Forum Post: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis
Posted 5 years ago on Oct. 15, 2012, 8:30 p.m. EST by Underdog
from Clermont, FL
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
SUNDAY, MARCH 11, 2012
The Big One-- The Republican War On Democracy
We've been talking a lot lately about the Republican War Against Women, the Republican War Against Education, the Republican War Against Science, and the Republican War Against the 99%.
Today's Republican Party may revere Reagan as the patron saint of low taxation. But the party of Reagan-- which understood that higher taxes on the rich are sometimes required to cure ruinous deficits-- is dead and gone. Instead, the modern GOP has undergone a radical transformation, reorganizing itself around a grotesque proposition: that the wealthy should grow wealthier still, whatever the consequences for the rest of us.
Modern-day Republicans have become, quite simply, the Party of the One Percent-- the Party of the Rich.
"The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility," says David Stockman, who served as budget director under Reagan. "They're on an anti-tax jihad-- one that benefits the prosperous classes."
The staggering economic inequality that has led Americans across the country to take to the streets in protest is no accident. It has been fueled to a large extent by the GOP's all-out war on behalf of the rich. Since Republicans rededicated themselves to slashing taxes for the wealthy in 1997, the average annual income of the 400 richest Americans has more than tripled, to $345 million-- while their share of the tax burden has plunged by 40 percent. Today, a billionaire in the top 400 pays less than 17 percent of his income in taxes-- five percentage points less than a bus driver earning $26,000 a year. "Most Americans got none of the growth of the preceding dozen years," says Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. "All the gains went to the top percentage points."
But all these policy questions-- albeit extremely serious and crucial policy questions-- can be solved sooner or later at the ballot box... unless the GOP succeeds in their potentially most disastrous war of all-- the Republican War Against Democracy itself.
I hope when we were blogging about Mike Lux's crucial book, The Progressive Revolution in 2009, you following along-- or better yet, reading along. Mike outlines how even in the earliest days of our Republic, the forces of conservatism-- at least the ones who didn't fight on the side of the British and then flee back to Britain or to Canada or the West Indies after the Patriots won the Revolutionary War-- fought tooth and nail against democracy. It is the underlying contention of the book that "that American history consists of one long battle between the forces of reaction and the defense of wealth and power, on the one hand, and the forces of progressivism and community, on the other.
If you look at our country’s long history, from the days of the first stirrings of our revolutionary impulses against Britain to today, progressive leaders and progressive movements have moved this country forward in the face of bitter-- and frequently violent-- opposition from reactionaries and defenders of the status quo. Consider the major advances in American history:
• The American Revolution
• The Bill of Rights and the forging of a democracy
• Universal white male suffrage
• Public education
• The emancipation of the slaves
• The national park system
• Food safety
• The breakup of monopolies
• The Homestead Act
• Land grant universities
• Rural electrification
• Women’s suffrage
• The abolition of child labor
• The eight hour workday
• The minimum wage
• Social Security
• Civil rights for minorities and women
• Voting rights for minorities and the poor
• Cleaning up our air, our water, and toxic dump sites
• Consumer product safety
• Medicare and Medicaid
Every single one of those reforms, which are literally the reforms that made this country what it is today, was accomplished by the progressive movement standing up to the fierce opposition of conservative reactionaries who were trying to preserve their own power. American history is one long argument between progressivism and conservatism.
The striking thing about this long debate is how much the arguments that have occurred are repetitive over time, in terms of their rhetoric, constituencies, philosophy, and the values they represent. From generation to generation, the conservatives who oppose reform and progress have used the same kinds of arguments over and over again.
We'll come back to Mike in a few moments. But first let's look at a feature in this week's Rolling Stone by Ari Berman, that goes right to the heart of the conservative counterrevolution today, GOP War on Voting Targets Swing States. Over and over again? You bet!
Since the 2010 election, Republicans have waged an unprecedented war on voting, with the unspoken but unmistakable goal of preventing millions of mostly Democratic voters, including students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly, from casting ballots in 2012. More than a dozen states, from Texas to Wisconsin and Florida, have passed laws designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process, whether by requiring birth certificates to register to vote, restricting voter registration drives, curtailing early voting, requiring government-issued IDs to cast a ballot, or disenfranchising ex-felons.
Within days, the crucial battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Virginia will become the latest GOP states to pass legislation erecting new barriers to voting. If, as expected, the new laws lead to fewer Democrats casting ballots in November, both states could favor Republicans, possibly shifting the balance of power in Congress and denying Barack Obama a second term.
More crap from the Koch brothers' neo-fascist organization, ALEC. And if the Obama Justice Department doesn't fight back against this kind of extremist stuff-- and fight back hard... well whose side are they on? Alexander Hamilton's? And that takes us back to The Progressive Revolution and early American history:
Conservatives from Hamilton's time until today have always viewed government as best used as an instrument to benefit business and wealthy elites. Unfortunately, this philosophy has bled over all too often into private interests using government for personal enrichment. Keeping our democracy from being overrun by corruption is always a challenge, but it has been made more difficult by the conservative Social Darwinist philosophy that views government as a tool to assist the already wealthy.
...In the post-Civil War Gilded Age, Social Darwinism supported the notion that corruption might even be a force for good: the dominant and wealthy would advance society and force the weak out of the way... Corporations were relatively open about their practice of bribing politicians... Widespread and well-documented stories told of congressional members receiving $5,000 for every important vote, stocks in companies, and free services like railroad tickets at any time upon request. Republican presidential candidate James Garfield [the first of the new breed to corrupt, corporate Republicans to follow Lincoln's ultra progressive Radical Republicans] took a $150,000 contribution from robber baron Jay Gould and, in exchange, promised to appoint whomever Gould wanted to the Supreme Court... [T]he ideology of priate interest over the public good has led to a historical pattern such that when conservatives have been in power, much more corruption tends to happen.
As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. put it, "Private interest eras rest on the principle that the individual in promoting his own interests promotes the general interest... This priority of wealth over commonwealth naturally provides a propensity to corruption in government. When public purpose dominates, government tends to be idealistic. Idealists have many faults but they rarely steal... When private interests dominate, public morals are very different."
...When you look back at the trends in our nation's history, it is simply a fact that since the Gilded Age ushered big money and Social Darwinist ethics into our governmental system, when conservatives have dominated our government, corruption has also been at its peak. Conservatives have believed, as the conservative philosopher Bernard Mandeville put it, that private vices yield public benefits. But that kind of philosophy leads to stealing from the public coffers. And as the Bush-era conservatives have just shown us, that kind of avarice, combined with a blatant willingness to abuse power, leads to a level of corruption that is truly historic.
The connection between conservatism and corruption is blatant and undeniable and only a fool or naif would attempt to claim that conservatives are motivated by anything higher than self-interest. It just ain't so-- never has been and never will, despite the high-falutin' rhetoric, often the best money can buy. And that goes right back into ancient history, when wealthy conservatives were willing to spend anything to get a new interpretation of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:24:
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, Than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.