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Forward? It’s Game Over, Dear Progressives. Here’s What You’ve Missed…

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:

  • Social Security
  • The Federal Reserve Board
  • Welfare (Food Assistance, Medicare and Medicaid)
  • The minimum-wage
  • Corporate taxes
  • All price supports and subsidies for agriculture and business
  • Most U.S. Federal agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that regulates Wall Street, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) that regulates commerce and truck safety, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Energy (DOE).[1][2].

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. [3] 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:

  • The dismantling of the 4th Estate, journalism, through:
    • Outright purchases of radio stations, newspapers, television stations;
    • Roll out of Neocon activist Roger Ailes‘ Fox News, Fox’s acquisition or alliance with local television stations;
    • A progressive neutering of the  news media. Included would be the sand-bagging of CBS and Dan Rather over the infamous Bush National Guard records, the threats to the media during 9/11 to tow the line, and the censuring of more liberal programming on radio by the FCC; News shows that have migrated from programs designed to inform the electorate to meaningless infomercials and platforms where far Right politicians can message without threat of challenge, for fear that they’ll lose guests and prestige, or “offend” Pavlovianly-conditioned Fox News viewers;
    • Conservative-minded advertising organizations slating more public awareness campaign space to dubious “charitable” organizations with a political agenda.
    • Retraining college journalism and television media students to indoctrinate them in Libertarian talking points.
  • Increasing the pathological hatred of government. Libertarians, by way of their Tea Party, have been able to co-opt the anger that single issue voters, from gun nuts to racists to anti-abortionists to your garden variety batshit crazy nut jobs feel about one particular fear they have of government into a rabid, frothing hatred of “Big G” government as a whole.  The Tea Party, their creation, is a witches-brew of those constituencies.
  • In the judiciary, local, state, and federal, Libertarians have put in place layers of hard-Right judges. They pushed Supreme Court justices like Scalia and Thomas, who make a mockery of both the bench and the old GOP claim of not putting “activist” judges into positions of power.
  • Colleges and Universities are increasingly run by members of the business and legal faculties, which clamp down on free-thinking liberal arts and fast-tracks faculty whose politics are decidedly more conservative to steer students to a more conservative lifestyle.  Givers like the DeVos (Amway) family and Libertarian-funded organizations like the Leadership Institute push from both the funding and the academic sides in key areas of colleges and universities nationwide to reshape their makeup in a more conservative vein, even though research suggests such activity doesn’t seem to make much of a real difference in the political makeup of college campuses.
  • Use of NRA, Right-to-Life and other hard-Right organizational ties to infiltrate and undermine union organizations;
  • Dismantling public university education. Escalating expenses to levels that either keep a percentage of Americans from obtaining higher education or make its crushing debt seem an unattractive future. [4]
  • Retooling the American primary and secondary education system not to optimize learning potential, but to maximize profit centers for testing companies, publishers, and other industries that devour its 9% of GDP.
  • The dumbing down of entertainment programming.   The constant attack of TV shows with a social and political edge, taking network television from groundbreaking shows like “All in the Family” or “The Wire” or “Real Time” to mindless reality fare like “The Bachelor” which keeps the voting populace doped and docile.
  • Reassertion of Jim Crow through outrageous political maneuvering of minority votes through both redistricting and new restrictions on voting to combat non-existent fraud.
  • Reassertion of White Power through xenophobic campaigns against aliens who do vital work that Americans will not, instead of finding reasonable solutions to documentation and taxation of their wages that make them pay their way fairly while they are working in this country.
  • Assertion of a Christian religion over a nation that increasingly doesn’t believe in magic births, seas parting, and talking snakes. Even for those who are believers, in anything from karma to dogma, the Far Right’s dogma denegrates religions’ value for those of religious minorities, in complete contradiction to a country founded by more than a dozen different persecuted religious minorities, with radically different worship and belief systems, stood for. [5]
  • Massive unwinding of every avenue of government, stripping or making ineffectual government regulations and laws that could have prevented the BP oil spill, and kept Wall Street and the Banks in check.  Even if the Democrats held Congress for the next twenty years straight, it would take almost that long to restore the damage to basic functions and safety valves that government provides that were perpetrated by the Far Right over the last four decades.

We are in the new age of American fascism. To repeat, fascism is:

  1. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
  2. Extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice. [6]

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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About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

2 comments on “Forward? It’s Game Over, Dear Progressives. Here’s What You’ve Missed…

  1. Pingback: The GOP Last Hurrah – Can Romney Use Race and Gender to Get His Magic Number in the White Vote? « truth-2-Power

  2. Pingback: Is the Neocon-Tea Party War Running American Democracy Off the Political Cliff? | truth-2-Power

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