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The Manchin Candidate

West Virginia is a state unlike any other. Largely beholden to the coal, tobacco, and chemicals industries, when DuPont was discovered fouling public waters with PFAs (an “immortal” mutagen), the State environmental agency responded by increasing exposure limits. The current governor (Jim Justice) is a “chip off the old Trump” whose billion-dollar wealth is defrayed by $700 million in personally-guaranteed loans and hundreds of millions in estimated coal-field restoration costs.

For years, I have watched with frustration as pundits look at conservative politics and descry the major policy threads of ethno-nationalism, abortion, and trickle-down economics. These are all smoke screens. The animating issue of conservative politics is the proposition that the free market is the only valid forum for negotiating the distribution of power. Democracy is a mechanism that blunts the exercise of their profit motives, and global corporations, organizing through the world-wide-web, have run an organized campaign to undermine democratic processes.

In countries such as Russia and China, that was simplified because democracy was never firmly established. These states operate as kleptocracies, changing rules to allow those closest to the head of state to seize economic sectors as state-sanctioned monopolies. Facing the pressure of monopolistic competition, the response among Western corporations has been to finance movements that narrowly align governmental and corporation objectives.

So don’t fool yourself that Joe Manchin, the senior Democratic senator from West Virginia, really believes that the filibuster is a tool for ensuring bipartisan compromise. That is a smoke screen. Representing a state so deeply corrupted by corporate interests, he is almost certainly constrained by other considerations. Not least being protecting the wealth of men, such as Jim Justice, who (as did Donald Trump) seek office principally to exercise the powers of government to shield their wealth from taxation and contractual obligations.

The only effective response to global corporatism is the same one that eventually reined in inter-state corporatism: creating regulations that span the domain of their activism. This was accomplished through federal regulation in the first half of the twentieth century, but the corresponding global framework has been propagandized against since before Ronald Reagan (the old “UN Black Helicopters” and “One World Government” canards). It is time for liberal pundits to open their eyes and recognize that this problem cannot be solved one state at a time. The EU has led the way in building multi-national business frameworks, and protecting their market from exploitation by kleptocratic powers. The US should take a serious look at participating.

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