Protesters are not in the “resistance” because they are sore losers as some would have it. And contrary to the man in the oval office they are not being paid to resist. This is about democracy. Activists are Americans who feel that our Democracy is threatened. It has been under attack by Conservatives and “Tea Party” members for decades. But these groups did not stop respecting the two party system and implementing their plot to undermine checks and balances until Obama took office. Now it seems that there are no moderates left in the Republican Party to reach compromises with on increasingly disparate policies.
Since the election of Donald Trump many Americans are even more worried about the demise of our Democracy. Judging from his recent firing of James Comey, head of the FBI, who has been conducting a probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 elections and possible collusion by members of Trump’s campaign staff, our brains are in chemical danger mode. Given this newest inexplicable action our fears seem validated.
There are 30 states with partially Republican governments and 23 with governments dominated by Republicans. If you think this is because the country has just naturally moved to the right then you are naïve. This is no “organic” politics. It is the “GMO” version of politics. It has been meddled with. Certain moneyed Republicans, no longer swimming in the exciting pool of burgeoning American business, are unhappy and bored. Our economy went off on a world tour. These people are social. They meet. They form organizations. They talk to each other. They decided that they would figure out how America went off the rails and lost its place as leaders in business and innovation. They believed that a nation with a quiet economy could not maintain its primacy on the world stage. They have a lot of money to spend.
These Conservatives decided what factors were to blame for our “slippage.”
- One factor was too much regulation of banks, investments, the stock market, and all sources of investment dollars. So therefore, DEREGULATION is necessary.
- They decided that Democrats and others had created a meme that humans were causing climate change and putting too much CO2 into the atmosphere causing global warming and that this was not true. They hired their own scientists who did real scientific explorations but they formed their conclusions first and chose their experiments to confirm their own conclusions. This, they felt, gave them permission to deny climate change and they vowed to overturn environmental protection rules and to, in fact, get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency.
- They decided that the scope of our current government was a huge factor in pushing commerce away from America. The government was taking on powers that were not expressly given in the original text of our Constitution. They decided that the states needed more autonomy to conduct their own business and make their own rules.
- They chafed under what they felt was an enormous bureaucracy. They felt their taxes were too high and they resented paying for people who were not working (whether they were able to work or not). They believed the way of the world is “no work, no eat.” They believed that any American could succeed like they did if they had the proper attitude. So, although they had begun offering benefits to workers in lieu of higher salaries, these wealthy businessmen were not happy that the government offered such benefits (and more) to people who didn’t work in their factories. They wanted smaller government to lower taxes and to stop offering benefits to the undeserving (and all are undeserving).
- Conservatives blamed unions for being greedy and making wages and benefits so high that businesses looked elsewhere for cheap labor. So in the states where Republicans have gained power they work to bust the unions, mainly with “right to work” laws which sound good, but these laws say that if you do not want to join a union then you do not have to pay dues. That seems fair, but it robs the unions of any power they have to bargain with management. It undercuts workers and takes away the only tools workers have to stop greedy or punitive employers.
And so America’s millionaires and billionaires got organized. They connected with a loose network of Conservative clubs, think tanks, and SuperPacs and they formed a web of powerful movers and shakers (emperors and empresses of business) and they set out to reverse everything that they felt stood in the way of economic growth in the 20th century. They came up with “talking points”, they signed pledges, they began to move in lockstep to recreate the days before regulation and before labor unions. A group called Muckety (still on the internet) published this charts showing the Conservative Web organizations which receive grant monies from the Koch Brothers.
The strategies that rich and powerful Republicans (Conservatives) (billionaires) came up with have been very successful. We know what the strategies are:
- Drawing gerrymandered districts,
- Making corporation people,
- Attacking women to get the men to get their women back under their control (get rid of contraception and abortion),
- Suppressing the vote,
- Winning at the state and local level,
- Declawing unions,
- Denying climate change,
- Deregulating business,
- Using ALEC to write legislation the rich and powerful favor and, since you have already packed the state government the legislation will become law,
- Setting up a network of communications including Talk Radio and the 24/7 propaganda mill of FOX News which skewed conservative all the time.
When Obama got elected the plans to stage a bloodless coup of our Democracy by the “oligarchs” had to go on hold and then Obama won a second term and by then Republicans and friends were champing at the bit. During their years “in exile” they made a lot of progress. They knew exactly what buttons to push to make their listeners want to be with the Conservatives.
- They cast doubt on Obama’s bona fides, on his strength, and on his policies (like “Obamacare”).
- They played up the eventual demise of “white” America
- They told folks that illegal immigrants were stealing their jobs and their tax dollars and that they were getting benefits intended for citizens only.
They did not consider themselves neo Nazi’s or members of an alt-right movement, but they prepared the way for these groups by making them seem less extreme and by making a connection between white supremacy and fears that white people were losing control of America.
The Republicans and their organizations expected one of the “true believers” to win in 2016. They had so thoroughly damaged Hillary Clinton that, had things gone as expected, they felt they had done their homework well and they would win. I imagine that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders took the party and their conservative supporters by surprise. Donald’s message which bordered on white supremacism matched well with the “brainwashing” accomplished by conservative news and talking points.
Perhaps the fact that Trump is mentally ill made him even more attractive and he spoke like a strong man. Well he has indeed turned out to be sort of caricature of a strong man, I guess, albeit one who had a taste for murderous dictators, which seems a bit frightening to the people who love democracy. This highly unpredictable man (or all too predictable man) has filled his cabinet positions and other posts close to him with billionaires and millionaires and a few “gestapo” types, who look like they will help the conservatives achieve their ends of making their old talking points the law of the land. How do you stop people who have “more money than God”?
Can the Conservatives recreate the America they think they can reanimate? Can history repeat itself and the Industrial Age rise again but with a more compliant and cheaper labor force? I believe they will be terribly disappointed. I believe that twisted methodologies produce twisted results. I think the future is inexorable and that what we find there will be anything but an exact copy of the past.
I ran across a new article this week which shows what goals the Conservatives have for the near future.
“New investigations by Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy analyze hacked internal documents, which reveal that much like the Koch network, the Bradley Foundation has launched a national strategy to help conservatives control the branches of state governments and alter state policy to lower taxes, shrink government and attack labor unions.”
“Now the foundation is focusing on five states it views as having a strong conservative infrastructure, thus making them ripe for rightward change. The foundation is working to expand conservative power in Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin by funding established networks of right-wing organizations that promote conservatism and help far-right candidates win elections. It’s a long-term strategy that “can take decades,” according to the longtime CEO of the foundation, Rick Graber, who recently stepped down from his post.”
”With $845 million in assets at the end of 2015, the Bradley Foundation rivals the several Koch family foundations in size and in grants disbursed. That year, the Bradley Foundation gave out nearly $49 million in gifts and grants, while four Koch foundations and the nonprofit Charles Koch Institute donated close to $58 million. Both families give to many of the same national conservative organizations, including the corporate bill mill the American Legislative Exchange Council and right-wing think tanks the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, as well as to several additional think tanks that the Kochs founded such as the libertarian Cato Institute and the George Mason University-based Mercatus Center. From 2011 to 2015, the Bradley Foundation has given $550,000 to the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the sister group of the brothers’ most well-known political nonprofit, Americans for Prosperity”
There is much more and well worth following the link. Perhaps references like this will help you believe that I am not making this up. So I say “good luck us” and I contend that resistance is necessary to keep our democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” I hate to see the world march forward without the ideals American has always represented intact, rather than with some kind of ersatz America. I think we run the risk, right this very minute, of letting our Democracy be perverted into some form of government which will curtail the freedoms of “we the people”. I never thought we would have to fight to keep America’s democracy/republic strong. I certainly never thought the fight would be American against American. Right now it looks like the wrong side is winning.