Top 5 Politically Motivated Policies
In politics, there are differences in issues and then there are differences in motivations. Republicans and Democrats are divided on widely-partisan issues such as gun control policy and LGBT rights due to genuine ideological differences; however, the topics on this list have partisan differences because one or both parties have corporate interests or differences in voting demographics that play a major role in the election. Thus, a politically-motivated policy is a law, executive order or stance that is made not always in the interest of the American people, but in the interest of a swift re-election victory or for political donations. Let’s count them down.
5) Foreign policy
The vast majority of libertarians and sensible people in general would disagree with just about every war the United States has intervened in since World War II. Iraq, Serbia, Al-Qaeda, Libya and North Vietnam had no real threat to the American heartland, and while one could argue that Al-Qaeda and ISIS could plan a domestic terrorist attack, that is a national security issue, not a foreign policy issue. However, it is quite easy to see that the wars fought and foreign aid given to the Middle East for the past half century were not for the safety and prosperity of Americans but for the enabling of war profiteering.
Let’s start with a well-known conflict: Bush Jr.’s War in Iraq.
Nearly everyone of importance in that administration such as President Bush (R-TX), Dick Cheney (R-WY), Colin Powell (R-NY), Donald Rumsfeld (R-IL), Condoleezza Rice (R-AL), John Bolton (R-MD) and many other war hawk Republicans essentially came to three conclusions: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Iraq purchased materials for these weapons from Africa and the Saddam Hussein administration was funding and aiding Al-Qaeda. Before the invasion, CIA officials Tyler Drumheller and George Tenet briefed the agency that there was solid evidence from Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister, that there were no WMD. Further, Saddam, a secular dictator, actually used military force to fight Al-Qaeda rather than fund it. However, while the conflict sucked in trillions of taxpayer dollars and cost thousands of American lives, oil companies and defense contractors profited. From March 30, 2003 to April 30th of 2007, the stock prices of Chevron, Exxonmobil and Marathon Oil rose by 140.6%, 127.1% and 116.4% respectively. Of course, without surprise, the oil industry spent $7.7 million to the Republican party in 2004, giving the Democrats pocket change in comparison (based on what was reported.) Thus, while the price of oil soared, hundreds of thousands of everyday Middle East civilians died at the expense of corporate interests.
In all fairness, the oil companies and defense contractors have had a change of heart.
Oil and defense companies have fled to Hillary Clinton (D-NY), the former Secretary of State and Senator whose record includes voting for the Iraq War, using her foundation to accept millions from Middle Eastern countries, intervening in Libya, supporting drone strikes across the Middle East to seven countries and weapon sales across the Middle East as well. Clinton’s own record donations have surpassed Trump’s donations by over 5 to 1 from Chevron, 4 to 1 from Exxon Mobil, nearly 4 to 1 from Lockheed Martin and over 6 to 1 from Boeing. Of course, this goes without mentioning the massive amount of money spent on foreign aid and military arms supplied that ended up in the hands of extremist organizations such as AQAP, ISIS, Al Qaeda and a plethora of other organizations, not to mention theocratic and tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. However, earnings reports and stock prices show that at least some companies and people are profiting from America’s foreign policy.
4) Subsidies and Welfare
It’s interesting how two of the most subsidized industries in America are corn syrup and oil.
Economically, subsidies are used to help a business or industry produce and profit more, while other forms of corporate welfare are used to keep businesses afloat. Ultimately, the problem with subsidies and bailouts is simply the fact that the very politicians stealing taxpayer dollars for these companies are often receiving campaign contributions from the same company. Furthermore, the two most subsidized industries don’t benefit clean energy but they are for corn syrup/ethanol and oil, both of which arguably impact society negatively through pollution and obesity. Annually, the United States spends $37.5 billion a year on Oil and gas subsidies and roughly $4 billion on corn syrup, and these don’t include the rising costs of healthcare from issues like inhaling silica dust from fracking sites or drinking too much soda.
Now here is where it gets political – our congress members and cabinet members hand these subsidies out to the oil industry and agriculture firms which spend millions in lobbying every year. In addition, the Corporate bailouts of 2008 were absolutely terrible and special interest driven as well. Citigroup spent millions lobbying congress in the early 2000s, and spent more on Democrats than Republicans. The average Democratic Senator received nearly three times more money that a Republican Senator getting a donation from Citigroup; Citigroup also preferred a Bush presidency. When President Bush (R-TX) and Congressional Democrats chose which institutions to bailout, it was no surprise that Citigroup was among the top at the list with a $476.2 billion dollar bailout while Lehman brothers was ignored. It also came of no surprise when George’s brother, Jeb Bush (R-FL) received more than four times more money from donations from Citigroup than any other Republican Presidential candidate in the primaries. Unfortunately, subsidies and bailouts extend beyond Citigroup, but I need to get through the next three on the list.
It’s common knowledge that first generation immigrants, particularly from Latin America and the Middle East vote overwhelming Democrat. Rather than assuming they vote Democrat because that party is generally pro-reform and open borders, let’s imagine that both parties chose their stance based on the fact they vote Democrat. In the 1980 Republican primaries when Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA) was fighting off George H.W. Bush (R-TX), Bob Dole (R-KS) and an assortment of other conservatives, he showed support for a virtually free border with Mexico and Canada, through what he called a North American accord in November of 1979. Meanwhile, Democratic President Jimmy Carter (D-GA) supported a ban of all Iranian immigrants during his presidency and Democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill (D-MA) opposed the Simpson-Mazzoli bill which would have granted amnesty to over a million immigrants, mostly from Mexico. While surely not every 1980 Democrat opposed open borders nor did every 1980s Republican want millions of immigrants on our doorstep, the parties have changed on the issue, just like polling has too since statistical breakdowns of voting demographics have changed significantly since then.
Thus, it’s no surprise that Republicans like Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) or businessman Donald Trump (R-NY) are calling for 20 foot walls, deportation and banning immigration from certain countries. It also was a shock when President Barack Obama (D-IL) tried to use an executive order to shield millions of undocumented immigrants, simply because both parties are trying to either guide or deter young immigrants from voting booths. One major instance would be the state of New Mexico, where migrants – legal and illegal – have pushed the state to the Democrats. From 1981-2009, the GOP had two out of three New Mexico representatives or more, but the Democrats have taken two out of three of those seats and both Senators. The state went red every Presidential election from 1968-1988, but has voted Democrat in recent elections by wide margins, including a 10% margin in 2012.
2) The Drug War
When people think of President Richard Nixon (R-CA), they generally discuss Watergate and maybe the Vietnam War, but rarely ever does a $1.5 trillion dollar program, known as the War on Drugs, get mentioned. Like other wars discussed previously, America couldn’t resist this one. Under Nixon, Marijuana along with most other narcotics were banned and the DEA was founded. After Nixon, the war has continued to the 1990s and even modern day, and was especially escalated when Bill Clinton (D-AR) wanted to appear tough on crime by signing bills enforcing massive minimum sentencing laws. As a result, the United States now has 25% of the world’s prison population but only around 4.5% of the world population, yet drug usage has… remained stagnant.
Cannabis wasn’t really banned because it has huge health risks, otherwise Presidents Obama, G.W. Bush and Clinton wouldn’t have smoked it, but it does have several effect that hurt several industries. The paper industry in particular was afraid that it could be used to create cheap hemp-based pulp and put them out of business, and pharmaceutical companies saw enormous health benefits especially with cannabis oil, but were afraid that it would lower the demand and therefore the prices and profits of current drugs. Finally, private prisons have profited from mass incarceration too. The largest for-profit prison corporation, the Corrections Corporation of America, owns and/or runs 67 detention centers and prisons across the country and accumulated a profit of roughly $195 million in 2014; plus, the CCA owns eight lobbyists and has spent millions influencing policy makers.
On another note, the Drug War has had a racial outcome; it also has a political outcome. Almost 80 percent of people in federal prison and nearly 60 percent of people in state prisons for drug offenses are Black or Hispanic; yet, countless studies have shown that the majority of drug users are white. Of course, all of these millions of cases could be coincidental much like Nixon claims the audio recording devices were, but John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic policy chief, claims the war on drugs was used to target blacks and young people. Perhaps not coincidentally, the African American vote supported Obama 92-7% over Mitt Romney (R-MA) in 2012 and have been voting Democrat before Nixon entered office, which explains why almost every Republican minus Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) want to continue this policy. This also leaves the Democrats torn between corporate interests or a case of more African-Americans in the voting booths.
1) Election and voting laws
Although not surprising now, many readers who don’t identify as third party voters don’t realize the destructive and tremendous impact the two parties have on elections. Of course, this includes several minor disputes, but the two party system promotes this behavior.
First, there is the issue of gerrymandering. I’ve personally met a Republican who helped Senator Tillis into Washington, and the districts in North Carolina couldn’t be more surgically drawn out to help North Carolina Republicans win elections, and Maryland Democrats are guilty of the same thing. Not to mention, legislators can purge voter registrations, as what has happened to many North Carolina residents of mostly African American dissent and early voting hours were cut simply because the GOP can’t afford to lose North Carolina when too many black Democrats vote early.
Ignoring plausible reforms to enhance elections, Republicans and Democrats have shut the door on promoting a functional democracy to avoid losing election battles. For instance, there is still a huge debate over the voting rights of felons, and since felons are statistically more likely to vote Democrat, it’s no surprise that the Republicans generally support a suspension of their rights while Democrats don’t mind it. Let’s examine the issue of voter fraud. Since 2000, there have been a total of 31 cases of voter fraud. Not thirty one thousand or thirty one million. Thirty one. Yet, there have been over a thousand laws to prevent voter fraud since then, preventing many felons, older people, immigrants and poor people from voting. Simply put, the Republicans who have written and signed these laws find election victories easier by removing voters rather than persuading them.
If you’re a Libertarian, you already understand my next complaint: the Commission on Presidential Debates. Gary Johnson (L-NM) had ballot access in all 50 states, a 9% average in national polls and the bipartisan CPD completely excluded Johnson. Further, there are legitimate concerns with the GAB and FEC, particularly when an Ohio gubernatorial candidate was removed from the ballot. Additionally, the Democrats in the liberal media and Clinton campaign have spread lies regarding Libertarian VP nominee Bill Weld (L-MA) dropping out. In the end, it’s highly unlikely that any election or campaign finance reform in the future will ever be in the interest of the American people, but rather designed to empower or suppress certain demographics, gerrymander districts, move voting booths and eliminate all third party candidates from being given a fair election.
* Jake Dorsch is a college freshman at Drake University double majoring in quantitative economics and political science. Currently, he is the founder and President of Drake’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter, but he has been politically active and a card-carrying Libertarian before then and he is supporting Governor Gary Johnson for President, on his Wisconsin ballot.
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