Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy
Some people think that, because the entire federal government, and the government of 30 states is in the hands of one political party, that this is what we have come to call “Fascism.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This country has been totally under the control of one political party on many occasions and it was never in danger of losing Democracy.
This time is different. We have a President who has appealed to a large mass of voters who fit the same mold as those of earlier Fascists countries, the disgruntled, the disillusioned, the largely ignorant and easily propagandized.xxx
Many are the old Segregationists who converted to the Republican Party when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights bills of the mid-1960s. Others converted under Reagan, seeming to find justification for racism under his smiling, benevolent reversal of affirmative action and his attitude that the country, in less than 30 years had made up to Blacks for 300 years of oppression, degradation, humiliation, and denial of opportunity.
But oppression of Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, the poor, the elderly—any vulnerable groups—which actually includes huge numbers of Trump supporters who don’t realize that they are merely pawns in his game to control the country. Of course his group, though he pretends otherwise are the rich and others for whom he sees himself as patron. He wants to build a larger upper middle class, the top 10%, those with incomes of around $200,000 a year, who live in good neighborhoods, who have kids in private schools, top managers with MBAs or trained by top global corporations. He wants to drive down the current Middle Class. And he’s succeeding.
The poor slobs who support Trump who dress as if they buy their clothes at a 4th of July gift shop, who proudly wear an absolutely stupid acronym for “Make America Great Again” are being used to create better lives for an ever increasing but very limited-access group of Republican Fascists. What these Trump morons need to know is that, first of all, we Progressives, Liberals, Populists, while we think they are stupid and ignorant—really care for them.
They’re not evil people, many of them, those who simply believe the rhetoric, as many Nazis believed Hitler or Italians believed Mussolini. We in fact have a better solution than hating other people to move your agenda ahead. It is a potential President like Bernie Sanders who really does want better wages, free education, appropriate taxes on the wealthy who are ruining our society by spending more on Republican campaigns and propaganda and voter restriction than they are on building U.S. industry and our infrastructure.
By the way, whatever happened to that? Whatever happened to the infrastructure plans that would generate better lives for those in Kentucky and West Virginia and Mississippi and Detroit and Cleveland and East St. Louis? Nothing happened. What did happen was a tax cut that gave the upper-middle class, those people with incomes worth receiving deductions of $8000 or more, plus the super rich, plus giant corporations. Those global corporations took your jobs overseas, even though many of those corporations could have stayed here. Then they paid foreigners to do the jobs of the moron Trump voters. They made huge profits and this tax bill just allowed them to bring all that money back here…at the expense of the poor Trump moron voters who have no income and therefore get no tax cuts. And what have they done with that money? The number one thing they have used if for is to buy back stock. Why? Because it makes their stock more valuable and it makes them richer, especially now that glorious leader Trump has given them the biggest tax cuts ever.
Trump has lied to the poor and the ignorant. Rather than telling the people the truth, as Senator Sanders and others have done, Trump has lied to the American people. He hasn’t created a great economy. The economy grew every month for 79 straight months before Trump entered office. When he came in unemployment was already at 4.6%, and, even with his foolish tax cut, he has only reduced it by far less than even one percent.
Here are the facts about your life. If you want to be in the top half of all workers these days, statistically, you, as an individual, need only have a job paying more than $29,999. That means that half of all workers make more, but another half of all workers make less than $29,999. At the same time, the poverty level for a family of four is $24,250. So if you have a job just slightly below the average income earner, and you have a wife and two kids, you are banging right up against poverty.
Europeans and Asians have seen their wages go up, with Asian wages, starting from much lower than ours—and having all our old jobs–are skyrocketing. One of the reasons they do better is that instead of giving away the oil, mining, timber and natural gas resources to a few rich entrepreneurs who are already rich, and who now, thanks to Reagan, the Bushes, Cheney and Trump, pay virtually no taxes. Stupid Trump voters think that a thousand dollars and the right to prevent young black girls from getting an abortion or laughing at their rust belt neighbors for losing generations of employers to states with the lowest wages and the lowest health standards and the lowest educational and cultural standards in the country makes them superior. All the while they are growing poorer and poorer, while those ‘naïve Liberals” in Massachusetts and New York and Connecticut and New Jersey and Washington and California have the highest incomes and the best educational standards and generate almost all the cultural and scientific advances in the country. It isn’t plain old stupidity on the part of these losers in the more backward states. It is something much worse.
While Southern state voters, and the border state voters, like those in Missouri and Kansas and Kentucky and Oklahoma and southern Ohio and Nebraska are ruining their lives and those of their children, the people in the other states, the blue states, despite the Republican government, are doing very well, thank you. The high education, high moral, high ethical, more progressive states, where people really do look out for other people, have far higher incomes, and better lives and get much more from the tax cuts and other slights on the poor than do Southerners. That’s why they are damned fools. They vote their ignorance, which means—very often among ignorant people—their prejudices, and that makes them vulnerable to the Right Wing propaganda of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and all the other Right Wing propagandists who take basically very good people, trade on their ignorance of the facts, lie to them constantly, day and night, do their best to create hatreds through their lies, and then sit back, elect servants of the rich, and laugh all the way to the bank. Because, trust me, they are being paid huge amounts. Rush Limbaugh is paid $40 million a year by his Right Wing syndicate. Sean Hannity is paid over $20 million a year to lie to the People. And many, many others are paid huge amounts to do the same. Keep the people down. Lie to them. Don’t let them think for themselves. Divide and conquer.
Why don’t the workers in this country make more than $29,999 on average? Why does the most prosperous country in the world not have the most prosperous workers? College educated workers are doing all right. They now make 56% more than those without college educations. Poverty rates and personal indebtedness are increasing. And it has nothing to do with illegal immigration.
Part of it has to do with the fact that in many states the minimum wage is still $7.25. So, if a worker is paid a dollar more an hour, it is still barely above the poverty level, if the worker can get 40 hours per week, which many cannot. Huge numbers of Walmart and McDonalds and other discount-firm employees are on food stamps. The Republicans have consistently fought against and voted down increases in the minimum wage in order to earn the campaign funds of people like the Koch brothers and giant corporations.
So why haven’t U.S. wages risen? Well, they have somewhat for the college educated and the gap between college educated and high school educated has widened dramatically.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for non-management private-sector workers last month was $20.67, unchanged from August and 2.3% above the average wage a year earlier. That’s not much, especially when compared with the pre-Great Recession years of 2006 and 2007, when the average hourly wage often increased by around 4% year-over-year. (During the high-inflation years of the 1970s and early 1980s, average wages commonly jumped 8%, 9% or even more year-over-year.)
More significantly, adjusted for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, before Reagan. Despite the “morning in America” promises, it slid dramatically in the 1980s and early 1990s and has had small, inconsistent growth since then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: A $4 an hour wage rate in 1973 would buy the same as a $22 per hour income would today. So much for a better life for the workers through Conservative Republican economics.
Most of the gains in earnings have gone to the upper income earners. Since 2000, weekly wages have dropped by 3.7% (in real terms) among workers in the lowest tenth of the earnings distribution, and 3% among the lowest quarter. But for those at those same percentages from the top of the income distribution, real wages have increased by virtually 10%.
There is no question that wages of the average worker are stagnant, even with an economy that grew, as we said, under President Obama for 79 straight months. Republican politicians have one mandate from their billionaire supporters. Create a society in which our wealth always increases compared to the rest of society. One way to make that happen is to suppress wage growth.
And of course, living conditions for the average family cannot be described merely in wages. For example, health insurance costs were reduced continuously from 2010 to 2016. But in 2014, one the Republican henchmen for the rich, Senator Marco Rubio, used a tricky piece of legislation to de-fund a large part of the Affordable Care Act. The Super Rich pay a tiny but—for them—substantial—surcharge to help subsidize the health insurance industry as it transitioned into helping everyone, no matter their pre-existing conditions. After Rubio’s amendment health insurance prices began to rise again. By 2016, some health insurers simply opted out of the health insurance business. Other smaller firms went bankrupt. Paul Ryan began to claim that “Obamacare” was “spiraling down.” Of course it was. The Republicans had done nothing to help Americans citizens get better health care, in fact had actively worked against it, for the previous 20 years, including 61 attempts to repeal it without any substitute.
So, other factors, rising costs of health care under Trump, rising fuel costs, greater personal debt, rising interest rates, all these things have created a squeeze on the average citizen. This is bad for those in the states where peddling ignorance and superstition and hatred among the lower classes but it is bad for America as well. People who are angry for the wrong reasons at the wrong people are about as effective in creating change as those who would shoot the policeman and not the robber.
Life in the United States was not always lived as we live it today. Those who wear the flag on their backs or fronts instead of in their hearts do have some few things right. Life used to be better in the United States for the average—the average—citizen, who was Caucasian.
If you were 80 years old this 4th of July, you would have graduated from high school in 1955. You would have graduated from college in 1959. You would have missed the Korean War by a year or two and been out of the service by the time the Viet Nam war came along. You were not part of the baby boomer generation, but until you were an adult you lived most of your life soon after World War II.
In 1959, you would have entered a world where there were large U.S. industries, manufacturers, food producers, large construction projects and an expanding national university system. About one-third of all jobs with major companies were union jobs. That meant that, unless you were Black, Hispanic or Native American, because we still hadn’t made push to overcome those problems (Jews could still not join many country clubs, as far-fetched as that may seem today) you could come out of high school and find a job. Unemployment stayed slightly above or below 5% and you could find a job that would pay you enough to find an apartment and own a car and pay your bills.
In those days, however, the United States held itself and its politicians to high standards. Republicans had long portrayed themselves, the party of Lincoln, as the guardians of civil rights. They also saw themselves as the advocates for small business and the farmer.
The Democrats, although still plagued by the Segregationist wing of the old Confederate states, was the party of the New Deal, unions, and big government, At the same time Democrats, again because of Roosevelt and later Truman, in the north it was the party of many African-Americans.
The Democrats stood up for “the little guy,” and although unions had become large, and some corrupt, they still represented the average worker. Individual union workers were paid good living wages which usually meant better wages for non-union workers in the same firms. Non-union office workers in the steel industry, for example, received the same benefits and vacations as union steelworkers. Although their wages may have been on different scales, they were generally better than similar jobs in other firms because of the union.
Toda, virtually all European countries have better union participation than the U.S. And because all European countries spread health care costs across all citizens through general taxes. Union participation ranges from 7% to 88%. The 7% is in France, where unions are hardly needed. The French work week is 35 hours. The mandated vacation period is 5 weeks in addition to 15 or 16 holidays. Pensions start at age 62 and amount to 50% of income. This may vary depending on how much additional funds the worker may decide to put in, but it cannot fall below a certain amount. The average government pension in France is about $50,000 for a couple. For these reasons, most people would probably agree that, compared to the U.S., France hardly needs unions. France, however, is by far not the country with the best retirement incomes, ranking 3rd in public pensions and something like 10th among European countries in retirement income when public and private pensions are combined.
Getting back to the United States in 1959, the fact is that there were many jobs, most jobs, that one could find on which one could live, if not comfortably at least adequately and without food stamps and without any government assistance at all without a college education. Young men could, and many did, work all summer and part-time in winter to earn money for a college education that was completely paid for by graduation day. Every young man of at least 17 or 18 was eligible for the draft, to serve the country for 6 months and then 7 years of reserve or for two full years on active duty. In those days, almost no one considered avoiding the draft. It would have been considered an insult to fathers and uncles who had served for many years in foreign lands, many wounded and some who lost their lives.
So, what happened? It should be clear to anyone who can read through the propaganda issued by the Republican Party, a group that started out under Reagan to call themselves “Conservative.” This was supposed to mean smaller government, releasing more funds into the hands of private investment, more businesses and business activity, more jobs, greater growth, and a prosperous country without debt.
It was what many in America (even Trump voters although they have it backwards) call “the Big Lie.” Reagan was influenced by his years with GE and he either trusted their integrity or he looked the other way. He was persuaded to cut government revenues in half, with huge tax cuts at the top, and reducing tax cuts, therefore, at all levels to a minimum. He cut corporate tax rates also. The result was marginal growth but huge deficits…a tripling of the national debt under Reagan and then another huge increase under the first Bush presidency.
The “Big Lie” which, although we cannot call Reagan a Fascist, is a major element in any Fascist political strategy , was that we could have huge tax cuts for the rich but that the deficits were not enormously damaging to government. They were and became increasingly harmful. Soon, Republicans, now calling themselves “Neo-Conservatives” no longer worried about deficits. They had simultaneously been buying up media and hiring propagandists all across the country to aid in promoting their “Neo-Conservative” ideas, which were all based around the idea that we could have unlimited tax cuts for the rich while still having strong growth in the economy. This might have worked had Republicans insisted that greater individual wealth be reinvested in the U.S. economy. It was not.
By the time the Bush-Cheney presidency came along, any Republican who would not go along with the leaders of the party, all of whom were willingly beholden to giant corporations and their billionaire owners was given a primary opponent who was so well funded that the incumbent would lose. Soon, only very Conservative candidates and not long later ultra-Right “Tea Party” candidates openly working for the billionaires, could be elected as a Republican. With enormous funds and with the best possible advertising and public relations firms working to promote one party, Neo-Conservatism ultimately led to Neo-Fascism. Which is where we are now. It is the rule of one party deciding how all citizens shall live.
By withholding the nomination of a Supreme Court justice until a Republican President could be elected, the Neo-Fascists are now in a position to tell the country, through Supreme Court decisions, how all Americans will live.
All abortions will be made criminal acts. Workers will not be allowed to negotiate as a group with employers. The super rich will have minimal taxes. The government will not raise taxes to cut the national debt but will instead, cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans’ services.
Cuts to government to reduce the national debt, therefore, means that the average family and the poor will have reduced income and health care on retirement, if, in fact, they can retire. Anyone who is not a citizen of this country and who did not come under a strict immigration plan will be exiled. Control of health care will be returned to the health care industry and anyone who does not have a good job will pay a premium for the right to health care. At the discretion of the health insurance company a family can be dropped from health insurance and forced to pay even more than what doctors and hospitals charge giant corporations for health care.
Pollution and clean air will be paid for by individual citizens, not by corporations. Funding of public education will continue to be paid largely by property taxes with more and more schools being privatized and turned into religious schools. Science will not be taught in schools but a form of Creationism, which revises scientific evidence to correspond with Christian Fundamentalist views of life. Private universities will become more common with no requirement to provide the degree they purport to deliver and will not be held responsible for any kind of legal action if they do not. The country will become more and more militaristic, as we alienate both allies and enemies, assuming that we have a certain number of poor and can import just enough male immigrants who can fight the battles for the children of the rich, who are already accustomed to avoiding government service in times of need.
All the above statements are not based on what a Fascist government would do. They are based on what the Republican government with current totalitarian control under Trump has already done or has declared that they will do. If it sounds like Fascism to you, then you should be referring to Republicans as “Fascists.”
The Republicans have lied at every juncture. They lied about tax cuts being revenue raising. They have done the opposite. They lied about being watchful for terrorists. They were lax, inattentive to the warnings of the CIA and intelligence and 3.000 Americans died on 9/11. They lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Millions of Iraqi citizens suffered and died unnecessarily and 4,500 Americans lost their lives and 32.000 others were wounded or maimed for life. The lied about Obamacare, working for the health insurance industry, saying it would not work. But it did, and 30 million more Americans got health care and prices fell for four straight years, until Republican Fascists cut the funding out from under it. They lied about the elections, having illegally removed hundreds of thousands of Democratic voter from registered rolls in dozens of Republican states.
The bottom line is this: Fascist parties work, not for the people—Hitler and Mussolini used the people to get what they wanted—but for the large industrialists who profit from financing wars and taking profits from government. Fascists are crooks on a grand scale. Instead of gangs, they create laws using their complete control of government so that their gangs become the legal law enforcement establishment; the sheriff who comes to evict you; the cop who shows up at the protest to arrest you; the militia that breaks up your rally because some new law says that rallies are potential “terrorist” threats. Or, like Trump, who simply enlists his own ignorant fanatic followers to beat up those who call out his lies and then shouts from the podium that that he will get lawyers to represent them.
Trump and the Fascist Republican Party have put judges on the bench in appeals courts across the country as fast as they can find judges who will commit to their Fascist principles…basically men who will tow the party line and not waver. Soon they will add a new Fascist judge to the Supreme Court.
What is a Fascist judge? We can only go by logic and history. In the days of the old Fascists, laws were created by Fascists who controlled the entire political system and ruled with a violent response to any opposition. Germany was controlled by Nazis and Jewish citizens were forced to comply with the laws that discriminated against them on race alone. Yet the judges, knowing the laws were immoral upheld them anyway. Compare this to Republicans under Trump. Elaine Chao, now Secretary of Transportation, who, when Secretary of Labor, refused to take cases against corporations that paid workers below minimum wage. He actions were so grievously one-sided in favor of corporations that the GAO, the independent Government Accountability Office wrote in a report that groups had been so discouraged that they had given up trying to get a hearing from Chao on claims of theft of wages. Chao is the daughter of a billionaire Chinese ship owner who has been accused of transporting drugs. Chao’s husband is the Republican/Fascist majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell.
Was it Fascist for a Republican controlled Supreme Court to hand elections over to billionaires, creating a country controlled by one political party? Was it right to allow billionaires to pay potential candidates unlimited amounts of money to run for office to support their companies and their lifestyles with more and more tax cuts or tax deductions or freedom from prosecution for ruining a lake or a river? Was it right for a Supreme Court to allow billionaires to secretly run television commercials day after day promoting lies about politicians to drive out anyone who would oppose their greedy policies?
With a Republican/Fascist judge on the Supreme Court, it will happen that a case will be brought to decide whether a law is legal that says a woman should be imprisoned for having an abortion. And perhaps the doctor will also be charged. Would they do such a thing? We may get an idea from the fact that our current President ordered that children be traumatized, psychologically tortured, to influence the parents from trying to enter the U.S. So, is there any question any longer what this President will do or will demand that his Supreme Court will do? His own record tells us that he lies, cheats, steals, does anything that he wants, that he can get away with, in order to achieve his goals which are all about him and about absolute control of others’ lives. We see it every single day. He does not hide it.
Perhaps many people think, as some did in 2007 that this period of economic growth will go on for a while, and while it does, they won’t assail the President or his cabinet members for their transgressions. But the fact is that if you are not ready before it happens, you will be worse off than before. Here’s why. In 2008, people were often in debt because they had bought real estate that was more expensive than its real value. When prices dropped they tried to save their investment by selling and prices spiraled down. People were in big debt and many people lost their homes. Today, that process has somewhat repeated itself. If there is a downturn, real estate values will once again fall causing some foreclosures. But the biggest source of debt these days is not real estate. It is college loans. And college loans cannot be discharged so easily in bankruptcy.
Frequently, those who come out of the phony for-profit “universities” like Trump University and Corinthian or failed for-profits like ITT, (whose name was obviously made to sound like prestigious IIT, Illinois Institute of Technology) are left with mountains of debt and no usable degree. But the goal of the Republican/Fascists is to help their for-profit university campaign supporters, enforce the law and force these scammed students to pay off every dollar of debt they were billed for totally useless courses.
You can call our current government “one-party” rule. Or you can call it “totalitarian.” Or you can call it “corporate” government. But I call it Republican “Fascism” because it is a movement by the rich and powerful to control the lives of the American people and remake the laws of this country to benefit one small group at the top, using lies and propaganda and the overwhelming power of billions of dollars to corrupt an entire political party. Donald Trump is merely the head of this group at this point. But he is a good example. We need to see him every day to remind us of what we have become and what we will suffer if we do not rid ourselves of this political disaster early this coming November.