By Gordon Solberg
The “Obama Renaissance” of the Democratic Party didn’t last long, did it? Dozens of interlocking factors contributed to the recent Republican resurgence. Here are a few of them:
• The Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision which allows the billionaires and their corporations to buy any and all elections. Democracy as we once knew it is over unless this is changed.
• The corporate media, owned by billionaires, which ignores whatever it wants to ignore, and supports whatever enhances the power of the ruling class.
• A totally obstructionist Republican Party, which prevented an economic recovery solely to enhance their own political power.
• A timid and collaborationist president and his Conserva-Dem allies, who would prefer working with Republicans than liberals.
• The Republicans have always had a far superior propaganda machine. For one thing, they actually have a message to promote (bullshit though it may be), while the Dems, as usual, depend on the corporate media to get their message out, and are unable to effectively articulate their side of the argument – probably because most Dems, starting with Obama, are actually stealth Republicans.
• Hate, hate, hate! Fear, fear, fear! Fox News and the hate jocks: Beck, Limbaugh, and all the rest. Every Podunk little town with a radio station has its own personal hate jock. The strategy here is to poison the discourse. Keep people confused, distracted, and fearful. Eliminate any possibility of idealism. Destroy whatever remains of the civilization we once knew.
What I find most fascinating is the “separate reality” the right-wing manipulators have created for their followers. Within this reality facts are optional, the cerebral cortex is short-circuited, and the lizard brain takes control. Liberals seem incapable of creating messages that speak directly to the brain stem the way that conservatives do. Our intellectual policy wonk discussions cause conservative eyes to glaze over.
The basis for the conservative philosophy, as exemplified by the teabaggers and bankrolled by the billionaires, is fundamentalist Christianity. This curious religion, with its peculiarly Old Testament emphasis, is a faith-based worldview. Faith means “belief without evidence.” There’s no need for logic, facts, or evidence within this worldview. Circular reasoning, or no reasoning at all, is typical. Christians know the truth, and there’s no need for further discussion. “You’re either with us or against us.” It’s a self-contained system that brooks no compromise.
This faith-based worldview supplants science, as the new Republican majority in Congress is about to show us. Take climate catastrophe, for example. In essence, the conservatives are saying, “We don’t believe in global warming. Therefore, global warming doesn’t exist.” Talk about circular reasoning! Pretty slick, eh? But unfortunately, global warming does exist, like it or not, and is rapidly getting worse. The conservative attitude is unspeakably arrogant, and will create tragic consequences for us all.
You can’t reason with people like this, because facts and reason play no role in their thought processes. Compromise is useless. All we can do is put all our energies into building up our side, and hope that our side prevails.
But is there really an “our side”? It looks to me that liberalism represents more a style of consumerism than a sustainable culture. Perhaps on a mental level we share similar ideologies, but in actuality, we’re just a bunch of consumers, pitifully unorganized for the most part, living our isolated lives and guarding, as best we can, our small share of the loot. I first noticed this phenomenon several decades ago, when there was a lot of talk about “community.” I realized that mouthing the words didn’t change anything: I was still totally on my own, and it was up to me to create whatever life I was capable of creating. I couldn’t depend on anybody else.
Perhaps this is why I have never taken liberals as individuals, or liberalism in general, as seriously as I might have preferred. I think liberals, by and large, are intelligent enough to create a measure of health, wealth and happiness for themselves; more power to them. They have achieved a certain level of satisfaction. There’s nothing wrong with this, but liberals, like all successful people, have a lot to lose, and are understandably cautious. They aren’t nearly desperate enough to actually risk anything, and thus the status quo continues.
Not surprisingly, a timid electorate elected a timid president. Those of us who knowingly voted for “the lesser of two evils” sure got our comeuppance, didn’t we? Even though we knew that we’d get screwed either way, Obama’s lack of leadership is more than most of us had expected. Sometimes we’ve got to fight for what we believe in, but Obama doesn’t seem to believe in much, except for protecting the ruling class. If we don’t fight for our own interests, we will soon end up with “shared sacrifice” being imposed on everybody but the wealthy. And let’s not forget the three-step process the ruling class has in store for us: fascism, serfdom, dieoff. We’ve already got fascism, and they’re busily working on the serfdom part. Dieoff will take care of itself. The Republicans and their billionaire overlords are not our friends, and there can be no compromise with them. And we can no longer support the compromisers – which means you, Dems.
The church-going fundamentalists have the advantage of a cohesive shared worldview that is reinforced every week when they go to church, and at all other times by their secular prophets such as Beck and Limbaugh. Liberals, in their diversity, tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude, which often translates into “whatever.” But you can’t do much with such vagueness. Except, perhaps, to elect tepid politicians who will betray us at every turn.
Turning the fundamentalists into a disciplined political fighting machine was a brilliant strategy on the part of the ruling class. This isn’t surprising, because the billionaires can hire the best minds that money can buy to map out the most effective strategy for them. (The Democratic Party, on the other hand, systematically ignores the excellent advice that is constantly being offered to them for free on the Internet.)
We are now suffering from an unholy alliance between the fundamentalists, who will believe anything their authority figures tell them to believe, and the billionaires, who have unlimited resources which they have already used to purchase Congress, government policy, the news media, and every other lever of power that can be bought. The fundies and the billionaires have one goal in common: total dominion. “Enough” is not part of their vocabulary. At the point where we would expect sane people to say “enough is enough,” they cry, “More, more, more!”
In other words, they want it all, and they won’t stop until they get it. Unless they’re stopped, that is. The billionaires and their enablers are the most formidable adversary we have ever faced, but at least the fundamentalist philosophy contains the seeds of its own repudiation. Fundamentalism, at its core, is a harsh philosophy based on fear: fear of a supposedly all-loving, all-merciful Jehovah God who, in his compassionate vengeance, will send you straight to everlasting damnation and torment in Hell if you don’t profess the right ideology. This destructive, ancient belief system is already being slowly expunged from our culture. The demographics aren’t in their favor, which is why they are trying so desperately to take over while they still can. We can never compromise with such madness.
You will notice a theme developing here: No Compromise. Some of us actually feel the need to stand for something, starting with No Compromise. This is the opposite of Obama’s habit of collaborating with the enemy behind closed doors. Many progressives have already repudiated Obama and the Dems, but the time isn’t quite ripe for this to go viral. Dem voters won’t really start to wake up until after the lame duck session is over and they see what the Dems did about Social Security and tax cuts for the wealthy and the Catfood Commission recommendations. The Dems will almost certainly continue their flagrant sellout as they squander the last days of their so-called majority. It will be a relief to them not being in the driver’s seat anymore. (Although the billionaires have been calling the shots all along.)
I read widely on the Internet. I read hundreds of articles for every article I write myself. I’m curious to see what other progressive-types are thinking. I’m assuming that if anybody figures out what to do – something that will really work – the strategy will quickly spread. I’m seeing mostly the same old stuff: “Elect more and better Dems.” “Vote Third Party.” “Start community gardens.” “Organize!” But recently I’ve been noticing an uptick in the outrage level. A certain percentage of Dem voters are tired of being betrayed by their so-called representatives. They’re getting pissed. They’re starting to revolt. And in their cautious American way, they’re revolting by doing nothing, which means not voting. This revolution has already started, and just wait till 2012.
Here’s one thing we can count on: The worse the objective situation, the worse the delusion level will become. We will be seeing some amazing new outbreaks of mass insanity as this situation grinds along. Let’s not overestimate the intelligence of the American people in the face of our challenging new reality: More Americans believe in angels than in evolution. As the tectonic plate of superstition (which held the world in darkness for millennia) collides with the tectonic plate of reason (which makes civilization possible), there will be many surprises in store. This will keep things very interesting for the remainder of our sojourn on this planet.
(My blog has a new address: http://newearthtimes2.blogspot.com )