In Al Gore’s 2013 book, “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change,” Gore correctly declares that “American democracy has been hacked,” that Congress is “now incapable of passing laws without permission from the corporate lobbies and other special interests that control their campaign finances.” This isn’t amusing under any circumstances, but especially when you consider who some of these forces are and what they stand for. First and foremost as a threat to humanity (and all life on earth) is the fossil fuel industry, which has essentially bought the Republican Party (and, sadly, some members of the Democratic Party), with the goals of delaying the transition to a clean energy economy as long as possible and of milking the last penny of profit out of the Earth, even if it kills us all.
This theme – that our democracy has been hacked by corporate forces that are in it only for their own profit – is one that we should be spending a LOT more time discussing this campaign season. But good luck getting the corporate (emphasis on that word) media to bring up topics like this — might make their sponsors uncomfortable, dontcha know?
Anyway, along these lines, a friend of mine today pointed me to this article, which discusses two new novels that cover these topics. here are highlights; definitely hope to check them out once I get done reading the long list of books I’ve already got in the queue.
First, there’s Law And Disorder:
In Law And Disorder, Mike Papantonio, early investor and show host on Air America, president of the National Trial Lawyers and current host of the nationally syndicated Ring of Fire Radio show, gives us a peek into his world of mass tort lawsuits taking on the likes of big tobacco, large pharmaceutical companies and Big Oil.
In the book, main protagonist Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis has to take on a cabal of forces that will look familiar to anyone who’s read the news the past decade. There is Bekmeyer Pharmaceuticals and their dangerous product Randol, S.I. Oil, which is run by the wealthy, right-wing Swanson Brothers, who’ve never met a body of water or breathable air they couldn’t pollute.
Second, The People’s House:
Meanwhile, in his debut novel, The People’s House, David Pepper, former Hamilton County, OH Commissioner and Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, does what Law & Order once achieved, ripping his storyline from the headlines (but with a twist). A worn down journalist at The Youngstown Vindicator, Jack Sharpe, comes across a story initially hard for him to believe, which a threat to the very fabric of our democracy. In this clever plot, which has been compared to Joe Klein’s Primary Colors, Pepper invites us into a world where those who game the system have figured out a new way to corrupt American democracy.
Why does one need to attempt the higher profile takeover of the presidency when, in a gerrymandered Congress, you need only control the 30 or so swing seats to ensure legislation you like passes and gets its day in the Senate and on the president’s desk for his signature. Sharpe, in one of those districts, notices the irregularities, and then the plot really takes off, with congressman Lee Kelly getting his hands on proof of what occurred in this Northeast, Ohio district, and Monroe Country Democratic Ernie Rogers also questioning vote tabulations.
As with Papantonio’s oeuvre, Pepper isn’t looking for the false balance of The New York Times political page, he reminds us who is the party of Big Energy (Republicans), who has recently tampered with elections via voter suppression (Republicans) and/or re-routing large gobs of dark money through charitable organizations (take your pick, Donald Trump and Pam Bondi? Scott Walker and the Koch Bros?). In this election, calling out regressive forces without subtlety or “both sides do it” is refreshing to say the least.