Column No. 228
The GOP is in trouble. The Obama Administration has generally referred to that fact only in passing, although now is now doing that with a bit more frequency. However, (well-known to our readers here) it is the Bush/Cheney policies that for the most part have lead our nation into the fix in which it presently finds itself.
Some of these policies, such as the matter of “free trade,” in reality nothing more than the free export of capital that has lead to the massive de-industrialization that we have experienced over the last 20 years, were unfortunately presaged by Bill Clinton. But for the most part they are Republican-type policies, whether implemented by the Democrats or not. Indeed there were many policies, foreign and domestic, and I do not have to review them here, which have lead to very bad outcomes all around. In fact, it is hard to find one Bush/Cheney policy that has lead to a good outcome.
So what is the GOP to do? Obviously it cannot promote Bush/Cheney policy as the solution to the problems those policies created. Thus certain leaders, from time-to-time, have said "we have to come up with new solutions." The problem for them is that their ideology doesn't permit them to do that. This is because, as again is well-known to TPJmagazine readers, none of the necessary solutions, some (but not all) of which are being pursued by the Obama Administration, fit at all into the GOP playbook.
OK. So they can't come up with anything new that present alternatives to present Obama/Democratic Party policies that might actually solve problems. And so, as is well-known to everyone, they have become the Party of NO to any Obama/Democratic proposals. On the stimulus package: their solution, tax cuts for the rich and the big corporations. It happens that they didn't work for the original Bush Recession in 2001-02, so why should they work now? Bush got the nation out of that one by the classic right-wing stimulus package: military and tax-cuts-for-the-rich deficit spending. On global warming and climate change, their solution is again NO. Either there is no global warming and resultant climate change, or there is and let's do a bunch of things that are known either not to work or make things worse, like "drill, baby, drill." And then there is health care reform, for which they have offered no alternatives to any of the package of plans that various Democrats have been offering. So they have been attacking that package with increasing vigor and with an increasing separation from reality, with "just say NO," and nothing else.
They lie through their teeth, in multiple examples. It is not just their non-Congressional leadership, such as Savagely O'RHannibaugh, that does it. Their Congressional leadership, to say nothing of the likes of Newt Gingrich, is piling on with the lies. A couple of weeks ago it was, for example, Sen. Grassley, until recently one of Pres. Obama's favorite Republicans on health care, who was echoing Palin's looneyness and more importantly the use of the Big Lie Technique (right out of Mein Kampf) on the "death panels." Of course Savagely O'RHannibaugh fires up the violent protestors. But the Republican Congressional leadership, current, such as Boehner and McConnell, and former, such as Dick Armey, do it too. (Armey is in fact one of those who has been actively organzing them, to the extent taht that activity became too embarrassing even for the lobby firm that has his intials in its name.) And now some of those angry right-wingers are carrying guns into town hall meetings, or trying to. So what is really going on here?
What is really going on here is that the GOP has given up planning to win elections by contesting on policy. What is really going on here is that the GOP has recognized that its rock-solid far right-wing base, the Palin Faithful and then some, will never amount to much more than about 35% of the electorate (which is about the same number as the Nazis got in the last free election in Germany before their takeover). What is really going on here is that the GOP has recognized that the racism, which has carried it to so many election victories since Nixon initiated the Southern Strategy in 1968, is also running out of steam as a way to win national elections. It totally failed them in the recent one, obviously. So they have begun to think of other routes back to power.
Racism is still a major part of their strategy, but now it’s a major tool for organzing their minority, not for winning over a majority. What is working extremely well for them now is the classic fascist tool of the Big Lie Technique: tell the same lie over and over again, as loudly as possible, and people will come to believe it. The massive drop in Pres. Obama’s poll numbers over the totally false claims that the GOP is screaming about with increasing ferocity is a testament to their success in using it. They have always used it, of course, from Reagan’s anti-Medicare ads in the 60s (it will lead directly to Communism) to the Swift-boating of Kerry, but now it is absolutely at the center of what they are doing on health care.
The word "fascism" has been given many definitions. My short one (and I've got a really long one too!) is: "Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of both the legislative and administrative powers of government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent personal rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; the massive and regular use of hate, fear, racial and religious prejudice, the Big Lie technique, mob psychology and mob actions to achieve political and economic ends; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy." Of course one thinks immediately of Bush/Cheney, but that is old news.
Total fascism has never come to a country peacefully. Violent repression of dissent is always at its center. In addition to organized armed force, it always relies on a loosely organized mob of one kind or another to take advantage of crisis situations and set the stage for the armed takeover of the pillars of the state. Thus what is going on now, most likely not yet consciously organized for that end in too many quarters, is the beginning of the setting of the stage and the training of the civilian troops.
Underlain by race, of course, is a total rejection of President Obama's leadership, a total rejection of the results of the election a little more than six months ago, the encouragement of violence and not just by some lunatic fringe. Lou Dobbs called for the execution, by a "stake through the heart," of former DNC Chair and Governor of Vermont, Dr. Howard Dean. (One notes with irony that Don Imus lost his job at CBS for calling the members of a women's basketball team "nappy headed ho's." Dobbs calls for the murder of a leader of the other side and that is met by a screaming silence at CNN corporate.) And that's just one example. Is a fascist revolution being actively plotted now? Except on the Far Right (currently) fringe, I doubt it. But as the Southern Poverty Law Center has just reported the Far Right militia movement is growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by racism and hate. But if the GOP keeps going in the direction it is currently goping, there is the armed force for a potential fascist takeover, at the right time. Rihgt now, on the side of Constitutional government, who and what would oppose that armed force, should it come to that?
The GOP is of course against health care reform because it would severely hurt the profit-making prospects of the sickness care insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital supply industries. But there are Democrats who hold to that opposition to reform or the same reasons. (And for the time-being, at least, the Obama Administration has been able to buy off Big Pharma.) So that's not the only reason that the GOP is desperate to prevent reform, at least a reform that is meaningful. If Obama manages to get something passed with a public option and a couple of other critical elements, the GOP's electoral prospects go into the toilet for a number of elections to come. They know it and people such as Sen. Jim ("Gay Teachers Should be Banned from the Classroom" [yes, he took that position as a candidate]) DeMint and Bill Kristol (who took exactly the same position in opposing the Clinton Health Plan) know it. And what does that mean? Why the interests of their major corporate supporters (see my BuzzFlash Commentary "Who Does the GOP Serve?") are significantly damaged.
What does that leave? Why some crisis of which they could take advantage (sound familiar?), of course. And they are beginning to prepare for that possibility (and in some quarters may be preparing the crisis itself as well), even if only subconsciously so far. What better way, then, to prepare their potential civilian troops than the current battle over the very complex and highly personal, emotional issue of health care reform?
The German people had an excuse for letting a minority party, enabled by a splintered opposition, hell-bent on establishing a fascist dictatorship unlike anything the world had ever seen, succeed: the world had never seen anything like it. In the United States, facing a splintered opposition, there is a minority party that certainly seems to be hell-bent on (eventually) doing the same thing. If that event does come to pass, the US population will, however, have no similar excuse. Oh yes, the advance title for the forthcoming book from that Hitler-in-heels with a smiley face, the ex-governor of Alaska? "My Struggle," which translates into German as "Mein Kampf."
This column is based in part on a Commentary of mine that appeared on Buzzflash.com on August 14, 2009. A commentator on that article said: “Your assessment is extremely insightful. BUT, WHAT TO DO??? How much time do we have to respond? What should our response look like? How do we avoid the failures of 1930's "sane" Germans? Please, surely action is required of us. What? When? How? Who?” I will be addressing that central question over time in this space and on BuzzFlash, where my Commentaries appear for the most part three weeks of every four.