Jul 2012 04

by Steven Whitney

July 4th commemorates both our Declaration of Independence and the call to arms that eventually freed our nation from British dominion. Today we find ourselves bound in the shackles of economic enslavement and a Republican agenda dedicated to handing our country over – lock, stock, and barrel – to corporate and 1% rule.

The Republican “record” is a litany of disgrace. Their doctrinaire invasion of Iraq, renditions, secret prisons, black ops, and torture policies brought shame upon America. Their tax cuts for the rich and concomitant borrowing brought our nation to the precipice of an all-out economic disaster. They slashed funding to education and welfare, and wanted to “reform” (get rid of) disaster relief, Social Security, Medicare, and all other programs they successfully (but mistakenly) labeled “entitlements.” They supported the criminals of Wall Street while they persecuted minorities and repressed women (or “sluts,” in their vernacular). Via an all-time record of filibusters they willfully obstructed all legislation that might kick-start jobs and our economy – not out of loyalty to their country but solely from a goose-stepping allegiance to their ethically-challenged party. They filed egregious lawsuits against any passed legislation that might help the poor and middle-class, like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…or they pledged not to implement such measures in states they control. Their actions resulted in the most dysfunctional Congress in our history. Their false words and Neanderthal manners poisoned our civic discourse as surely as toxic clouds gathered from their denial of climate change.

So why are they still in the game?

It can’t be the issues. Republicans can’t garner votes from issues because they don’t have any they can honestly air in the public forum. Besides, judging by both polls and American lifestyles from the 1970s onward, it’s clear that liberals have won the so-called culture war.

So why is almost every election – local, state, and national – so close?

For the last 50 years, Republicans have consistently been the minority party, with significantly fewer registered voters than Democrats.

So why, since 1968, have they occupied the White House for 28 years compared to the Democrats’ 16, 75% more years running the Executive Branch?

Throughout that time, Republican policies have aggressively favored the rich and the newly-created “persons” of Citizens United – ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and the rest of the Forbes 500 biggest corporations from which they have literally received countless billions of dollars. Everything they do is for the 1% and against the interests of the 99%.

So why do so many in the 99% vote for them?

Ranting and raving about “stupid” voters – correctly or not – won’t help and will probably only arouse their contempt. To get their valuable votes back, we have to realize that the answers are myriad and more complex. Besides, if we’re so smart, why aren’t we winning the hearts and minds of the entire 99%?

Face it, given our 99 to 1 advantage (some would estimate it is closer to 90 to 10, but still overwhelming), we must be doing something spectacularly wrong.

So the real question is: what is it we’re doing wrong and how can we fix it?

When solving problems, Marcus Aurelius encouraged students always to look to their first causes. In this instance: when and how did the playing field get so imbalanced?

From 1860 through 1928, the White House was pretty much the permanent residence of Republican Presidents – Democrats Grover Cleveland (1884) and Woodrow Wilson (1912) ascended to the Presidency largely because of split votes in the Republican ranks. But after 58 years of dominance, Republican free market policies, unfettered by regulation and oversight, led to the Great Depression, just as the Reagan through Bush policies walked us down the economic plank 80 years later. In 1932, FDR’s New Deal turned the tide of the nation, solidified 16 years later by Harry Truman’s promise of a “Fair Deal” for all. Finally, it was an era of Democratic sensibilities.

But after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, LBJ turned to another longtime Democrat and announced: “We have lost the South for a generation.” As it turned out, he underestimated by two generations. Building on the white flight of Dixiecrats, the GOP focused on a “Southern Strategy” that eventually turned the former Confederacy into an unbreakable Republican stronghold. It was a match made in heaven (or, more probably, hell) – for the last half-century, opaque (and hotly denied) racism, xenophobia, and homophobia have been ugly realities within the GOP. Think “birther,” “undocumented aliens,” “border fences” not unlike the Berlin Wall, and what they term “the abomination of gay marriage” (although envisioning gay honeymoons probably sticks in their craws even more). And the South has been the GOP base ever since.

We can’t regret the political fallout from the Democrats’ historic civil rights legislation – we were on the right side, both morally and historically. And, after almost 50 years, the GOP stranglehold on Southern states is finally loosening, if just a bit

But to take advantage of the concentration and rise, respectively, of Black and Latino voters in the South, and the fact that Democrats still have more registered voters in their column than do Republicans, we need to prepare for and combat the Republican tactics and strategies that have been so disgracefully yet successfully employed over the last 40 years.

Beginning with Nixon’s criminal cover-ups, burglaries and dirty tricks crews through Lee Atwater (“the Machiavellian godfather of modern take-no-prisoners Republican politics”) to Karl Rove (the chief strategist first known as “Bush’s Brain” and the puppet master behind the GOP and its money-laden SuperPACs), their often despicable tactics have time and again caught us standing still, almost cowering in shock – like deer in the headlights – awaiting their next outrageous gambit. Indeed, ruthless indecency is part and parcel of the modern GOP, not to mention their relentless hypocrisy.

For the last 44 years, being more morally motivated and better informed citizens has not made Democrats better at winning elections. Thinking us no more than wusses, Republicans have stuck as fiercely to their guns as Dirty Harry, expecting us to eventually roll over and play dead. Sadly, and to our everlasting shame, they’ve been right more often than not. We have been wusses – the good, gentle, moral brainiacs with coke-bottle glasses – even as the GOP relentlessly pushed an agenda of fear, intimidation, and more power and money to their 1% benefactors.

Yet the keys by which the 1% lock us to their interests lay beyond simple aggression, dishonorable electoral politics, numbers, and ideology, and instead inhabit ancillary fields of human behavior – the social, cultural, historical, religious, psychological, educational, linguistic, and even genetic issues. Because we need to find workable answers and solutions, over the next few weeks (and posts) we’ll survey not only political science but all the social sciences, plus voting patterns and election cycles so we can implement new and effective strategies and tactics.

A lot has changed since FDR’s time. Now, as Republicans have declared war on our country’s principles and its people – the poor, the middle class, and women – we need to bring a little cold-bloodedness to the game. No more wusses, no more cowering liberals, no more whimpering progressives. Instead, we sorely need smart, effective, and relentless attacks and counterattacks, more cojones and less apologia…perhaps even a small insurgency or two.

Let today mark the beginning of a newly-found independence from the forces that aim to render us both impotent and expendable. Without surrendering the high ground of our social morality, it’s time to counter with a bold offensive, hitting Republicans with all we’ve got, both in the streets and at the ballot box.

Let this Independence Day transform us into savage warriors for the cause of true freedom – the values of democracy and fair play for all – that began 236 years ago today…on July 4, 1776.

It’s time to fight back.

Related Posts:
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.


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