Worse and Worse – Country in Crisis

In Salon.com | The Reagan legacy, Rick Perlstein writes:

“It is a quirk of American culture that each generation of nonconservatives sees the right-wingers of its own generation as the scary ones, then chooses to remember the right-wingers of the last generation as sort of cuddly. In 1964, observers horrified by Barry Goldwater pined for the sensible Robert Taft, the conservative leader of the 1950s. When Reagan was president, liberals spoke fondly of sweet old Goldwater.”

I think Republican administrations actually have been worse each time, moving farther and farther to the right as well as into greater illegalities. I think this reflects the extent to which their party has been increasingly taken over by this far-right, post-Bircher, Scaife-funded, fanatical cult-like corporate/Christian/libertarian “movement conservatism.”

Nixon had to resign for things that Reagan picked up and did from day 1 without apology. Reagan, of course, instructed underlings to violate the law and lie to Congress about it. Bush I used parts of the government to obstruct the Iran/Contra investigations, then pardoned several criminals who had worked for him. And Iran/Contra — and avoiding the mistakes that led to exposure — was the model for the current Bush’s first day in office – with this Bush this proudly hiring convicted (but pardoned by Dad) felons!

Elected Democrats and moderate Republicans keep letting far-Right conspirators off the hook, and failing to expose the true nature of their activities to the public. Perhaps this is because they honestly did not and do not recognize them for what they are. Some of Nixon’s cronies went to jail — none of Reagan/Bush I’s. Worse, the Carter and Clinton administrations did not ask for a full accounting of the transgressions — political and financial — of the prior administrations. In a way, this signaled to the public to expect such activities as part of “business as usual.” By allowing the Right to publicly get away with an “everybody does it” excuse, the legitimacy of our democratic form of government was eroded.

I believe that had Clinton recognized that the Republican Party has truly changed into a dangerous revolutionary movement intent on overthrowing our form of government, and taken action, purged the government of far-right ideologues and begun an investigation into his predecessor’s political crimes as well as how money was siphoned out of the Treasury under Reagan and Bush, he would not have gone through the impeachment, and we would not be facing the national and international disaster we face now.

I think it is hard now to avoid seeing the true nature of the group that has taken over the Republican Party. The record is certainly clear, their intentions are clear, their activities are clear, and it’s time to take a stand. After seizing control of the country by the narrowest of margins in 2000 the Republicans have illegally excluded Democrats and the public from almost all aspects of management of the government. They have positioned ideological agents throughout the departments, agencies and the courts. In one of their first acts in power they allowed companies like Enron to “harvest” the people of California and Oregon, and appointed FERC members would not do their job to stop this. Their tax cuts, that went to only a few, have bankrupted the country and spent our Social Security retirement money. They have handed out our country’s natural resources, and given the right to pollute our air and water for profit to a few rich cronies. They have launched aggressive war in an imperialistic scheme to bring the Middle East’s oil supplies under their control.

And they increasingly poison the public environment with lies. They are intentionally dividing the country right down the middle. Matt Stoller writes about what they are telling the public in their presidential campaign,

“In other words, even if a Democrat wins an election, it’s just a prelude till his negatives can be driven up and a political castration opportunity appears.

That this is happening without much comment reveals cracks in the foundation of the American political system. It’s breaking down.

Legitimacy is the key to governance. If an authoritarian government isn’t seen as legitimate, it must act incredibly harshly to sustain its rule, or it will fall. The legitimacy of a liberal democracy goes further than this; it relies on an acknowledgement that the opposition has a right to exist, and even, to oppose. When this assumption breaks down, when the loyal opposition finds itself considered treasonous, a slew of terrifying events is set in motion, and ultimately, liberal democracy fights back, or liberal democracy falls. We are in the midst of seeing this struggle play out.”

In The War at Home, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton write,

The Republican party’s hard right – “movement conservatives,” as they like to call themselves – hold views and long-term objectives that are considerably to the right of mainstream public opinion, but they had managed to maneuver themselves into a position of control over nearly every branch of the American government. As we will explore, politics for them is not a debate. It is, quite literally, a “war by other means.”

During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party’s majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was “a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield from an experienced warrior.” In addition to DeLay’s gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz’s advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country.

True to its title, The Art of Political War argues that “Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy’s fighting ability. … In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails.” Moreover, “Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy whenever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible.”

We have to realize that we are dealing with an organized revolutionary conspiracy to seize power, enrich the few, and subject us to an ideological/theocratic/imperialist dictatorship. They often describe THEMSELVES as being modeled on the old Communist Party and their methods for infiltrating and seizing power.

“You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate,” he explains in The Art of Political War. “You can do it only by following Lenin’s injunction: ‘In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent’s argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'”

This is an emergency and we must recognize it as such. These people will go to all costs to succeed, including fomenting civil war.

If Kerry does win this election AND take office, he has his work cut out for him — there are some things to take care of right away — if he expects to also govern the country. We simply MUST expose widely the Right’s anti-democracy agenda. Crimes have been committed and this is not an occasion for a healing amnesty. We have to stop them once and for all. We need a complete financial accounting for the entire four years of Bush. Every single recipient of rigged no-bid contracts, tax break in exchange for “contributions”, or any other corrupt activities should be prosecuted and put in jail to ensure that this does not happen should another right-wing administration take office.

Further, we need to implement SYSTEMIC changes to prevent anything like the “conservative movement” from happening again. This crisis has exposed the vulnerability of our system.

Let’s look at it this way for a minute. Suppose that the intentions of the Bush people are entirely on the up-and-up. But looking at the way they have eroded accountability, oversight, and constitutional protections, suppose some OTHER people, with less-than-honorable intentions, examine these openings and see this as an opportunity to step in and seize power. The mechanisms for this are all in place, including the mechanisms to squash opposition and dissent. The Patriot Act, for example, allows the government to spy on anyone the President designates as an “enemy.” And new technologies enable comprehensive tracking of a person’s every action. We already have a precedent of Congress looking the other way and avoiding their oversight responsibilities no matter how extreme the transgression. We already have the precedent of the Justice Department covering up instead of investigating crimes. We already have the precedent of the Courts overruling law in favor of ideology.

Stauber and Rampton again,

The likelihood that those powers will be abused has increased, moreover, as the conservative movement accuses its ideological adversaries of “treason,” “terrorism” and “un-Americanism,” threatening long-standing traditions of tolerance and diversity.

It is time for those who think this is the OLD Republican Party to take their head out of the sand and see that things have changed. Turn on the radio and listen to Limbaugh or Hannity for ten minutes — yes they ARE the mainstream of the Republican Party now — and you’ll KNOW that the country is crisis.