Taboo subjects in the primaries



We still have a long way to go before deciding who the next president will be, so perhaps what I am about to claim will be disproved before that time comes.  But if history is any judge I doubt it.


You see, there are certain topics that are simply not discussed in any complete manner during an election season – or any season for that matter.  And if they are discussed at all, it is at a very superficial manner.


These three topics are racism, sexism and social inequality.  


I know what you may be thinking now: Race has become a hot topic, as shown by the rift between the Clinton and Obama people, after Clinton’s remarks about King and Lyndon Johnson. Indeed, the media has had a field day over this non-issue.  And you may think that gender issues are being discussed, since a woman is running for president.  Well, no it is not.


And while the economy is touted as the number one concern among Americans and the tax cuts that favor the super-rich have been referenced on more than one occasion by the Democrats, the deeper issue of social inequality is never raised.


I watched almost the entire “debate” among the three leading democratic candidates here in Las Vegas recently and not once was the horrible imprisonment rate for African Americans mentioned.  Nor was there a single word about the drug war.  And no one brought up the fact that the wealth and income gap in America is greater than it was back in the days of the “Gilded Age,” with 1% of the population owning about 40% of the wealth and CEO’s making more than 400 times the income as the average worker (compared to about 40 times back in the early 1970s).  Nor did anyone raise the issue that inequality is greater in the US than in any other industrial democracy.


Nothing is coming out of the Clinton camp about the fact that growing numbers of women are either homeless or in prison, or even that they represent the fastest growing prison population.  Nor is anything said about the 2 million or more children with at least one parent in prison – mostly minorities.


From Obama there is silence about how the drug war has so viciously targeted African Americans, whose incarceration rate exceeds whites by a factor of 8 to 1 for drug crimes, even though their rate of drug use is less than whites.


Edwards was the only candidate speaking about corporate power and he was not the one who was supported by big donors, which is why he was never “selected” to be nominated and eventually dropped out.  Ditto for Kucinich.


Nor will you find any of these topics part of the discussion on any news show, like “Larry King Live” or “Meet the Press.”  When was the last time you saw a special on CNN called “Racism in America”?  Ever seen a special called “Race and the Drug War” or “Gender and the Drug War” or “Race and Imprisonment”? When was the last time Larry King or Anderson Cooper covered the growing wealth gap? Is the word “capitalism” ever critically discussed?


Is it just that people do not want to hear about these topics?  Or is it that advertisers and big moneyed people do not want such topics brought to the surface?  Why not?


I’ll tell you why not.  It is because those with most of the money and hence power in this country created, perpetuate and benefit from these problems.  I recall the conclusion of the famous Kerner Commission which wrote about the rioting in the 1960s and concluded that white institutions created and sustain racism in America and the conditions that fueled the rioting.  White dominated institutions – the banks, Wall Street, the Fortune 500 – have created and benefited from inequality.  The enormous wealth of this country has been created by working men and women of all races (not just in this country but in Third World countries everywhere), yet it continues to be appropriated by corporations and the super rich.  The tax cutting frenzy of the Republican Party has funneled trillions upward - the “rising tide lifts all yachts.”


No wonder neither the major media, nor the leading candidates, talk about these issues. Just look at who owns the media.


© 2008 by Randall G. Shelden. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced without permission from the author.