BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
It was just a matter of time. All free-thinking observers of Oklahoma politics knew that it was just a matter of time until the Republican machine went dirty in this general election, as has been their custom.
Dirty campaigning has always been around on all sides. Lee Atwater, Nixon’s campaign architect and advisor to the first Bush, brought a science to “dirty tricks,” as it was then called. Karl Rove was an understudy of Atwater and brought practices into the modern era with “swift-boating” tactics. Not that they are the only party to do dirty campaigning, but their national organizations have brought it to a new low across the country.
Of all things, the Oklahoma Democratic candidate is being accused of being a “liberal.” And, she is accused of being soft on immigration – just like the president. Being liberal and being soft on anything is declared not to be the Oklahoma way. Now, who in the world would have thought that?
Jari Askins is capable of defending herself, but we might make a few clarifying observations. First, Jari is not a liberal. She has never been as liberal as Mr. Obama, although the president himself can no longer be classified a true liberal either. Real liberals think that the president has gone way too far toward the center, and they are unhappy about that.
Ms. Askins is a centrist. She is too conservative to be a liberal. But, of course, she is not conservative enough to be acceptable to the right wing-nuts. As a general thing, a relatively small proportion of the people either classify themselves as liberal, or could properly be classified as such. Mainstream Democrats are now broad center, and not the extreme.
On the other hand, the Republican Party has been moving more and more to the right. However, they have not moved fast enough to suit the extremists in their midst who now give themselves a new name of Tea Party. Actually, these are just extreme Republicans, and with the help of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh they are pulling that entire party to the extreme.
These ultra-conservatives have been aided in their progress by money from billionaires. The two Koch brothers, multi-billionaires in the energy industry, have been backing the group called “Americans for Prosperity,” led by Dick Armey, which in turn has been financing, staffing, and organizing the Tea Party movement.
They have successfully exploited the dissatisfaction of citizens with the economic and social conditions of the country, and of those who feel threatened by a new black president with a people’s agenda. But they are not a grassroots movement in a true sense, because the yeast behind their rising has been billionaire money. That money is trained on the corporate agenda, and they are being manipulated for that agenda.
Moving our attention back to the dirty ad directed at Jari Askins, one will notice that nowhere in that does the voice of Mary Fallin appear saying, “I am Mary Fallin, and I approve this ad.” On all advertisements sponsored by the Fallin campaign there must be this statement accepting responsibility. So then, that ad must NOT be sponsored by Fallin’s office.
One must look at the faint print in the dirty ad mentioned above to distinguish that the commercial is really sponsored by the Republican Governor’s Association. Now does anyone recall who has been giving money to that association to distribute into Republican campaigns across the land? We could begin with Rupert Murdoch, the Australian transplant and owner of Fox channels, who recently gave $1 million to the Republican governors to lead the pack of big money doing the same.
With the 5 to 4 decision by the Republican Supreme Court to allow unlimited private and corporate donations to political support groups, billionaire money has been turned loose to buy elections. We can expect more of this now. And, we can expect not only more corruption of the election process of democracy, but also more corruption of government itself.
Anyone who does not see the connection between the Republican Party, and its Tea Party wing, with billionaire money would have to be daft. Anyone who still believes that the Fox channel is really a legitimate, ethical news organization has to be a bit daft. And, anyone who really believes these dirty commercials paid for by tainted, undercover money must be more than a wee bit daft.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer