Thursday, September 04, 2008

Same small politics, yes...

...but it's also the same old big money.

Daily Kos: The Same Small Politics
John McCain selected Sarah Palin to try and combat Barack Obama's message of change, yet yesterday's hate-fest was a stunning admission that the Republican Party has nothing to offer but more of the same to the American people.
Money talks and bullshit walks, as the oligarchs behind the GOP curtain know all too well. Since their brutal drubbing at the hands of FDR and the New Deal, the vested interests - the J.P. Morgans, du Ponts, Mellons, and their kin, both genealogically and financially - have been operating on the principle of "if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em." And they have been wildly successful, even to the point of buying a controlling interest in an entire religion. Steadily chipping away at the regulatory framework that shielded the vast majority of Americans from their predations, an erosion enabled by purchasing political power through what amounts to legalized bribery, the vested interests have been able to consolidate vast areas of our political, cultural, spiritual, and intellectual landscape under their control. They have done so by shrewdly and systematically exploiting that characteristically human obsession which the apostle Paul called "the root of all evil": greed.

Once enough politicians, pundits, preachers, and publishers were in their pockets, it became possible for the vested interests to so manipulate public discourse that a majority of citizens - Nixon's "silent majority" - could be persuaded that voting against their best interests was, in fact, in their best interests. In this regard American Christianity, or at least that influential part of American Christianity with links to Southern Fundamentalism, was indispensable. Because while the very rich were indeed very rich, they didn't have nearly enough money to buy off an entire population. And even if they could, if they did so they would no longer be very rich. However, being shrewd business people, they realized that it wasn't necessary to buy the entire flock as long as you owned the shepherd. So they purchased men like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, Bill Bright, James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed, Rod Parsley, and many others. Some of these men were unscrupulous charlatans from the start, others were well-meaning but naive and only became unscrupulous charlatans after they had been suborned by their new-found access to power and previously unimagined wealth. The rest were useful fools. And these shepherds-turned-sheep rapists pressed their flocks into the service of the vested interests by exploiting their followers' moral sensibilities and their faith in a higher meaning beyond possessions and worldly power, principles many of their leaders no longer - or never - shared. Old Time Religion pushed aside the New Deal.

For the rest of that "silent majority," not nearly as devout as their fundamentalist brethren, a different mechanism was needed. Applying the same thinking that made fundamentalism a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP, the vested interests, starting with their Champion and White Knight Ronald Reagan and continuing non-stop through the administrations of Bill Clinton and both Bushes, knocked down the regulatory barriers that prevented them from controlling the media until they were able to bring virtually all public sources of information under the control of a few megalithic corporations. They were now the popes of the Church of the media, and they installed as cardinals and archbishops men and women who themselves aspired to be popes one day. And so the rest of the fleeceable flock was brought under their sway, some by manipulation of the "facts" presented by formerly reliable news sources, others through emotional manipulation by hate radio and its fellow media travelers, a domain stocked with ranters who skillfully exploited the simmering resentment many Americans rightly felt, redirecting it away from its proper target - the vested interests themselves - and against scapegoats and boogeymen like liberals, feminists, minorities, and immigrants.

Today the Republican curtain has been pulled away and many of us can clearly see who's behind it. But are there enough of us? I certainly hope so. Because we are, I fear, quickly approaching a point of no return in America, beyond which there is little chance of reversing course without catastrophic upheavals on a national or global scale. That may happen when global warming finally reaches a point where even the staunchest, truest believer can no longer ignore it, but that will be like burning the house down to get rid of a termite infestation. Something has to change NOW, and if we can't pull it off given the long odds facing the GOP this election cycle, I'm afraid that the next time "we the people" get a chance to run things there won't be much of anything left to run.

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