More is riding on Election Day than you might think

By By Andy Thompson

By Andy Thompson

Fewer than two weeks until the big day. Judgment Day-twice the hype of the Super Bowl and World Cup combined. It is the first Tuesday (unless it’s the day after Halloween) in every other November, and has five times the pundits and pollsters than the BCS.

Election Day (yes, voter turnout indicates that I must spell it out).

The event’s real-life drama rivals “American Idol,” Brad, Jennifer, Angelina and Britney. Washington has as much plotting, maneuvering and deception as a “Sopranos” episode. And the day’s implications will determine how we are governed while watching the NFL or going to church during our day of rest.

There are the Republicans and there are the Democrats (always those two-I bet Fox wishes that every World Series pitted the Yankees against the Cubs).

The entire world watches with heightened anxiety-the vote could determine whether bombs are dropped in their city. The United States’ influence is so pervasive that its legislation and foreign relations affect every single country on the planet.

If that type of risk/reward scenario can’t get you going, maybe ease off the cocktail of Ambien and Percocet.

There’s a lot of cash riding on this one.

On the right, you have the Republicans. A philosophy of “self-government.” This means privatization, which means corporations, which run on stockholders and share price, which are driven by earnings growth and market capitalization. In layman’s terms: whoever makes the most money wins-good old-fashioned greed.

And, there are a lot of corporations winning these days thanks to six years of Republican policy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high Tuesday. Stocks, such as Halliburton, have been fueled by a fairly major piece of Republican policy-that little skirmish with Saddam.

I know they said the thing in Iraq would be brief, but look how well the economy (code for market) has responded. Cheney is the ex-chief of Halliburton, so he’s gotta throw ’em a bone. And Bush, ever since he bankrupted that oil company in the ’80s, can’t help but feel he owes the industry something. In fact, every member of Bush’s cabinet has ties with multinational corporations. W even considered Enron’s Kenny Lay for Secretary of Energy before the sound of whistle-blowers changed his mind.

Corporate interests do not stop at the White House door, but spread throughout the entire Republican Party. The Republican Congress’ push for privatization in the military (no longer termed defense, since we’re on the attack), utilities, social security and health insurance diverts funds from government to corporations.

This sphere of influence corporations have within government is wonderful news if you’re part of the investor class. Instead of lawmakers serving the public, they serve the publicly traded. They answer to shareholders, not to the people. Shareholders’ say in a company is disproportionate to America’s heritage of one person, one vote. My 20 shares of Halliburton is a grain of sand to the beach of stock options Cheney has waiting for him.

At the company’s boardroom in Houston-as well as in every other publicly traded company-the amount of money vested determines how loudly one is heard. While this is a good idea for a corporation and capitalism, it is not a good thing for this country and democracy.

Of course, it is na’ve to think that the Democrats on the other side are free from the lucrative reach of big business and that the power of money only afflicts Republicans. Corporate interests will lobby no matter which party controls Congress and the White House. The thing about Democrats is that they offer a bit more balance between business and the people.

This balance is essential to our nation, as compromise is at the heart of its foundation. The country needs industry to put food on the table. It also needs government services, like Medicare, to care for its people.

We cannot sell our government, and its agencies and entities, to corporations that are legally committed to making more money. Besides, the government could use some of these record profits to shrink the nation’s deficit, and to pay for that thing in Iraq.

Nov. 7 does matter. Every Election Day is important, and the high stakes of today’s politics makes this especially true. So set the VCR, concoct the special punch, put up the streamers and balloons and get ready for the biggest day since Ohio botched the presidential election two years ago.