Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy
It is not Trump. It is the long-term policies of the Super-Rich Right Wing, merely using Trump’s Presidency to continue their goal of taking over the United States. It is not hard to spot if you’ve been paying attention.
What are the signs? Well, here’s a short list.
1. Investment in Fascism by the Rich. Since 1971, the top 1% of income earners in the U.S. have contributed over $2 billion (my simple calculation…it could be much, much…much..more) to think tanks like the Heritage Institute and lobbying groups, and Republican campaign Pacs and ongoing semi-secret, anti-Middle Class, pro-corporate national groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the State Policy Network, both of which work at the state legislative level to insure the monopoly of utilities, halt anti-pollution efforts and restrict voting by the most commonly perceived Democratic—retirees, the poor and minorities and college students.
The Koch brothers alone have founded 46 separate organizations and donated funds to over 150 universities who have agreed and are teaching the Koch-brand of economics, where labor unions are a drag on society, where government should have only a military, a transportation department and an FAA. That way, their goods could be secure around the world, they could be transported and the Koch brothers themselves would have airports at which to land their many planes while on vacation at one of their numerous estates around the world.
No need for Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. No need for environmental protections. No need for a State Department—we’ll just bomb anyone who gets in our way. No need for education. Only those who can afford it should get it and they can attend a private university, if they can stay open only on endowments and tuition—which would be in the six figures every year for four years. And public education…minimal. Only what can be afforded by property taxes and even then the children of the wealthy should be separated from the poor or minorities.
2. The Creation of Income Inequality by the Rich. Since 1980, when GE put Ronald Reagan into the White House, taxes on the rich and corporations have fallen from a top rate of 74% down to a top rate of 37%, plus similar reductions in corporate taxes from a nominal 35% (but an actual 17% average paid…even less for some corporations (from 7% of GDP to 1% of GDP…and falling) and cuts in capital gains from 25% down to as low as 15%. People like Paris Hilton or the families of people like Donald Trump paid 55% on inherited income—huge amounts of money simply for having been born to a rich parent, while deducting the first $625,000. The amount that you could inherit without taxation had gone up to $5 million ($10 million for a married couple.)
But now, after the most recent Trump tax bill, a couple must only pay 40% and then only on income over $22 million. That accounts for only about 1,800 people, as opposed to over 50,000 under the old tax rules. All these factors, plus lower corporate taxes and more corporate tax loopholes, plus sending jobs overseas to make corporate profits higher while cutting out American workers, plus keeping money overseas so as to pay no taxes on it at all, have all made corporations richer. Who benefits from that? The rich, the top 1% who not only benefit from higher stock prices—because profits are better because average wages are lower—since they own over two-thirds of all common and preferred stock. Not only do they profits from higher margins on their products, but because they sent jobs overseas, that increased the unemployment and automatically lowered wages. So not only did they get richer, but the differential between their assets and those of the middle class increased. The lower income levels in the United States have also received tax cuts, but the amounts that the bottom 80-90% are still taxed has created an enormous imbalance.
3. The Rise of Racial Politics. For over 150 years, African-Americans have been the targets of racial attacks. First came the Jim Crow laws that prevented them from receiving any kind of an education. Then the lynching, the night-riding, masked Klu Klux Klan, the migration north to isolated neighborhoods with poor schools, poor government services and red-lined neighborhood housing laws and private protocols. Then came the drugs. In every upward cycle of the economy, Blacks were the last to be hired. In a downturn, they were the first to be fired. With poor education and poor accommodations and a history of both, generation after generations fell into the same cycle of poverty.
Certainly by the 1950s, this became a sub-culture of poverty. Then came Kennedy, Johnson and the Civil Rights revolution. The Civil Rights legislation made some small steps towards educating members of the African American community, providing them with better places to rent and own, and providing them with a guaranteed opportunity to apply for the same jobs as white workers.
But as the grinding, remorseless pressure on all segments of the population by the rich bore down on Blacks, as part of a campaign to separate them from Whites and further fragment the Middle and Lower-middle classes—by funding false studies by Right Wing think tanks, by supporting racist commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, by attacking Black communities and Black schools with “authorities” who maintained that all Black problems were the result of insufficient intellect and ambition.
They spread the word on cynical and sarcastic radio programming and editorials in Right Wing publications that they owned or radio stations that they owned or Internet web sites that they built and staffed with Right Wing Neo-Fascist writers. They declared that the crime in black communities where often half the population was unemployed was the fault of some deficit in the character of Black people, rather than the facts—that there are far, far fewer jobs with livable wages in Black neighborhoods.
Or, they deliberately ignored the fact that, for many, as the final unit in a long line of undereducated, under-socialized, discarded human beings, they were left with only two choices, the attempt at the remote possibility of a life in professional sports or a life of crime. In most cases, in fact in almost all, the finger can be pointed away from the Black community to find the origins of most of these problems and then back to the Black community to find the victims. The Right Wing has taken advantage of every one of these problems to further enrich themselves and to continue to widen the breach between blacks and whites.
4. Expanding the Divide between Conservative Fascism and Liberal Progressivism. Nothing has been made clearer over the last twenty years than that the handful of Right Wing members of the super-rich have supported growing Fascism. In other words, Neo-Conservative Republicans, the Conservatives who finally gave up the sham they had so long pretended—the concern about the national debt—began to realize that they were becoming more and more dependent on the money from the very top, the several dozen hugely wealthy billionaires in order to stay in office. Even before they realized this, the Billionaires were ready. Now they would extract more serious actions from their serf-like political dependents.
They would demand legislation that would tear down the structure that guaranteed some kind of minimal health care for all Americans. In the Southern states, they received immediate support. Southern Republican governors, racists anyway, decided to do away with health care for the poor, a large number of which were African-American, Hispanic, elderly or handicapped. The Neo-Conservatism gradually gave way to total corporate dominance, as over 30 states came under the complete control of Koch-and-corporate-funded ALEC and the State Policy Network. Soon corporations like Comcast and AT&T were dictating legislation on who could or could not have Internet, how fast or slow it would run and how much it would cost. They simply zeroed out low-cost competition, making Internet in the U.S. basically the highest cost, lowest performing Internet anywhere in the advanced world.
After the old traitors, the Confederate states fell in line with the Fascists, then came Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Snyder of Michigan. Walker, working for many years with ALEC in the Wisconsin state legislature, and as city manager in Milwaukee, has for many years been funded by the Koch brothers. Thinking that if he could win the Presidency, they would own him, they backed his disastrous bid for the Republican nomination. He was the first to drop out for lack of any support among even Republicans. Walker has basically eliminated unions in Wisconsin. He has created a phony-voter-fraud winnowing out of Democrats and redistricted so badly that while Wisconsin voters claim to be 60% Democratic, only 41% of Democratic votes are counted.
Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes. Walker previously had cut 100,000 people from the voting rolls, almost all were projected Democrats. There is no question Walker is a Fascist. He has created legislation on his own to say that if the Koch brothers-backed new Constitutional Convention, also supported by oil companies, tobacco companies and other Right Wing groups is brought to a vote, the people of Wisconsin will not get to vote on any of it. That will be done by a hand-picked committee of legislators set up by Walker, which means Republicans, which means the Koch brothers would have Wisconsin, thanks to Walker, in their pocket.
What does that mean? A new federal Constitution, with a balanced budget. In other words, no Social Security. No Medicare. No Medicaid. No State Department. No infrastructure investment. No environmental protections. No medical research on Cancer or Alzheimer’s But also, virtually no taxes on the Koch brothers. Is Walker a Fascist? He works for Fascists. You decide.
Then there is Rick Snyder. He doesn’t need the Koch brothers. He has an entire state with many African-Americans who can subtly be blamed for entire economic condition of Michigan. Once you’ve done that, then you can win Republican vote for the entire legislature. Once you have the entire Republican legislature, you can do anything you want, if you want to be a little miniature Fascist dictator.
Well, does he? A few years ago, the heir to the Whirlpool appliance company fortune, also a member of the House of Representatives from St. Joseph’s, Michigan, Fred Upton, wanted to take over a piece of land that he and a bunch of his pals thought was unfairly part of a state park that fronted onto Lake Michigan. Rather than share it with everyone, they wanted to build a private golf course for a private luxury condominium club. So his buddy, Governor Rick Snyder, when St. Joseph’s city manager said, “Hell, no.” simply created a law that said he could fire the city manager and insert his own city manager. He did. The manager sold the land at a pittance to the luxury condominium developers. That part of the state park was gone forever and all the Republicans, as they always do, got rich.
That wasn’t enough to prove he’s a Fascist/ Well, ok, how about this one. The city of Flint, just like Detroit has been abandoned by auto companies, parts manufacturers, tire manufacturers and others in favor of plants in China and Mexico. So, Flint, in deep financial trouble, with 2 out of every 5 people out of work, had water problems. The governor-appointed emergency manager who decided that because of complications in contracts…leaving Flint with no water…he would sign a contract to use water from the Flint river temporarily. People started to get sick.
Water began to look like coffee. The Governor blamed everyone one but himself. Nothing was being done. People were getting sick, eventually even Legionnaire’s disease broke out. Some died. Numerous others got sick. No one knows yet what the extremely heightened levels of lead and bacteria in the water…before the situation could be remedied and the use of bottled water only could be stopped…will have on the children and family members in Flint. What we do know is that there are numerous criminal indictments. That means that some state and city officials knew what was wrong and did nothing. But Snyder thus far is not indicted. Dictators seldom are until someone overthrows them.
The Early Stages of Fascism, Made Worse by a Trump Presidency, are here now. These are just some of the problems facing Americans these days. Billionaires have influenced corrupt Republican legislators at all levels to vote their way, to create new legislation for them and to resist any expenditures that will help the people but might cause tax increases.
The corruption among these Republican billionaire-bought legislators is the worst it has ever been. Never before in the history of the country have we been so close to totalitarian government. Because never before did we have government in the hands of one political party that was dedicated only to corporations and the rich. When that happens, things normally do not return to a more balanced political situation. What makes this situation so dangerous is that history tells us that tyrants, like Trump, like McConnell, and the Koch brothers will not give up power easily. No one knows what they will do to retain power until it happens.