Conservative Success is based on two things: You forgetting their sorry history, and swallowing down these whoppers!
1. CONSERVATIVES ARE THE REAL AMERICAN PATRIOTS!
Consider the American Revolution. Conservatives were against it! Yes, they were the "Party of No" back then, too. Remember that the definition of a conservative is one who wishes to promote, preserve and/or restore traditional "values," hierarchies and institutions. True to form, in 1776 they wanted no part of breaking away from English tradition and their much-beloved British monarchy. They liked being the king's subjects. They were called "Tories", the name still used for the conservative party in England. So conservatives started off on the wrong side of American history, and that's where they've been ever since.
After the war, many conservatives fled the now heathen America, heading back to Britain, Canada or the Caribbean. Good riddance to them. Yet many southern conservatives skedaddled to Florida, which was then still loyal to the crown. We inherited these traitors back in short order.
For years after the Revolution had been won, American conservatives predicted the new republic's demise. Steeped in their belief that the common rabble could not govern itself for long without anarchy ensuing, they resisted thinking of themselves as "Americans" at all, and patiently awaited their liberation from such liberality by either Armageddon or the return and revenge of their beloved British overlords.
The conservative loyalists' shaky hopes for liberation from the Brits were finally dashed during the War of 1812, when, sure enough, the English arrived again on American shores but had no intention of taking back their former colonies. No, this time they went burning and pillaging (including the White House) while inviting slaves to run away and inciting Indians to attack any and all white Americans. This, as you can imagine, did not sit well with the conservatives, who, perhaps for the first time, considered themselves American. Well, better late than never.
But it was a tenous loyalty for many conservatives. The conservative traitorous streak returned in its full audacious decadence in 1861 when conservatives in the South said to hell with the United States, and huffed off to form their own more perfect union where "states' rights" rule and a decent white person was really free... to own another person, that is! Over seven hundred and twenty thousand Americans died as a result of conservative ideology run amok during the Civil War.
You would think the stench of that shameful episode might have prompted some serious and humbling introspection regarding their mindset, but you would be wrong: down South, conservatives still proudly fly their Confederate flag, preferred, in fact, over Old Glory.
Out in Texas, meanwhile, conservatives consider themselves Texans first, Americans second (if at all). Recently Texas conservatives, including Governor Rick Perry and libertarian fave Ron Paul, have rekindled the periodic Texan whine about seceding from the Union. Meanwhile, up in Alaska, there is the conservative Alaskan Independence Party, which promotes breaking away from the United States. This is the organization that Todd Palin (yes, Sarah's "First Dude") belonged to for seven years. Then we have the conservatives in Wyoming, home of Dick Cheney, who are also pondering a secession plan, complete with their own aircraft carrier that can tool around in Lake Yellowstone and perhaps send sorties out over the increasingly blue state of Colorado.
Then we were treated to the spectacle when Obama was reelected in 2012, and over one million conservative "Americans" from all 50 states sent their "petitions" in to secede from the union! Ah, the sublime hypocrisy of it all... the "true" and "brave" defenders of democracy whining, blubbering and cutting and running when they are defeated by... democracy! Throughout the old Confederacy, including Texas, and out in Alaska and Wyoming, and with all the petition filers, it's all more childish angst and macho posing and bluster than considered thought, but it certainly stands as proof positive of just how shallow "love of country" for conservatives really is.
Consider, as well, how conservatives have long tried so hard to actually thwart democracy. They were the original proponents of only allowing white men with property to vote and having senators hand-picked by state office-holders. Conserving the aristocracy you know; that's the way the Tories still have the British House of Lords rigged.
As more Americans began gaining the right to vote, plus the right to vote for most government positions, including senators, conservatives scrambled to find other ways to thwart democracy. They have variously thrown up poll taxes, means testing, intimidation, inconvenient ID requirements, providing the poor and working class with fewer and/or malfunctioning voting machines, tampering with machine-counted votes, and setting up onerous and punitive restrictions for those registering voters, just to name a few of the malicious tactics to lower voter turnout they have tried... and are still trying. After laying low for a few decades, the red states are back - right out in the open - trying to suppress the vote.
A few modern conservatives have even called for repeal of the 17th Amendment, the one which gave the people the power to vote for their senators. Now conservatives such as Antonin Scalia, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Zell Miller and others have actually proposed taking this right away from We the People and handing it back to the aristocracy. Those conservatives... loyal to the dominator hierarcy, not American ideals!
Moreover, in their quixotic quest to wrench power from the liberals since the last time they nearly ruined the country (the 1920s), conservatives have deliberately promoted hatred toward any government that isn't run by them. When they aren't in control, conservatives do everything they can to delegitimize the political and moral authority of those who are. This is a whisker away from high treason. Confucius was just one of the wise men who taught that it would be better for a nation to lose its security and its food than the trust of the people for the government. Many a once-powerful nation throughout history disintegrated once its people lost faith in their government (see The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire for useful information). Once the public loses love for and confidence in their government, civil strife is sure to follow, and so the Constitutional mandate of promoting the general welfare of the people is thwarted.
This hate and distrust angle for the government (and for other Americans) has won conservatives elections, but has been one of the most nefarious and potentially disastrous strategies for the country itself of any political tactic in American history. It intentionally fosters deep and passionate division within the populace. Conservatives are playing with apocalyptic fire as they fan the flames of not just disagreement but outright hatred for all things not conservative... moderate though such persons or programs may actually be. Over the past 50 years, conservatives have vomited up venomous bile toward the Kennedys, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and (most particularly) Barack Obama, along with any idea they proffer (even those originally proposed by conservatives... like "RomneyCare").
This dark, conservative vitriol is orders of magnitude more corrosive to national unity and stability than any such demagoguery from the liberal side.
Following 9/11, the radical CorpCon George W. Bush had a 90 percent approval rating, which obviously included the bulk of so-called liberals, willing to give him a chance to lead the nation with due respect (even just shortly after his highly dubious Supreme Court route to the presidency). So, too, did Ronald Reagan, even as he ushered in the reckless era of "trickle-down" economics, enjoy widespread legitimacy (though not always agreement) in the view of liberals. Contrast this with the incessant and relentless conservative debasement of the American government throughout the Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations. They don't just vehemently disagree with politicians from the other side, they hate them! Seen from a non-partisan perspective, the degree of vitriol and hatred from the conservatives is utterly astounding, and easily discerned for the clear and present danger it really is.
(This is why Democratic presidents rarely achieve an approval rating of much more than 50 percent. They struggle against both the automatic, inflexible hatred of the right, plus the frustration of the left that they aren't liberal enough!)
These examples show how conservatives value clan/party ideology and dogma over American ideals and values, including the all-important value of unity. Guided by clan mentality, which easily overrides both national or religious loyalty, conservatives seek not unity but division and separation of themselves, whom they consider superior, from "the other" whom they regard as inferior and potentially threatening. This pits them against most other Americans (as well as the rest of the world). Today conservatives demonize and blame many of the country's problems on blacks, immigrants, gays, the poor, unions, teachers, firefighters, government workers, liberals, and anybody else who seems a little different. Not a fact in the solar system supports this worldview, but they believe if they spew the lie and their coded prejudicial message often and loud enough, just enough gullible voters will believe it. And they are generally correct in that assessment.
So, innately aligned against the interests of the people, the conservative's only real means to power is to divide and conquer. They know they cannot win by standing on their positions and true aims; they must lie, deceive, frighten, divide and subjugate. The whole idea of a united States is contrary to conservative objectives. They truly want an America separated into a distinct hierarchy of haves/have-nots, oppressed and oppressors. As always, conservatives have a real problem with the concept of We the People! To paraphrase William F. Buckley, conservatives stand athwart democracy yelling, "Stop!"
Meanwhile, conservative politicians wrap themselves in the flag and wallow in faux-patriotism, but actually do everything they can to thwart democracy and denigrate, degrade and foment distrust for American government. From Harding's cronyism and corruption, to McCarthy's witch-hunts, to Nixon's lying and paranoia, to Reagan's illegal clandestine wars in Central America, to George W. Bush's immoral warmongering, incompetence and intentional running up a titanic deficit designed to "starve the beast," to the unprecedented obstructionism of today's radical Republican congressmen and senators, conservatives aggressively work to stop American progress and shared prosperity.
Shortly after Obama's election Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell famously declared that the No. 1 priority of conservatives was not to create jobs, not strengthen the economy, not defend the nation, nor serve We the People... but to make Obama a one-term president. And sure enough, the Republicans have tried to block every move of the administration's effort to get the economy moving again. The Republicans are perfectly willing to allow America to fail in order to paint Obama in a negative light. They are willing to forestall economic recovery, or even damage the country itself, to keep Obama from succeeding at anything.
This tactic reached a climactic nadir when Republicans led by Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy took the full faith and credit of the United States of America, not to mention democracy, hostage by threatening not to raise the Debt Limit and thereby defaulting on loans and debts that previous Congresses had promised. And so, Republican grandstanding and brinkmanship earned the United States its first-ever downgrade in debt rating. (And now... conservatives have the gall to blame Obama for their own backfired stunt.)
Then in 2013 Republicans held America hostage again, actually shutting down the government, demanding that President Obama defund the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). There is no mechanism in the Constitution for any branch of government (much less a minority party) to shut down the government to prevent full enactment of a law passed by Congress, signed by the President, and verified legal by the Supreme Court.
Is this behavior by the conservatives in Congress just a smidge short of grand treason... or is it actually over the line? If the roles were reversed, a Republican president and his allies would likely be howling for Congressional impeachments.
Conservatives have long countered liberal progress with claims that the sky is falling. Public education, workers rights, women's suffrage, Social Security, Medicare all were enjoined with shrieks of anguish from conservatives. Now it is Obamacare that is a "train wreck," or a "disaster." They never have any real facts to back them up... just myths that scream at the top of their lungs.
Again and again conservatives try to impose a rigid ideology that is based purely on mythology, totally lacking empirical evidence, an ideology that has never proven itself anything other than disastrous to the nation. Multiple times in American history so-called "laissez-faire" economic policies - i.e. let the "free market" run - have torpedoed the economy. Conservatives simply can't or won't learn the lessons, and they continue to place America at risk with their recklessness and wrongness.
Today they are doubling-down on their discredited ideologies, bellowing for more deregulation of capitalism, just a few years after that very thing - a wildly speculating banking and investment industry - drove the world economy off the rails. Such CorpCons who would bankrupt the country for an extra million in their own pockets, and the SoCons who ignorantly believe and enable them, are truly the greatest danger to our nation.
As Lincoln said, "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher." And there can be little doubt that not communism or socialism or liberalism will be that author. The true and present danger to America is conservatism!
Now this, from a conservative political operative high in the ranks of the Virginia Republican Party, proclaiming that if the "socialist" Obama is re-elected in 2012, "We shall not have any coarse (sic) but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November ~ This Republic cannot survive for 4 more years underneath this political socialist ideologue."
Right. Obama the moderate Republican, on whose watch the economcy has mostly recovered and the stock market has doubled, is a socialist ideologue! This Virginia Republican is either an utter moron, or a deliberate liar (OK, perhaps both). His frothing-at-the-mouth ilk - and all who would agree with them - are those attempting to thwart the American democratic system, and skating well out on to the thin ice of treason.
A real American patriot loves America's land, people and ideals. Conservatives have no real respect for any of these. They don't give a damn about protecting the American environment or native species; they despise most other Americans; and they really don't believe in America's founding principles, including democracy itself. They bitch and groan about paying their fair share of taxes, and hate the government. Real patriots? Not a chance. Conservatives are always just a hissy-fit away from being abject traitors!
Presently, conservatives, wildly inconsistent in their ethics, want to impreach Obama
over the lamentable deaths at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Once again,
we see conservative hatred, prejudice, and greed for power moving their party
in directions counter to democracy itself.
2. AMERICA IS A CONSERVATIVE COUNTRY.
Let's always keep our fundamental definitions of the political ideologies of liberal and conservative in mind:
All Americans are actually liberal at heart. They all believe in Freedom for All. That, folks, is a liberal idea. Conservatives of just a few hundred years ago certainly did NOT believe in this idea, and were willing to go to war to fight it. One of those wars was the American Revolution. The conservatives lost that one, and most of the others they have fought to preserve Freedom for A Few. Yet vestiges of this old conservative impulse to deny freedom and equality to some continues to live in the minds of true conservatives. Thankfully, these kinds of folks are getting fewer and fewer in America and around the world.
It is true that many Americans consider themselves religious, as well as prudent and frugal, and so they may think of themselves as "conservative." So this is how the big myth that "America is a conservative country" seems to have the ring of truth, and remains popular. But these are not exclusively conservative traits by any stretch. One can be extremely liberal and still be religious, prudent and frugal. The majority of Americans are a lot more liberal than they think. And as a whole, keeping those standard definitions in mind, America is way more liberal than conservative.
Anyone who wishes to expand liberty, equality, justice, pursuit of happiness, and love for one another is a liberal. If you really believe in the equality and capabilities of the common person; if you believe we are all in this together, as in "We the People," and "Love One Another", then you're a liberal. It's as simple as that.
On the other hand, if you distrust others who don't look like you or believe like you, and you'd really like to impose your will on them or exploit them; if you long to return to some mythical America that existed sometime in the past; if you actually like the old unequal traditions, hierarchies and institutions and wish to conserve them... if you really think white people are superior to brown or black, males are superior to females, and rich are superior to poor, this is the way it has always been and always should be... hello, you are a conservative!
Conservative social ideology has taken a whipping through American history. Why? Because the vast majority of Americans are simply not very conservative. Oh sure, there are large patches of the nation that are conservative, and pockets of conservatism around every corner. And sometimes they even win elections and manage to turn back progress a notch or two. But sooner or later their ideas end up getting flattened as the wheels of liberal progress get moving again.
To become a conservative country, America would have to dismantle its liberal ideals. Instead, it is these very ideals that propel America to become more and more liberal. What did the founding fathers think would happen when they voted for a Declaration of Independence that included the phrase "All men are created equal..." and possess the "inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" What did they have in mind when they established a Constitution for "We the People and set up a government to promote the general welfare?
How far America has come in its great liberal experiment! Ideals that the founding fathers themselves could only give to America as idea-seeds, successive generations of Americans have brought to fruition. The Louisiana Purchase, emancipation of the slaves, votes for all adult citizens, public education, women's liberation, Native American rights, workers' rights and safety, food and drug safety, banking and commerce regulation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national parks, environmental protection, civil rights, the Interstate Highway System, the space program, medical discoveries, disease control, weather science and so much more... constant pursuit of a "more perfect union." These are the great liberal achievements of this great country... and each and every one of them was opposed by conservatives of their day!
Conversely, from witch-burning to the Tories to the stealing of Indian lands and breaking of treaties to secession and Civil War to Jim Crow lynchings to serial banking panics and busts to industrial abuses to Prohibition to the Depression to McCarthyism and Communist fear-mongering to today's crony corporatocracy and out-of-control militarism, conservative ideas have generally evoked the very worst episodes of our national story.
As you sit there reading this, conservatives are busily trying their hardest to deny liberty, equality, justice and pursuit of happiness for union members, gay, lesbian, transgender, Muslim and Hispanic citizens. They have no intention of actually loving any of these "others," as Jesus commanded them to. Instead, incoherently, they direct their "love" toward the hierarchy of the richest of the rich, and the most powerful of the powerful... the very ones who Jesus said have as much chance of getting into heaven as a camel through the eye of a needle! They have even distorted patriotism to where it now requires loyalty to corporations... yes, the very same corporations that have stolen us blind, polluted our planet, shipped jobs overseas and relocated their headquarters to a post office box in Bermuda to avoid paying American taxes have conservatives swooning in slavish devotion!
Conservatism! Always a messy sight.
But most Americans do not share this craziness. They don't swear blind allegiance to the rich or corporations or even a "free market;" they want a fair market. They want good public schools, safe working conditions, safe food, safe drugs, a clean environment. They support Social Security and Medicare and the idea of a social contract whereby we all help each other. They support the government supporting the arts and sciences in addition to the armed forces. The believe in the U.S. government helping out in natural disasters at home and abroad. They support the idea of the United Nations. They think for themselves and do not fear change or want to perpetuate hoary old hierarchies that lock in white, male, rich advantage over all others. They elected Woodrow Wilson (twice), Franklin Roosevelt (thrice), Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy (a Catholic), Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (twice), and even stunned and inspired the world by voting in unprecedented numbers to elect a black man named Barack Hussein Obama president (TWICE)! In other words, they are substantially more liberal than they are conservative.
Indeed, after Obama's reelection, Fox News main anchor, Brit Hume, finally admitted, "This tells us something about moderates: A lot of people who call themselves that are actually liberal, more liberal than many of us thought."
And this is rather the rub for conservatives. They know they are losing the "cultural war," and that's why they are so angry and afraid. What most of them don't realize is that this "cultural war" is not new. They've been losing this "war" for hundreds of years. More than any other group of people, social conservatives are oblivious to their own ideological history. Instead they imbibe a rosy mythology of some ideal America that existed a short time back, and needs to be reclaimed by bringing back "traditional values." If they could only impose these values on everybody else, America could be great again. They can't go into too much detail about when this ideal timeframe was, or what such a renewed America would actually look like, just that it wouldn't be so liberal.
It's the fervent conservative fantasy: return to an era that never really existed. So even in their dreams the conservatives themselves pay homage to how liberal America really is, and will remain as long as the founding ideals light the way.
3. AMERICA IS A CHRISTIAN COUNTRY.
There is no exclusively or specifically Biblical or Christian legal construct or ideology encoded in America's foundational ideals, Declaration of Independence, original Constitution, subsequent Amendments, laws or system of government. If anything whatsoever, the American system is a radical and emphatic rejection of the "divine right of kings" and religion-government entanglement which comprise the core of Abrahamic (Jewish-Christian-Islamic) governmental tradition.
Diametrically opposite of this tradition (thankfully), the United States of America is based upon English common law, as established principally by the Magna Carta (1215), Constitution of 1657, Habeas Corpus Act (1679), and Bill of Rights (1689). These in turn draw not from Biblical governmental philosophy, but from pagan Greek democracy and Roman law. Other important inspirations for the novel U.S. system were obtained from Enlightenment and utilitarian philosophers, principal among these the English philosopher John Locke, as well as French champions of the common man's rights and qualities: Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu. Also, there is some evidence that Benjamin Franklin brought ideas from the Iroquois Confederacy's form of democracy into the original discussions of American government, particularly the aspect of each state/tribe being an autonomous unit yet bound to a larger federal whole: a league of united tribes/states.
If the founding fathers had intended to create a Christian country they most certainly would have included the five letters J-E-S-U-S or the six letters C-H-R-I-S-T or the nine letters C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N somewhere - anywhere - in the nation's bylaws. But nope. Did they just forget Jesus? Well yes, they did. They intentionally forgot Jesus, and left out Christianity for some very, very, very good reasons.
First off, more than a few of the founding fathers were simply not Christian. Right along with the vanguard of Western civilization as it embraced the philosophies of the Enlightenment, the leading lights of the American Revolution, including Thomas Paine, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were reevaluating religious doctrine and dogma and "tradition," and finding much of it quite lacking and contrary to their rational sense of justice, morality and spirituality. Recent scientific discoveries, including Newton's laws, had served to undercut Biblical explanations of how the world works. Jefferson went so far as to cut out all the parts of the Bible he disagreed with, ending up with a very compact little treatise.
Many of the most sophisticated members of the American founding fathers claimed to be "deists," not Christians or even "theists." These men still believed in God, but not in a god who would break His own laws of nature to interfere in human affairs.
As well, the American patriots were keenly aware of the disastrous intersection of religion and government as it had played out in their ancestral England and throughout Europe, as well in the American colonies where at a time in history a person could be put to death for being of a particular religious stripe and caught in the wrong colony. They had absolutely no intention of adhering to the "traditional value" of brutal and bloody Christian vs. Christian warfare that had ravaged Britain, Ireland and the continent for centuries, much less sanction something as barbaric as a new government-sponsored religious crusade against some purported "infidel" (like, say, the Cherokee).
So the founding fathers extremely wisely chose to create a wholly secular government and society, where the religions would be allowed to freely, and hopefully peaceably, coexist. In the new America you had the right to be an Anglican or a Quaker or a Catholic or a Muslim or a Hindu or a deist or an atheist. This concept is called "freedom of religion." Or it could likewise be defined as "freedom from religion," if you so choose. Either way you want to parse it, it is a fundamental aspect of the concept of freedom itself.
The very idea that America used to be more religious is also false. Church membership as a percent of the population peaked in the 1980s, and we are still a more religious nation than were those early Americans. During the Revolutionary War period only about a fifth of the population were church members. That had grown to about a third by the time of the Civil War. Today about two-thirds of the population are church members. That figure is dwindling. The "non-churched" (or "nones") - that is people who do not go to church - is the fastest growing segment of the population, now standing at about 20 percent of the population. If we keep going at this rate soon we'll be right back to the level of religiosity of those beloved patriots!
So a Christian America was never created, nor remotely intended, by the founding fathers... and the idea that the original Americans were more religious is another myth.
But let's do as Christians suggest - take a "leap of faith" - disregard all evidence (or lack thereof), suspend all common sense and fantasize that America really was intended to be a "Christian nation." Now we must ask ourselves, what would that even mean?
What is a "Christian nation?" What are the sterling models of such a government? Solomon's Israel? (Oops, that wasn't even Christian). Constantine's Byzantium? Michelangelo's Italy? Joan's France? Henry's England? Luther's Germany? Hamlet's Denmark? Whose version of Christianity is it based upon? There are hundreds of different sects of Christianity, some viciously opposed to the others. Would it be based upon the love, forgiveness and passivity of the actual Jesus, or the "Christian soldier" mentality that came along much later? Would it be a Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical Christian, Holy Roller, Amish or Mormon nation? Who would decide? Would we vote on the Christian sect every four years concurrent with the presidential election, or every two years as with each congressional cycle? Might we swing from an ideology of "love thy neighbor as thyself," "feed the poor," "give away your clothes," and "turn the other cheek," to xenophobic zealotry, "an eye for an eye," and "all heathens shall roast in hell for eternity," as we lean away from Christian-Democrats and toward Christian-Republicans? Would we be a nation that turns the other cheek, or would we become Crusaders for Christ (with drones and nukes)? It's all rather fuzzy, rather like Christians' descriptions of heaven... not nearly as well defined as their sweeping details of hell.
As long as we are dreaming of the Christian America, we might also pause to ponder when America has ever acted according to the major precepts of Jesus the Christ... EVER!
Oh, of course, America (half inspired by a semblance of conscience and the other half by the desire to feel good about itself and influence world opinion) sends a pittance of a percentage of its titanic wealth in aid and comfort to this or that country suffering from poverty, disease or disaster. Conservatives would like to cut out even that morsel of true Christian charity that America extends to the world community. But by far the primary impulse from America's "real Christians" (i.e. white, Anglo-Saxons) has been toward utterly selfish, exploitative and destructive tendencies... for longer than America has even existed.
Founding Father James Madison pretty much sums up how un-Christian are most "Christians."
The first Christian Europeans to arrive had barely dried out from their sea voyages before they were stealing from and murdering the original inhabitants of the new "promised land," which, come to think of it, is pretty similar to the way the invading Israelites treated the rightful owners of the land of Canaan. So this behavior may be described as "biblical," but it certainly was not Christian.
These Anglo, so-called Christians, quickly expanded their exploitation, subjugation, superstition and cruelty to burning "witches" (also all the rage among European Christians of the day) and establishing a lively trade with Africa for that all-important commodity for their burgeoning capitalism: slaves.
Surely we cannot expect to locate a "Christian nation" within the moral morass of perennial abuse of the Indians, or the institutional debacle that was slavery, or the rampant sinfulness of the segregation era right up through the 1960s.
As well, when they weren't tormenting natives, burning witches or whipping slaves, these enterprising "people of the Book" turned their voracious righteousness toward chopping down the primal forests and blasting away at any animal that moved, all aspects of the "nature" they so wished to have dominion over, as urged by the Bible. Again we can see glimmers of Old Testament ruthlessness in these hardy ancestors, but hardly a glint of the agape love of Jesus or St. Francis.
Yet even before the Civil War, the Rise of Corporations had begun, where the very folk that Jesus routed from the temple and warned had as much chance to get into heaven as a camel through the eye of a needle had taken control of the ship of state and were steering like wild pirates toward their own idea of a promised realm: the Land of Greed and Gluttony. This America, ascendant still today, with its celebrated filthy rich celebrities, athletes and corporate titans (not to mention the bulging waistlines of an obesity epidemic) also seems quite bereft of any tangible Christ connection.
The corporatization of America also ushered the clarion call for all of its citizens to put away their thoughts of philosophy, virtue, love and piety and turn back to "childish things." Consume! Consume! Consume! Jesus said, "If you have two coats, give one away." The corporations demand, "If you only have two coats, you are seriously out of style. Get yourself straight to the mall!" Nothing is too childish, nothing too silly, nothing too meaningless to be obsessed over until you purchase it, at which point you will turn to craving something else entirely. And, of course, while you are selfishly wanting and buying and obssessing, your mind is as far away from Jesus and God as it is possible to be. Such is the real religion of America!
So too is America exporting some of the most un-virtuous and potentially dangerous products in world history, including high-sugar, high-calorie, non-nutritious fast foods and beverages, cigarettes, drugs made of rat poison, predatory business, banking and industrial practices, as well as pesticides, herbicides and other toxic chemicals so dangerous they are not allowed for use in America, but perfectly fine to export to other unfortunate countries. It is all too clear that America's rampant consumerism and immoral capitalism - the dominant systems of today's America - lead not toward but dramatically away from Christian precepts. And yet we never hear a peep of protest from would-be Christians against this type of corporate missionary zeal as their "Christian Nation" traffics in Satan's stock and trade.
Meanwhile, the mighty American "military-industrial complex" arose that has never seen a lethal weapon it didn't want to put into action, and then, typically, sell to the world. In most textbooks American history actually comes across as a continuous fabric of prelude-to-war, war, and then build-up to the next prelude-to. In its entire 230-something year history, America the Christian Nation has been unable to avoid armed conflict for more than a decade or so. In just the past 75 years America has carpet-bombed Europe, dropped not one, but two, atomic bombs on an exhausted and helpless Japan, rained bombs, napalm and Agent Orange all over the tiny nations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos that never threatened us, invaded the tiny countries of Grenada and Panama that never threatened us, and belched "shock and awe" at Iraq and Afghanistan, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, though these nations had never threatened us, either. "Destroying the village to save it," and "peace" through warmongering, conquering and exploiting is the precise opposite of what Jesus had urged.
Today we can clearly see by the real passions of our nation - consumption, mindless entertainment, and perpetual militarism - that America is far from being a Christian Nation. How many millions of "Christians" spread out across America are fixated not to the words and ways of Jesus, but can't wait to get out of church and back to their favorite reality-TV shows, starring strange people with names like Snookie and P-Fuddy... or the Big Game! Indeed, speaking of sports, if you want final proof of the mind and heart of America, consider the simple fact that not a single major sports team (pro or college) calls itself the "Christians." We have Lions and Tigers and Bears and Indians and Patriots and Pirates and Rockets and all manner of other weird monikers (the Hoyas!), but not even one team of Christians. Even that vaunted Catholic university, Notre Dame, calls itself not the Christians but the "Irish," famous for being the hard-fighting, hard-drinking, very last pagans of Europe to adopt Christianity. Even down South, the Bible Belt, it's football that dominates communal attention and consciousness, not the Lord. Yes it's true that on Christmas Day some 60 million pious Christians go to church. That sounds impressive, until we remember that 100 million Americans watch the Super Bowl each year! How pathetic all of these facts for those who believe they live in a Christian nation.
Actually, in its entire history about the only time America has wandered into actual Jesus ideological territory is when it has attempted to care for and expand the rights and dignity of those disenfranchised and abused: the poor, women, children, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants, gay and lesbian and transgender, the sick, the elderly, the physically handicapped, the mentally impaired: in other words those outsiders that Jesus called the "meek" who would "inherit the world." America has a group name for them: "We the People."
But wait! That can't be right! These are the very people that the "Christians" who scream loudest about America being a "Christian nation" can't stand! These "Christians" never seem to take issue with the continuing exploitation, subjugation and prejudice directed at the people who made up Jesus' original flock. Nor do they ever condemn the greed, the gluttony, the rampant consumerism, the vacuousness, the jingoism, the machismo, the obsession with guns, the militarism, the violence, the injustice, the stupidity, the immorality of so much of Americanism. They seem to have Jesus' essential message precisely back asswards! The truth is, of course: these people are not Christians, in the sense of behavior that Jesus emphasized. They are more like the Pharisees, and the rabble that at Jesus' trial would have been screaming "Release Barabbas!" and "Long Live Caesar!"
And while we are on the subject of faux-Christians, it seems that the screech of America being a "Christian nation" comes shrillest from the American South. Wouldn't you know it? The "Bible Belt." What a myth that is! The "Devil's Den" the whole place should be called. The least educated states in the country, and the original home of the Confederate traitors, think they know better than anyone else what America is all about! What a laugh! Hey South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi... have you ever even read your own state histories? It's a toss-up as to which of you ignorant, bigoted, blood-drenched, drowning-in-sin states is actually the least American and the least Christian, in the truest sense of these ideals!
So now we come to yet another sublime irony. If there ever could be an actual "Christian America" these fake "Christians" and brain-dead "Americans" would run amok trying to destroy it. Because such a "Christian Nation" would be the most liberal country in world history! Such an entity would represent a clear and present danger to the narrow, shallow and selfish mindset of conservatism. Conservatives no more understand the most basic precepts of Jesus Christ than they have the foggiest notion of what America truly stands for. If a truly "Christ-like" America appeared tomorrow, all conservatives would want to kill it. Just like a certain rabble did to a certain man 2000 years ago.
4. CONSERVATIVES ARE BETTER MANAGERS OF THE ECONOMY!
Now remember that when we speak of conservatives managing the economy, we're not talking about social conservatives, or SoCons. They have little or no control over the economy. Here we are talking about professional conservatives... corporate conservatives. CorpCons represent the wealth and power on the conservative side. SoCons just stupidly go along for the ride. That ride is usually extremely bumpy... and end up negatively affecting SoCons themselves, but they just ask for more.
The most important thing to consider about CorpCons managing the economy is simply this: they want all governmental policy aimed at aiding and abetting the richest of the rich and the biggest of corporations. Whereas liberal economic policy is aimed at aiding and abetting the averge Joe, the middle class. That's it in a nutshell.
The conservative economic ideology of coddling the rich and giant corporations is called "supply-side" economics, AKA "trickle-down" or "Voodoo economics." The mantra for this approach is low, low taxes (at least for the rich and corporations) and deregulation of commerce and markets. Historically, supply-side economics provokes cycles of boom and bust. It gave us the Gilded Age and "panics" of the late 1800s. It brought us the "Roaring Twenties" and then the Great Depression. More recently it spawned the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush serial bubbles, the Savings & Loan bailout, the 2008 Bush Bank bailout, and then, of course, the Great Recession that we are still mired in. "Trickle-down" works great for the rich and corporations... not well at all for the middle class and poor. The famous "trickle-down" flood that is supposed to create jobs and "float all boats," never quite seems to come in... even as the rich get richer and corporations reap record profits.
The liberal economic ideology oriented toward supporting the middle class is called "demand-side" economics, or "Keynesian" after economist John Maynard Keynes. This philosophy, put into place during the Depression by Franklin D. Roosevelt, created relative calm in the American economy for nearly five decades, and the largest expansion of a middle class in world history. Remember that time not so long ago when a middle class family, with only the father working, could afford a decent house, a new car every few years, braces and piano lessons for the kids, adequate insurance and health care, and count on a decent pension? That was the day of "demand-side" economics... when many companies cared enough to take care of their employees and pay them well enough so they could afford to buy products. That was also back when unions were strong, taxes on the rich and corporations were far higher than today, and regulation, especially on financial institutions, was far tighter than today.
The moral of this story is that the corporate conservative emphasis on the rich and large corporations is completely backwards. It doesn't matter how much "supply" there is; if there is little or no "demand" for that product, it ain't going to sell, and the economy is going to falter. It takes demand to fuel an economy. It takes a strong middle class to make a strong economy. When the middle class does well, all classes do well.
Think about it. If you are poor but the middle class is doing quite well, then there's probably a decent chance for you to wiggle your way into the middle class, and for middle class workers to wiggle higher, maybe into a healthy sub-upper class, and maybe from there even into the upper class. In such a scenario, like we had after World War II, the economy is humming and well-greased, so there's lots of what's called "social mobility." But when the middle class is getting hammered, like what has been happening since the 1980s, then there is only downward movement: middle class people getting laid off, and poor people absolutely stuck. No matter what, rich people prosper. They even prosper when all other classes are faltering. But when it's only the rich getting richer and corporations piling up profits, neither willing to share, that's a recipe for disaster.... thus the booms, the panics, the crashes, the Great Depression, the bail-outs and our recent Great Recession.
Now ponder for yourself. Which ideology do you think works best overall? Which ideology works best for you and your family. If you are in the 1%, then obviously, "trickle-down" works much better for you. But if you are in the vast middle class and you are voting for those who want to continue "trickle-down," you are insane!
But there's more... It turns out professional conservatives are lying about more than just "trickle-down."
Concerning the lying liars: Professional conservatives rail against government spending when seeking your vote, but never actually get around to doing anything about it when they are in power. Time after time they promise to cut spending, but do the exact opposite. They were lying to you. To win your trust. To get elected. They never really intend to cut spending or shrink the government. They love spending and a big government. The bigger the better to manipulate things all around the world.
Indeed, the facts prove that conservatives are the worst money managers and most profligate spenders of all. It's not even close.
Conservatives blame liberals of being "tax and spenders." Well, conservatives are "charge and spenders," which is much, much worse. They just put everything on the nation's credit card without any clue as to how it's going to be paid for. "Tax and spend" is a caricature of liberals, another way conservatives try to distort the truth, but it does suggest at least some forethought as to how things are going to be paid for. If conservatives were managing your family's budget, you would rush to jerk the checkbook and credit cards away from them.
Professional conservatives are perpetually promoting this mythical thing called "small government" (as if in the modern world there could ever really be such a thing). It's all a web of lies. Who were the two biggest expanders of the federal government in U.S. history? Look at this! Lo and behold, it's none other than our good Republican buddies Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Liars... they say one thing, and do the exact opposite.
Concerning the greedy greedsters: Even worse is what conservatives spend all that money on. It's not anything that actually helps people or the country, like infrastructure or health care or education or environmental cleanup, it's simply giveaways to the rich and corporations, and crazy military escapades. We the People get NOTHING out of conservative largess.
WHO GREW THE GOVERNMENT THE MOST?Tax cuts for the richest of the rich and for the biggest of the big corporations, and crazy military spending are the primary causes of the astronomical deficit we now find ourselves in. Reagan went hog-wild on military spending (including the infamous failed "Star Wars" missile defense system) so as to out-spend the Soviet Union, which was dying on its own anyway. But that was just a warm-up to Bush the Dumber's squandering of up to $3 Trillion (estimated eventual cost) on misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the largest heist of taxpayer dollars in world history. That included $9 Billion simply lost in Iraq by Bush appointee Paul Bremer. Oops! Lost! Sorry! He-he! (Can you imagine the squealing the conservatives would do if Obama's administration had done the same?) And those lost Billions don't even include the tens of Billions that we know where they went. Doesn't it feel great to know your hard-earned tax dollars have been going to fill the coffers of wartime predators like Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater, build foreign schools and hospitals (that often were subsequently blown up by the enemy), bribe warlords and terrorists, oh, and don't forget sometimes just lost! That's conservative economic management for you.
But hey, a few tens of Billions. That's chickenfeed to professional conservatives. They've squandered TRILLIONS!!!!! Let's look at the actual way the past six presidents have actually managed your tax dollars:
U.S. DEFICIT AS OF 2012Forever in Error & They Don't Care: Lying and Greed come together in the conservative economic philosophy of "trickle-down." This has been tried throughout history, going back centuries. It works like a charm for the rich. It never works for the common person, or for the nation as a whole. As a way to enrich the rich, it is genius. As a way to run a nation's economy, it is bunk. Worse than bunk; it's theft.
Most professional conservatives know it's theft and trickery, but they like getting rich, so they stick to the propaganda about cutting spending, lowering taxes, shrinking the government, and protecting the "job creators." These people are actually doing nothing illegal (usually). They don't need to. They've rigged the system just for themselves. It may not be illegal, but it is immoral. Like the pirates they are, they don't care about that either.
Each time an election season comes around, the conservatives get back to their old tricks. The Republican Lie Machine is now trying to pin most of the deficit on Obama. Not a word about their own heroes' malfeasance. The Republicans promise to cut government spending and usher in "small government." We've heard this same baloney time and again, the same thing from Reagan, the same thing from Poppy Bush, the same thing from Bush the Terrible, the same thing from John McCain, the same thing from Mitt Romney. Every Republican running for office will read from the old playbook. "Get government out of the way!" Don't you believe a word of it! Once in power, they won't do it, and if they ever were to attempt to do it, the crushing weight would be borne by the middle class and poor, while the ultra-rich and corporations - who actually helped cause and greatly benefitted from these deficits - would continue running to the banks with hysterical laughter.
Job creation: Conservatives are always selling their "trickle-down" snakeoil, and crowing about how they are the real party of business and know how to create jobs, while the liberals are completely out to lunch socialists who wouldn't know a job if it bumped into them at the hippie commune. It's all baloney. Conservatives are great at producing wealth for the one percent, but they are TERRIBLE at creating jobs. Let's just put aside the verbal sparring and look at the real record, shall we?
Slice and dice it anyway you want, since after World I the LIBERALS have kicked ass when it comes to job creation, and the CONSERVATIVES have sucked the big one. The big, bad corporate titans sure know how to feather their own nests, but it's LIBERAL economic policy that spreads the wealth and cranks up the job engines.
Why is this? Simple. Liberal economic policy favors the little guy, the workers, consumers, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Conservative economic policy favors the rich and big corporations. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that way more people get a fair shake under liberal policy than conservatives. Check out the scoreboard below:
Economic Terrorism: And let us also ponder the sheer irresponsibility, spite and hatefulness of the recent Republican-sponsored government shut-downs. Conservatives have absolutely no problem throwing millions of people out of work, cutting off Social Security payments, shuttering government services, jolting financial markets, even risking national default on the debt... as they engage in extortion to get their way. In so doing, they are thumbing their nose at democracy. Such hostage-taking is really nothing short of economic terrorism. Never once have liberals have never done this to the nation! Yet conservatives seem to be embracing such jarring disruption and perilous brinksmanship into their routine political strategy. When you don't win and election, or if a law was passed that you don't like, just thrown a temper tantrum... and threaten to blow up the country's economy. Al Qaeda couldn't dream of a better ally than conservatives in Congress.
The conservative Song-and-Dance is all hype, all the time. As the charts above and below clearly show, Democrats are FAR better at managing the American economy than conservatives are. And these charts don't even include the conservatives' biggest debacle: a little thing called the Great Depression.
And now a word about capitalism!Liberals are not against capitalism. Liberals invented capitalism! Capitalism began in earnest in the Middle Ages when a merchant class began to emerge that flaunted the "traditional value" of all commerce being strictly controlled by the church and/or state, kings and the richest of lords. The conservatives were furious about this development. Remember, liberals liberate, conservatives conserve. These early merchants were liberating themselves from the constraints of the traditional hierarchy. Thus the original "free market." Yet they were despised and persecuted by the kings and lords and popes and bishops who sought to conserve the traditional way of all commerce funneling through them. But soon enough, the merchants proved their worth by bringing goods and wealth into the country. That's when the conservatives decided they liked capitalism. Ever since then, conservatives have abused it. Just like clockwork, liberals periodically have to step in and save capitalism from the conservatives... as they did in the Progressive Era, during the Depression, through the great Middle Class expansion, and now, again, through this Great Recession.
Take a look at how the stock market has done under all those Commie liberals
as compared to the "Free Market" conservatives!
So let's just get this straight. Liberals are the experts in making capitalism work for the average person and an overall economy. Conservatives - as always - strive to bend capitalism to benefit mainly the richest of the rich... just as they always have!
5. CONSERVATIVES SUPPORT THE TROOPS.
It can certainly be said that professional conservatives support using and abusing the troops. They support sending the troops to die for various dubious causes that only vaguely have anything to do with defending America, or in some cases, like Iraq, is just plain old bullying (an American tradition, to be sure) and trying to steal natural resources. Professional conservatives have a pathetic record of supporting active duty military personnel, as well as veterans. Since the days of Valley Forge, liberals have traditionally been far more supportive of U.S. military personnel and veterans. Particularly in the 20th and 21st Century, Democrats and liberals have been far and away more supportive and protective of active troops and veterans. The common theme is that conservatives are full of macho bluster. No cool and patient diplomacy for them. No Special Ops approach to belligerents... it's full-on "shock and awe."
Well what would you expect? It's professional conservatives who are starry-eyed over military weapons and systems, and appropriate Billions for them (often even when the military brass itself doesn't need or want them). There is no end to how much of the taxpayers' money they are willing to spend on military toys and adventures. (And, of course, there is no end to their generosity to millionaires and billionaires). Naturally, they want to see these toys in action. That means conjuring up a conflict somewhere.
So they are ever eager to send "assets" into harm's way. But when it comes to assisting veterans, including wounded warriors, they suddenly become tighter than a sharp snare drum.
Liberals are the precise opposite. They are inherently leery of unchecked military spending. They take seriously Ike Eisenhower's warnings about the ever-looming danger of the "military-industrial complex" taking over our national foreign policy. Liberals place heavy emphasis on diplomacy and negotations to avoid armed conflict if at all possible. They are extremely reluctant to send our precious service men and women into harm's way. Liberals don't consider them "assets," but rather someone's sons and daughters, a reality readily dismissed by professional conservatives. For liberals armed conflict is a last option, not the first option, as so often seems the case with conservatives. When armed conflict finally seems unavoidable, liberals prefer intelligent and clear strategies, unlike the foggy notions of conservatives (examples; Iraq and Afghanistan). Rather than "shock and awe," the preferred tactics of liberals will always be surgical strikes. Do everything to keep our people safe, and to minimize trauma to the innocent local populace and culture. Clinton's approach to the Kosovo War was an example. General Wesley Clark (a Democrat) oversaw NATO's strategic bombing to help end that conflict with zero American casualties. So, too, the Obama administration's careful intelligence gathering and surgical use of Seal Team Six finally found and killed Osama bin Laden after eight years of Bush's bludgeoning and blundering in the Middle East. And when conflicts have ended, liberals move to assist returning service personnel and veterans, while professional conservatives suddenly change their mind about the value of these "assets."
For you veterans and families of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, note that the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association (IAVA) ranked members of Congress in terms of their support of veterans. Ninety-two percent of the D's and F's went to Republicans.
If you are in military , or have a son, daughter, dad or mom in the service, you should absolutely shudder when a conservative becomes Commander-in-Chief. Let's examine the contrast between how things worked out for the troops and veterans when conservatives vs. liberals were in control:
Hey, how about the 2012 Republican presidential nominee: Mitt Romney? How has he supported the military? Glad you asked. Well, Mitt never wanted to serve. You see, there were just too many companies waiting to be gutted and handsomely profited from. He couldn't wait to get to all of those riches, and didn't want to fool around, you know, serving America or anything like that. And he has five strapping sons, all of service age: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig. Wow a lot of testosterone in that family! You would think that someone in there would be willing to step up and serve in the U.S. military. After all, they're filthy rich, they could step right in as officers. No grunt-work for these purebloods! But nope. Mitt and Sons are a continuation of the Grand Old Party's tradition of "Team Chickenhawk!" Ooh-Rah! Right? It's a corporate conservative tradition: talk tough, stir up trouble, let somebody else do the fighting. Exactly as Cheney and Bush slunk away from Vietnam service, Romney dodged the draft as a "minister of religion" and skedaddled for France to be a "missionary" for a cult, while living in a mansion with a chef and servant. No slumming around in foxholes, or even less than four-star accommodations, for Mitty. As for his five sons, Mitt explains, "My sons are showing support for our nation by helping to get me elected." Ha-ha, right Mitt, that's real service. That's easily on par with slogging around Iraq and Afghanistan, no doubt about it. Hey, Mitt, where do the rest of our sons and daughters sign up for that "service" so they can skip out on the PTSD zones? About actual, real military service, Josh, who has no plans of serving, adds, "It's just something none of us has done." Right. They had better things to do with their lives... like keep close to daddy and wallow in his glitz and glamour while you were watching your buddies get blown up (or was that you that got blown up?). And there was Team Chickenhawk in August 2012 at the Republican National Convention where good old Mitt mentioned the War in Afghanistan exactly ZERO times during his biggest speech to date and first great opportunity to tell the nation and world what he really believes in! Ha-ha, not you soldiers, or veterans. There you go: your prospective next Chickenhawk-in-Chief who doesn't give a damn about you. Oh, and look who is hiding behind Mitt's skirts as "foreign policy advisors," many of the same old neocon gang that brought us Afghanistan and Iraq. Wonder where he'll send you to die? Count on it; it will be somewhere hellish, probably smelling of oil. Iran, anybody?
So it should be very clear. Military personnel and families, the LAST politicians you want directing military affairs are conservatives! The notion that they support you is one of the cruelest of all Conservative Myths! They'll nickel-and-dime you; they'll use and abuse you; they'll send you off to be killed by a trumped-up enemy (while they are really after corporate profits); they'll sacrifice you to make some stupid, bravado "statement;" or sometimes they'll even turn the U.S. military against itself. Active-duty personnel and veterans... don't fall for it! Conservative politicians are NOT your friends!
6. CONSERVATIVES SUPPORT SMALL GOVERNMENT
Even though most literate conservatives are very wary of Thomas Jefferson, the conservatives' favorite quote from a founding father is Jefferson's quip, "the government that governs least, governs best." Of course, Jefferson said that before he became president and went out and bought the Louisiana Territory without bothering to consult with Congress, more than doubling the size of the USA. It was not only perhaps the greatest flip-flop in American political history, and quite a propitious one at that, indeed, it was a power-grab par excellence and the most astounding enlargement of the government ever! That was 200-something years ago. To this day, you'd be hard pressed to find an American who would say that it was a bad thing.
Even back then -- when America was only a few hundred miles wide, had less than seven million citizens, had a national economy about the size of one of today's small cities, and the state-of-the-art weapon was a cast-iron cannon - there was never any possibility of the United States of America having a small government. Today we are a country that stretches around the globe, with 300 million citizens, an economy worth trillions of dollars that dominates the world and tens of thousands of American corporations actively seeking ways to get into trouble, as well as a military and weapons such as the world has never known. Whoever sincerely believes that all of this can be managed and controlled by a "small government" should report directly to a remedial civics lesson, if not the nearest psychiatry office.
Of course such believers would all be social conservatives or libertarians. CorpCons know full well that "small government" is another conservative language trick, just like the "free market."
The rich and powerful used to love government, back in the feudal days of old, when the king was benefactor to his lords and ladies, allowing them free reign over their own subjects, the serfs and little townspeople. That was when government and Big Religion were rolled into one. The combined leviathan controlled every facet of everyone's life. But then came this radical new kind of government called democracy , something about "We the People", and "all men are created equal," and stuff like that which threatened to demolish the whole wonderful system the upper crust had going its way for thousands of years.
A just democracy stands for the people -- all of the people, not just the rich, not just the powerful, in fact, not even for the majority of people... ALL OF THE PEOPLE. Now this should be self-evident to anyone who has a clue into what America is all about. Alas, such people are sometimes few and far between.
It turns out that some in America really don't much like that democracy thing, and would like to hijack it if they could. This, of course, would be the conservatives.... both those of the rich and powerful, professional corporate type, and those sometimes lovable (sometimes not) mush-brains often referred to as social conservatives.
These conservatives see the government as in their way. And so is born the idea of shrinking the government. "I want a government so small we can drown it in the bathtub," conservative guru Grover Norquist (the no-tax pledge cult leader) famously said.
But just like the "free market" that professional conservatives proffer as the savior of economic systems is actually a "rigged market" kraken, so too the "small government" that conservatives envision is really a dragon masquerading as a flea. The conservatives would slash and burn all the ways government protects, but supersize the ways it controls and coerces.
So we see that conservatives are never for even a penny to be cut from the United States military, which already is as large as the rest of the world's militaries combined. That's right, America has a military machine equal to all the rest of the countries of the world... and conservatives will not allow one copper penny of that budget to be touched. Moreover, they cheerfully support military intervention anywhere in the world. Hey, we have this gigantic military; we might as well get some decent use out of it, eh?
In what solar system is this "small" government?
Corporations make billions upon billions through military contracts. And this gravy train continues year after year, decade after decade. Over and above this largess, much of American militarism is, in fact, simply promotion of U.S. business interests. Hiding behind the clarion call to defend America against the boogey-man of fascism, communism, terrorism, whatever the latest "ism" might be, is the conservative desire to divide and dominate... the markets of the world. In the cases of the wars in Korea and Vietnam, hatred for communism teamed up with a keen determination to protect and preserve U.S. raw material resources, as well as consumer markets in Asia. American bellicosity in the Middle East is almost solely as a result of this being the great oil pool of the world.
Big Business requires a big government, if for no other reason than to sort out all of the legal squabbles corporations have with each other. Beyond that, Big Business actually likes governmental regulations and red-tape that make it more difficult for newcomers, small-fry and less dexterous competitors. And the more corrupt the governmental system, the more Big Business basks and luxuriates in its innate advantages of capital and connection. A small, lean, efficient government just wouldn't be able to serve this important business purpose at all. A huge and complex government system crawling with paid lobbyists - precisely what the average citizen would describe as bloated and inefficient - is absolutely ideal for corporatists. The average citizen has not a single lobbyist, while the oil companies have hundreds or thousands.
Meanwhile, some of the biggest prizes for the CorpCons involve the vast resources of the "commons" that a government ostensibly controls. This land, water, air belongs to the people, but Big Business wants and needs it. A smaller, efficient government might effectively protect these precious resources. Within a big, clumsy government, all manners of shenanigans can be manipulated and hidden, at least for a while, as Big Business gets its clutches on the peoples' property. From Harding's Teapot Dome scandal, to Reagan giving away the old growth forests, to Bush's attempt to steal the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, conservatives within government are always trying to find a way to steal national resources from the public and get them into the hands of private corporations, including the public airwaves that conservative corporations have used to their great advantage to dominate the media. Today the CorpCons have their sights on the internet, as well as Social Security and Medicare, as plums ready to be plucked.
So CorpCons need and want a Big Government, but one that is putty in their hands. So when they wax eloquently about "small government," it's really just code for dismantling all the elements of the government that protect the people and their assets, while expanding the ways that allow corporations to run wild.
Of course, the eventual goal of some hardcore conservative corporatists is complete corporate control of government. This, as some of you will know, is called "fascism." It's also perfectly in keeping with the traditional conservative of a hierarchy of This is the end of government for the people, and the start of people for the government-corporations. It may seem like a long way off, but we are moving quickly in that direction now. Just take a good, long look around.
So the biggest cheerleaders for "small government" are the CorpCons, who have a great deal to gain by cutting the government's ability to protect its citizens and the commons from incessant corporate greed.
But there is another conservative segment that also would like to severely constrain the government's ability to protect. The social conservatives are mostly oblivious to the mischief that the corporations are up to. It's hitting them on the head, and they still can't recognize the real threat to America. They are too fixated on their own idea of "small government." It's called a "theocracy."
The social conservatives want a government so "small" it can come through the keyhole of your own house, into your living room, bedroom, hospital room, or wherever you may be hiding, take you by the scruff of the neck and lay down the law! They want the "small" government to be able to tell each and every person exactly how to live. No, we are not talking about seat belts or handicapped ramps or the food pyramid here. This is nothing so benign as a "nanny state." This is more like the "Ayatollah state." This is major stuff. These conservatives would force their brand of religion, their form of patriotism, their idea of politics, their idea of conformity on everyone else. To do that requires a very BIG government.
The Theocracy of America would, effectively, be a police state. Social conservatives love a huge military, plus lots of police, sheriffs, marshalls, border patrol, Texas Rangers, and it's never a bad idea to have a posse ready to go. You never know when some of those non-conformists will get uppity. So the Patriot Act, which allows spying without a warrant on American citizens is quite all right with conservatives. So, too, jails where the government can hold you without charge for months or years, or brand you a "terrorist" and just throw away the key and forget about you. All perfectly legit for "small government" conservatives.
Likewise, conservatives love the idea of punishment, and almost hope you will do something that will break their code of conformity and enable them to call the dogs of government on you. Conservatives want the government to be able to peer and pry and intervene in your most private life, and then lower the boom if they find anything amiss. They believe their morality should be the state morality. They believe they -- and only they -- should have the power to determine whether it should be legal or illegal for you to enter the country, stay in the country, get a job, vote, build a mosque, wear a head scarf, smoke pot, allow your brain-dead family member to die in peace, yourself choose to die with dignity in the face of a terminal illness, have an abortion, or get married. And if you happen to do anything they have deemed illegal, down you go to the courthouse where an official with the Ten Commandments looming behind him will judge you; if you are a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Shinto, aboriginal or tribal, agnostic or atheist American, good luck getting impartial justice from this theocratic system. This is all a social conservative's dream, and represents nothing but big, big, government.
The social conservative wars on abortion, immigrants, women's rights, civil rights, and the LGBT community are the most visible current depictions of what kind of big government they really want. The want big government to put big restrictions on all of these written into law, preferably the Constitution, and thereafter enforced by the big police state.
But perhaps the most insightful, and stunning, portrayal of the social conservative's notion of "small government" was the case of Terri Schiavo. For years Michael Schiavo had been trying to allow his wife, Terri, to die in peace following devastating brain damage in 1990 that left her lingering in a vegetative state. After a prolonged legal battle within the family and through Florida's legal system, in 2003 Michael was finally granted the right to allow Terri's life-support to be removed, as husband and wife had discussed they would do for each other back in happier times. But then in swooped the conservative harpies, led by gadfly Randall Terry, maintaining that Terri's might not be so hopeless, and insisting that they had the right to butt into this most private and painful decision. Conservatives wrangled to quickly pass a Florida law, called "Terri's Law," that allowed Governor Jeb Bush to intervene in the case. He ordered Terri's feeding tube reinserted, and sent state cops to remove Terri from her husband's guardianship. A judge ruled "Terri's Law" unconstitutional and struck it down. The conservatives appealed. The case went to the Florida State Supreme Court where again it was struck down. Conservatives around the country were outraged... not at this big government intervention in the private life of a family, but by "activist judges" not allowing them to butt in. The affair went up the conservative chain of command... all the way to Congress and President George Bush. Both Michael and the brain-dead Terri were subpoenaed to testify before Congress! Republican congressmen and senators had a grandstanding fest, demanding the ability to take control of the case out of the hands of the State of Florida and into their own. So much for state's rights, ever only a fallback position for conservatives when they can't get their way nationally. Congress passed a bill usurping Florida's jurisdiction, and George Bush flew back from vacation in Texas to sign the bill. So this was at least twice in this case that conservatives actually changed or created new laws giving them previously power in order to pursue their determination to impose their morality and justice. It was at this juncture that an explosive memo surfaced suggesting that the Schiavo case offered "a great political issue" for Republicans that could be used against Florida Democrats. After "Terri's Law" was struck down and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene (unlike when the presidency was at stake in 2000), again Jeb Bush alerted the Florida state police to take Terri and remove her to out of state (where to no one has ever said, but you know it was probably Texas). The Florida Supreme Court instructed the state police to stand down. Jeb Bush reluctantly obeyed the court order, though there was enormous pressure from conservatives in the state and around the country to defy the law. Terri died shortly thereafter, and so the sordid affair came to conclusion. An autopsy revealed that Terri's brain was severely damaged and atrophied. She really had been in a vegetative state. The conservatives were wrong again.
But the shocking revelation of the Terri Schiavo case was the manner in which conservatives rushed to stick their faces into this very personal, very private, very painful family affair. They pulled every trick in the book, hurriedly writing and passing new laws and plucking the highest strings of government, from the president to the Supreme Court, to finagle a way to impose their version of morality upon an innocent family. This example should stand as a flashing warning to anyone who would buy into conservative notions of a "small government."
So we see a similar compulsion to govern the most private and personal lives of others in conservative beliefs concerning abortion, gay and lesbian rights, religious freedoms, science and art, and many other facets of governmental concern. Apparently conservatives don't quite understand how contradictory their own beliefs truly are.
Now recall, these are the people who chirp so loudly about freedom and rugged individualism and property rights... but all that goes out the window when it comes to someone not conforming to their notions of proper behavior. For that they want a Big Government to shut it down.
Crazy, isn't it? The CorpCons know what they want; they want a big government that is skewed totally toward their corporations, while the Constitutional purpose of "serving the public welfare" has been drowned in the bathtub. But they can't discuss it openly. So they couch their true scheme in terms which appeal to the SoCons, who are so bamboozled they don't know which end is up. Thus, a "small government" that frees them all to bully everyone else becomes the shared dream of conservatives, corporate and social.
And a nightmare for that "everyone else."
All conservatives, CorpCon and SoCon, have an agenda to create a government that has "small" ability to protect, but "big" ability to subject. The rich and corporations want a government that is powerless to protect the public commons and consumers, while allowing them to rampage around the world. Social conservatives want a government that is powerless to prevent them from imposing their values on everyone else. So neither really believes in a "small government," only in a government that does their bidding... not that of We the People, all of the people.
Think about it. Why on earth would We the People want to give up our power to protect ourselves from our most insidious enemies? Who is that? Certainly not those on the outside, who have never been able to harm America very much. It is the enemy within that is the true and present danger. Those would be the unscrupulous, immoral, vicious, predatory, greedy rich and powerful corporatists, and the bigoted, ignorant and thuggish theocrats. Either or both would think nothing of destroying America to remake it in their image.
The only thing standing in their way is We the People, and the robust national government that is us!
7. THE "FREE MARKET."
It might be theoretically possible for a totally "free market" to exist if the "market" itself was very tiny, such as a very small town where everyone knew and trusted each other. In anything larger, say a country of 300 million, fuggetaboutit!
The great irony is that the very people who so aggressively promote the idea of a "free market" are the actually the last ones who would actually want such a thing. Those would be the CorpCons and the professional politicians they have bought and paid for. These schemers don't really want a "free market" they want a "rigged market," and that's pretty much what they have. But it can always get even more rigged. And that's what they truly wish for: a world where Big Business is king of the world, and government - the only entity large enough to counter and control Big Business - is small enough to "drown in the bathtub" (at least when it comes to regulating Big Business... otherwise, everybody knows a very Big Government is necessary to rampage around the world promoting Big Business).
So, what professional conservatives actually mean by the "Free Market" is this:
• Corporations should be FREE to sell anything, anywhere.
• Corporations should be FREE to pay little or nothing to their workers.
• Corporations should be FREE to demand utter loyalty from their workers.
• Corporations should be FREE to return no loyalty whatsoever to their workers.
• Corporations should be FREE to extract, exploit, subjugate and monopolize at will.
• Corporations should be FREE from taxes.
• Corporations should be FREE from regulations.
• Corporations should be FREE of responsibility for any damage they do.
• Corporations should be FREE to influence lawmakers.
• Corporations should be FREE to slaughter the competition any way they can.
So now you know. When conservatives politicians and economists talk about the "free market" it is simply code for Big Business Heaven, a world in which Big Business is free to do whatever it wants.
Of course, this would be Hell for everyone else, including smaller businesses, for which such a "free market" would be a killing field. Giant corporations could swoop in, completely unfettered, and buy out or simply squelch smaller competitors.
And for consumers and workers? Well, the "free market" envisioned by giant multinational corporations would make them hardly better than slaves. Consumers and workers in the unregulated "free market" would be "free" to like it, or lump it. Caveat Emptor, sucker! You say our product blew up in your face or gave you cancer? Prove it! You say the unsafe conditions in our factory led to you getting your hands cut off? Sue us, see if you get anywhere with your "frivolous lawsuit" in the justice system we have rigged up for ourselves.
Parasitic banks would run wild with speculation, buying and selling without constraint, inventing all manner of financial "instruments" with which to use to dissect customers and relieve them of their money, their security, their future.
Privatization of anything and everything would run rampant in the conservative "free market" fantasy.
Let's just imagine what that would directly lead to:
The goal of the professional conservative's "free market" is to assume all of the powers of government, and then take it to the limit, including total control and exploitation of the people.
Your electricity, gas, water would not come from public utilities, but from predatory corporations, which can raise the rates, or cut you off, whenever they want. Toll roads and bridges would proliferate. Think about how corporations and the very rich could put the squeeze on the average citizen with such total and unchecked power.
Judges and jails would be privatized, with a strong profit incentive to lock as many people away for as long as possible. Wars would be completely privatized, with a strong profit incentive to go to battle, and to use up the weapons and equipment so to create the need for more, more, more.
Education would be privatized, with only the wealthy able to afford a decent education, everyone else shunted into "stupidity schools," indoctrinated and taught only enough to become a good worker-bee, or soldier-fodder, for the state and its overlord corporations.
Without government subsidies, price controls and regulations, food production would become wholly predatory. A few corporations without major competition due to proprietary trademarks on genetically modified foodstuffs would dominate. Prices would skyrocket. Food quality and safety would plummet for most of us. Only the rich would be able to afford clean, healthy food. The rest of us would take our chances with every bite or drink, if we could afford to buy anything. Scavenging and begging would become a way of life for millions.
Likewise, health care would only be affordable for the very wealthy. With no government assistance, no government health programs, illness and disease would explode into pandemics. The wealthy would simply cut themselves off from the general population, as plague raged across the land.
As you can see, very quickly this model collapses in on itself. Unregulated capitalism eventually eats itself alive. But before that happens, billions, trillions of dollars are to be made by the greatest pirates the world has ever known: corporate pirates!
This is the "free market," recipe for utter disaster if it could ever come to fruition. A "free market" would quickly tear the goose that laid the golden eggs to pieces
Little by little, over the past 30 years, CorpCons have managed to slip us ever further in the direction of their slimy wet dream. Since Reagan, the mantra that "government is not the solution; it is the problem," has become an accepted axiom. According to this philosophy, the answer to this "problem" of government is the "free market." This axiom has been shrilly pounded, ad nauseum, by conservatives for decades, and millions upon millions of people believe it. As the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, correctly realized, "people will believe anything if it is repeated often enough."
This has been the tactic by the very richest to gain support for their nefarious intentions to cripple the one and only force that can control them: a government of We the People.
Indeed, the proof is in the pudding. Since Reagan, this coddling of the rich, this release of the "free market" kraken has had 30 years to produce the results that CorpCons perpetually promise: great wealth that would "trickle down" to everyone, jobs galore, an ever-improving quality of life for all. That has not happened. For three decades, taxes have been slashed for the richest Americans. Deregulation has swept across government, dramatically loosening safeguards in sector after sector. Competent government regulators have been replaced, in both Republican and Democratic administrations, by capitalist wolves supposedly protecting the henhouse. So the "free market" ethos has been applied to an extent that would have stunned and dismayed those who crafted the New Deal pathway out of the Great Depression.
And this same formula has been applied not just in America, but around the world, as other countries followed our lead in dismantling many of the regulations, protections and higher taxes on the wealthy that existed prior to the "Reagan Revolution."
What has actually happened is the reverse of what conservative "free marketers" promised. Real wages and earning power of average American families have stalled or gone backwards. Prices for most things have zoomed upwards to the point where decent housing, good health care and higher education are beyond the means of upwards of half of the country. For the first time in American history, vast portions of the American people face the prospect of a lower quality of life for their children. This is the result of the low, low taxes and the deregulation of the "free market" that has swept this nation. Imagine how much worse it would be for most of us - and how much more glorious for the rich - if the market were even "freer."
How much further do we have to go down this awful road of coddling the rich and corporations before the people stand up and fight for themselves? Instead of a "free market," workers, consumers, citizens should be demanding a "fair market." A fair market takes care of its workers, consumers and communities FIRST, and the profit of any corporation comes second.
Only a "fair market," can sustain. A "free market" will eventually consume itself. And that is what we see happening in America as jobs are sent overseas, rich capitalists hide their wealth overseas, manufacturing collapses, the tax base shrinks, infrastructure crumbles, crime soars. The community is systematically manipulated, exploited, and then destroyed by predatory capitalism.
Unrestrained capitalism, what CorpCons call the "free market" is the greatest threat to America.
Thomas Jefferson hit the nail on the head when he stated that banks were more dangerous than armies, and "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws our country."
The "moneyed corporations" are doing more than just challenging our government to a trial of strength, more than bidding defiance to the laws of our country, they are grabbing for control, and consolidating their hold. The end-game of this trend is Fascism: where corporate power completely controls the government, and can then demand of the people what they will. When that happens We the People will be crushed. The labor movement, small businesses, local communities, freedom itself will be expunged.
You think it can't happen? Well then continue to buy into the conservative myth of the "Free Market" and watch the kraken rise.
For more thoughts on the Free Market, Click Here.
8. THE MEDIA IS CONTROLLED BY LIBERALS.
Well, of course, it depends on what "media" one is referring to. The "media" is certainly not a monolithic institution. The overall media is factured and fragmented, with no true cohesion to speak of. Some media outlets are most definitely skewed one way or the other; others, including the so-called "mainstream media," try their hardest to be completely impartial - sometimes going to ridiculous excess when they give actual facts and non-fact based opinion or belief equal weight in a misguided attempt to present "both sides of the story." This practice is known intellectually as "false equivalency." This sorry state of journalistic credibility has grown in prevalence right along with the wing-nut craziness of the political right.
Taken as a whole, however, American "mainstream media" is actually a CONSERVATIVE juggernaut! Yet, there are two points to consider here.
1) The media is certainly NOT controlled by liberals as conservatives love to complain. Once again, the truth is precisely the opposite of conservative demagoguery: The "mainstream media" is actually thoroughly and innately dominated by gigantic, very conservative corporations. Eighty percent (by viewer/readership) is controlled by just six corporations. Let's call it what is is: mainstream/mass media = corporate media. In general, corporations are conservative entities, with a definite bias in support of the conservative stance of low taxes and deregulation. Moreover, almost all media is supported by advertisers, which are most often conservative corporations themselves, likewise having a self-serving bias toward conservative tax and regulation policies. So the relationship between media and advertising sponsor becomes a closed system, conservative-affirming feedback loop. Moreover, both media company and advertising corporations do not want to alienate the significant (and most loyal) share of their viewers/readers/consumers who are socially or politically conservative. Now another feedback loop affirming conservative values is created, and so the corporate media has a triple impetus to skew conservative: their own financial interests, their advertisers' financial interests, and the sensitivities of the conservative (and most loyal) share of their audience. A trend in corporate media is to project that a larger share of their audience leans conservative than liberal, which may not always be entirely true (See Myth No. 2) but is reinforced by the more vociferous feedback they receive from conservative audience members (people complain more when they are angry, and conservatives are generally angrier than liberals). So, as a rule, corporate media is more afraid of offending its conservative audience than its liberal viewers/listeners/readers.
Revealing examples of this trend are the mainstream media's propensity to practice "false equivalency," i.e. to give equal weight to both sides of a politically hot topic, even when one side is bereft of factual evidence and/or espoused only by a noisy minority. Because they are so often at odds with science and with actual universal values, this noisy but factually bereft side is most likely to be of the conservative persuasion. In presenting both viewpoints in the manner of, "Senator A says this", and "Senator B says that," the media outlet can't be accused of partisanship. Alas, they also cannot be credited with furthering the quest for the real truth or crucial education of the populace, either.
But perhaps the greatest evidence for the mainstream media leaning conservative is the manner in which it steadfastly refuses to fully recall and articulate the pattern of utter failure of conservative ideas and policies historically, most particularly economic policy, but also social ideology. The mainstream media mindlessly ignores this legacy and litany of disastrous positions, fostering contemporary debates between "right and "left" (or today's more common "far-right" and "center") as if so many of these issues had not played out over very long periods of time, with an historical record and empirical data to factor into an objective discourse. In this way, the mainstream media is an accomplice in lulling the people to forget what a very bad record conservativism actually trails behind it.
To this basic, inherent conservative lean of media corporations, stir in the concerted, coordinated and extremely well-funded coalition of right-wing capitalists who over the past 50 years have increasingly expanded their control of the corporate media. This effort was enabled by deregulation of the media industry by Reagan and Poppy Bush, and even Clinton. Laws that once restricted a single person or corporation from owning many different newspapers, television and radio stations were abolished, opening the way for gigantic corporate interests to take firm, monolithic control. Now, the media industry is a notoriously risky financial bet, which has become even more so with the increased competition of the marketplace (which now includes such things as cable and satalite channels, as well as the internet). The entire newspaper industry is barely hanging on in the face of this onslaught of competition. However, certain individuals and their corporations were keen to jump into the deregulated fray with something more than profit in mind: they wanted to propagandize their self-serving political message. If you could manage profit and propaganda at the same time, all the better! And with deregulation, the way was clear for them to have just that. Almost all of the individuals with this goal have been conservative, including Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers, Philip Anschutz and others. There are none - zippo - nada - liberal media moguls remotely in the same ballpark as these conservative titans of conservative disinformation.
2) However, there is another aspect in play here that is the source of so much conservative angst regarding the media. The horrible fact of the matter for conservatives is that truth itself seems to have a decidedly liberal bias. Of course, "truth" doesn't know liberal from conservative, but it turns out that liberals base their ideology on science, empirical evidence, actual facts (truth), while conservatives base their ideology on faith, dogma, mythology. Therefore media outlets that even remotely attempt to report actual facts end up promoting a liberal worldview. The truth-oriented dictionary and thesaurus and encyclopedia and history books and art and science do precisely the same. So it's not actually "liberal bias" of the media but truth that drives conservatives crazy.
There is a corollary: if truth has a "liberal bias," then seekers of the truth are going to have a "liberal bias." We find this to be absolutely true. The most educated, wordly and aware people are usually liberal. A strong majority of scientists, professors, teachers, artists, writers AND journalists describe themselves as liberally-oriented. A 1997 study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors indicated that 61% of reporters stated they shared the beliefs of the Democratic Party. Some 24% claimed to be independent. Only 15% said their beliefs were best represented by the Republican Party. There's your "liberal bias" right there: the people who are out there in the trenches gathering information about the real world don't buy into the worldview the conservatives are selling.
Of course, just because you are a "liberal" reporter doesn't mean your reporting is "liberal." In fact, if the corporation you work for skews conservative, overtly or covertly, then as an employee (if you want to keep your job) you make sure you present whatever "bias" the corporate master dictates. You'll present the "truth" only so far as you can... while sometimes bending over backwards (and gritting your teeth) to blend in some "balance," which is to say the conservative viewpoint, or "untruth." One has to wonder how many of Fox News' employees are closet liberals.
Oftentimes, however, even a smidgeon of truth is too much for conservatives. Conservatives love to be mad at people, things, ideas, whatever... so when huge chunks of their cherished worldview are not upheld by the media - whether news media or entertainment media - they lash out at fictitious monsters, the "liberal media," the "Hollywood elite," etc. Demonizing some nebulous "other" - including liberals - provides them with a ready excuse to continue believing in fairy tales. And there's no more prominent, more glamorous and more inviting target for their ire than the media.
And so conservatives turn away from the truth and toward whatever media outlets offer ressurance of their mythology.
News Corp is the ideological spear-point of right-wing propaganda. It is owned by uber-conservative Rupert Murdoch, and includes Fox News, where former Republican spinmeister Roger Ailes controls the show. The conservative Death Star that is News Corp also wields a battalion of other right-wing propaganda spewing local television stations, a squadron of other cable channels, newspapers (including the Wall Street Journal), magazines (including Barron's), book publishers (including Harper-Collins) and movie and television studios (20th Century Fox). Fox News betrays the malevolent willingness to propagandize of Murdoch and News Corp with the slogans, "Fair and Balanced" and "We Report, You Decide," along with the Bill O'Reilly show's self-description as a "no-spin zone." In the history of American broadcast media there has never been a less fair and balanced or more spinning "news" channel than Fox News. Fox News slathers on the slant to brainwash its listeners, and millions of American viewers tune in. Households and businesses all over the nation leave Fox News playing exclusively. Multiple surveys concur that these viewers are the most ill-informed of all regular television news viewers in the nation. It seems you can be informed (by the truth) or have your conservative worldview affirmed... but not both.
The largest radio station owner in the country is Clear Channel, a decidedly conservative operation, owned in part by Bain Capital (yes, that Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's golden sandbox) which coddles Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Clear Channel owns 866 radio stations and Premiere Radio Network, all overwhelmingly conservative-oriented, something that would have been impossible before the Reagan revolution deregulated telecommunications, opening the door for conservative corporate shenanigans. Conservative CBS Corp owns another 130 stations.
As far as talk radio goes, a recent survey discovered that 91 percent of politically-oriented programming is conservative, 9% liberal. Many American markets receive no liberal oriented talk radio at all. This also would have been illegal before Reagan's dismantling of the "Fairness Doctrine," which required honest, equitable and balanced presentations of public importance. The Air America experiment to see if liberal talk radio could compete in the marketplace failed, in no small part because corporations (being innately conservative, remember) refused to support it by advertising.
Like radio, American newspapers are decidedly conservative. As with the radio landscape, many markets have little or no liberal voice within their papers at all, while the "liberal" papers always feature a "balance" of conservative (often "severely" conservative as Mitt Romney would put it) vs. moderate viewpoints.
It's all so easy these days. B.R. (Before Reagan) there were over 50 major companies providing news content through television, radio, newspapers and magazines. As a result of deregulation of the media industry, something conservatives desperately wanted, today only five corporations control over 80 percent of media sales in the United States. Now we can see why conservatives desperately wanted deregulation of the media industry, so they could buy up and control the majority of "voices" available, and thereafter work to curtail alternative voices and ideas.
Meanwhile, the so-called "balance" generally offered by the "mainstream" media usually runs from far right wackadoodle Republican all the way across the spectrum to a centrist, corporate Democrat. True left-leaning, non-corporatist liberals need not apply. And, as the chart below depicts, the viewpoint of the white, male, conservatives rules supreme.
There are a few truly liberal media outlets. You can find some of them on our Links Page. But many of the large corporate media outlets singled out as "liberal" wolves by conservatives are actually timid sheep. The New York Times and Washington Post head up this list, supposed defenders of the public's right to know, that utterly capitulated to George W. Bush's faux-patriotic rampage to war(s). The Times' Judith Miller beat the drum for Bush as loudly as anyone, and is now - surprise - a Fox News pundit. Newspapers and broadcast stations across the country rushed to jump on the Iraq War bandwagon. With 20/20 hindsight the collapse of the Fourth Estate during most of the Bush reign of terror abroad and trampling of American rights at home is deeply embarrassing and troubling. The pips and peeps of the small smattering of tiny, true liberal outlets were the only lifeline to trustable truth that tens of millions of blue-hearted Americans had through the dour and sour Bush-Cheney near-decade, one that began with a stolen election and ended on the precipice of depression. Such "alternative," actual truth-providing media outlets were mocked and derided as traitors throughout the entire Bush-Cheney reign of terror, while all through the long, dark night the "liberal" mass media was just a step behind Fox News cheerleading for un-Americanism.
In 2004, with the war(s) going badly and the economy misfiring, the mainstream media was nevertheless loathe to criticize too sharply the sitting "war president," and largely let slide the slanderous barrage the Republican slime machine dumped on John Kerry. Bush and his "boy genius" Karl Rove barely won another election, this time by possibly rigging the electronic voting machines in Ohio. The mainstream media looked the other way, just as it when the Bushies stole the presidency the first time around. As we enter another presidential campaign the Republicans are up to more shenanigans, trying to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as they can in state after state. The "liberal" corporate media is fast asleep on this front. In stark contrast, if Obama's dog Bo is spotted pooping, the entire coordinated conservative media goes into high alert, smelling a scandal and conspiracy.
The corporate media never fails to hold a finger to the wind to sense the mood of the market. And it caters its delivery accordingly. That the public in 2008 had wearied of the Republicans (and John McCain was a dud of a candidate) featured prominently in the media's seeming fascination with Barack Obama. Obama's eloquence and novelty stirred real, passionate support, and the media hopped on a new bandwagon, but saved tons of airspace and column inches for the equally celebrity-like Sarah Palin, daring not to too sharply disparage her glaringly unpreparedness. Aside from comedians, the harshest media critics of Sarah were conservative columnists and pundits!
Liberals can fully agree with conservatives about the "lamestream media," but for completely opposite reasons. Conservatives object that what IS being reported is too liberal, but don't have any real facts to back that up. Generally what they don't like turns out to be just plain truth that grates against their worldview, and their conspiracy theories run into the hard wall of conservative corporate domination of the media. Liberals object to what is NOT being reported, and have sheaves of evidence of the corporate media bias toward, fear of and kowtowing to their conservative audience. When a news "debate" features two conservatives, plus a conservative-leaning host, against a centrist Democrat (no real liberal included), this is not "fair and balanced," whether it's on Fox or any other channel. When newspapers run only conservative and centrist editorials, this is not fair and balanced. When conservative voices outnumber liberals on the radio 90 to 1, this is an avalanche of inequality, in favor of conservativism.
Some of the largest coroporate media recognize that avoiding politics as much as possible is the safest bet. For these - and the major television "news" networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) are included - the main concern is not real news and information at all, but serving as the lead shills and sluts of consumer culture, keeping us craving all manner of stupid things, while at the same time dazzled and mesmerized by... beautiful, fluffy, ego-boosting, vacuous, empty nothingness, cheap programming that reaps a profit... entertainment, sports, video games, "reality TV"... which divert our attention from real reality, including each other. This is the age-old professional conservative ploy of keeping the masses satiated, distracted, divided, dazed and confused while concurrently picking their pockets.
A truly liberal media would provide mostly relevant, meaningful, enlightening, elevating, and UNITING content, while instructing - as have all the great teachers of history - that the best things in life are free, and the less you need to be happy, the happier you will be. Why, it would be a lot like PBS.!
By that same token, the more liberal someone is the less reliable consumer they are for the media, at least the corporate media. Liberals are far more individualistic and discriminating in their worldview, and therefore much less susceptible to the attraction and addiction of the "mass" media. This is why Fox News targeted directly at conservatives can be a phenomenal success, while there has never been even the remotest liberal counterpart. This is precisely why talk radio is overwhelmingly dominated by conservatives, and another key reason the liberal-oriented Air America fell flat. This is why so many channels and tabloids grab a sensational story of a beautiful, young white girl being abducted or murdered and flog it to death for weeks or months. Non-discriminating conservative audiences eat that stuff up. So, of course, corporate media is going to lean in the direction of their most loyal, mesmerized conservative viewers, not flaky liberals who are off doing yoga or organic gardening or something.
And so we see that from every angle the "liberal media" is a complete myth. Conservatives have, by far, the loudest megaphone in the media; centrists would come next, while the actual liberal voice is a soft whisper amid the shrill cacophony of the whole. The "lamestream media" is certainly real enough, but it is conservative through and through in its bias, its omissions, its predatory capitalism, its preference of audience, its complicity in the dumbing-down of America and the egging-on of rampant consumerism, and in its dereliction of duty to defend truth and virtue. Once in a while a bit of truth gets through, and that's when conservatives howl. They want the media to retort, contort and distort as much as needed to affirm their worldview. In general the lamestream media delivers exactly that, with Fox News leading the charge. And PBS is an endangered species.
9. THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE SOLUTION; IT'S THE PROBLEM
Carping about the government has a very long tradition, probably dating back to the very first governments in ancient Mesopotamia. "Damn that Sargon!" likely went a complaint from someone complaining about potholes four thousand years ago.
Before the modern democratic state, someone who was wary of the government would typically be someone disenfranchised: the poor or otherwise downtrodden. The rich and powerful generally loved the government; they were the government! For the disenfranchised it was wise to keep your grumblings about the government rather quiet and subdued, especially back in the day when state and church were conjoined. Complainers could not only be thrown into the dungeon or put to death, they could be condemned to hell for eternity.
This all changed with democracy, first in America, then in France and from there all around the world. Suddenly the age-old tradition of the government being a plaything of a tiny group of rich and powerful was completely flipped. A democratic government was (theoretically) controlled by the People!
You can see how this did not set well with government's former owners. They knew they couldn't stand for this development, and so they came up with two strategies. First and foremost, they try to buy it back. Politicians, judges, officials of all stripes are generally quite amenable to this arrangement, selling off to the highest bidder their time, attention and loyalty. So this strategy can pay immediate and significant dividends.
But it's not enough. Try as they might, the rich and powerful can never seem to fully complete their retaking of the government and conquest of the pesky People. And so a second and complimentary strategy is needed. This involves dividing and conquering. If they can persuade a bare majority of voters to go along with them, they can tighten their grip on the reins of power.
There are many ways to divide. Race and religion are two of the all-time classics; and these are certainly put to good use by the oligarchs in their effort to divide the People. Concurrent with the rise of democracy, however, has come a new tactic: purposively promote distrust of the government so as to lessen its legitimacy, as well as its citizens' sense of affection for, investment in and ownership of the government. A disenchanted and apathetic citizenry that doesn't think government works, and doesn't think their vote counts, will tune out and not exercise their power of control of the government, thus opening a much wider opportunity for the oligarchs to grab control with only a small percentage of voters helping them do it.
Conservative Governance, a vicious circle of deceit and ineptness.
This is truly a diabolical tactic, for it intentionally runs the risk of utter calamity for the country. The wisest leaders know that citizens loving and believing in their government is crucial to the strength and well-being of a nation. Professional conservatives are willing to abuse this ancient axiom to gain political and economic control. They rationalize that it is they who will save the nation. Of course, they have no interest whatsoever in a nation for We the People, but rather one of, by and for the economic elite, just like in the good old days before there were democracies.
With the faith of the People in their government wrecked, the oligarchs can do whatever they wish. They can slash taxes for themselves. They can deregulate their giant, predatory businesses. They can write laws and appoint judges who will favor them. They can loot the treasury. They can go blustering around the world, subjugating and exploiting. They can propagate their fundamental philosophy: "Greed is Good." They become what they crave: "Masters of the Universe."
The ruin of the nation is not far away when such a philosophy, bereft as it is of virtue, gains the upper hand. The less the People believe in their government, the weaker their will, the better the oligarchy likes it.
Concurrently, the people who will support the oligarchs in their take-over of the government are those who share some of the anger and bitterness of governmental control over their "freedoms." Again, just as with the oligarchs, it is their "traditional values" that are being threatened by the government, their "freedom" to perpetuate ancient hierarchies, institutions and customs, which include their "freedom" to dominate, subjugate and exploit others. This is why social conservatives so readily buy into the "government is the problem," ideology. They see a government spreading and enabling equality, liberty, justice for all, and pursuit of happiness... or, in other words, a government trying to live up to its own ideals... they see precepts of science and modernity and multiculturalism being applied to the art of governance... and they don't like it one bit. Why? Because all of this chips away at the advantages and privileges they and their clan (i.e. their race, religion, sex, socio-economic status) have enjoyed for generations. The actual, perceived or potential loss of this preferred status infuriates them. Thus they become ripe henchmen for the oligarchs' siren call of "government... bad!" Many end up joining the zombie army of the CorpCons, aiding and abetting the theft of government from We the People.
Of course, the concept that "the government is the problem" is not just a myth; it's an utter lie.
Even the most cursory glance at American history reveals this idea to be nothing more than political devilry. We the People of the United States, organized in our shared objectives in the form of the federal government, have soared to achievements that have stunned the world since the inception of the nation. From the Continental Army to Seal Team Six, the American military has done an heroic job of keeping America safe. From Lewis and Clark to Neill Armstrong, American explorers have set the bar for courage, fortitude and character in opening up new worlds of wonder. Federally-funded American scholars, scientists and researchers have blazed the pathway in every facet of modern science. America's national parks are the envy of the world. Our dams and bridges and highway system (now fallen into disrepair due to "supply-side" neglect) were once the crowning achievement of human engineering. Much the same could be said for our public educational system and universities. The American post office showed the world how to create a modern mail system. When calamity strikes anywhere around the world, victims look to the United States government to rush in to help. That holds true for domestic natural disasters when some of those crying the loudest for assistance are those who formerly bad-mouthed the government.
Oh yes, and that internet thingy you are using right now? Invented by the U.S. government.
Most everyone (except libertarians) can agree that these examples show the American government at its finest. Yet even more important than these instances of proficiency are those times when only the federal government stands between some component of American culture and the corruption of our true ideals. In these cases, not everyone likes what the government is mandated to do, particularly those who are asked... or forced... to back down.
Equality. Liberty. Justice for All. Pursuit of Happiness. That's what it's all about. There are those out there who would love to thwart these ideals for other Americans. Only the federal government stands in the way.
Chauvinists didn't like the 19th Amendment. Racists didn't like the outcome of the Civil War or civil rights legislation. Polluters don't like environmental protections. Religious zealots don't like being told they can't bully everyone around any longer. Homophobes can't stand the thought of granting full citizenship to LGBTQ individuals. Banks don't like being told they can't run the economy like a casino. Insurance companies don't like being told they can't deny or cancel their customers at will. Some people still grouse because there are laws requiring them to use their seat belts and wear a motorcycle helmet.
It's always something. There's no limit to the carping and griping that goes on in America about the government. Sometimes the griping is warranted, as during the Bush administration's entirely inept preparation for and subsequent management of the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the housing bubble, the bank bailouts, well, actually everything Bush tried to do).
Still, it's a long way from recognizing that a particular governing entity (i.e. the Republicans) are very bad at governing, and the maxim that "government is the problem."
American history shows that the federal government actually works pretty well, and more virtuously, under liberal control. Under conservative rule? Well, not so much. Time and again through American history, liberals have had to come in and clean up the mess of conservatives. Conservatives, both CorpCon and SoCon, resent this... and so they tend to denigrate liberal triumphs of the American spirit. Soon enough, they've "conned" enough people into agreeing that government is bad, and that the conservatives should be returned to power. Whereupon they get right back to causing another mess.
So that old saw about the government not being the solution, it's the problem... the only truth to that is when you insert into both parts of the phrase the word "conservative."
10. WE'RE NO. 1! USA! USA! USA!
But not where it counts... in quality of life. Despite what many Americans believe, the good old USA is an also-ran when it comes to the most virtuous and livable countries. Check it out:
In overall quality of life, we're No. 31. Hey, wave those pom-poms! We're like the Baskin-Robbins of nations! Totally chillin!
In overall economic competitiveness we're No. 7, behind six European nations. Imagine that, the champion of capitalism bowing down to those bastions of socialism when it comes to economic strength!
Overall health? No. 39. Boom! Take that Cyprus and Costa Rica! Serbia, we'll take you down next year. Maybe.
Overall education? No. 22. Hey, Slovenia, don't look behind you... we're on your tail.
Wealth per capita? No. 20. What? No style points for level of greed?
Democratic rights and liberties? No. 15. Even with a head-start we're running with the nags.
Women in political offices? No. 97. Behind Venezuela, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Peace (security from crime, repression, and/or armed conflict)? No. 81. Well, it's hard to be No. 1 in the manufacture, use and sale of weaponry and do well in this category. Hey, priorities are priorities.
Global Peacefulness Index? No. 101. Stand back, Angola, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan!
Environmental Quality? No. 52. And that's with the EPA. Imagine how much worse we could do without it, as conservatives propose!
Now mind you, the USA used to be No. 1 in many of these categories (no, never in peacefulness). That's what people remember from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. That's when the "We're No. 1" chant began. It all began to go to hell when Mr. Reagan's "trickle-down" scheme kicked in. That was when America turned its back on quality and gave the CorpCons a green light to concentrate on quantity... for themselves... and the situation has only worsened over the past 30 years.
Now the CorpCons, who have gained so much by running America into the ditch, will put the word out to their minions, the social conservatives, to whine and kvetch that this is all a hoax, just some liberal conspiracy to "blame America first." In so doing, they reveal exactly how they are a big part of the problem. The party of personal responsibility doesn't want to take responsibility for how much they have screwed up this country. They'd rather put their heads in the sand, and let the United States continue its downward spiral. The CorpCons just want to continue the gravy train, and SoCons will continue to spout their empty patriotism while not lifting a finger to get America back on track again. After all, that would entail figuring out who the real culprits are who are wrecking this country, and the finger would point directly at conservative ideology.
Meanwhile, liberals can well believe these statistics - we see it clearly all around - and are aghast. This is not what America is supposed to be all about. Fifteenth in democracy? For crying out loud. George Washington is rolling in his grave. Fifty-second in environmental quality? So much for America "the Beautiful." Thirty-ninth in health care? How sicko is that? Just a nudge above Angola in peace quotient? Hey "Christian Nation," when are you going to start walking the talk?
Those who refuse to acknowledge this critical malady of conscience and purpose in this country are doomed to continue or worsen it. Anyone who really loves America is shocked and dismayed by this crap and shouldn't be willing to stand for it. To reverse this 30-year legacy of shame, we must reverse course and start prioritizing real American values, and delegitimize the false values of the CorpCons who will just move to Monaco or Switzerland when they have completely trashed the United States of America.
OK. We have our definitions and synonyms handy, as well as a comparison chart of the ways conservative and liberal ideologies differ and manifest. We've also examined some of the primary myths that conservatives base their worldview upon. So now let's go meet those crazy conservatives, shall we?