Bill Moyers Interviews Andrew Bacevich

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Bill Moyers Interviews Andrew Bacevich

This is still a very timely and important intellectual exchange. The substance has not changed since it was conducted. The governing establishment elites in Washington and the American people at large still do not get it. The National Security State, driven by the imperial presidency, an acquiescent congress and a complacent federal judiciary, has destroyed the American Republic. Their welfare-warfare state, enabled by the Fed, fosters and promotes the profligacy and dependency which is at the root of this destructive process.

Bill Moyers: Here is what I take to be the core of your analysis of our political crisis. You write, “The United States has become a de facto one-party state, with the legislative branch permanently controlled by an Incumbents’ Party.” And you write that every president “ has exploited his role as commander in chief to expand on the imperial prerogatives of his office.”

Andrew Bacevich: One of the great lies about American politics is that Democrats genuinely subscribe to a set of core convictions that make Democrats different from Republicans. And the same thing, of course, applies to the other party. It’s not true.

Bacevich’s observation here echos a “Point of View” Op-Ed column from my Tulsa Tribune archives. Nothing has changed in the many years since it was first published in 1989 during the breakup of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe.


While the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe move to build multiparty political systems, we in America are being suckered into a one-party government, rule by the incumbents and only by the incumbents.

In the last congressional election, in 1988, over 98 percent of incumbents were re-elected. Politicians have but one firm goal — re-election. And robbing Peter to buy the vote of Paul is the surest way to this goal. It is the shared doctrine of nominal Republicans and Democrats alike.

Day by day, their meaningless stands on banal, diversionary issues such as the “war on drugs” have merged until little distinction remains. They are now but factions in the one true political party in America — the incumbent party.  Despite all posturing and pretense, their only real dispute concerns whose clients will get the loot. . . and whose the bill.

Capitol Hill has become one vast congressional clip-joint, where members “service” their constituents the way a second-story man “services” a luxury condo. This lies at the root of every economic ill plaguing the country — the S&L bailout, the HUD scandal, massive foreign and domestic debt, Pentagon plunder — the list could go on and on.

Because of this thievery, your income is 60 percent of what it should be. The other 40 percent is forcibly taken by politicians and given to tax-consuming special interests. The parasitical profiteers return some of the ill-gotten gains to their benefactors in the form of campaign contributions, gifts or fees.

Here is how the ruse works in detail: Politicians allocate (steal) taxpayer funds for programs under the guise of alleviating the plight of the poor, the homeless, the sick, the elderly and the unemployed, and serving the “public interest” or “national security.” Yet it is not the mother’s milk of human kindness and compassion which lubricates the intricate gears of political machinery. It is the snake oil of expediency.

The bureaucrats who administer this flim-flam provide taxpayer funds to political advocacy groups through massive grants and contracts, ostensibly intended to fulfill program objectives. However, much of the money received by the special interests is used to lobby, campaign and organize support for the mandarins to manage, additional funding for existing programs, and the re-election of their shills who favor the appropriations which play politics with human misery.

Farcical public hearings are staged to persuade the complacent and compliant news media that greater spending is essential to deal with these pressing problems. Incumbents then appropriate more funds for existing malevolence and initiate new mischief through legislative legerdemain.

In turn, they mass their campaign contributions from clients and franking privileges for their re-election efforts. The bureaucracy awards more pilfered taxpayers’ funds to the special interests, and the process begins all over again.

The losers are the hapless taxpayers who pay for this sophisticated protection racket and the truly unfortunate members of society who receive only a fraction of the promised benefits of the programs set up in their names.

The winners are those tax-consuming bunko artists and wirepullers who gorge themselves at the public trough. The looted tax monies are siphoned off by special interests to promote their schemes, by public employees who want to finance the expansion of their petty bureaucratic empires, and by grasping politicians who want hard cash for re-election kitties and for conversion to their own personal use.

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Charles A. Burris is a writer and political communications research consultant.

10:58 am on June 13, 2011