Monday, January 2, 2012
Insights from Bill Moyers
Romney is representative of the other Republican presidential wannabees. Their campaigns consist primarily of trying to tear down Obama or each other. Much of the time they come off looking like goofy comic strip characters. Ms. Bachmann, for example, claims President Obama is placing anti-abortion aids on the "bubble-gum" aisle in stores where they are easily available to young children.
Bachmann lies. They all lie. They lie about their past, their beliefs, each other, the government, and Obama!
They also pretend they are "one of us." They want us to believe that they are not wealthy elitists. They hide the facts that they believe the government exists to enrich the wealthy; that they care nothing for the middle- or lower-classes. They do that by lying about government programs which exist to help people in need. Social Security, they say, is bankrupt. That is a lie. It is not even close to bankruptcy. And a quick fix is available -- just bump up the taxes on the wealthy a tad. But any additional taxes on the rich is devoutly disavowed for "no more taxes" serves as part of their religious creed!
It is tempting to look at these clowns and write them off as so impossibly stupid that they could not possibly be elected. But that would be a mistake. George Bush stole the election in 2000 and was actually re-elected (more or less) in 2004.
Especially sad is the fact these people represent the best the Republican Party can offer the country. That should be laughable but it is actually quite tragic. As Frank Schaeffer says, the Republican Party no longer exists. It has been co-opted by far right-wing christianists and kooks.
One of this country's most astute political and social commentators is Bill Moyers. Unfortunately, his is a voice too little heard amidst the rabble-rousing monstrosities like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. But we need to listen to what Moyers has to say, for he is a man uncorrupted by either wealth or greed or power.
The following is from his book, Moyers On America:
The "oldest story in America," he says, is "the struggle to determine whether 'we, the people' is a spiritual idea embedded in a political reality--one nation, indivisible--or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others. ...
"[...] the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud [...] ... is the difference between democracy and oligarchy."
Moyers wrote those words in 2003. Not much has changed. We remain, in my opinion, on the brink of oligarchy, aided and abetted by a Congress whose members are deeply indebted for their political lives to the oligarchs, and a Supreme Court, the majority of which are part and parcel of the oligarchical dream and live for the erection and expansion of an oligarchy. Thus, the court has determined, in opposition to the foundational beliefs of this country, that corporations are "people" and are free to undermine the political process and democracy itself through massive infusions of corporate money to elect synchophants who will do the bidding of their corporate masters.
Moyers, after a brilliant discussion of how this country came to be, brings us up-to-date by laying much of the blame on "Democratic politicians and public thinkers" ... who did not live up to the legacy of FDR and thus failed "to respond to popular discontents--to the daily lives of workers, consumers, parents, and ordinary taxpayers..."
While perhaps a bit simplistic in his neglect of the Republican Congressional tragedies of the mid-90s (Newt Gringrich's war on compromise, for example), Moyers provides much food for thought.
The failure of our politicians and political structures, says Moyers, "allowed a resurgent conservatism to convert public concern and hostility into a crusade that masked the resurrection of social Darwinism as a moral philosophy, multi-national corporations as a governing class, and the theology of markets as a transcendental belief system.
"As a citizen," Moyers says, "I don't like the consequences of this crusade, but I respect the conservatives for their successful strategy in gaining control of the national agenda. Their stated and open aim is to strip from government all its functions except those that reward their rich and privileged benefactors. They are quite candid about it, even acknowledging proudly the mean spirit invoked to accomplish their ambitions. ... Grover Norquist, in commenting on the fiscal crisis in the states and its effect on schools and poor people said, 'I hope one of them' -- one of the states -- 'goes bankrupt."
Ladies and gentlemen: Today's crop of Republican nominees for the presidential nomination are the end result of this morbid and desolate strategy. And all they can promise is more of the same. Much more of the same. And they are just as candid and open about it. They promise to destroy the American dream and tens of millions of Americans cheer them on.
Other than reject these pretenders to the throne, what else can we, as responsible Americans, as Americans who love our country deeply, do? I would recommend, first off, that everyone read Moyers' book. But since that is highly unlikely to occur, I will put forth below what Mr. Moyers says is our "first order of business" which is "to understand the real interests and deep opinions of the American people."
* That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age
* That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country
* That income inequality is not a sign of freedom of opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it's a sign that opportunity is less than equal
* That self-interest is a great motivator for production and progress but is amoral unless contained within the framework of social justice
* That the rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets, and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else
* That public services, when privatized, serve only those who can afford them and weaken the sense that we all rise and fall together as 'one nation, indivisible'
* That concentration in the production of goods may sometimes be useful and efficient, but monopoly over the dissemination of ideas is tyranny
* That prosperity requires good wages and benefits for workers
* That our nation can no more survive as half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive half slave and half free, and that keeping it from becoming all oligarchy is steady work--our work