US Elections: Pick Your Poison

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. We’re only a few weeks away from the November
presidential elections. Now joining us to discuss the competition is Chris Hedges. Chris
is a senior fellow at the Nation Institute. He writes a weekly column for Truthdig. His
newest book is Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. Thanks for joining us again, Chris. CHRIS HEDGES: Thank you. JAY: So there’s kind of two questions for
people that have been involved in the Occupy movement or generally in, you could say, progressive
politics in general. One is this whole issue of lesser evil. You know, is there really
a significant difference between Obama and Romney? And certainly the majority, I think,
of sort of liberal left opinion is that there’s enough difference that it matters. So I guess
that will be one question to you, and then we’ll kind of talk more about electoral strategy
in general. But what’s your take on that question? HEDGES: Well, certainly there are differences,
but not enough that they matter. It’s how you want to ingest your poison. You can get
it from Romney, who will tell you to stop whining and playing the victim, or you can
get it from Obama, who will tell you that it hurts him more than it hurts you. But either
way you’re going to get it. We are all going to walk off what they call
the fiscal cliff in January, no matter who is president. Wall Street will continue its
malfeasance and criminal activity and fraud unimpeded. The imperial wars and proxy wars
will expand. There’sóthe paralysis that has made the ruling elite unable to respond to
the chronic underemployment and unemployment will continue. The savaging of municipal,
state, and federal budgets will continue. The power of the fossil fuel industry to determine
our relationship to the ecosystem, you know, in essence ultimately making life for the
human species extremely precarious, will continue. The assault against civil libertiesóand Obama’s
assault against civil liberties have been worse than those carried out under George
W. Bush, not only interpreting the authorization to use military force act of 2001 as giving
the executive the prerogative to assassinate American citizens, but of course the FISA
Amendments Act, which sees tens of millions of Americans monitored without warrants, eavesdropped,
all of their communications stored in supercomputers in Utah, the use of the Espionage Act six
times under the Obama administration to shut down whistleblowers, anything that challenges
the government narrative, exposes corruption, crimes, including war crimes, and, of course,
the National Defense Authorization Actóand I was part of a lawsuit against the president
in that, which allows the U.S. military to seize American citizens, hold them without
due process in military facilities until the end of hostilities, which in an age of permanent
war is forever. All this is under Obama. And I think we have to look closely at the
continuity between the Bush administration and the Obama administration and what would
be a Romney administration. The security and surveillance state or the corporate stateóand
I would argue that we have undergone a corporate coup d’Ètat in slow motionóis preparing
for unrest. It is not responding rationally. Paul Krugman in column after column in The
New York Times pleads for a rational response to the economic crisis, and we’re not going
to get it. The only response we get is one of force, and we saw that in a coordinated
national or federal effort to shut down the Occupy encampments. At that point, for me,
the government essentially exposed its hand. It said that, you know, there will be no moratorium
on foreclosures and bank repossessions; there will be no forgiveness of student debt; there
will be no jobs program, especially targeted at people under the age of 25; there will
be no rational health care program, the public option, universal health care; the only way
we will respond is through the militarized police forces and an attempt to shut you down. It’s always the ruling elite that determines
the parameters for resistance or rebellion. And that means something else is coming. The
system has not been able to respond in a rational way, the way the Roosevelt administration
responded rationally through the New Deal. And because of that, we’re in deep, deep trouble.
So I think all of our hope now has to be invested in acts of civil disobedience. I intend to
vote, but I will not vote for Barack Obama. I’ll vote for a third-party candidate: Rocky
Anderson, or Jill Stein from the Green Party. JAY: Would it make any difference to you if
you were in a swing state where a few votes might matter? HEDGES: No, because the problem is that we
who care about the underclass, who care about protecting what’s left of our anemic democracy,
who care about battling back against corporate power, have no influence within the Democratic
Party. And the policies of the Democratic Party are evidence of that. The only hope
we have left is to be obstructionist. You know, they’re allóall the pressure is from
the other side. And if you look at all of the policies of
the Democratic Party in Europe, they would be a far-right party, without question, including
the prosecution of preemptive war, whichóunder post-Nuremberg laws these wars are illegal.
We have no right to define the terms of the occupation in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. I just think you canóyou know, the simple
argument is that by ceding so much to the Democratic Party and refusing to stand up
for our principles, it’s not worked, and it hasn’t worked, and we have to begin to defy
centers of power that essentially, I think, since Citizens United, have been hostage to
corporate interests, I mean, including the judiciary, which is pretty much a wholly owned
subsidiary of the corporate state. JAY: Now, if you take as a sort of given that
both parties represent different section of the American elite, both parties are financed
by different sections or off to the same section of Wall Street, both parties are totally enwrapped
up with the military industrial complex, etc., etc., take that as a given, do you not think
that, first of all, around, you know, George Bushólast George Bushóand around Romney,
the kind of neocon foreign policy people that haveócertainly, you know, the invasion of
Iraq, most of the professional foreign policy people, in both parties, really, were opposed
to that invasion. And so was President Obama, and not because he was against having a war
that would be good for the Empire; it was because he thought it was a war that wouldn’t
be good for the Empire. He said it quite clearly: he was against the Iraq War ’cause it weakened
America’s ability to project power, not ’cause there’s anything wrong with invading somebody.
But that being said, you could say there’s a certain rationality in terms of the American
pragmatic foreign policy, which certainly includes waging war if they think it’s in
their interest. But the neocons seem to take it another step which is somewhat irrational.
And around Romney he seems to have gathered those people. And I guess the short of my
question is: are they not more likely to participate in some kind of war against Iran? HEDGES: I don’t thinkówell, first of all,
it’s the Pentagon that determines whether we go to war or don’t. Vis-‡-vis Iran, the
Pentagon has been adamantly opposed to direct U.S. involvement in any war with Iran. We
saw that under the Bush administration, and we see it again under the Obama administration.
I think you have to go back and look at the Congressional elections of 2006, when the
Democrats retook control of Congress on the issue of the Iraq War, and yet, once in power,
they not only continued to fund the war, but increased troop levels in Iraq by 30,000.
The rhetoric of the Democratic Party just does not match the actions of the Democratic
Party. And I think you could argue that much of the
rhetoric of the Republican Party, which plays to the lunatic fringe and the Christian right
and the Tea Party and other sort of nefarious elements within the American political landscape,
these people are also very frustrated, because in the endóand we have to look at patterns
of governance. The way Mitt Romney governed Massachusetts essentially put him as, you
know, a corporate administrator, which, of course, he once was, in the same way that
Obama functions as a corporate lawyer. You can take the issue of Obamacare. You know,
this whole plan was hatched in the Heritage Foundation, put into practice in 2006 by Mitt
Romney in Massachusetts, and then adopted by Obama. Obamacare is Romneycare. We have
sort of passionate and furious debates about it, but the guts of both programs are the
same and are generated from the same corporate think tank. And I think that that is just true over and
over and over, whether it’s the issue of civil liberties, whether it’s the issue of the refusal
to curb Wall Street, whether it’s the issue of no reining in of this massive industrial-military
complex which has cannibalized the country, consuming 50 percent of all discretionary
spending, and the Democrats won’t even stand up against a particular weapons system. I
mean, they used to do that. They won’t do that anymore. And I think Sheldon Wolin is right in his
great book Democracy Incorporated: we live in what he calls a system of inverted totalitarianism.
It’s not classical totalitarianism; it doesn’t find its expression through a demagogue or
a charismatic leader, but through the anonymity of the corporate state, that you have corporate
forces that purport to pay fealty to electoral politics, the iconography and language of
American patriotism, the Constitution, and yet have subverted internally all of the levers
of power as to render the citizen impotent. And I think that’s where we are. And we have very little time left in terms
of climate change alone. If we do not wrest control of our relationship to the ecosystem
back from ExxonMobil and BP and big coal, we’re finished. I mean, we’re literally finished.
Forty percent of the summer Arctic sea ice gone, and the response of our corporate overlords
is to race up there to mine the last vestiges of minerals, oil, gas, and fish stocks. It’s
insane. It’s out of Melville’s Moby Dick. You know, we’re being held forward by a class
of Ahabs. And as Ahab said, my means and my methods are sane; my object is mad. And that’s
precisely where we are. And neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is going to wrest control
back from the hands of these forces. That’s up to us. JAY: So in terms of up to us, within that,
doesn’t there need to be some kind of electoral strategy of some kind, whether it’s third-party
or something, in the sense that in the final analysis, to wrest that control, you need
political power? HEDGES: No, that’s incorrect. All of the true
correctives to American democracy came through movements that never achieved formal positions
of political power, whether that was the Liberty Party that fought slavery, the suffragists
who fought for women’s rights, the labor movement, or the civil rights movement. And yet you
could argue that in Aprilóuntil April 1968, when he was assassinated, Martin Luther King
was the most powerful political figure in this country, because when he went to Memphis,
50,000 people went with him. I watched or covered as a reporter all of
the revolutions or most of the revolutions in Eastern Europe, including the East German
revolution that brought down the Stasi state. And when a system becomes as decayed, corrupt,
and isolated as our corporate elite has become, the foot soldiers of that elite are no longer
willing to expend their passion and their energy to defend it, so that when Erich Honecker,
the dictator of East Germany, sends down an elite paratrooper division to fire on the
crowds in Leipsig, they refuse. Honecker lasts another week in power. And I think that the Occupy movement has shown
us, first of all, where real power lies, and that’s Wall Street, and secondly, that it
is only through acts of mass civil disobedience that we have any possibility left of affecting
this system. JAY: Well, but in the example of East Germany,
or even more recently, example of Egypt where you can bring down a Mubarak, without some
kind of electoral strategy and without some kind of way to actually take political power,
they wind up with another variation on a similar system. I mean, in Germany as well, they may
have brought down the Stasi dictatorship, and now they have neoliberal Germany. I mean,
if you’re talking more significant transformation, you have to address who owns stuff, and you
can’t address who owns stuff if you don’t address the issue of political power. HEDGES: Well, yeah. I mean, the problem with
East Germany is that it got subsumed into West Germany. The problem in Czechoslovakiaóand
I did cover the Velvet Revolutionóis that you saw corporate forces go in afterwards
and reconfigure Eastern Europe, with, of course, heavy pressure from administrations within
the United States. But I don’t think that, you know, votingóyou know, I just don’t think
we live in a system where you can vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. And we have to rebuild the movements, the
popular movements that were consciously destroyed in the war against communism. It was, you
know, the old red witch hunts which wiped out the Wobblies. The old CIO saw thousands
upon thousands of university professors, high school teachers, journalists, artists, directors,
pushed out of the wider society. And what they have found in the war on terror is a
template to do the same. You know, as Randolph Bourne said, war is the health of the state. And I think at this point, appealing to the
formal mechanisms of power doesn’t work. And until we wrest power back from corporate control
(and we’re not going to do that through the electoral process), there is no hope of building
a rational system that responds to the needs of citizens. Once corporate power is broken,
then we can attempt to rebuild. As long as corporate power remains solidified and in
place, we can go through the charade of this political theater, but it isn’t going to make
any difference. And if you doubt me, look at the very long list of campaign promises
that Barack Obama made in 2008 and how once in power he walked away. Whether he was cynical
or whether he had to, I don’t know, but he walked away from, you know, every single one
of them. He’s drilling, you know, as rapaciously asó. JAY: No, but by electoral strategy, I’m not
talking about whether we should believe in the leaderships of the Democrat or the Republican
Party, but if you look towards some of the things, for example, that are happening in
Latin America, where you have both mass movements and electoral strategy and you do find governments
get elected that do start to make some significant changes. HEDGES: Right. But you know as well as I do
that third-party candidates like Ralph Nader and others are so shut out of the process
that they have no voice. I mean, you talk to Ralph, and he uses the word blacklisted.
He said, I can’t even get on NPR or PBS. Our most important social critics, people like
Noam Chomsky, are invisible within a commercially dominated media, roughly six corporations
that control almost everything most Americans watch and listen toóViacom, General Electric,
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Disney. And in that kind of a system, there is no space.
And there’s consciously no space. JAY: Well, there’s certainly no space at a
national level. I think that’s without question. What can happen at some local levels might
be different. HEDGES: Sure. I mean, all resistance at this
point is probably local. But, you know, I feel that Wolin nailed it. He’s without question
our greatest living political philosopher. And I think that we can’t begin to effectively
resist until we understand the configurations of power. And, you know, given the tentacles
of the corporate state and the way that it has crushed the liberal mechanisms that once
made piecemeal or incremental reform possible, we have to find another route to resistance. JAY: Okay. Thanks very much for joining us,
Chris. HEDGES: Thank you. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real
News Network. And if you want to hear more discussions like this, there’s a “Donate”
button over there. If you don’t click on it, we can’t do this.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Critical thinking is dangerous. The ruling class sits comfortably behind puppet politicians and popes of the world. Politics and religion induce emotions; emotions cloud judgment. As a political and theological atheist, I see it clearly and coherently. Obama/Romney's top campaign contributors are banks. The student loan/the health-care bubble trajectories are in decline. The Manufacturing, Auto, and Technology industries are all in decline. Ya know what's up? The Prison Industry.

  2. i love Hedges but he off the mark at times. Nothing will be changes until you change the monetary policy and eliminate central banks. the corporations and wall street are protected by the Fed and BoE(also owned by them). fractional reserve banking and fiat money are a perversion to our economy and helped to eliminate integrity throughout our society. nothing will be improved until we have sound money and eliminate the Fed.

  3. Obamney 2012 ! blah ill vote ether Jill Steinor Gary Johnson at least there both real choices that support what there base wants.

  4. Fantastic back and forth discussion that nails the desperation of our times. The sort of thing I wish I could get my friends & family to sit down and watch without having to tie them to the chair first. Great interview, Paul.

  5. Rise like lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number!
    Shake your chains to earth, like dew
    Which in sleep had fallen on you—
    Ye are many; they are few!

  6. Thank God someone's saying this. If Obama hasn't stood up for the public interest in the past years – whether on healthcare, financial reform or civil liberties, just to name a few – why would he possibly take a stand on the fiscal cliff, something that amounts to a showdown over the survival of the safety net? We're at the point now where there's a base that will simply keep justifying Obama's behavior because he's *better* without stopping to consider just how low the bar has been set

  7. I have to admit I agree with most of what Chris Hedges says. If I'm not ready for a violent revolution, its because I know how often such revolutions go wrong bringing in worse than what went before. As a matter of opinion, I think nature is about to make our revolution for us…before the god damned bankers destroy our spirits and our souls entirely. There have been an unusual number of suicides among our soldiers of late. Could it be because their to American to play storm trooper for bnkrs?

  8. Maybe that new jail is for the new Thom. Paines, Ben Franklins…and the new American revolutionaries who the old devils spirit will call "home grown terrorists" like the British called the founding fathers. It can hold a few thousand people. Funny how the banks and corporations got 'bailed out' by the treasury but the 'home owners' lost their down payments and the house while the bank got to sell their 'repoed' home once again. Ah the sorcery of the media : turning pigs into angels.

  9. Hedges is right. Obama's the type of fake liberal Hedges always talks about. I get it. With that said, though, a Romney presidency should be avoided at all costs. If you want a progressive president, you have to look at campaign finance reform, election reform and leveling the playing field so more parties can become viable. End the two party duopoly. Overturn Citizens United. Put pressure on Washington through social movements. But in the meantime let's be logical. We don't need another Scalia.

  10. put big human-wall around the wall street and suffocate financial gangsters.
    chris is just complaing blahblahblah, do take some action or just being safisfied as loser.

  11. Had to go to the Real News site to watch this – starting last week I've had to wait up to a day to watch some videos (I just get a solid black screen but I know others are watching because of the comments) just more YouTube weirdness I guess.

  12. LOL! you think Capital cares if the people they fired start a "movement" against their oppression? Look at Greece, not only is there a people's uprising, there are monthly GENERAL STRIKES and it does not work.
    Hedges is wrong. Paul Jay is right. You need to get a populist political movement started, you NEED an electoral strategy of course.

  13. "Violent Revolutions" are petty-bourgeois fantasies. Revolutions only happen when the mass of people ORGANIZE, contrary to staging Hedge's "protests" against their rulers. East Germany didn't have a revolution, it had a COUNTER-revolution. Why? Because revolution means progress for the majority. 73% of East Germans wanted to keep their Workers State, 70% wanted to keep Socialism before it was overthrown. It was not a "Stasi State", this is propaganda. Source? Me.

  14. Chris, in order to have a mass movement to break corporate control you need to bring people together of different political persuasions. There are many grass roots conservatives who agree with most of what you've had to say – they also want the corporates out of politics and they're opposed to the various wars including the war on civil liberties. You need to consolidate the common ground of Americans frustrated with the corporate totalitarian empire.

  15. Well then, I wish success to the reorganisation and pray that you are correct about the non violence. Perhaps it will be like the most recent Russian revolution or counter revolution. There do seem to be a few violent episodes associated with great changes in nations but perhaps this violence has become extinct. I am only certain that when people do not have enough to eat or work and shelter for their families there are shall we say instabilities and the new masters are sometimes worse than old.

  16. it's utterly ridiculous to find in every discussion someone writing "gary johnson" or "ron paul" etc. as if their administration would be the answer. libertarianism is a cult and flat-earth theory that isn't consistent with any example in human history and is a complete denial of the fundamental human condition.

  17. Most republicans hate Romney, and will only vote for him b/c they think Obama is similar but has some "crazy" policies.


    Most democrats hate Obama, and will only vote for him b/c they think Romney is similar but has some "crazy" policies.

    Sooner or later ppl will realize they agree on far more now than they disagree. From TSA patdowns to warrentless wiretaps, and indefinite detention.

    Good thing both are holding their nose and closing their eyes to vote or they may actually notice.

  18. Indeed, some level of compromise on economic issues (perhaps mutualism, or worker-ownership/cooperativism?), or temporary cooperation on social issues alone, will have to exist–progressives cannot do it alone. While the Tea Party may have been manipulated by the Koch brothers, etc., there is a legitimate Old Right, Libertarian opposition to the corporatism that pervades American politics, and neither side will win alone. A serious political re-alignment is needed.

  19. carousell you are correct but Ron Paul is right about the Military Industrial Complex even though the impact of shutting it down may cause a Revolution. Hell maybe he wants a Revolution.

  20. People need to find a common ground that affects them all, and I think it does exist, but the tendencies towards divisiveness and "political culture" will rise at some point to the surface. If the common threat is great enough all the "tribes" need to unite to fight the enemy or face extermination. The threat is the corporate/military take-over of America (and the world) – both socialists and capitalists and everything in-between can regard this as enemy number one.

  21. and thus libertarian are naive to think that all human would be voluntarist without coercion.
    P.S: person property is far from ultimate evolution. quite materialist

  22. " We vote every day, not in some meaningless election, but in who we choose to associate with, what we choose to spend our money on, what we choose to invest our time and energy doing. This is the essence of freedom. "
    see also: "Propaganda technique: Lesser Of Two Evils" – watch?v=WewTpcOAJu8

  23. You can't change the system from the inside. Why? Corporations and lobbyist are the only ones who will pay for your way in. So who will you be beholden to once you get in because if you don't do what your masters ask you to do, they will get you out.

  24. As with Chris, I'm voting for a 3rd party candidate, Gary Johnson. Johnson is already at 6% in the polls & rising. He should definitely be included in the debates.

  25. Obamney debates Rombama? What an aweful joke.

    The bottom line is that the U.S. has more than enough natural resorces to not only be self-sufficient, but PROSPER! This country has water, fuel, technology, and can defend itself. Nobody would argue that simple fact. The BIG question is WHY do we have to enter the world theater of dramatics? WHY can we NOT "stay home and mind our own business"?

  26. Bingo.

    It's time to build the Green Party over here.

    Democrats and Republicans are completely controlled by the Military-Industrial-Financial Complex, and 3 1/2 years of "Hope and Change" have proved that for certain.

  27. You are right there is something that can be done in the media on a local level, and I am one of the guys that is doing it with my TV show Midnight Madness. I will have your video on my show, but the only thing that bothers me is it is a little long. I usually am looking for videos under 15 minutes, but you do have some great information here.

  28. How awesome would it be if a third or fourth party won this year!? Too bad it won't happen, too many stupid uninformed people. Half the population doesn't vote at all.

  29. high quality interviews such as this hurt the fat cats (03:50) more than us 😉
    bravo to you both, please sir can we have some more ?

  30. soon with global warming, polluted sea-food, failing crops, expanding desert, you won't have food self-sufficiency in the USA.

  31. "Hedges loves the NYT"?
    Someone (you) doesn't know Chris Hedges' biography. Chris Hedges was forced out of the New York Times because he gave an anti-war speech at a commencement exercise in 2003.
    And because he references Krugman doesn't mean he's his "disciple." Hedges uses Krugman's writings to point out the futility of Krugman's prescriptions under our present economic/political system.
    Sleeper agent? Get your ass out of your radio and shut off the Alex Jones Show, Pokey.

  32. Hedges is prophetic in his analysis and his writings serve as a warning to us all to take power back now while we still can.

  33. disagree. protesting government corruption (occupy) is pretty irrelevant. a corrupt government being paid to serve the highest bidder doesn't care what the population wants. even if millions were protesting it might have no effect. on the other hand if the population had the balls to vote in real representation (such as green party) everything could change. but people are unevolved primates incapable of mass cooperation, so it'll probably never happen. humanity prefers to race to its own demise.

  34. it doesn't matter and it not important its a real boring mocumentary about the presidents, they are not the one in control even if they had good intentions to begin with or not….

  35. YouTube search:

    Insist Obama & Romney Debate 3rd Party Opponents

    6 Easy Steps To End The 2-Party System

    Top 3 Dumb Excuses To Not Vote 3rd Party

  36. yup, just make shit up. How about never trusting people pick their nose or clean their glass one every 10mins. How about those that walk with heel to toe or toe to heal. We will make up any bulshit to create distrust and hate for fellow human beings.

  37. Chris Hedges is RIGHT! Americans live in a dream world that has been Manufactured by Cooperation's. While more importantly given consent by the Political LEFT&RIGHT. Sad truth is, that when AMERICANS wake up, they will find the world that was fed to them…is no more real then their idea of American Democracy. Beginnings of an American CIVIL WAR which is also what Chomsky has been hinting on. Yet Americans have no true notion as their nation moves towards breaking point..a MUSLIM PRESIDENT.shit.

  38. The us is that prosper because it substitutes other countries production with us' owned production. To leave the international market control would mean economic destruction for you because your your riches are based on other people's poverty.

    You cant stop interfering with the international market becuase you will have to drop your industry. If you leave Argentina to have its own industry, for example, we will supply our market, and that means you'll lose it. And that goes for all the rest.

  39. There is no such thing as "gobal warming", "Eeeexpaannnnding Desert"? That land was always desert. Made productive only by irrigation which the our government laid to waste. Failing Crops are MONSANTO's deeds. We have plenty of good land, and plenty of sun, and water. Should we starve, we let ourselve fall victim to our government, like we did with all seafood that is all poison. .

  40. hey genius: every year the temperature is warmer, the droughts are worse, the crop failures are bigger and the prices keep going up for more scarce food. Get a clue: anyone with a thermometer can track the temperature and prove global warming is real. Many new deserts are now happening which NEVER needed irrigating and will NEVER return to being fertile. TODAY'S Middle-East deserts were ALL lush farmland 2000 years ago – never to be restored.

  41. Sure, pick Obama and head down the road with war with Pakistan and Iran.
    Romney will at least reevaluate the relationship with Israel and its position as bully in the middle east.
    Obama = George III = thermonuclear war!

  42. EXCELLENT point – Oneness/Togetherness of the American population is the ONLY answer to ALL of our problems. Division causes self destruction.

  43. Neither one of these presidential hopefuls, has any answer as of how to lead this country forward because neither one of them have any respect for a higher power…as did Thomas Jefferson.

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