What Frontline Left Out
One month before the 2012 presidential election, the “Public” Broadcasting System’s investigative journalism show Frontline last week broadcast a show purporting to “present the definitive portraits of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.” The show, bearing the dramatic title “The Choice,” provided sensitive, highly personal biographies of the two official contenders, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Families of Origin, Marriages, School Days, and Drugs
“The Choice” was as remarkable for what it left out as it was for what it included. It was loaded with details about each candidate’s family histories and marriages and past careers and campaigns. It reported at length and quite intelligently about Obama’s conflicted, multi-racial and peripatetic childhood, his youthful drug use, his absent parents, his alcoholic grandparents, his multicultural friendship group at Occidental College, his deepening seriousness at Columbia University, his centrist Harvard Law career, his early romance with Michelle Robinson, and his early victories and one crushing defeat in black Chicago politics. Frontline reported deeply and sensitively on Romney’s close childhood relationship with his rich powerful father (onetime moderate Republican Michigan governor and presidential candidate George Romney), Romney’s Mormon background, his near-death in an automobile accident in France, his elite private school upbringing, his college days and pro-Vietnam War politics at Stanford, his early marriage to Ann, Ann Romney’s struggle with multiple sclerosis, his years at Harvard Business School, his rise to prominence and success at the Wall Street firm Bain Capital, his unsuccessful bid to unseat Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, and his brief tenure as the Governor of Massachusetts.
All of this was very impressively researched and presented. At the same time, “The Choice,” was deafeningly silent about the different yet all too similar policy agendas of the two business-backed candidates and about the massive amounts of elite money that have paid for both of the campaigns in what has become by far and away the most expensive U.S. election ever. By deleting policy, Frontline suggests that only real choice on offer is whether one wants to the White House to be occupied by (A) a fantastically rich white male who was born into great wealth and power and the Mormon Church and was very close to this father or (B) an often lonely half-black man born into a broken, middle-class family who smoked a lot of weed in high school and had almost no contact with his father, was raised for many years by his white grandparents in Honolulu, and wandered the streets of Harlem before finding a home and a political base in Chicago’s black South Side?
Beyond the standard shrieking of Romper Room radicals who insist that the two parties and their candidates’ agendas are “indistinguishable” and “the same” – totally or almost completely without any relevant difference – there are policy divergences that ought to matter to any serious progressive who actually cares about his fellow human beings and livable ecology. The G.O.P. has become yet ever more “publicly committed to dismantling and destroying whatever progressive legislations and social welfare has been won by popular struggles over the past century” (Noam Chomsky). Writing of the Republican Party four years ago (in an important left-liberal critique of the U.S. political order that did not spare the Democrats),  political scientist Sheldon Wolin observed in 2008 that “It is hard to imagine any power more radical [than the G.O.P.] in its determination to undo the gains of the past century.”
That judgment is no less relevant four years later, to say the least. Nobody, probably not even Mitt Romney, knows if Romney actually means what he says on the campaign trail. But if the Republicans complete their takeover of Congress – a possibility – next November, a President Romney would face overriding pressure to act on what he says. And here’s some of what he’s claimed he would do as president:
- immediately okay the disastrous Keystone Pipeline
- end federal tax supports for wind power
- further escalate fracking and offshore drilling
- let the states re-criminalize abortion
- seek a constitutional amendment outlawing new same-sex marriages
- seek a constitutional amendment requiring two-third congressional majorities for tax increases
- replace unemployment benefits with unemployment “savings accounts.”
- “double Guantanamo”
- officially re-authorize torture
- deport undocumented aliens en masse
- start a new Cold War with “our main strategic enemy” – nuclear Russia
- significantly deepen inequality with further giant tax cuts for the wealthy few
- further gut financial regulations
- further cut Food Stamps, Medicaid and what’s left of public family cash assistance
Romney’s selection of “Tea Party” favorite Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate amounts to a de facto endorsement of Ryan’s plans to voucher-ize Medicare and to thoroughly bankrupt what’s left of the government’s capacity for social expenditure – this while acting to significantly increase the upward distribution of wealth and income.
Still, the nation’s two dominant political organizations are more alike than different in any meaningful world-historical sense. A recent Black Agenda Report column by the left activist and commentator Bruce Dixon uncovered no less than 15 critical political and policy matters on which Obama and Romney basically agree behind the official media story line of an epic contest between two “very different” and indeed “sharply polarized” parties and candidates. Dixon’s list includes the following:
- ‘The federal government should NOT enact any sort of WPA-style program to put millions of people back to work.’
- ‘Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are “entitlements” that need to be cut to relieve “the deficit.”’
- ‘Climate change treaties and negotiations that might lead to them should be avoided at all costs.’
- The corporatist investor-rights North American Free Trade Agreement is ‘such a great thing it really should be extended to Central and South America and the entire Pacific rim.’
- ‘Banksters and Wall Street speculators deserve their bailouts and protection from criminal liability, but underwater and foreclosed homeowners deserve nothing.’
- Racist imperialism should march on in the Middle East: ‘Palestinians should be occupied, dispossessed and ignored. Iran should be starved and threatened from all sides…. Cuba should be embargoed…. Black and brown babies and their parents, relatives and neighbors should be bombed with drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and similar places.’
- Racist imperialism must march on in Africa: ‘Africa should be militarized, destabilized, plundered and where necessary, invaded by proxy armies like those of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi or Kenya, or directly by Western air and ground forces, as in Libya’
- ‘US Presidents can kidnap citizens of their own or any nation on earth from anyplace on the planet for torture, indefinite imprisonment without trial or murder them and neighboring family and bystanders at will’
- ‘Oil and energy companies, and other mega-polluters must be freed to drill offshore almost everywhere, and permitted to poison land and watersheds with fracking to achieve “energy independence”.’
- ‘The FCC should not and must not regulate telecoms to ensure that poor and rural communities have access to internet, or to guarantee network neutrality.’
- ‘There really ARE such things as “clean coal” and “safe nuclear energy.”’
- ‘Oil and energy companies, and other mega-polluters must be freed to drill offshore almost everywhere, and permitted to poison land and watersheds with fracking to achieve “energy independence.”’
- ‘Immigrants must be jailed and deported in record numbers.’
- ‘No Medicare for All. Forget about it eliminating the Medicare age requirement so that all Americans would qualify.’
- ‘No minimum wage increases for you, no right to form a union, no right to negotiate or strike if you already have a union, and no enforcement or reform of existing labor laws.’
- ‘The 40 year war on drugs must continue…mention of the prison state is unthinkable.’
The Republicans and Democrats are not completely identical or interchangeable, but Dixon easily provides a chilling short list of areas of common ground between the two dominant reigning parties’ standard bearers.
It’s been like this for very many election cycles, which is no small part of why many U.S. voters’ candidate “choices” end up having nothing or little to do with policy. With the contests all-too drained of substantive policy meaning, voters commonly select the candidate who seems most “likeable” to them, the one with whom they’d most like to have a beer or watch television. The managed infantilization of the electorate along these lines is encouraged by campaign advertisements that sell candidates like a new brand of deodorant and media commentary that focuses on things like Joe Biden’s facial expressions, the shape of Obama’s cheekbones, and Romney’s alleged physical awkwardness.
With its failure to mention policy at all – either in terms of difference or elite consensus between the candidates – Frontline’s “The Choice” is little more than a more sophisticated, elite-targeted version of a more vulgar national electoral culture that elevates candidate character and biography over substantive matters of policy.
The Wealth Primary
“The Choice’s” deletion of political money is intimately related to its avoidance of policy and particularly to its evasion of the ruling class policy consensus between the candidates. The leading theme in the dominant media’s relentless election coverage and commentary is as usual the horse race: which of the two candidates will prevail and why. Though Frontline ignored the topic, it is permissible in the context of that narrow discussion to talk about the role that the obscene quantity of corporate and financial cash “the 1%” invests in the election may play in shaping the outcome. What cannot be discussed to any significant degree is the role that big money and much more in the corporate arsenal plays in making sure that “we the people” and democracy will lose the election regardless of which candidate gives a victory speech next November. Progressive measures and demands like Medicare for All, real progressive taxation, full employment/public works, mortgage relief, the re-legalization of union organizing, a peace dividend, ecological retrofitting, de-incarceration – all of this and much more is simply pronounced “off the table” of serious election discussion. Never mind that the majority of American citizens have long supported such decent and democratic policies and demands.
But so what? Who cares? When the television network ABC’s evening national news show has turned to the presidential race – its main story (the same goes for the rest of the dominant media) for months now – its puts up a bright slogan or logo over the left shoulder of the news anchor. “Your Vote, Your Voice,” the logo reads. And when speaking to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last July, Vice President Joe Biden felt it necessary to “remind” that predominantly black civil rights organization “of one thing. Remember,” Biden said, “what this at its core was all about – why this organization at its core was all about. It was about the franchise. It was about the right to vote. Because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things.”
NAACP history aside, how true is Biden’s final assertion given the existence of what the campaign finance researchers and activists John Bonifaz and Jamie Raskin called “the wealth primary” – the requirement that candidates either personally possess stupendous wealth or enjoy strong funding connections to those with such wealth to pay for ever more expensive campaigns? Those with the financial resources required for serious contention and victory in America’s prolonged “winner-take-all” elections system are hardly in the business of paying for genuinely public-oriented and democratic office-seekers who genuinely wish to reflect majority populist and progressive sentiments in governments. As progressive journalist noted in a fall 2006 Harper’s report on the pre-presidential Obama phenomenon, “It’s not always clear what Obama’s financial backers want but it seems safe to conclude that his campaign contributors are not interested merely in clean government and political reform.”
“On condition of anonymity,” Silverstein reported, “one Washington lobbyist I spoke with was willing to point out the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player.’ The lobbyist added: ‘What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?’”
The title of Silverstein’s article bears mention: “Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine” – a topic that was completely and glaringly ignored in Frontline’s account of Obama’s remarkable rise from dormitory dope-smoking and the Illinois legislature to national prominence and power.
Consistent with that title and the lobbyist’s candid comment, Obama received record-setting corporate and Wall Street contributions in the 2008 election and then as president conducted something of a tutorial on who really rules and runs America beyond the charade of popular governance and quadrennial, candidate-centered and elite-funded electoral extravaganzas – the people who own the country. 
The wealth primary has long imposed deep plutocratic scars on America’s dollar-democracy, of course, but the problem is worse now than ever. Between the congressional contests and the Presidential campaign, the 2012 elections are on track to cost an all-time record of more than $6 billion. As across the last three decades, a tiny and disproportionately wealthy slice of the populace (significantly smaller than just “the 1%”) will account for a wildly disproportionate share of the dollars required to feed the nation’s burgeoning “money and -media election complex” that has “effectively become the foundation of electoral politics in the United States,” and “is now more definitional than any candidate or party—and...poses every bit as much of a threat to democracy as the military-industrial complex about which Dwight Eisenhower warned us a half-century ago..”
The problem isn’t just money per se. As the liberal Sunlight Foundation noted in a major campaign finance study titled The Political One Percent of One Percent last year, “It's the 1 percent of the 1 percent who account for almost a quarter of all individual campaign contributions…We know that money is not equally given by all Americans. There are very few Americans who can afford to write the kind of big checks that candidates depend on” (emphasis added).
The problem has been getting worse over time. “Over the past 20 years,” Sunlight reported, “ the $10,000-plus donors have accounted for an ever bigger share of political contributions….Everybody — not just candidates — leans harder on the wealthy as campaign spending escalates. Parties want to be able to tap into donor networks of people who can give $10,000, $20,000 to the party.” Within “the 1 percent of the 1 percent,” Sunlight found, the most elite donors, those with corporate ties, give on average $29,000 per election cycle – “more than what half of Americans earn in a single year.” Reflecting on Sunlight’s finding, University of Maryland political scientist Jim Gimpel told reporters, activists, and citizens to "Bear in mind that wealth is concentrated…this donation pattern… reflects the concentration of wealth in this country.”
But the real problem went deeper than merely the disproportionate power of concentrated wealth. Part of the reason that 2012 is certain to be the most expensive election on record was the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal decision. Passed 5-4 by the high court’s conservative, Republican-appointed majority and opposed by the Obama administration, Citizens United abolished prior longstanding governmental prohibitions against corporations digging into their treasuries to invest unlimited sums in election campaigns. The ruling opened the door to spectacular new levels of big business election spending, giving rise to giant new “Super PACs” that funneled tens of millions of corporate shareholder dollars into “independent expenditures” on behalf of candidates with the undoubted and in fact legally mandated purpose of shaping policy in the interests of corporate contributors.
Prior to Citizens United, to be sure, corporations already invested massively in American politics and policy. They spent billions on lobbying, ‘issue ads,’ political action committees (PACs), and raising PAC money. CEOs, top executives and corporate board members contributed heavily as individuals to parties and candidates. Still, as the prolific progressive legal critic Jamie Raskin noted in a recent special Nation issue on “The 1% Court,” there “ was one crucial thing that CEOs could not do before Citizens United: reach into their corporate treasuries to bankroll campaigns promoting or opposing the election of candidates for Congress or president. This prohibition essentially established a wall of separation—not especially thick or tall, but a wall nonetheless—between corporate treasury wealth and campaigns for federal office” (emphasis added). Citizens United blew up the wall and undid two centuries of high court doctrine on the special need to restrict corporations’ political contributions by claiming that “identity of the speaker” is irrelevant and an unconstitutional basis on which to limit the “free speech” rights of campaign contributors. What matters alone, the Court claimed, is “speech itself,” never “the identity of the speaker.” As Raskin observed, the decision was openly absurd, in part because the Supreme had refused to extend free speech protections to “public employees, public school students, whistleblowers, prisoners and minor-party candidates whose free-speech rights have been crushed by the conservative Court because of their identity as (disfavored) speakers.” Equally significant was the fact that Court clearly had no intention of seriously enforcing the literal language of the ruling by extending it to other institutions:
‘If it’s true that the “identity of the speaker” is irrelevant, the City of New York—a municipal corporation, after all—should have a right to spend money telling residents for whom to vote in mayoral races. Maryland could spend tax dollars urging citizens to vote for marriage equality in November, and President Obama could order the Government Printing Office to produce a book advocating his re-election…..churches—religious corporations—would have a First Amendment right not only to promote candidates from the pulpit but to spend freely on television ads advocating their election or trashing their opponents….. If the identity of the speaker is truly irrelevant, there should be nothing to stop the Church of Latter-Day Saints or Harvard University from bankrolling political campaigns.’
‘In the real world, the claim that the identity of the speaker is irrelevant cannot be taken seriously, and it is already being disregarded by the justices who signed on to it. The Court has so far declined to strike down the ban on foreign spending in American politics and the century-old ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates, laws that the new doctrine logically should invalidate. A total wipeout of campaign finance law appears to be just a step too far—at least right now—for a Court already facing plummeting public legitimacy.’
Another key judicial decision deserves mention, In late March of 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit struck down limits on what individuals could give to “independent expenditure campaigns” in SpeechNow.org v. FEC. While Citizens United unleashed corporations like never before in the world of campaign finance, SpeechNow.org freed billionaires like legendary “Tea Party” funders David and Charles Koch and Sheldon Adelson, right wing plutocrats who invested heavily in right wing Republican politics and pledged to spend massive sums (Adelson promised $100 million) to unseat Obama. 
Thanks largely to Citizens United and SpeechNow.org, the American political terrain is now burdened by more than 840 Super PACs and countless other “independent expenditure” campaign vehicles. Campaign finance observers noted with absolute certainty that “billions of dollars, much of it untraceable, will flood the 2012 election. We will never know for sure whose money is paying for the show,” Raskin noted, “because the front groups easily conceal their donors, including foreign corporations.”
Wall Street’s Choice
For what it’s worth, Wall Street appears to have made its choice in the presidential election – Romney. Last September 8th, the Center for Responsive Politics’ (CRP) “Open Secrets” Website reported that Romney had raised $29,587,891 from employees, partners and others associated with the Finance, Real Estate, and Insurance (FIRE) sector, including $11,458,384 from the Securities and Investment industry. Obama, by contrast, had raised $12,179, 522 from FIRE and $4,175, 867 from Securities and Investment. Romney’s top five contributors were Goldman Sachs ($676,080), JP Morgan Chase&Co. ($520,299), Morgan Stanley ($513,647), Bank of America ($510,728), and Credit Suisse Group ($427,580). Obama’s top five, by contrast, were the University of California ($491,868), Microsoft ($443,748), Google (357,382), DLA Piper (a multinational corporate law firm), and Harvard University.  (The gigantic sums do not include contributions to PACs and other “independent expenditures.”)
Talk about ingratitude: the disparity comes despite Obama’s faithful service to the financial elite. As campaign finance experts told Reuters reporter Kevin Drawbaugh last February, “the bankers likely feel they can relate to Romney.”
“Romney is one of them,” American University professor Leonard Steinhorn noted, adding that “they…feel comfortable with him.’”
"The financial industry has preferred Romney from the beginning when he started his campaign," CRP spokesperson Viveca Novak added. "He is of their world. They believe he understands them."
“We Must Make Our Choice”
It has become common in the last year for liberal and progressive thinkers to quote the elegant anti-plutocratic formulation of onetime Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in October of 1941: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.” That is good to see but I like to add the five-word sentence with which Brandeis prefaced his justly famous statement: “We must make our choice.” 
Democracy versus the concentration of wealth – that is the choice that Occupy Wall Street struggled to focus Americans on last fall, before the great authoritarian sucking sound of the latest presidential electoral spectacle became the official ubiquitous leading news story. (It’s not for nothing that the Obama administration worked with Democratic mayors and militarized urban police to help coordinate the often brutal armed force dismantlement of Occupy encampments across the country last fall.). We can and must keep our eyes on the deeper and related prizes – economic equality and environmental sustainability. The latest and current “election frenzy” will recede like a bad hangover. It always does. As the dull crush of corporate, financial, military and professional class rule sinks back into popular consciousness the time will be ripe again for popular mobilization around the serious political action that matters most- popular movement-building. Voting or sitting it out however and for whoever they wish (the “election 2012” decision is more complicated if one lives in a contested state), serious progressives must stay focused on the bigger struggle beyond staggered, theatrical, and candidate-centered, big money, big media, narrow-spectrum elections. The real issue is the conflict between democracy and the authoritarian rule of “the 1%’s” exterminist profits system, dedicated to the ceaseless accumulation of more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands.
Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org) is the author of numerous books, including most recently, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (2010) and (co-authored with Anthony DiMaggio) Crashing the Tea Party (2011). Street can be reached at email@example.com
 Noam Chomsky, “The Disconnect in American Democracy” (October 27, 2004), in Noam Chomsky, Interventions (
 “The timidity of a Democratic Party mesmerized by centrist precepts points to the crucial fact that, for the poor, minorities, the working-class, anticorporatists, pro-environmentalists, and anti-imperialists, there is no opposition party working actively on their behalf. And this despite the fact that these elements are recognized as the loyal base of the party. By ignoring dissent and assuming the dissenters have no alternative, the party serves an important, if ironical, stabilizing function and in effect marginalizes any possible threat to the corporate allies of the Republican. Unlike the Democrats, however, the Republicans, with their combination of reactionary and innovative elements, are a cohesive, if not a coherent, opposition force.” Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (
 Wolin, Democracy Incorporated, 206. “Paradoxically,” Wolin added, “liberalism and its historical party, the Democrats, are conservative, not by choice but by virtue of the radical character of the Republicans.”
 Bruce Dixon, “Closer Than You Think: the Top 15 Things Romney and Obama Agree On,” Black Agenda Report (August 29, 2012) at http://blackagendareport.com/content/closer-you-think-top-15-things-romney-and-obama-agree Dixon elaborates on the false assumptions behind these shared positions and on how most of what passes for differences between the two parties on these issue amount to contrasts of style, not substance.
 In a book that is highly critical of the Democrats and the corporate-capitalist party duopoly, the incisive Marxist commentator and author Lance Selfa notes “the two-party system would not work the way it is supposed to [for the propertied elite] if the two parties were identical. There must be at least some differences between the parties to give voters a stake in choosing which of the two will be in power after each election. So in early twenty-first century
 See also Bill Quigley, “15 Issues This Election is Not About,” Black Agenda Report (September 24, 2012) at http://blackagendareport.com/content/fifteen-issues-election-not-about
 Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Penguin, 1985), 126-132; Noam Chomsky, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (New York: Metropolitan, 2006), 220-223; Paul Street, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2010), 1-2.
 Jamie Raskin and John Bonifaz, “The Constitutional Imperative and Practical Imperative of Democratically Financed Elections,”
 Ken Silverstein, “Barack Obama, Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine,” Harper’s (November 2006). Silverstein, “Obama Inc.,” .37.
 Robert McChesney and John Nichols, “The Bull Market: Political Advertising,” Monthly Review, Vol. 63, No. 12 (April 2012).
 Robert McChesney and John Nichols, “The Money and Media Election Complex,” The Nation (November 29, 2010), online at http://www.thenation.com/article/156391/money-media-election-complex.
 Sunlight Foundation, The Political One Percent of One Percent (December 13, 2011) at http://www.npr.org/2011/12/14/143730288/top-donors-make-up-one-quarter-of-campaign-donations
 Jamie Raskin, “'Citizens United' and the
Corporate Court” (September 13, 2012), The Nation (October 8, 2012); National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI), ‘The Wealth Primary’ – Legal Theory” (n.d.), read at http://www.nvri.org/about/wealth1.shtml. “In the middle decades of the twentieth century,” NVRI explains, “the U.S. Supreme Court heard a series of cases that addressed efforts by white communities in southern states to exclude African -Americans from the franchise. In the first of these cases, which have collectively become known as the ‘white primary’ cases, the Supreme Court struck down all-white Democratic Party primary elections that were authorized by statute (Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927)), reasoning that primaries were so critical a part of the electoral process that they should be subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.” The “wealth primary” refers to the discriminatory de facto barrier to full and equal democratic political participation faced by non-affluent candidates and voters “who are left behind in the fundraising process because of their lack of money and access to money.”
 “Independent expenditures” are made in elections by PACs and other groups that claim to operate independently from specific candidate campaigns. In fact, their activities and spending are commonly and widely coordinated with such campaigns. Contributions to “independent” political groups commonly aren’t subject to any disclosure laws and are thus untraceable.
 Adam Liptak, “Courts Take on Campaign Finance Decision,”
 Raskin, “’Citizens United.’” Raskin calls SpeechNow.org a “junior partner” to Citizens United.
 Raskin, “’Citizens United.’”
 Center for Responsive Politics, “2012 Presidential Race,” at http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/index.php and “Presidential 2012, Selected Industry Totals” at http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/select.php?ind=F07
 Kevin Drawbaugh, “Romney Draws More Wall Street Donations Than Obama,” Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, February 2, 2012., read online at http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Elections/From-the-Wires/2012/0202/Mitt-Romney-draws-more-Wall-Street-donations-than-Obama
 This is the lead front-matter quote in Hedrick Smith’s new book, Who Stole the American Dream? (
 Quoted on the Web site of
 David Lindorff, “Police State Tactics Point to a Coordinated National Program to Try and Unoccupy Wall Street and Other Cities,” This Can’t Be Happening (November 15, 2011) at http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/900; Andy Kroll, “Mayors and Cops Traded Strategies for Dealing with Occupy Protestors,” Mother Jones (November 16, 2011), read at http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/11/occupy-protest-coordinate-crackdown-wall-street;
; Nigel Duara, “Mayors, Police Chiefs Talk Strategy on Protests,” Associated Press (November 15, 2011) at http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2011/11/15/mayors_police_chiefs_talk_strategy_on_protests/ For descriptions of chilling police-state crackdowns on the Occupy Movement: Dennis Bernstein, “What The Cops Really Did in Oakland,” Counterpunch (November 2, 2011) at http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/02/what-the-cops-really-did-in-oakland/; Yves Smith, “Police State: #OWS, Other Crackdowns Part of National, Coordinated Effort,” Naked Capitalism (November 15, 2011) at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/police-state-ows-other-crackdowns-part-of-national-coordinated-effort-bloomberg-defies-court-order-to-let-protestors-back-into-zuccotti-park.html; Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, “Obama Silent, Bloomberg Wrong on Constitutional Rights,” Black Agenda Report (November 22, 2011);Ken Layne, “ “Four More Years:: Obama Raises Money In San Francisco As Cops Gas Oakland Protesters,” Wonkette (October 26, 2011) at http://wonkette.com/455208/obama-raises-money-in-san-francisco-as-cops-gas-oakland-protesters]; http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/12/barack-obama-fundraiser-every-five-days-2011
 “The election frenzy seizes the country every four years because we have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls and choose one of the two mediocrities who have already been chosen for us…… Would I support one [presidential] candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes-the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth…But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice.” Howard Zinn, “Election Madness,” The Progressive (March 2008).