Monday, May 29, 2006

"Hostile Takeover" Author David Sirota: How Corporate Interests Conquered American Democracy


In the following interview with, author and political strategist David Sirota talks about his alarming new book, Hostile Takeover, which takes a look at how corporate interests have conquered American democracy. In this interview, Sirota describes how ordinary Americans have been sold out by a corrupt political system and explains what citizens can do to fight back.

Question: In a nutshell, what is your new book, Hostile Takeover about?

Sirota: It is about how Big Money interests now fully control America's government. There is no longer any distinction between these Big Money interests and the political system that purports to represent us. To really understand American politics we have to see that most of our politicians are acting as spokespeople for the Big Money interests that fund their campaign. Once we see that, we can understand why so many public policies not only do nothing to solve America's problems - but actually make those problems worse.

What was your motivation for writing this book?

Sirota: My motivation was to help educate citizens about exactly how deep corruption really runs in our political process. Most people understand that there's something gravely wrong in our political system right now. But most people are not following politics on a day-to-day basis. That's not surprising - as our economy has crushed the middle class, fewer people have discretionary time to follow politics very closely. My book is designed to cut through the B.S. and give folks a handy users guide so that when they do key in every once and a while, they can flip to the relevant section of the book and see how they are being B.S.'d.

Many Americans would argue that Big Money interests took over the levers of power in this nation long ago. If this is the case, then what would you say is any different about today's situation?

Sirota: What's different about today than previous years is how brazen the corruption is. Pay-to-play politics is no longer hidden from view. It's right out in the open for all to see. That is a sign of just how our government is more owned today by Big Money interests than ever before. That has been allowed to happen because we no longer have just one Big Money party in America. We have about one and a quarter or one and a third, and that has allowed the entire political process to shift radically.

What was the starting point for the hostile corporate takeover of America as we're seeing it today? What triggered this hostile takeover?

Sirota: It's hard to pinpoint an exact "start" of the hostile takeover. That said, I believe it came with Big Business's understanding over the last thirty years that it wasn't enough for them to own one political party (the Republicans). Over the last three decades - and particularly in the last 15 years - Big Money interests have bought a chunk of the Democratic Party. That chunk has decimated the forces that protect ordinary citizens in the political arena.

In Hostile Takeover you take the Democrats to task, as well as the Republicans. Is a third party the only way Americans can their country back?

Sirota: There are some tremendously inspiring third party movements out there, such as the Progressive Party in Vermont and the Working Families Party in New York. However, I still believe that the Democratic Party is the biggest, most powerful and most promising vehicle for real change. The party is in the throes of a battle for its soul - and I think we are seeing signs that that battle is going to be won by the courageous populists who are finally putting their feet down and saying, enough is enough, its time for our party to go back to its roots and stop selling out.

There's been a lot of speculation that perhaps the Democrats can take back the Congress in November and then start the ball rolling on impeaching Bush. Are you optimistic about the Dems' prospects in November and about the possibility that the nation could see real change for the better as a result?

Sirota: I am optimistic about Dems' prospects, but I am not as optimistic that Dems winning would bring real change because, so far, the Democratic Party has not run a campaign representing real change on major issues - only a change in who is running the show.

The likes of ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart wield vast power in our political system today. What can ordinary citizens do to stop the hostile takeover of America by these behemoths?

Sirota: There's no easy answer to this question. I spend a whole chapter in my book discussing this very question. As a preview, I will give you one idea: we need to focus far more locally. The media leads us to believe that the only place to focus our political activism is on the White House, when in fact ordinary citizens can have a far greater impact in the state, local and municipal arenas. This is why I helped found the Progressive States Network.

Overall, are you optimistic or pessimistic, long-term, that the hostile takeover of our nation can be halted or reversed?

Sirota: I tell people that if I wrote this book 10 years from now, the subtitle would not include "how we take it back" because I think there would be no way to do that. But I think right now we have a big opportunity to take our government back. The silver lining of the recent corruption scandals is that citizens are more outraged than ever about the corruption that is ruining our democracy. The question is whether any party or political movement has the guts to harness that outrage into action. I am optimistic that the progressive movement will - that's why I wrote this book.


Anonymous said...

With all the corruption and scandal plaguing the GOP at the moment, if the Democrats can't manage to win in November, then I can't imagine how they'll ever win back the Congress.

Anonymous said...

If the Dems DO win in November and take back the Congress, how much do you wanna bet that they will then wimp out and not pursue impeachment against President Bush? The Dems are a bunch of wimps and they are scared of their own shadow.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm not as optimistic about November as Sirota is. November is a long ways off and a lot can happen between now and then. Add to this Congress's current 98 percent re-election rate and the chances seem dismal that the Dems can regain power.

Anonymous said...

I cannot remember where I read this but this fits into a projected model of the breakup of the United States as a whole, as an entity due to the whole disenfranchising of whole areas and increasing statism and unjust laws with major sections of the population put under trememndous pressure due to this future event.

Now bearing in mind that Bush has with his cohorts machinated US law into such a position that he can and will if necessary turn thr police and troops onto the population and with the article shown here recently again highlighting the need for 600 or more prison camps with dubious intent, is anyone getting the picture yet?

The GOP, like Britain's New Labour are indicating in their legislature and stance that they do not intend to give up power easily, with Bush's attack on the 22nd amendment this should have caused alarm bells across the nation.

Blackwater also recently identified itself as ready for domestic assignments, another warning that if the armed forces refused to comply with orders to attack the US populace, Blackwater can and will.

This goes back a long way, back through Vietnam and beyond, many of the foundations of the theft of the US were made in Vietnam, Iran-Contra never ended, it just widened its scope and now with massive production ensuing in US controlled regions of Afghanistan, these people will do anything, including locking the nation down, to protect their enterprise.

British Forces in Afghanistan were told uncategorically that even if they saw sacks of opium hanging out of the backs of trucks, they were given orders by US command NOT to intervene according to one British Colonel stationed in the worst affected area.

What we have here, are criminals in charge of the country, who have used their position to pull others into protected posts, to further their criminal intent, to steal the country and to steal the world, remember that even if nuclear war between China or Russia and the US was provoked, these people will survive, its guaranteed.

My thoughts that Americans reclaiiming their country through legislative and electoral means are becoming a more remote possibiliity each time Bush passes more laws shoring up his and his criminal gangs position, it may in the end come down to a second war of independance where the American people will fight to rid themselves of the corporate vultures. Certainly it seems that the Democrats have been either emasculated by the GOP or are part of the same game and my money is that the reality is on the latter, whether in part or whole.

Bush is preparing for a showdown, something is coming that will provoke the American people into outrage, possibly violent outrage and then and only then will it make sense as to what he is doing.

Anonymous said...

In reply to the previous post, author James Kunstler says a breakup of the U.S. into autonomous regions is entirely likely as the U.S. faces extreme hardship in the years to come as Global Peak comes and goes and oil production goes into decline. In his book, "The Long Emergency," Kunstler says Global Peak already occurred in the past couple of years. He may be called an alarmist, but he is utterly convincing