Publius Speaks

Publius Speaks
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why is this 2012 election so important?

1)    You’ve probably heard over and over that this election will decide in what direction the country will go.  Yes, that’s true, as far as it goes.  But what we must understand is that this election will basically decide in whose direction the country will go.  

    This is not simply a question of direction --right or left-- it is instead a question of who is behind the directing.   It is the people driving the direction that matters most, for it is people who make decisions, run for and hold office, provide monetary support and put together the legislation, the policies, the programs, the rules and regulations that ultimately move the government and the country in a particular direction.

    So as a voter YOU must decide who you want directing the country, driving the government, spending your money, or deciding the issues by which your life will be affected.  Unfortunately, most of those people are NOT running for office, and therefore are not elected.  There’s the rub:  the people we think are going to be our elected representatives or Senators are often not the people who make the decisions that affect our everyday lives.  So this election is about the unelected people who are in positions of power.

    Permit me a small tangent here.  There is a sense in which the office-holders - the politicians themselves - really have very little to do with our everyday lives.  They are too often not in charge of the political machinery.  Behind the operations of government are so many lawyers, lobbyists, bundlers, handlers, aides and staffers, plus the moneyed men and women who like to tell those politicians just what they should do or not do, that the politicians turn out to be little more than marionettes dancing to the tunes that the puppet masters play.

    On the other hand, it is precisely because the politicians are turning over their offices and consciences to the string-pullers that makes it all the more imperative for every citizen to want everything to do with those who are giving away the store to the behind-the-scenes actors.  It is a time for scrutiny not inactivity.

    What I am saying is that this election is so much about who is really in charge, and who is calling the shots, and who is donating enormous amounts of money. There is every possibility that we the people will not decide the direction in which the country will go.  We will instead have decided for us who is really going to lead us and on what path we will go because decisions vital to our democratic process are already being made by forces that have gathered in secret and who are unseen by the average human eye.

    So, let us say that President Obama is re-elected:  Anathema to some and Shangri-la to others.  Unless by some miracle a Democratic Congress (both House and Senate) also follows suit, the outcome will be about what it is now: gridlock.  Nothing much will change, and the puppeteers will still be in charge, albeit in a way that will somewhat test their abilities but not overly much.  Let’s say that Romney wins and the Republicans win a majority in both houses of Congress.  That will be the end of democratic representative government as we have known it.  For then the behind-the-scenes actors will have no one in their way.  In fact, they will own the Congress, the Presidency and the Court.  They will own the federal government and will use it as they desire to gain their own ends. 

2)    This election is about takeover, not makeover.  Too many average voters believe that there is little difference between Republican and Democrat politicians: they are all essentially the same, they complain.  That has been somewhat true in the early modern era, but no more.  It has all changed.  There are few moderate Republicans left, at least who hold office.  There are more extant conservative Democrats who vote for things like right-to-life legislation, or for breaks for corporations, and who belittle the labor movement.  No, we are not living in the era of cooperation or compromise or accommodation between the parties.  We live in a situation where ideological rigidity holds sway, and where creative legislation or expansion of civil rights or of the voter franchise or of inventiveness in seeking greater support for those with special needs or unusual circumstances are all seen as wasted spending, extravagant spending, or as affecting the ability of small business owners to hire more employees.

    To be more precise, we have the tendency to think that this election, as with others past in which our economic future was at stake, is simply a matter of changing horses in mid-stream; a chance for the other party to see what they can do, with little regard for what they say they will do, for what they have already demonstrated in the past they will do, or for what they will not do, given their philosophy.  But this election is not about a simple change of philosophy; it is about control.

    The radical Republican Right-wing has decided that it is not enough simply to makeover the government and its policies into a slightly different way of doing things. This is an all-out battle to win CONTROL of government so that the Democratic Party will be on the outside for generations to come.  If you don’t understand that fact, you understand nothing about what is at stake in this election.

    Let us review in brief why I say that this is a potential coup d'├ętat and not your usual election.

    A)  The Koch brothers, and other millionaires and billionaires like Sheldon Adelson working with them or on their own, want everything in government to mesh with their right-wing, top-down, corporate-protecting, laissez-faire, tax-loophole, privileged class values.  They are committed to revolutionizing this government so it never again passes legislation favorable to labor, minorities, the poor or the vulnerable; they want to tear down or repeal universal health care, abortion rights, environmental or consumer protection legislation.   They are predatory in their quest.  If you don’t believe it, watch in the movie “Koch Brothers Exposed” what they did to a small town school district in North Carolina.  This is war, and if more voters don’t catch on soon, the battles will all be over and the Koch Brother types will be the victors, and they will be the robber barons running this country.

    B)  If you haven’t caught on yet, consider the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.  If you think that was just a fluke, you must consider what the hoards of money from Super-PACs are doing to change the election dynamics throughout this country.  The negative ads --with outright lies as their foundation -- are twisting the life out of our election process., and distorting the outcomes.  Voters with bumper-sticker mentality are actually persuaded everyday by these negative ads. 

    But that’s not all.  The law does not require anyone to disclose who the donors are or where they are from, or how much they are giving to influence the elections.  Thus it is, that YOU, the voter, are being kept in the dark as to the very people who are attempting to buy your election.  That’s right!  You have no way of even knowing if the election for your local Congressman (or State Senator for that matter) is being bought by a millionaire businessman who will expect favors in return that may hurt local ability to grow the local economy in the future.  You have no idea who it is that is buying your Congressman and how that will affect your schools, your health care, your children’s education.  You just don’t know…

    C)  A third leg of the revolutionary stool is the attempt by radical Republicans in over 30 states to cut back on access to voting.  The so-called anti-voter fraud laws are clearly a part of the conspiracy to take over the government, not to enhance it or to make it more democratic.  The voter ID laws and the suppression of early voting, plus unreasonable requirements for registration all work together, not to correct a problem of voter fraud, but to perpetrate a fraud on minorities, the elderly, young people, and those living in poverty who would have the most difficulty complying with these laws.  Compliance with these laws is made extra difficult in order that those who do seek qualifying picture IDs will have an even harder time getting them.  Tactics such as closing state offices early where such IDs can be found, or opening them at odd hours, such as 9 am to 12 pm on every fifth Wednesday in a month (3 per year?); or closing branch offices in those areas where citizens will be forced to take a public bus to far-flung sites -- all are designed to prevent, not enhance a person’s opportunity to comply. 

    This voter suppression is not random; it is not dissimilar legislation.  These laws have been put together by forces that know what they are doing.  They are part of the right-wing conspiracy to steal this election and to disenfranchise the voters who supported President Obama in 2008.  This is a planned and organized assault on our democratic election process.  It is a blatant attempt to overcome the concept of one person, one vote.  In Pennsylvania alone, the voter ID law may well disenfranchise around 750,000 voters, enough to swing that state to Romney, as touted by the speaker of Pennsylvania’s assembly when he said that the voter ID legislation they passed will deliver the state’s electoral votes to Romney.

3)    And finally, this election is about tearing down the machinery of federal governance that has kept in place a concept of government that believes in equal rights, fair play, controlling predatory practices, and giving everyone a fair shake by distributing tax revenues so that no one is left behind.  It begins, in essence with FDR and the New Deal.  The conservative Republican movement, especially the neo-cons, have targeted the policies and programs of the Roosevelt era for years now. 

    Social Security is the bane of their existence.  They want desperately to change that program so that the federal government can no longer have control.  They want to get that money into the hands of the bankers and the financiers by establishing the concept of private accounts that will grow as Wall Street grows.  Unfortunately, when banks close or Wall Street goes bearish or really falters, there will be no one to pick up the pieces for the persons who lost their retirement savings. 

    That’s just the beginning.  The other programs of big government that rankle these anti-federalists the most are both related to health care:  Medicare and Medicaid.  For the sake of brevity, let us simply recognize that the Paul Ryan plan for Medicare, no matter how you slice it, is meant to fundamentally alter Medicare. No matter what is said about options, the outcome will eventually be the destruction of Medicare as we know it.  That is the goal.

    It is Medicaid that is clearly in the sights of the big government hunters.  This is the program that causes state governments apoplexy.  It is often the largest mandated but not fully funded part of their state budgets.  Since devolving programs to the states has been one favorite method of conservatives for un-doing or cutting back on federal programs that help the vulnerable and those with special needs, this is the tactic they have chosen to eventually render this program ineffective.  If the states get hold of Medicaid, you will see administrative costs go up, benefits go down, and eligibility change drastically.  This tactic has nothing to do with states’ rights or states’ abilities to innovate, and everything to do with denuding a needed program. 

    Let us consider here the fact that while destruction of Medicaid has little to do with the theory of state sovereignty, there is nevertheless a conspiracy afoot to return that concept to a cornerstone of revolution.  The right-wingers are not just concentrating on diminishing the role of the federal bureaucracy, they are at work diligently trying to enhance the role of the states in this offensive.  Look at Wisconsin and Ohio and their anti-labor movement.  Look at Arizona and their egregious legislation and practices aimed at immigration.  Look at Texas and the governor’s threat to succeed.  Look at many of the states where the legislatures and the state houses have been captured by the right-wing Republicans who have gone forward with radical changes to education, social spending, and welfare programs.  They will, of course, tout these changes as desirable, but don’t forget to look at their rankings in terms of achievements, especially in education and health care.  Not very good, I’m afraid.  But their goals are not the construction of better programs; their goals have to do with the diminishing of programs run by government.  They are not in the business of innovation, but they are mightily concerned with private business and the welfare of businessmen and women, not to mention their own aggrandizement. 

So do not look to slogans or talking points or high-sounding rhetoric for your keys to what this election is about.  It is about none of those.  There is only one issue: who is going to run your economy; who is going to decide your fate; who is going to dictate the terms of your education and thus of your career; who is going to make decisions for you in terms of your health and well-being; who is going to decide for you certain matters of conscience and tolerance?  This election’s outcome is not just about you, my friend.  It is about the directors, not the direction.  Make a wrong choice, and it will be about the power of an elite controlling the government and all of its functions.  It will be about the powerful weakening governance so that the avarice of certain holders of wealth can be more than satisfied.  It will be about a right-wing takeover, not a makeover.