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From Wall Street hedge funds to Facebook, big money threatens democratic process in U.S. once again

December 23rd, 2019
topic:Democracy
by:Yair Oded
located in:USA
tags:2020 presidential race, Blackstone, Elizabeth Warren, Facebook, USA, Wall Street

As the 2020 primaries draw near, a growing number of companies, individuals and firms within the finance and high-tech industries pour money into smear campaigns against Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Why? She threatens the American establishment with her candidacy.

While other candidates with ‘socialist’ agendas have been blacklisted by Wall Street and the finance world as well, Warren is viewed as the most fearsome of the bunch, since she has been particularly vocal and specific in her demands to crack down on corporate greed and is currently the socialist candidate with the highest chances of winning. 

The meddling of such firms in the election process and their attempt to influence the results in order to serve their financial interests constitute a classic and alarming example of how unchecked power at the hands of corporations poses a very tangible threat to democracy. 

Throughout her political career, Warren has made a name for herself as a crusader against big corporations and financial institutions exploiting the people and wrestling control of the government by buying off politicians and lawmakers. 

Now, Warren’s presidential campaign conveys a blunt message to the country’s financial elites: ‘If I’m elected president, your omnipotence will be challenged with full force.’

Laying out several elaborate plans and proposals, Warren has vowed to take concrete steps to shrink the widening wealth gap in America, tackle corporate corruption, end the grip of big money on the political system and ensure that finance industry titans, large banks and the ultra wealthy are not shielded from scrutiny and tax obligations. 

At an Iowa appearance earlier this year, Warren stated, “Our democracy has been hijacked by the rich and powerful,” urging her supporters to shift their gaze toward what she views as the festering core of the average American’s woes. 

Through the Ultra Millionaire Tax, for instance, Warren proposes to levy a 2 percent tax on the wealth of households worth more than $50 million, which she claims could rake in close to $3 trillion to “rebuild America’s middle class.”

In a bold move, Warren also proposed the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, which would require private equity firms to guarantee the debt of any company they acquire (this would seriously limit their ability to garner sizable profits for investors and render their investments all the more unpredictable). 

On multiple occasions, however, Warren reiterated that she is, fundamentally, a capitalist, and stated that she supports the markets as long as they follow a defined and ethical set of rules. Her goal, it seems, is not to wipe out the billionaire class, but rather ensure they pay their fair share of taxes. 

So far, Warren has stayed true to her message, eschewing corporate donations and capping individual contributions from executives in the finance industry at $200. 

As expected, Warren’s bold platform has sent shivers down the spines of investors, bankers and wealthy Americans who fear for the survival of their dominance and lifestyle should the former enter the White House. Among their top concerns surrounding a Warren presidency are substantial cuts in profits, heightened executive-sanctioned scrutiny on the finance industry and a ‘perilous’ tampering with the free-market economy. Some in the industry predict a crash in the stock market in the period shortly after a Warren victory. 

Thus far, the reaction of firms and executives from across the finance, and even high-tech, industries has been to launch a unified blitz against Warren by funnelling money into smear campaigns, teaming up with Republican-backed firms that circulate ‘dirt’ on her, supporting Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, and funding Warren’s more centrist Democratic rivals, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

Back in October, a series of documents were released in an attempt to debunk Warren’s claims that she was fired from her public school teaching job back in 1971 because she was pregnant. An investigation by The Intercept revealed that the documents were obtained and distributed by a research group called America Rising. The group, The Intercept reported, is directly tied to a political action committee, public relations firm and for-profit research company funded by Republican donors, hedge-fund billionaires and equity investors. 

Blackstone, the giant private equity firm found to be in close financial ties with elements largely responsible for arson in the Amazon, also reportedly fired back at Warren, painting her as an extremist, after the latter sent out a video portraying Wall Street investors as con men and carrying the tagline: “Stop Wall Street looting.” 

Facebook, too, has been suspected of aiding an anti-Warren campaign after a non-profit education policy website co-founded by Facebook’s chief news executive published several articles attacking Warren, one of which referred to the Massachusetts senator as “the second coming of Karl Marx.” It should be mentioned that Warren has been a longtime critic of the social media giant, and on several occasions proposed to break up the company, along with several other massive tech platforms, in order to dial up regulation over their practices and avoid “illegal and anticompetitive tech mergers.”

The rattling of the finance industry in the face of Warren’s campaign and the firms’ orchestrated attack on her hardly constitute a surprise. As pointed out by The New York Times, the finance industry has always resisted regulation and lobbied its way to sizable bailouts at the expense of the average American citizen. Now, we get a clear view of how intimately connected the financial industry is to the political sphere, and how aggressively it fights to protect its interests and status.

We tend to categorise our concerns when it comes to big money in politics, and view threats in isolation: the environment, civil rights, human rights. But what this case demonstrates is that these are all intertwined. Turning a blind eye to the encroachment of the finance industry on elections would result in the violation of our planet, our civil rights and the future of our democracies.  

We must recognise that this is, in essence, a class issue. When it comes to the domination of political and governmental mechanisms by corporations, the lines between left and right all but blur, and any figure perceived to threaten the oligarchy becomes fair game. 

This is where our demands for climate, social and civil justice converge. Supporting grassroots campaigns that are not indebted to corporate money might be our only hope to eventually hold corporations accountable and weaken their control of our governments’ institutions and leaders. 

Article written by:
yair oded profile
Yair Oded
Author, Project Editor, Contributing Editor
USA
A growing number of companies, individuals and firms within the finance and high-tech industry pour money into smear campaigns against Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Warren’s presidential campaign conveys a blunt message to the country’s financial elites: ‘If I’m elected president, your omnipotence will be challenged with full force.’
Facebook, too, has been suspected of aiding an anti-Warren campaign after a non-profit education policy website co-founded by Facebook’s chief news executive published several articles attacking Warren,
48635812902_04f4e8d06b_c Follow the link to help crack down on secret, out-of-control political spending by corporations