Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Progressives are on the verge of losing the fight for the future direction of America, socially and politically. While we fret about the individual trees of politics in this cycle, from women’s rights to voter intimidation, Libertarians have been looking at how best to chop down the whole governmental forest for decades.
They have executed a forty-year long ground game to reshape not just politics, but the major avenues of thought, policy and life, transforming how American opinion is created and influenced: Schools, churches, the Internet, the courts, government agencies, and the almighty television. As I reported to you in the Republican Un-Civil War, Libertarians have co-opted and overrun the Neocon revolution of Ronald Reagan, and pushed the GOP even harder to the Right.
This revolution started back at the end of the ethnic and social upheavals that followed the Great Depression, from the New Deal to the 1970s.
On August 23, 1971, two months prior to his nomination to the Supreme Court, über-conservative Justice Lewis Powell wrote a landmark paper in far-Right conservative thinking, known as the Powell Memorandum. In it Powell asserts:
“The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.
“Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these ‘attackers,’ or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.”
Powell then envisioned and thumb-nailed a solution to the progressive, liberal agenda: A whole network of inter-related conservative groups that would drive progressivism, which he deemed socialist or communist, from every walk of life, and, most importantly, from the judiciary and the news media.
Using that blueprint, the United States Chamber of Commerce, Big Oil and the Military-Defense establishment began to re-assert power on college campuses, and look for ways to gain control of what would become known as the “spin” in media. The Neoconservative (Neocon) movement was born that would go on to launch the “Reagan Revolution,” a power grab to reassert control.
The second thread began in the late 1950s, when the political fringe group the John Birch Society sprang up. Founded in 1958 by Robert W. Welch and co-founded by Fred Koch, father of the infamous Koch brothers, the Birchers are an illogic cocktail: A blend of white Christian fundamentalism, a jigger of narrow interpretation of the Constitution’s rights and freedoms, topped with a splash of author Ayn Rand’s dystopian selfishness, and a dash of the American eugenics movement to “purify” America through radical social Darwinism, served up in a flag-wrapped anti-Communist commemorative cup.
From these two fountainheads, Randian pun modestly intended, the Neocon and Libertarian factions of the GOP would come of age in the 1980s during that “Reagan Revolution.”
Their common goal: To re-wire American society away from the tectonic shift of the New Deal and the Civil Rights Era.
The difference? Neocons want big government largesse, through both service contracts to the government, and from privatizing more lucrative government enterprises, like building and operating schools to operating toll ways and government buildings, to go to their interest groups and corporations.
Libertarians were more extreme, seeking the return of “Robber Baron” capitalism, the pre-Great Depression Era before the rise of unions, the social safety net, and the rise of racial and gender equality movements.
Beneath the economic Woodstock that the Reaganites and the GOP sold, the Libertarians were rising in power and influence, but on a separate, stealthily silent track.
In the 1980s, the Kochs and some of their fellow Birchers rebranded themselves as the Libertarian Party. Their presidential candidates, Ed Clark and his running-mate, brother David Koch, ran promising to abolish:
They received 921,128 votes, 1.06% of the total nationwide cast, buried by a far more moderate Ronald Reagan.
By the 1990s, though, it became clear that, even with the Republican Party shrinking, mostly to “independents,” the third-party candidate route to significant power in Washington, D.C. was not a winner. Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Libertarian “alternative” presidential candidates didn’t have the political power of the establishment.
Perot, who had billions of his own, put on a big enough show to garner 18.9% of the popular vote in 1992, yet walked away with no electoral votes.
The Libertarians realized that, if you can’t beat ’em, own ’em.  Their think tanks began a new approach. They began to give to Neocon think-tanks, and co-opt them. They also put down more of their own astroturf
This vast web of groups and organizations that, like the Internet, could not be summarily put out of business through negative exposure to the public of one or more of the group’s activities or agenda.
The Coors’ Castle Rock Foundation, one of many such back-door funding mechanisms, prevents tarnishing beer brands like Coors and Blue Moon, hurting sales with non-politically like-minded people. The beers that market to minorities and the young turn profits over to Castle Rock, which in turn funds a wide network intent on destroying the government and institutionalizing their hard-Right turn in legal system, the educational system, the media, and entertainment. Scroll through these, or click and learn, but this is only a partial list of all of the faux activist groups that this large donor services:
Remember that Castle Rock is just one such funding outlet. In the Dead Billionaires Club, we introduce you to many others and the hundreds of groups, including many of the above, that they fund. The Kochs, and their Americans For Prosperity are perhaps the most visible. Foster Friess and the Red, White & Blue Fund is one of the most recent.
In the 1980s and early 1990s young turks of the hard Right like Neocons like Bill Kristol, Lee Atwater recruited Karl Rove, and Libertarian agents like Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, and Jack Abramoff began to sprout up. The Leadership Institute, a multi-million dollar boot-camp in the shadow of the White House, trained many of these new believers like Rove and Reed to recruit young politicos and budding journalists on college campuses.
The Neocons and the Libertarians launched vast networks of hugely funded “astroturf” grass roots groups, co-opted College Republican groups on campuses by offering fast-track into GOP party power, jobs with K Street lobbying firms, and well-paid gigs at think tanks and organizing groups that change various aspects of American society. They cried loudly about communist and socialist infiltration while infiltrating the American mainstream to divert it.
What have they accomplished since the 1970s. The list is too large. The lowlights:
We are in the new age of American fascism. To repeat, fascism is:
Particularly thanks to Citizens United, the Republican Party, in its current construction, is the rebirth of American fascism that has been marginalized for more than 75 years. They fit the definition in both practice and policy.
Their absolutist assault on American government is coming to a head: The Congress has been gridlocked for two years with virtually no compromise. Barack Obama, the most centrist Democrat in the White House in modern history, who offered up, during the debt ceiling, a package of meaningful cuts to social programs that the GOP had been slathering at the bit for decades to get, was left holding the empty bag by Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, who left their Speaker, John Boehner, without a pair in his hand or his pants.
Haven’t you wondered why, when poll after poll show that their views are not popular, they press on?
They do this, because they have the confidence to do it. They know YOU do not matter. You have been dialed out of the equation. Your vote, your voice does not matter. Your outrage does not matter. What matters is what those few people, who pay the bills to tell you what you should think, think matters.
They know that you only push the LIKE button on Facebook to express your outrage. You share it with friends. You’re not taking to the streets. Hell, barely three in ten of you are registered to vote and will actually show up at the polls.
They’ve conditioned you to be tuned out and turned off, and you have.
So, really, little people, you’ll do as you’re told, and, you’ll like it, because they’ll tell you that you do in the ad that they blast you with, your only “news” between moments of Jersey Shore.
Even if we found the will to backstop President Obama, and we kicked the Teahadis out of Congress, how many decades will it take to undo what four decades of the Libertarian monkey wrenches dropped into the system have done to bring America down to this level of dysfunction and rancor?
Maybe someone can sell me some optimism. We need ballots, not bombs, to stop it, and you can hear the crickets chirping in the reeds of American voter apathy.
My shiny two.
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