Welcome to the circus of US political conventions

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Balloons and confetti descends at the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. © Jonathan Ernst
Annual party convention season in the United States combines comedy, farce, and melodrama in one rip-roaring package of unadulterated entertainment that is to democracy what the Emperor Nero was to fire prevention.

The American people, and the world, are currently being treated to an annual parade of charisma-challenged, very rich and predominately white mummies, appearing on vast stages bedecked in Stars & Stripes and other symbols of US exceptionalism, reading prepared speeches from an autocue in front of audiences of placard-waving, holler-whooping people bused in from every town in the country.

Meanwhile, outside the auditoria where these circuses are being held, the people from downtown are protesting, doing their best to avoid getting their skulls cracked by police batons in the process.

Is there anybody anywhere who still believes that democracy and America are words that belong together in the same sentence? Rather than a government of the people, by the people, for the people, the truth of American democracy is, in the words of US economist Joseph Stiglitz, a government of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent.

Both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, rather than glowing examples of democracy in action, instead afford the 99 percent a ringside seat at the struggle between rival political representatives of the super rich for the privilege of being the one who will screw them over for the next four years. It is a contest to see which group of rich patrons, campaign donors, and corporate sponsors will gain most from whoever is in the White House next. A US presidential election is less about governing the country and more about dividing up the succulent, juicy pie of corporate welfare between those who already have too much yet still want more. For it is greed not democracy that drives politics in the land of the free, greed for money, power, prestige, status and fame.

This particular election year comes at a point where it is no longer possible to continue the pretense that America is the greatest country on earth, that shining city on the hill of which every dewy-eyed patriot boasts. In truth it is a country, political system and society in crisis, wherein a war of all against all is raging in its towns and cities, pitting police departments kitted out with more weaponry than your average army against low income and minority communities, inhabited by people who have seen their lives decimated under both Democrat and Republican administrations over the years, administrations in thrall to the rich and corporate America, whose theft and larceny would make Al Capone blush it is so outrageous.

In 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are squaring off for what is already one of the most vicious and acrimonious campaigns for the White House ever fought.

At the Republican Convention the mantra in the audience was “Lock her up! Lock her up!” with all it needed was someone to start waving a hangman’s noose for the posse to be on its way to her house. Trump promises to “Make America Great Again,” a sufficiently open-ended slogan to mean anything his supporters want it to mean. Given the billionaire’s polarizing message on immigrants and Muslims, the way he has made white supremacy cool again, it is no surprise that many in America are dreading the prospect of him becoming president.

But, yet, when it comes to foreign policy, at least Trump is not promising to wage war without end on the world and is less than enthusiastic about NATO. This alone marks him out as a refreshing departure from the norm.

Clinton, meanwhile, is a woman for whom foreign policy and cruise missiles are two sides of the same coin. She comes to the race as the progressive candidate, though only by dint of a grotesque mangling of the English language could the destruction of entire countries, the gloating over the murder of an African leader, and threatening to unleash war on anyone that dares stand in America’s way be described as progressive.

Moreover, for someone presented to the American people as a champion of the poor, working people, and those struggling to make ends meet, she and her husband have some interesting friends and supporters - Wall Street and George Soros prime among them – who aren’t exactly struggling to get by. Then, too, the sympathy she’s expressed for the increasing number of black victims of police brutality and shootings is belied by her vociferous support for her husband Bill’s notorious crime bill, which his administration drafted in the early nineties and which ushered in the mass incarceration of black people and other minorities.

This democratic circus of the RNC and DNC takes place as the presidency of Barack Obama winds down to its ignominious end. It is a two-term presidency that can he measured by the answer to one simple question. How many mothers are childless and children orphans as a result of the decisions his administration made over the last nine years?

The question answers itself, as it does when applied to every US president and administration since the end of the Second World War, condemning each and every one with crimes against humanity committed on a mammoth scale.

It is why the gulf between the Hollywood circus that is the Republican and Democrat National Conventions – with their nauseating celebration of US exceptionalism – and the reality for the millions who have suffered and will continue to suffer regardless of who enters the White House this year exposes US democracy as a sham. It is the best democracy that money can buy.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.