BY VERN TURNER
Sometimes the motivation to write another essay comes from multiple sources. I am blessed to have many activist friends who send me stuff concerning our national health, politics and societal issues. This is one of those times when several contributions come together to make an essay like this necessary. Let’s hope I have enough skill to make the point suggested in the title.
To begin with, someone asked me to write what I thought made the case for liberalism or progressive government. I wrote:
Liberal or progressive politics are a collection of policies that address social issues and are everything forward-thinking in nature. As opposed to the backward-thinking of today’s Republican platform, e.g., privatizing Social Security and public education, ending Medicare/Medicaid, cutting taxes for the richest, eliminating regulations on banks and financial institutions and corporations, more military responses to world problems, ignoring global climate change and preventing the investment in alternative energy programs, liberalism embraces the progress in human dignity and quality of life that these issues entail.
A liberal or progressive political agenda would include much of what candidate Bernie Sanders proposes, but would also completely alter the tax structure such that not only will the rich pay around 51%, but also that loopholes and off-shoring income would be closed to everyone including corporations. The firewall between investment and commercial banking must be rebuilt and strengthened in order to eliminate repeated boom-bust cycles. Incentives would be available for corporations who keep U.S. jobs in-country. A massive investment in our infrastructure, inner-city decay, public and vocational education everywhere is necessary to keep our country from sliding into ruin. High speed rail, more efficient transport and inventory management plus hybrid/electric vehicle utilization, more emphasis on solar energy implementation for all new construction and retrofitting of older dwellings and commercial buildings is absolutely necessary to get the country away from middle-eastern oil dependency once and for all time.
We, as a progressive nation, must reduce spending on unnecessary military gadgetry and renew our space research toward the plan to land humans on the moon and Mars for advanced exploration of the universe. When we stop being the nation of bellicosity and more the nation of aiding other nations in developing the correct way toward energy independence instead of recapitulating all the old, wasteful technology, our standing in the world will once again be paramount.
Then, there were some contributions where I paraphrased for the purpose of creating the correct perspective and to cut through the campaign and partisan nonsense used by all politicians to sway voters.
Paraphrased from Rachel Maddow: In the two years when Democrats had the White House and the Senate we got Wall Street reform, student loan reform, credit card reform, healthcare reform, obviously, the fair pay act, expanding of the G.I. Bill, reauthorized the children health insurance program, extended national service programs, the sentencing disparity for crack versus powdered cocaine was fixed and the 9/11 first-responders bill. We also got the hate crimes act, the nuclear weapons START treaty between the U.S. and Russia was ratified, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, the Cash-for-Clunkers program and the recovery stimulus that included the largest middle-class tax cut ever. These actions were all done by the Congress elected by the same people who elected President Obama in 2008.
When and since the Republicans took control of the House for the first time in decades in 2010, there has not been a single significant piece of legislation enacted into law. (Firebrand Progressives)
From basic definitions and understanding of fundamental social behavior:
Socialism without Capitalism is Communism. Capitalism without Socialism is Fascism. Democratic Socialism is the Balance between Communism and Fascism.
Have you noticed that the same Republican politicians who are so eager to slash anti-poverty programs also do everything they can to let corporations pay poverty wages?
Republicans hate education, because educated people don’t vote for them. The Republican governors and state legislatures across the country slash education budgets in order to expand their base of ignorant acolytes.
With that all said, we come to the most frightening issue in my lifetime, American fascism.
In a 1944 speech, then Vice-President Henry Wallace said:
“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity … They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
Some paraphrased comments and observations from Robert Reich, someone who does this for a living:
Donald Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th Century – lurid figures such as Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler and Franco – are too evident to overlook.
As with the above famous fascists, Trump is focusing his campaign on the angers of white working people who have been losing economic ground for years, and who are easy prey for demagogues seeking to build their own power by scapegoating others. [Remember, Hitler had almost an entire nation of downtrodden people to work with. The Versailles Treaty is to blame for this, of course, because it set the stage for Hitler’s special brand of fascism.] It’s not just that Trump recently quoted Mussolini or that he’s begun inviting followers at his rallies to raise their right hands in a loyalty salute chillingly similar to the Nazi’s “HEIL” salute. It’s the fomenting of violence and the blatant disrespect for anyone not Trump that feeds the frenzy of today’s fascism.
This is where the con job begins for the American people. Trump’s electoral gains have been largest in counties with lower than average incomes, and among those who report their personal finances have worsened. By preying on their fears and ignorance, Donald Trump continues to enflame without offering solutions. He makes promises nobody can keep without offering substance. He fans the flames of prejudice, racism and jingoism while offering no explanations. This shtick comes right out of Snake Oil Marketing 101. People. You can’t really be buying this garbage, can you? This is 2016, not 1930.
Trump is exploiting the generations that are experiencing failed expectations. The American dream they were promised has been usurped by the tragedy of Reaganomics and the so-called conservative takeover of our financial system and election process since 1981. Donald Trump is very smart. He knows he can get people to follow him if he promises the moon of lost expectations and the Eden of an all-white, all-Christian, all-non-Hispanic nation glorying in its own militarism. The weak and the ever-hopeful have given in to their latent racism and xenophobia, two things they fought to suppress knowing that they were counter-productive to the health of the nation.
So, along comes the con man, dressed in his Armani suits costing more than two month’s rent for most of his audiences. They cheer wildly. They roar with delight at the militancy of the speaker when he addresses “protesters.” Their blood rises and they want to fight. So, they do. Trump, the con artist, eggs them on. Guess what. He’s tapped into the primordial brain and loosed the basic emotions of mindless group hysteria. I can only liken this to the scenes I saw on TV during the American hostage situation from Iran in 1980-81.
Another friend sent me an article describing the presidential seasons involving John Quincey Adams and Andrew Jackson. There was much demagoguery then, just as there is today. Adams beat Jackson the first time through a congressional vote because none of the four candidates had a plurality of electoral delegates. Since Jackson was so despised by the “establishment” of the time, Adams was elected.
Four years later, however, Jackson came storming back onto the scene with all sorts of bluster, demagoguery and exploitation of fears and ignorance among the populace. His ultimate claim to infamy, of course, was his displacement of the Cherokee and other native tribes from the southeast to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Sound familiar? At least he didn’t want to build a wall.
Suffice to say, that without a massive turnout by rational, clear-thinking American citizens of all races and ethnicities, Donald Trump may become president. Worse, he may become president with a Republican-dominated Congress already dumbed down by their foolishness, incompetence and poison from the ridiculously named Freedom Caucus.
When you lay down with dogs, don’t be surprised when you wake up with fleas.
There should be no better time for Americans to wake up to the realization that national salvation is in their own hands. We who care and pay attention to all our fellow Americans must understand that our votes this time at all levels on the ballot are the most important of our lifetime. Ordinarily I wouldn’t say that, but the prospect of our wonderful land being “led” by a shrieking demagogue with evil intent for those he disapproves of is too frightening to ignore. Be sure you vote your conscience, but for all you hold dear, think before you vote. We must all be careful what we ask for.
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.