July 30, Stephen Colbert interviewed Jacob Soboroff and Katy Tur, presenters of American Swamp, a four-part docuseries on MSNBC about government corruption.
The Late Show segment is about politics in the USA but Canadians ought not to feel superior or complacent because our governments are constructed of the same timber.
Donald Trump won in 2016 by saying, “The system doesn’t work for you; it’s rigged. I’m going to go and fix it.”
…The system is set up right now to NOT work for you guys...
How bad is the swamp? …What is Washington like right now?
It is full of alligators, and every time you walk down the street, you’re getting bit… There’s so much money in politics…
It’s not necessarily people lining their pockets with government contracts. It’s literally the political industrial complex making money…
Arizona is the sunniest state in the union. Only 6% of people in Arizona have solar power, as a direct result of the perverse amount of money that is flooding into the system.
Natural gas and other energy forms—like nuclear power— are the preferred modes of powering your home in Arizona, despite the fact that you could do it [with solar] and you could make money back on your house.
[It is] because of money coming from the Koch brothers and other big utility companies in Arizona.
So, I am someone from a petroleum company and I don’t want solar power to be built in Arizona, what am I doing to stop it?
You are funding lobbyists and you are also contributing to campaigns and you are putting dark money into super PACs and those super PACs send out ads, they send out flyers, they flood your television with commercials, telling you that you don’t want this, vote against it. And, then they lobby elected officials to vote down bills.
It is legalized bribery and legalized money laundering and that is the system that elects the politicians today…
[Colorado Republican Congressman] Ken Buck told me that often times—a lot of the time—people don’t actually want to get anything done. Lawmakers would rather have the gridlock and talk about how they want to get something done, but not do anything.
Because, if they do do something, they run the risk of angering a special interest or a big donor and those special interests or donors will spend money on getting them out of office. So, they sit there and twiddle their thumbs.
And the fighting looks like they’re doing something. In fact, they’re embracing the gridlock…
We don’t need a sophisticated analysis to recognize Canadian similarities. Readers know examples of politicians pretending to do something while embracing the status quo.
Trudeau Liberals want to look like they care about the environment and they’re happy to spend taxpayer money advertising that myth. At the same time, Liberals are throwing out billions of dollars to add fuel to the flames of climate change by enabling expansion of Alberta’s tar sands production.
In another example, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority runs handsome TV commercials boasting about shore power made available to berthed vessels able to use it, thereby slightly reducing serious ship-source pollutants.
The port authority does not advertise its complicity in climate change, that coal and bitumen exporters are among its most important customers. With Ottawa’s LibCon masters, the port is preparing for expanded movement of dangerous coal and dilbit from Vancouver’s inner harbour and other port facilities.
Similarly, BC’s politicians are under a spell like those of Arizona. Except it is not fossil fuel or nuclear operators blocking modern renewable energy sources.
It was the union assisted political industrial complex known as BC Hydro, a public utility that has lied for years about growing demand and the impossibility of integrating non-hydro power with the grid. This justifies massive capital spending even though BC consumers in 2019 are using about the same amount of electricity that was used in 2005.
The BC cabinet acted like American politicians who wanted to look like they were doing something when doing nothing. They pretended the choice to proceed with Site C depended on further BCUC review, but gave a nod and a wink to energy insiders that the situation would continue as before.
Observers knew when Peace River work was not suspended and Chris O’Riley—the executive directly responsible for Site C construction—was appointed President of BC Hydro in July 2017, the die had already been cast.
We know that beyond cosmetics, there is little difference between America’s Republicans and Democrats. One party is firmly in the grip of special interest and unapologetic, the other is similarly tied but pretends it is not by mouthing platitudes and issuing empty promises to be different.
Here in British Columbia, Liberals mirror Republicans. Andrew Wilkinson’s party relies on secretive political action groups and is involved with shady online works and astroturfing sponsored by wealthy vested interests. (Two examples: internet based “news” magazine The Orca, and industry panderer Resource Works.)
John Horgan’s party resembles progressive Democrats.
A typical NDP member has a social conscience and wants to improve the lives of disadvantaged citizens and the middle classes. But, John Horgan’s party is reluctant to move quickly. The snail’s pace is explained by concern that radical actions would be unpopular and limit reelection opportunity.
As Colbert said, In fact, they’re embracing the gridlock.“