“Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.”
Shakespeare ~ The Tempest
If it hasn’t become clear to most of you by now, it should have. We are in the middle of a blatant attempt by certain political elements to completely and utterly overhaul society as it has existed for at least the last 100 years, if not longer. I call these elements by what they call themselves – Republicans. A little history is in order.
We (in America) experienced a real sea change in society and culture after the Civil War, all the way through the end of World War II and beyond. The rise and strength of capitalism brought about unintended, but foreseeable evil and misery to society, that resulted in society pushing back to alleviate the worst of the excesses of capitalism. Capital became concentrated in the hands of the economic oligarchs – Rockefeller, Carnegie, etc – at the expense of the people who created the wealth, – the working lower and middle classes. By evil I’m talking about child labor, poverty, company towns, unemployment, retirement insecurity, dangerous working conditions, long working hours, a poisoned environment, etc. The sea change came when workers, i.e. the bulk of society affected by it, pushed back, with the help of politicians who saw the merit in curtailing the excesses of capitalism, while at the same time allowing the strengths of capitalism to flourish. As a result we ended up with trade unions, Social Security and medicare, private pensions, minimum wage and maximum work days and weeks, the end of child labor, OSHA, clean environment and safe work places. All of this under the umbrella of “liberalism”.
Society benefited from this. Once these changes were made, America experienced a rise and security in the middle class never before experienced in history. The economy boomed, so it could never be claimed that it was at the expense of the upper class. Wealth was actually being shared, and equitably distributed among the classes. Workers were being paid a fair income for their labor, while the wealthy enjoyed substantial increases in their wealth as a result of their control of capital. Marx would have been, if not pleased, mollified. But the rich were not happy with this state of affairs. They wanted more. They wanted what they lost. They wanted it all.
Starting around the time of the election of Ronald Reagan we began to hear the type of noise that has become a cacophony in politics theses days. “Corporations are not people” but “fetuses are”. The country was founded on “Christian values” except when it comes to the poor, the disabled, the unemployed, the female gender, or the 99%. Government is “too big” except when it wants to regulate vaginas, bedrooms, paychecks, science, and what we teach our children. Voting is a right except if you want to vote for Democrats, blacks, equality or privacy.
Now, since the election of Barack Obama, this undercurrent of sentiment has risen and reared it’s ugly head into the open, unabashedly declaring a complete reversion back to the days of Capitalistic excess. I can’t help but feel that there is a centrally located group of people orchestrating this move. It’s too coordinated, and too widespread to be otherwise. I know that sounds like a conspiracy theory, and I generally don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories without any evidence, but I think the evidence is there. Let’s look at some of it. It can be boiled down to a few specific themes:
1. The rise of the Tea Party: Obama is elected in 2008, and by 2010 there is a so-called grass roots movement organized loosely around certain libertarian principles – God, guns and government – big on god and guns, small on government. When you scratch the surface of these Tea Party people, you usually find Republicans. The are funded and encouraged by the Republican party, and by 2012, the Tea Party movement had been co-opted by the Republicans to the extent that the Tea Party platform had become the Republican Presidential platform. Remember “We Built That”? That is a Tea Party sentiment through and through. It is the implication that with the help of god, and the comfort of a gun in the gun rack, individual Americans became a success without the help of the government. You can’t get more Tea Party than that.
2. ALEC: No. Not that Alec. This ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is responsible for a whole lot of legislative initiatives in many, if not most of the states that obtained Republican control of the state legislatures and executives. States like Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kansas. Legislation like voter ID laws, abortion restrictions, stand your ground laws, union busting and the like have been drafted by ALEC and then enacted into law in those states. The laws are virtually the same, and they have the intent and purpose of radically eradicating 100 years of liberal change in this country. They take away the power of the unions, the right of a woman to choose and the ability to vote easily, not to mention the right to shoot young black men when you feel like a little target practice.
3. Republican Intransigence: While this is going on at the state level, at the national level Republicans are stonewalling everything with two purposes in mind: One is to make the current president look ineffective, in order to be able to claim in 2016 that the country should vote Republican. They spent the first 4 years of his administration doing the same thing, and almost pulled it off in 2012. Fortunately, they picked a completely inept standard bearer for their Presidential aspirant, who stuck his foot in his mouth and left it there through most of the campaign. Second, they have done everything they can at a national level to keep the economy in the free fall they created during the Bush Administration, in order to make the changes to the economic system that continues the orderly transfer of American wealth to the 1% of the country who already own 40% of the wealth. As it stands, since Reagan we have seen the largest transfer of wealth in the country unsurpassed even by the Gilded Age. But the greedy bastards are even more greedy than that, and their Republican lackeys are doing whatever they can to continue to complete the overhaul of the economic system to their advantage. The Republicans in Congress have, in effect, abrogated their legislative duties to the Republicans in the states, on the theory that the change they desire won’t come from above, but below.
4. FOX News: None of this can come about without, at the very least, the acquiescence of the American people, if indeed their direct consent cannot be obtained. The only way to obtain that acquiescence is via manipulation, subterfuge and outright lies. Hence voter ID laws that prevent those portions of the population who would vote against them from doing so. Hence the lousy economy purposely stalled to distract people into worrying more about where their next meal is coming from rather than whether the existing social contract is being ripped to shreds. And hence FOX news, the unofficial propaganda arm of the Republican Party, purveyor of the “Big Lie”, who primary intent is to obfuscate and confuse the population into believing that reality isn’t what it is, that up is down, that black is white, and that their pockets aren’t being picked.
I’ve been watching this confluence of events over the last few years with jaw-dropping, mouth-open incredulity. It all seems so crazy, so far fetched, so outside the bounds of my civic experience, that I thought the politicians had all gone crazy. Why would they vote 37 times to repeal ObamaCare, knowing it was a meaningless gesture? Were they trying to prove the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting different results)? Why are all the Republican states passing restrictive abortion legislation, knowing it was a violation of established law? Did they really think that if they passed the legislation, that eventually the Supreme Court would uphold it, overturning Roe v. Wade? And if that happened, did they think that abortions would miraculously disappear from reality (instead of simply reverting to the old coat-hanger/back alley procedures)? I suspect there is a method to their madness.
Seriously, what mind virus has infected these people? Even if they thought there was some rationality involved in the process, do they really believe that the people of this country, once they wake up (and they ARE waking up) to what they are doing, are going to re-elect them come next election? Do they not see that any gains they obtain will be short-lived, and in the end, may cost them far more than they ever gained?
Look at North Carolina, and what’s been going on there since the Republican majority took over in January. In one bill after another, they have
- eliminated federal unemployment benefits
- dropped to 46th in the country in education dollars spent
- imposed voter ID and student voting requirements to help shore up Republican hegemony
- stuck one of those ALEC abortion restriction bills that eliminates most abortion clinics in the state into an unrelated midnight bill with no debate
- attempted to legislate into existence a state religion (WTF?)
- restricted Medicaid
And all this in only 6 months. And this is being repeated in states all around the country.
It’s really nothing less than a full-throated attempt to overhaul the culture and society of America, by dragging us back 100 years into the dark ages.They are coming at us on more than one front. Multiple state legislatures, multiple governors, national coordination with Congress, all to keep us distracted on multiple fronts, putting out fires constantly, with not enough fingers for the leaky dike (if I may mix a few metaphors). It has to be coordinated. Some point to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, others to the Koch Brothers and other hard-line conservatives with money to burn. I have a hard time believing there is some smoke-filled back room where all these people get together for a friendly game of poker and societal overhaul, but I can’t help but feel I’m wrong.
What I fear is that with such a multi-pronged onslaught, our resources are being spread thin, and people might just give up. When you don’t have a job, or money, or security, when people like the the ones mentioned above are forcing you to devote all of your time and attention to just getting through a day (by keeping wages low or non-existent, by making education hard to obtain, and when you do have access to it, having it tainted by ignorance and religion – ooops, that was redundant, - by forcing half the population to bear children they can’t take care of, etc, etc), it’s very difficult to rise to the occasion to effectuate economic and political justice in the country. Thank doG for the ACLU, and the FFRF, and people like Richard Dawkins and Brian Sims and Dan Savage, and other organizations and individuals who keep pushing back, for all of us who can’t.
I guess I can only hope that America will wake up, as I alluded to above, and see what’s being done to us. We’re being raped. It’s that simple. And after the rape, we’re being asked to pay for it. We being told to lie still and enjoy it, that it’s best for us if we simply do as we’re told, because we’re too dumb to fully understand the greater ramifications of what the Republicans are doing to us, so “just trust us”. – even though the last time we trusted them, they started two wars, made billions on the process for their cronies, and put it on our tab.
So when we do wake up, first in the 2014 elections, then in 2016, we need to forcefully and with great flourish elect the bastards out of office. A clean sweep. Every damn one of them. Show them that the Republican Party doesn’t represent the interests of anyone other than the 1% who tithes to the Church of Our Lady of Greed and Affluence.