Populism, as it relates to politics is a theory of action that demands that legislation be written on behalf of the people, and not the special interests. It is the ultimate in Democracy and the ultimate in good will towards man, working from the will of the people to provide remedies and sustenance for the people.
Neither the Republicans, nor their affiliates, the members of the so-called “tea party” demonstrations can remotely be designated “Populists.” They are, in fact, the farthest thing from Populism. They both work for and follow the Big Corporations.
The Republicans are not Populist because they act only on sponsorship by the major corporations, by the wealthiest social class in what has gradually become over the last 30 years a more clearly defined multi-class society and by special interests whose motives are only to restrict the economic growth and freedom of American society.
The tea party members because, according to surveys, they are largely Republican and relatively educated, which means that their rants are purely histrionic, false, and propagandistic. Of course, some are quite visibly pure racists. Others, a few, are merely being led by ignorance, bitterness for some real or perceived slight by Democrats, or foolish emotions. They are in no way working for the benefit of the American People.
There are clear examples to show the intent of the Republican Party. First, the health care issue. When the legislation began in early 2009, 70% of Americans said that health care reform was a good idea. The Republicans, after conferring privately and secretly with the health insurance industry, said that they would simply not participate in the legislation. They pointedly said that they would not vote for any health care reform legislation. They never did. Not one Republican. But the Democrats continued without them.
When it became clear that the Democrats were going to proceed with or without Republicans and did so, the Republicans, rather than trying to mold something that would work, simply threw up as many roadblocks as they could, trying to stall the process. For example, in just one of the committees, the Finance committee, 160 amendments were presented by Republicans (after asking for 400!) to slow down the process. Many of those amendments were designed to sabotage the bill so that it could not be voted for by Democratic Senators from certain Conservative states when it came to the floor of the Senate. The stalling tactics in the House and the Senate added months to the process.
Next—and even many, many news reports show this—the AHIP and the Republican Party got together and created talking points from the legislation to distort it’s meaning to the American people. They began the “death panel” and “bankrupt the country” and “government takeover of health care” claims and accusations.
At this point let’s interrupt our attack on the Republicans (if it’s a war against the middle class-it is—then we’ll counter attack) and describe what and who was behind the so-called grass roots effort, the so-called tea parties. In April of 2010, people are still asking questions about who the tea party people really are and what are their motives.
The entire tea party organizing effort was started by Americans for Prosperity. Who was the head of Americans for Prosperity? Nancy Pfotenhauer. Who is she? She was the head economist for the John McCain campaign in 2008 but before that she worked for and headed the Washington office for Koch Industries.
Someone has laid out who Koch Industries is better than we could: http://www.nebraskademocrats.org/blog/2484/who-is-behind-the-tea-party-movement. But briefly, Koch Industries and the Koch Foundation is a part of a roughly $90 billion private Right-Wing oil industry enterprise. Their main objection (not surprisingly) is that Americans pay too much in taxes and there is too much regulation (e.g., lack of freedom.)
Who else was involved? FreedomWorks, run by arch-conservative Right Wing former Republican congressman from Texas, Dick Armey. It also was funded for a time by one of the Koch Family Foundations. FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity are basically two separate branches of the same group.
FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity are the twin organizations that were created out of Citizens for a Sound Economy in 2004. Citizens for a Sound Economy was a Right Wing organization that was founded in 1984 by Koch Industries supported by the Olin, Bradley and Scaife and other Right Wing foundations and had support from corporations like General Electric, ENRON, EXXON MOBIL, Phillip Morris and ADM (Archer Daniels Midland…some of whose execs went to jail for price fixing.)
Even prior to the election of 2008, Americans for Prosperity, as Koch surrogate organization, was working hard for their main issue: more tax reduction and fewer regulations. If you have paid $30 million to the government for pollution, as Koch did, but you intend to continue to pollute, then funding Americans for Prosperity, a few million each year, is probably a good investment so they can attack government on your behalf.
In January and February of 2009, even before the health care argument, FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity and other Koch-funded enterprises, like the Cato Foundation, a libertarian “think-tank”, (lobbyists) were attacking the stimulus bill, while 700,000 people a month were still losing their jobs.
They had already begun their anti-tax demonstration agenda, and attacks on the new administration, even as President Obama was announcing huge new tax breaks for both citizens and businesses. In fact, since the Obama organization has taken office, and including tax breaks in the stimulus, it has given huge numbers of different kinds of tax breaks including several thousand dollars on the price of a new automobile, $8,000 for new home buyers, and $6.500 for existing home owners who buy a house.
The Koch agenda of lower taxes is evident in every tea party rally. The people in the rally are quite evidently, and through media interviews maintain that they are solidly middle class, all of the elderly on Social Security and Medicare, but carrying signs saying that they want to have their taxes reduced. All the people involved with these two organizations, including every Republican in the House and Senate, plus Fox news Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and others are Right Wing news commentators and make no apology for it. They are paid by giant Right Wing corporations and they supported the Bush agenda and now fight tooth and nail to obstruct the Obama agenda.
That includes creating jobs, creating new green industries, included the loans made to the auto industry to save over 100,000 jobs, and which did save the U.S. auto industry. They are against the stimulus which has leveled off the job losses and is beginning slowly to reverse the process with the first months in which more jobs were created than lost.
When questioned, virtually none of the tea party members want their Social Security or Medicare taken away. These and other contradictions prove that it is only the Koch agenda fueling these people. And Fox News and the Neoconservative Republican Party, who work in tandem with the tea party people and their organizations, provide talking points.
Those rallies at meetings held by all House and Senate members in the summer of 2009 gave the tea party organizers and their Republican cohorts time to successfully spread enough lies about health care to create some real confusion among the populace. It did not help that people like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck kept up a steady stream of lies about the legislation.
And, yes, there is nothing that can be done to stop liars on television or radio if the people, once they know the truth, do not respond with great anger. The entire Rupert Murdoch organization, NewsCorp, is for sale to the highest bidder every day. It may not come in the form of advertising. Certainly Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly do not sell a high enough dollar volume of advertising on cable television to pay their salaries. Nor do Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh have the advertisers to pay the bills. So who is paying their tens of million in annual salaries and why?
The same people backing the Right Wing radio commentators are now backing the tea party meetings and the tea party agenda. There are only a few people legitimately dumb enough to go out and campaign against the very things that are sustaining them…Social Security and Medicare. People who do that need to be worked up into an emotional pitch so strong that they don’t realize how foolish their actions have become. Others are glad to be members of an organization spreading around so much money that they hope, somehow, that some of it will spread around them. It won’t.
The idea of the Republicans and of those organizing and running the tea parties is not some specific agenda. Not freedom. They can’t even tell you what that means. Not tax breaks. They don’t make enough money to get significant tax breaks. Not deficit reduction, because they support the Right Wing of the Republican Party…they say so on surveys…a group that wants to further reduce taxes while continuing wars, corporate welfare, Wall Street perversions, and sending jobs to China. All those things will continue to create huge deficits and more financial crises.
No, the tea party members are not Populists. They may be fools, although they probably know only too well what they are doing, but they are definitely not Populists but the opposite…corporatists. And the Republican Party tried to destroy a health care system that will put 32 million more Americans on health insurance, protect people from being denied or cut off health insurance, and will ultimately cut costs and improve the entire health care delivery system. And they got about $400 million from the health care industry. Coincidence? You decide.
Populists work for people. That’s the whole point. These two groups, as we have shown, work for special interests. And we could go on for dozens of more pages of examples.
But that’s enough time spent on these greedy anti-American profiteers.