Geopolitical Notes From India
M D Nalapat
IN the dying days of 2008, Leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi took very little time to convince incoming President Barack H Obama to betray twenty million US citizens (most Democratic Party supporters) for the sake of around 200 of that country’s ultra-rich. Pelosi and Obama ensured the passage of legislation that shovelled $ 700 billion into the coffers of the very financial institutions that had in their greed bankrupted more than a hundred million people across the globe. They acted in concert with President George W Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson who triggered the 2008 financial crash because of his longstanding personal feud with the CEO of Lehman Brothers. At the same time, twenty million US citizens lost their homes, their jobs and their future with neither Obama nor Pelosi giving them a second look.
From the beginning of her long career in politics, the 78-year old leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives has stood for the interests of the millionaire and billionaire class to which she belongs. As for Obama, his career has been marked by a laser-like focus on his own interests, and it was clear that the newly-elected 44rth President of the United States regarded the protection of the fortunes and reputations of the very billionaires who had caused the Sub-Prime Crisis (which caused millions to become homeless overnight) as being of greater benefit to himself than looking after the poor and the idealistic who had ensured his victory in the 2008 presidential poll. It was this obsessive focus on his own narrow interests that made Obama fill “his” administration with Clinton-era retreads, installing Hillary Clinton as the de facto Executive President of the US, to whom the many Clinton camp followers went to for instructions rather than to the newly elected President.
It was that betrayal of hardworking and underpaid Democratic Party loyalists by Pelosi and Obama in 2008 that led to the circumstances which caused Donald J Trump to prevail in the 2016 presidential poll. Now that the very voters betrayed repeatedly by her actions have returned the Democratic Party to a majority in the House of Representatives after eight years of exile, Nancy Pelosi is stepping forward to become House Speaker, so that she can, in tandem with elements of the Trump Administration, ensure that the House of Representatives does not act as a barrier to the efforts of the billionaire class (backed in their actions by a Supreme Court having a majority that bows to their wishes with shameless regularity) to protect their fortunes at the expense of the rest of society. The Roberts court has become almost a wing of the Republican National Committee. So eagerly does its conservative majority agree to sanction even such trespasses of democracy as “dark funds” funds flowing in tens of millions of dollars to Republican Party candidates, money that is without trace or limit
Only if the Ranking Idealist in the Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders, plants the flag of protest can the march of Pelosi to the Speakership of the US House of Representatives get derailed, and an individual get chosen from within the Democratic Party House members who is true to the base of the party. Senator Sanders is a man of impeccable principle, but his surrender to the Clinton machine in 2016 surprised several of hs followers, who refused to heed his plea to them to support the Queen of the Beltway, Hillary Rodham Clinton in the November 8, 2016 poll. Will he make the same mistake this time as well, or will he mobilize his supporters into blocking the bid by Wall Street to install a compliant Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House?
An ally for Sanders in such an effort could be Senator Kamala Harris, another champion of the underprivileged. Had Harris been the effective leader of the Democrats in the US Congress in 2008, it is certain that she would have refused to hand over $ 700 billion to the ultra-rich without at the same time ensuring that tens of millions of those far less wealthy not be deprived of their homes because of the greed of the 200 “fat cats” that Bush, Paulson, Pelosi and Clinton got incoming President Obama to back without simultaneously doing anything for the former. Incidentally,Nancy Pelosi sought to lower Democratic Party participation (in a poll where each vote counted) by repeatedly proclaiming that the Democratic Party was in the midst of a “Blue Wave” that would inevitably ensure a sweep by the party of the House seats. As a consequence of such over-confidence, many Democratic Party faithful may have stayed at home, figuring that their side was going to win anyway. Already Pelosi is talking to television channels about “unity” with the Republican Party. What she means is that both should unite (as they have repeatedly done under her prodding) to protect billionaires from their own mistakes, while leaving the rest to fend for themselves.
Among the most egregious human rights violations taking place in the US Congress is the support given to US (and EU) pharma giants, who gouge those who are critically ill with extortionate prices. Martin Skreli, a human vampire, is only one of several such in the higher echelons of drug companies in the US and the EU. Skreli got into trouble only because his price gouging became public, and lawmakers had no choice but to make an example of him, while leaving the Martin Skreli clones in the US and Europe unharmed as they deprived entire populations of cheap and effective substitutes for overpriced medicines. India’s generic drugs industry has been a target of successive US Administrations, aided by the US Congress, many of the members of which live off donations given by Big Pharma.
Should Nancy Pelosi return as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, it would mean that the leadership of the Democratic Party remains firmly in the control of the Clinton machine, whose ties to Wall Street are many and irreversible. However, should Democrats sincere to their base rather than to the billionaire class assert themselves and replace Pelosi with a leader in step with popular aspirations, it would be a sign that the Party is returning to the ever-victorious years of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a time when the Republican Party is kicking in the face the precious legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.