If Hunter Thompson were alive, he’d be writing about the freaks and greedheads that have taken over the Republican Party. Jittery and badly damaged, these beady-eyed and fattened operators of the new extremist right continue doing all they can to gut what’s left of the American middle class, getting high on smoke trailing from the fire of human suffering as they take a flame-thrower to the hopes and dreams of those who placed their trust in the American ideal. He’d say something like that, pointing out that these 21st Century greed-freaks seem to want it all for themselves, leaving nothing but crumbs for the rest of us. Crumbs. Or nothing at all. They don’t seem to care. To hell with the great middle class that survived the Great Depression, won World War II and delivered us from the madness of Adolph Hitler. To hell with Medicare and Social Security. To hell with the lessons drilled into us on all those Sundays after church in bible school. To hell with being your brother’s keeper. To hell with being only as good as the least among us. To hell with it all. Let the poor go hungry. They’re getting just what they deserve. The new truth is that one thing and one thing only matters, and that one thing is money. Get as much of it for yourself as you can and to hell with all the rest. Or in Mitt Romney’s case, to hell with 47%. They can fend for themselves. Justice will come not from reasoned thinking and promotion of an advanced culture with an eye to the welfare of all, but from raw and unrelenting medievalism.
Perhaps it’s a new truth only for those of us who were so naive as to think that we were better than that?
Is that all we are? A pack of dogs, and the biggest, baddest dogs will end up with everything? Are the rest of us too insignificant, weak and worthless to merit their concern? It’s the economic NFL out there and the far right is out to pile-drive your puny backside into the ground. And that’s not the worst of it. Millions of Americans remain in confusion and denial. It’s that confusion and denial that’s opening the door on the threatened death of Democracy in America.
Are you at all concerned that intelligent, serious thinkers are making what seem to be valid comparisons between what’s happening in the United States, and the Wiemar Republic in Germany? Are you at all worried that we’re headed for rule by Oligarchy, rule by a wealthy few? Are you at all concerned that we may already be there? That with our leaders bought off by the very rich, our democratic process is now nothing but an illusion? That with a rigged system, going to the polls no longer matters? Was George W. Bush, elected to two terms in office, or was he installed through circumvention of the democratic process while the nation stood by in stunned denial? Even now, the new extremist right struggles not to promote the democratic process, but to try and hold Americans away from the polls in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, while their wealthy backers pour millions into disinformation campaigns on radio and tv and otherwise intelligent supporters of the right, apparently overcome by mass delusion and perhaps even hysteria, continue to close their ears to facts, thinking the widest gap in the distribution of wealth in our nation’s recent history is the way things ought to be? What this Neocon extremist right is doing is blatant. They no longer seem to care. They seem to think they can get away with anything following a Supreme Court ruling that allows them to plough unlimited funding into the promotion or defeat of the politicians of their choosing.
It was always my belief that the Supreme Court of the United States was supposed to stand in defense of our democratic system, not assist the extremist-right by driving another nail in its coffin. Silly me.
With the blatant political assistance of the Supreme Court, the very wealthy of not just the U.S., but of many nations, are buying control of the United States by purchasing our politicians. Their purchase is nearly complete. This, of course, deals entirely with self-interest and greed and has nothing to do with what is the best interest of the United States. And much of the country remains in denial. And so many thousands have fought and died to protect our collective and individual freedoms.
I try and put it out of my mind for at least a little while, but I can’t. Not when a lady in the supermarket looks at me with an expression of genuine concern and wants me to tell her why these people, these uber-wealthy people at the top of our economic ladder, are out to tear down our democracy. “It’s greed,” I tell her. And it is. Greed, ego and immorality. We’ve lost our moral and ethical center. Or perhaps I should say, our leaders have lost a sense of what our moral and ethical center should be. Most of us, I think, still get it, because we haven’t yet sold our souls to the devil for a bag of gold.
I can’t just forget about it, when the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Wayne Swan, states publicly that the biggest threat to our economy is the “cranks and crazies” in the Republican Party. That’s not far from freaks and greedheads, except in this case it’s not Dr. Thompson issuing the warning, it’s the second most prominent public official in Australia, a country that is among our most loyal of allies. Not all that many countries stood by us during the Vietnam War. Australia, is one of the few that did. If their Deputy Prime Minister thinks Republican extremism is a significant threat to the world economy, perhaps we should listen?
Oh wait, we’re the guys who refused to listen when the rest of the world pleaded with us to stay out of Iraq. Look at how well that turned out. Why would we listen to anyone now? Hubris can sometimes be the mother of disaster. Couple it with greed, and you have a privileged class, certain of their superiority. Certain that luck and the happenstance of birth are irrelevant to one’s success. Certain that the sacrifices of others had nothing to do with the security and wealth they now enjoy.
The question, of course, is what can be done? Even if American voters are smart enough to sort through the tons of disinformation and outright lies and President Obama wins reelection, we could still be left with a Republican majority in the House, leading to another four years of getting almost nothing done, as Mr. Obama’s every move continues to be blocked by the extremist right. There is also the nagging Wall Street factor. The bailout boys. Remember them? The kids who nearly wrecked the world’s economy and then had to be bailed out with our national treasury? I don’t know if it’s because he can’t or he won’t, or perhaps he still thinks it’s better to compromise than start a fight, but President Obama has yet to deal with the issue of either splitting up or reigning in banks that are too big to fail. Bankers that can effectively blackmail the White House, or the Congress, or whomever they want with the threat of wrecking the economy, are contrary to the very idea of Democracy. And yet, with no compromise possible, Mr. Obama continues to seem to think that anything is better than fighting back. What else can explain his inexplicable decision to bring in the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, as his newest adviser on job creation? Barack Obama, picks a man whose corporation is offshoring jobs (60% of GE’s revenue is generated outside of the U.S.) and paying little or nothing in taxes to advise him on job creation? Politico reports that in 2010, GE, …“paid nothing to the government. Instead, the government paid GE $3.2 billion in tax breaks.” And Obama taps their CEO as an adviser on jobs and competitiveness? It would be laughable, were it not so completely tragic.
The President also needs to explain why he pushed for a payroll tax cut, when that very tax is used to fund both Social Security and Medicare. Was it simply another fruitless attempt to compromise with those who have no interest in compromise? On anything? How many times does one Commander in Chief need to get his teeth kicked in by those on the right before he understands that he’s dealing with people who have no interest in cutting a deal? Or is he willing to sacrifice Social Security and Medicare? He can’t have it both ways, on Wall Street or with the nation’s retirees.
Mr. Obama sounded so good on the campaign trail in 08, only to fail so miserably in the bare-knuckles brawl of party politics once he was in office. His base was more than a little disappointed. Is his current run only a repeat performance or something more? Were his first four years simply a warmup for a finishing act that will deliver on his promise of fixing a broken government? Or is that too much to expect of one man who sometimes appears to be without the support of his own party? But did he really fail? In spite of a disappointed base and an apparent lack of support from Nancy Pelosi and friends (who were quiet as church mice), Mr. Obama got the Affordable Care Act and The Lilly Ledbetter Act. He took out Osama bin Laden along with a number of Al Qaeda’s top leaders and associates. He eliminated “don’t ask don’t tell” from the military while saving the American auto industry and quite possibly preventing another Great Depression. He ended the Iraq War and is bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. He helped get rid of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and quite likely assisted the Arab Spring in ways we’ll never know. He got bankers out of the nation’s student loan program while expanding Pell Grants for low-income students. He increased the budget for the Veterans Administration and signed a new GI Bill.
You have to wonder what Mr. Obama would have done with a full 4-year term in office as opposed to the 2 years he was given prior to the capture of the House by the extreme right which effectively put a stop to any forward motion regardless of its positive impact.
What to do? I’m not sure. Term limits and campaign finance reform along with a discussion about the obvious value of a mixed economy would be useful, but it might be too late. We may already be the new American Oligarchy. Why? Because most Americans don’t know what an Oligarchy is. And they’ve never heard of a mixed economy. So many, are metaphorical sheep being led to the slaughter.
With screams of “The Socialists are coming! The Socialists are coming!” these new oligarchs, wrapped themselves in our flag, snowed and co-opted the Tea Party movement into being nothing more than stormtroopers for a wealthy few and big business, and then crept in under the cover of patriotism to steal Democracy. Or to try and steal it. I’m not sure how much of it is left. How many of our elected leaders are not already in their employ. Even now, they continue to use outright lies or transference as a principle weapon. They are expert at accusing the accuser, redirecting their evil intent upon the opposition. In the process, the truth is buried under a blanket of smoke.
There’s a reckoning coming. Our nation’s future will stand or fall with those who are willing to stand against the extremist right. Those who think we are a nation not of, by and for the people, but a nation destined to be ruled by a wealthy few freaks and greedheads. Thompson, is dead. Somebody had to say it.