It takes very little to understand it. There is no point in trying to pretend that it does not exist. It is so blatantly obvious that we must discuss it. The Republican Party has decided, fatally in our estimation, to become little more than a resistance group, a revolutionary group, not of the people, but of the rich. Not of the middle class but of the 14,000 lobbyists in Washington, D.C. And they have mobilized a variety of the same, unsettling, fringe groups to demonstrate for one of their key industry supporters, the health insurance business.
Thomas More says to Richard Rich, who betrayed him for a place as governor of Wales, “Why, Richard, what doth it profit a man to gain the entire world, and lose his immortal soul? But…for Wales?” So we say to these many Republican marchers and the House members who accompanied and encouraged them, why would you lose your self respect, your credibility and likely your Party…for the greedy, doomed health insurance lobby?
It is clear that this is a revolutionary effort. The Right Wing has for many years controlled elections at most levels by simply controlling the message coming from the thousands of conservative radio and television commentators paid by these same conservative companies. By now, they have lost faith in the electoral process. They have become guerrilla fighters for big oil companies who gave us $4.00 gasoline, for military contractors who saw to it that Dick Cheney, the war monger, was elected to start the Iraq War. They are fighting with every single lie: “death panels,” “government takeover,” “bankrupt the country,” “health care rationing,”….every lie they can dream up to keep the American people from affordable, accessible, high quality health care.
They have no goals of working for the people. Even when facing a potentially devastating depression in late 2008, every single Republican voted against the stimulus. If not for Democratic majorities we would not now be slowly, painfully bringing the economy back. Apparently, as stewards for the super-rich and as ambassadors for international corporations, they did not feel the looming depression. “I knew, moments after the election results came in, that I was now part of the resistance movement.”
That was a comment from Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America. Concerned Women for America works to make sure that all American women will be legally obliged to follow their religious view, namely, that no woman can have an abortion for any reason anywhere in the United States. Apparently the signs at the tea parties asking for the government to give them their freedom were not referring to religious freedom. Unless they meant that the government should give them the freedom to tell everyone else what to do.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this year, speakers like Mike Huckabee and Jim DeMint called the government “Socialist.” Of course it is meaningless and fatuous. But so were many of the attendees at CPAC, so it may have made sense to them. In a Socialist state there would be no private-property rights. That is the basic difference between a Capitalist society and a Socialist society. Communism is a bit of a twist on Socialism, but basically very similar.
So let’s ask the question: who did more to reduce and remove the private property of Americans in the last 18 months? Was it the last 9 months of Bush…is he a Socialist? Or the first 9 months of Obama? In the last 9 months of Bush, private-property losses of Americans were massively in the multiple trillions, and in particular for several million already and millions to come…that we cannot prevent….their most prized possession…their home. Obama has legislated to keep people in their homes, to stimulate private industry, and to keep essential services in place. Keeping people from going bankrupt or being foreclosed in a huge housing recession is not “Socialist.” In fact, it is Capitalist…helping them retain their private property.
One of the Right Wing groups, Focus On the Family, is running a campaign on their web site against Liberals who are attacking Rush Limbaugh, the narcotics addicted radio talk-show host. The amusing thing about their web site is that, situated next to the campaign for Rush Limbaugh is a button that gives you their principles. One of them is for abstinence. Another is against pornography. And a third assails sex trafficking. All are obviously good things to promote. And yet they are supporting…Rush Limbaugh…who has been accused of violating all three…with gusto!
Of course they don’t care about Rush Limbaugh, per se. But he has a following, a national audience of rag-tag, chauvinist, racist, rifle-hugging, evangelical, bigoted, fundamentalist, pretend-Christian listeners. They call in with the most outlandish, idiotic notions and find themselves validated as–relatively–normal. In addition he befriends thousands of corporations whenever he can make a buck by challenging the government’s attempts to regulate their pollution or their spoiled hamburger or their marketing of cigarettes to children or denying very sick people health care even though they have insurance.
So, why don’t these somewhat, shall we say, nutty groups simply fade away? No one can carry on with oulandish ideas forever, can they? How can they keep up these failed ideas over a long enough period of time to be a factor? Most fads or even trends do not last beyond a long, consecutive series of months, let alone years, yet these people go on and on. Why? It cannot be their ideas, such as, for example, that in the face of overwhelming evidence that Greenland is melting, we should do nothing about global warming.
The reason they go on is money. Money from large corporate interests, people making money in the billions, whose interests do not coincide with those of average middle class Americans. Or from religious groups from every isolated corner of the country, people who band together socially with good intentions who end up deciding that God has touched them and it is for the good of all that we stop moving forward and turn back. As if somehow we can recreate eras that will never return…because they are as dead as Henry VIII.
Here’s just one example. You may have heard of Focus on the Family, which is a religious group headquartered in Colorado, run by a guy named James Dobson. Their annual budget is said to be over $150 million. They work through a network of something called Family Policy Councils, several dozen around the country, and they are a huge part of the structure of this current resistance. Focus on the Family, for example, helped organize groups against same-sex couples having the right to marry in California.
There are perhaps hundreds of organizations like Focus on the Family, if smaller. The Alliance Defense Fund has a reported annual budget of something like $30 million and the American Center for Law and Justice has a budget of around $12 million. And there are many, many more.
Then there are the regular media presences. Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) is a huge organization with revenues of over $250 million, and the Trinity Broadcasting Network is another, which reported 2008 revenues of $200 million and assets of $800 million. Yes, there is money in the religion biz. And there is political power under our current electoral campaign system.
Of course it is not all religious groups. The secular, neoconservative Heritage Foundation alone has an annual budget of more than $50 million and the American Enterprise Institute has annual expenditures of about $28 million.
These groups will not soon go away. They have substantial financial support and they have just enough fanaticism to keep them moving forward. The problem is that they have nothing constructive to offer society. In fact, their attacks on things like the environment and health care make moving forward for the bettermnet of all society a more difficult task. The best response is to relentlessly point out their agenda and to shed light and truth on all the issues, no matter who benefits.