The GOP is in trouble. Even though the Obama Administration refers to the fact only in passing, and even then not frequently at all, as is well-known to the readers of BuzzFlash, it is the Bush/Cheney policies, unfortunately presaged by Clinton on such matters as free trade (in reality nothing more than the free export of capital), of the last eight years that for the most part have lead our nation into the fix in which it presently finds itself. There were many policies, foreign and domestic, and I do not have to review them here, which have lead to very bad outcomes all around. In fact, it is hard to find one Bush/Cheney policy that has lead to a good outcome.
So what is the GOP to do? Obviously it cannot promote Bush/Cheney policy as the solution to the problems those policies created. Thus certain leaders, from time-to-time, have said “we have to come up with new solutions.” The problem for them is that their ideology doesn’t permit them to do that just because, as again is well-known to BuzzFlash readers, none of the necessary solutions, some of which are being pursued by the Obama Administration, fit at all into the GOP playbook.
OK. So they can’t come up with anything new that is an alternative to Democratic Party policy that might actually solve problems. Then, as is well-known to everyone, they become the Party of NO. On the stimulus package: their solution, tax cuts, didn’t work for the original Bush Recession in 2001-02, so why should they work now? (Bush got the nation out of that one by the classic right-wing stimulus package: military spending.) On global warming and climate change, their solution is again NO. Either there is no global warming and resultant climate change, or there is and let’s do a bunch of things that are known either not to work or make things worse, like “drill, baby, drill.” And then there is health care reform, for which they have offered no alternatives to any of the package of plans that various Democrats have been offering. And so they have been attacking that package with increasing vigor and with an increasing separation from reality, with “just say NO.”
They lie through their teeth, in multiple examples, and not just through their non-Congressional leadership, such as Savagely O’RHannibaugh. The Congressional leadership, to say nothing of the likes of Newt Gingrich, are piling on with the lies. Last week it was, for example, Sen. Grassley, until recently (one hopes) one of Pres. Obama’s favorite Republicans on health care, who was echoing Palin’s looneyness and more importantly the use of the Big Lie Technique (right out of Mein Kampf) on the “death panels.” Of course Savagely O’RHannibaugh eggs on the violent protestors, but the Congressional leadership, such as Boehner and McConnell do it too. And now some of those folks are carrying guns into town hall meetings, or trying to. So what is really going on here?
What is really going on here is that the GOP has given up planning to win elections by contesting on policy. What is really going on here is that the GOP has recognized that its rock-solid far right-wing base, the Palin Faithful and then some, will never amount for more than about 35% of the electorate (which is about the same number as the Nazis got in the last free election in Germany before their takeover). What is really going on here is that the GOP has recognized that the racism, which has carried it to so many election victories since Nixon initiated the Southern Strategy in 1968, is also running out of steam as a way to win national elections. So they have begun to think of other routes back to power.
The word “fascism” has been given many definitions. My short one (and I’ve got a really long one too!) is: “Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of both the legislative and administrative powers of government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent personal rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; the massive and regular use of hate, fear, racial and religious prejudice, the Big Lie technique, mob psychology and mob actions to achieve political and economic ends; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.” Of course one thinks immediately of Bush/Cheney, but that is old news.
Total fascism has never come to a country peacefully. Violent repression of dissent is always at its center. In addition to organized armed force, it always relies on a loosely organized mob of one kind or another to take advantage of crisis situations and set the stage for the armed takeover of the pillars of the state. Thus what is going on now, most likely not consciously organized for that end yet in too many quarters, is the beginning of the setting of the stage and the training of the civilian troops.
Underlain by race, of course, is a total rejection of President Obama’s leadership, a total rejection of the results of the election a little more than six months ago, the encouragement of violence and not just by some lunatic fringe. Lou Dobbs called for the execution, by a “stake through the heart” of former DNC Chair and Governor of Vermont, Dr. Howard Dean. (One notes with irony that Don Imus lost his job at CBS for calling the members of a women’s basketball team “nappy headed ho’s.” Dobbs calls for the murder of a leader of the other side and that is met by a screaming silence at CNN corporate.) And that’s just one example. More far right-wing, proto-fascist atmospherics. Is a fascist revolution being actively plotted now? I doubt it. But as the Southern Poverty Law Center has just reported the right-wing militia movement is growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by racism and hate. There is the armed force for a potential fascist takeover at the right time, and ho would oppose that armed force, should it come to that?
The GOP is of course against health care reform because it would severely hurt the profit-making prospects of the sickness care insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital supply industries. But there are Democrats who hold to that opposition for the same reasons. So that’s not the only reason that the GOP is desperate to prevent reform at least anything meaningful. If Obama manages to get something with a public option and a couple of other critical elements, the GOP’s electoral prospects go into the toilet for a number of elections to come. They know it and people such as Sen. Jim (“Gay Teachers Should be Banned from the Classroom” [yes, he took that position as a candidate]) DeMint and Bill Kristol (who took exactly the same position in opposing the Clinton Health Plan know it). And what does that mean? Why the interests of their major corporate supporters (see my BuzzFlash Commentary “Who Does the GOP Serve?“).
What does that leave? Why some crisis of which they could take advantage (sound familiar?), of course. And they are beginning to prepare for that possibility (and in some quarters may be preparing it as well), even if only subconsciously so far. What better way, then, to prepare their potential civilian troops than the current battle over the very complex and highly personal, emotional issue of health care reform?
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a Columnist for BuzzFlash, Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century (POAC); and a Contributor to The Planetary Movement.
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