Today my local newspaper’ subjects me to this right-wing propaganda comic strip (click to enlarge):
Today the cartoon’s message is: Get rid of public schools, then we don’t have to pay property taxes, and everyone can pick out for themselves what education their kids get. At least today we get to see the pure, honest message of the Right without the usual disguises — today’s cartoon is not even offering the usual pretense of vouchers.
The larger exchange offered is clear: just get rid of government and the taxes it requires, and leave everyone to fend for themselves.
This exchange extends beyond just schools — it’s about parks, water systems, sewer systems, roads, bridges, highways, public transportation, public health systems, hospitals, Social Security, Medicare and everything else that we as a people, a community, have decided to gather together and provide for the people of this country. The Right dismisses all of this as “collectivism.”
I’ll just make a couple of points here. If you get rid of schools only the richest will be able to get any education at all. This is the way things used to be. But in America every town got together to build a school and hire a teacher, and this is how public education grew. Everyone understood (learned the hard way) that more education for everyone ends up being better for everyone. If the kids in poor neighborhoods are provided with an education, the community is a better, safer and more prosperous place.
And, likewise, if you get rid of public health systems, the rich are still just as susceptible to catching diseases as everyone else. If we as a collective group don’t work to keep the poorest among us from catching TB, then we ALL are at risk of catching TB.
Democracy is about one-person-one-vote and not about one-dollar-one-vote. History has proven that systems based on the Right’s dream of one-dollar-one-vote just do not work. But we don’t hear this side – the pro-democracy side – of the argument anymore. The increasing concentration of our sources of information into just a few corporate hands means that we even have to be subjected to this kind of far-right propaganda in our Sunday comics. (And when was the last time you saw someone on TV advocating that workers form unions?)
But the reason we are constantly subjected to far-right propaganda like this without hearing counter-messaging is not just because of this concentration of media. It is also because the counter-messaging just isn’t being produced and distributed. The Right has a vast messaging machine pumping out propaganda designed to systematically attack the institutions of democracy. But Progressives — the forces of democracy and community — aren’t doing much to counter it.
We need to build organizations designed to reach the general public with messages that explain and reinforce the values of democracy and community, to counter the Right’s incessant messaging.