this week over Oprah’s projected presidential ambitions shows how brain-dead American political culture is. Moreover, to be sure, the plutocrats and oligarchs just love it that way. Watch how they’ll lionise and package her to become just another American delusion.

9 January 2018

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201801091060621485-oprah-winfrey-president/

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