Looking at the title of this missive, the careful reader might well say “Pre Mortems? Don’t you mean Post Mortems?” My answer is: “no, I don’t mean post; I do mean pre.” For what went on, on and about Election Day 2009, meant a lot more for what is to come in the upcoming 2010 and then 2012 elections than it did for the particular small number of elections on the day itself. In sum, the country drifted evermore in the direction of fascism, to be accomplished by either by election or coup or a combination of both. But before we look at some of the evidence for that, let me put forth my standard, (relatively) brief definition of fascism:
“The word ‘fascism’ has been given many definitions. My short one (and I’ve got a really long one too, in The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022, originally published in 1996 under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster and available on both Amazon and B&N) 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.”
So let’s see. How about the Big Lie technique, as originally defined by Hitler and Goebbels. It means telling a lie that you know to be a lie, the bigger the better, and then telling it over and over again, in as loud a voice if possible. What Hitler and Goebbels couldn’t have known, because the media in pre-Nazi Germany were not like ours, is that in the modern U.S. if one is an even semi-credible source, or regarded by the media for one reason or another as a semi-credible source, your lie will be given the benefit of being “one side of the argument,” while the truth is the other side, except that the media don’t bother to say which is which and treat both equally, e.g., “death panels.”
Or how about the incitement to a violent takeover of government if you happen not to like the results of the last election. Well the ever-reliable Michele Bachmann (reliable in the sense that she is a very reliable face of what U.S. fascism would look like and is a mistress par excellence of the Big Lie technique) called on the American people to be ready to undertake a violent takeover of the Federal government. Her exact words? “We are armed and dangerous.” She said this in the context of using the famous Thomas Jefferson quote (and misquoting it actually) out-of-context that: “Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.” Jefferson was talking about tyranny, not democratically elected governments of course, by what the hey.
(Bachmann, it should be noted, does not use such Jefferson quotes as: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg;” or “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent;” or “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism [that is dissent from Bush policies, which the likes of Bachmann, such as Coulter and Le-vin, regarded as treason]”.)
Now just when did Bachmann issue her call to violence? Just after the 2009 election, during an official GOP, Capitol Hill steps, press conference on health policy de-form (oops, I mean reform). So that no one need have any doubts that what she said now amounts to official GOP policy, House Minority Leader John Boehner followed Bachmann to the podium. In attacking what has been correctly termed the “For-Profit ‘Health’ Insurance Company Protection and Preservation Act of 2009,” he (and she before him) stood in front of a poster portraying a pile of dead bodies. That poster contextualized the very mild form of health policy reform coming up for a vote in House of Representatives with the first Nazi concentration camp for political prisoners, one that eventually became an extermination camp, built just outside the leafy Bavarian village of Dachau.
Holding a copy of what he told us was the Constitution, Boehner proceeded to quote from the opening lines of what he apparently indeed thought was the Constitution. John Boehner said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” What, did you flunk 8th grade civics, John, on your way to being elected an U.S. Representative? Actually, of course, those words are from neither the opening lines of the document from which they are drawn nor are they from the Constitution (which begins, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union . . . “). They are actually from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.
However, the current generation of GOP leadership doesn’t seem to have much truck with the Constitution. So why quote it or intone it properly? G.W. Bush famously called it a scrap of paper and Cheney invented some “Constitutional” doctrine that he called the “Unitary Executive.” It happens that there are no words that even vaguely hint at such a doctrine anywhere to be found in the document, especially in Article II that describes the nature and power of the Executive Branch. Thus what difference does it make either that Boehner was not quoting from the Constitution or that he didn’t know that he was not quoting from the Constitution, even when holding a copy of it in his hand? Correct or incorrect, he did declaim his declamation very loudly, with utter conviction, and that’s what counts in contemporary Republicanism.
As for the election results themselves, Christie won in New Jersey against a very weak, seemingly disinterested Democratic candidate, in part by making a principal issue that the Corzine campaign attacked him for being overweight (whether Corzine actually did that intentionally or not) and promising to cut taxes while the state faces an $8 billion deficit. The Republican candidate in Virginia won against another very weak Democratic candidate, who worked so hard to distance himself from Obama policies that many Obama voters just sat on their hands. At the same time, the GOPer worked ever so hard to cover up the fact that he is a hard-right Christian Fundamentalist graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. In the Congressional NY-23, a hard-right candidate who doesn’t even live in the district, and seems to be good at not much more than reading Hard Right Republican talking points, drove the “moderate” Republican candidate out of the election altogether (she endorsed the “moderate” Democrat). He still came within percentage points of winning the seat, having attracted the very loud support of the Palin/Limbaugh true GOP leadership (with Boehner, et al hopping on board at the last minute).
This is your modern GOP. They are not a cult Frank (Rich), as you seem, in your November 8 The New York Times column, finally to be realizing. This is it. This is the enemy that Constitutional government in the United States faces. And the current Democratic Party, with a few exceptions such as the courageous Alan Grayson from Florida, just doesn’t get it. Most especially the President doesn’t get it (or just doesn’t want to). You cannot make nice with people of this sort. You cannot expect them to debate civilly (remember “you lie”?) and compromise reasonably (remember “we’re going to make this [health care reform] his [Obama’s] Waterloo”). These people are driving down the political football field against a supremely porous defense. If the Democratic leadership, not just the Alan Graysons of the party, doesn’t wake up soon, the GOP, a minority party or no, since they are a totally unified minority party, is going to pour it all over the rest of us. Just recall, in a free election, the German Nazi Party never got more than 37% of the vote. Oh my. Bad times to come.
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 Senior Columnist for The Greanville POST, http://www.cjournal.info/; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, http://lists.psalience.org/mailman/listinfo/ths; a Contributor to The Planetary Movement; and a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century (POAC); http://www.oldamericancentury.org/index.htm.