Thursday, November 14, 2013

Manipulation of Representative Democracy - The Lobby


Despite implemented ‘checks and balances’ built into the structure, representative democracy, from the legislative branch to the executive, is one of the most easily manipulated forms of government in existence and is fertile soil for the capital influence of private sector corporations and foreign governments. With two main political parties, resembling two opposing groups of football fans, often stalemated over domestic legislature and the next election, corporate and foreign interest goals are often accomplished through bi-partisan lobbying of both branches.

For our brief case study, we will focus on the foreign state government of Israel and the powerful pro-Israeli lobby in Washington which is a compilation of many domestic lobbying organizations, but led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC basically takes marching orders from the foreign state of Israel and works diligently, with capital and political clout, to ensure that enough votes within the Senate and House (and the assigned sub-committees for the proposed interest), along with support or silence from the current presidential administration, is obtained. With this being explained, let’s take a look at how the foreign state government of Israel has 1) secured irrational amounts of annual military aid (over 3 billion dollars each year for decades) despite a growing debt to GDP ratio in the United States, 2) has secured the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council for all resolutions critical of the government of Israel, 3) has pushed foreign economic sanctions, and pushed for U.S. military regime removal, against states such as Iraq (which was a success for Israel) and currently Syria and Iran. AIPAC spreads influence on all members of Congress to support Israel, both members of the democrat and republican parties. In order to provide a picture of how capital contributions by lobbyists, whether to the foreign or private sector, impact foreign and domestic policy making in Congress, the following link is a report written by Janet McMahon of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and provides several charts on campaign contributions by the pro-Israeli lobby:

http://www.wrmea.org/pdf/201210pac_charts.pdf

In addition, AIPAC provides fully-paid trips to Israel for both democrats and republicans. In August 2013, Democrat Joseph Kennedy, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership, along with “36 other members of Congress” received an AIPAC funded trip to Israel during the August recess. In the same month, a “delegation of 25 Republicans” was led on their free trip by Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. Who could forget the 2012 AIPAC funded trip when Republican representative Kevin Yoder decided to skinny dip in the Sea of Galilee (Steinhauer)? The year 2012 was a very successful year for AIPAC funded congressional trips with “more the 80 members of the House” partaking in the free trip (Steinhauer). Through bi-partisan influencing within Congress, the foreign state of Israel is able to achieve passage on proposed U.S. legislation such as the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013. In order to understand which U.S. policy makers are influenced (greased) most by the foreign lobby, it is recommended that Americans analyze which ranking members of Congress are usually present and giving speeches at each year’s annual AIPAC conference. Here are a few links from years past:

President Obama:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9GHmyskhg

Mitt Romney:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_exRRS1Kig

Steny Hoyer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKEEaX12QAw

Eric Cantor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEVPPGhdqek

John McCain:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mYX8LxONDI

The list goes on and on, and it should also be mentioned that nearly every presidential candidate fears the pro-Israeli lobby so much that they go out of their way to visit the foreign state of Israel, to make promises, during the presidential campaigning process. Yet, lobbyist organizations such as AIPAC do not wait for a presidential or congressional election in order to buy and influence future legislative votes. They are constantly scouring the colleges of America for future leaders. The following link provides a video of the AIPAC lobbyist organization recruiting future government leaders throughout the colleges of the United States:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGoLrbJU7mk

http://israelcampusbeat.org/archives/2404/2000-faces-of-aipac/#mc_signup

Besides representing a foreign state government, the pro-Israeli lobby machine is not very different from private sector lobbyist manipulation when it comes to impacting legislation under representative democracy. Representative democracy is easily manipulated by capital influence, whether foreign or corporate, and result in policy-makers placing foreign or private sector interests before the interests of the United States and American citizens.

Although, it must be admitted that one of the reasons why this system of government is so vulnerable to manipulation is due to the apathy of the American people. Every four years, a good portion of Americans rush out to cast a presidential ballot which is basically decided by the Electoral College, but extremely low voter turn-out rates for Congressional elections, which determine policy votes, are the usually the trend across the United States. Last month, Cory Booker was elected to a Congressional seat in an election where “Less than one in four registered voters showed up to cast ballots” (Munsen).

Perhaps Capitalism and Free Trade would work better under a true democracy.

References:

AIPAC. “Our Mission.” American Israel Public Affairs Committe. Last modified November  13, 2013. Accessed November 14, 2013. http://www.aipac.org/about/mission

Associated Press. “Representative Kennedy Traveling to Israel with U.S. Congressional Delegation.” WBZ CBS Boston, August 4, 2013. Accessed November 14, 2013. http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/08/04/rep-kennedy-traveling-to-israel-with-u-s-congressional-delegationAssociated Press. “U.S. Republicans in Israel: We Are Troubled by Obama Policy.” Haaretz, August 6, 2013.  Accessed November 14, 2013.  http://www.haaretz.com/news/u-s-republicans-in-israel-we-are-troubled-by-obama-policy-1.281512

Munsen, John. “Low Voter Turnout in N.J. Special Senate Election Shows Need to Change State Succession Law.” The Star-Ledger, October 20, 2013. Accessed on November 14, 2013.  http://www.nj.com/times-opinion/index.ssf/2013/10/editorial_low_voter_turnout_in.html

Sharpe, Jeremy.  "U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel."  Congressional Research Service, April 11, 2013.  Accessed November 14, 2013.  http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

Steinhauer, Jennifer. “A Recess Destination with Bipartisan Support: Israel and the West Bank.” New York Times, August 15, 2012. Accessed on November 14, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/us/politics/16congress.html

Steinhauer, Jennifer. “House Member is Rebuked after Nude Swim in Israel.” New York Times, August 20, 2012. Accessed on November 14, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/us/politics/after-skinny-dipping-in-israel-rep-kevin-yoder-is-rebuked.html?_r=0

United States Congress.  “United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.” United States Congress.  Accessed November 14, 2013.  http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/house-bill/938/text
 

No comments:

Post a Comment