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Fighting for the American way of life: Can freedom survive when democracy fails?

By Jack Hughes  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
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While not used very often to describe the Iraq war, in previous conflicts our soldiers were said to be fighting for the "American way of life. " That signature "way of life " included all the principles of a liberal democracy: political equality, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of -- and from -- religion, redress of grievances through the democratic process of voting in free and fair elections, and the essential American "up-by-your-own-bootstraps " upward economic mobility rewarding hard work and ability.

Sadly, today 's "American way of life" ain 't what it used to be. The traditional "American way of life" has been mugged -- subverted by a radical cabal who are ideologically opposed to the hallmarks of the "American way of life " known to virtually every American alive today.

Instead, the right-wing ideologues that have seized control of our government are in pursuit of their own utopian fantasy of a government-less society, where the free market provides the answers to all societal needs.

Not coincidentally, this ideology just happens to relieve the wealthiest sectors of our society of the tax liabilities that have traditionally subsidized the services that eased the burden on the less affluent classes, i.e., for infrastructure, education, health care and so on.

Since the New Deal, it was virtually universally agreed that ensuring the general welfare for the poorer classes and providing an economic order that fostered upward economic mobility to reward ability and hard work even benefited the hereditary plutocracy in the long run, since they too share in the benefits of a healthy, prosperous, stable state. No more. Rising-tide-lifts-all-boats egalitarianism is out. Corporate feudalism is in.

Today 's "conservative " economic theory posits a zero-sum game. According to modern conservative economic theorists, the best a government can hope for is that wealth "trickles-down " to the urban peasantry. Active poverty-fighting measures like increasing the minimum wage, subsidized child care, education and job training, and national health care are considered heretical, since they would reduce corporate profits, and theoretically, make the rich less rich by increasing their taxes. The interests of the already-wealthy few shamelessly trump the interests of the many.
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Consider these other radical "conservative " policies that, only 25 years ago, would have rightfully consigned their advocates to kook status:

Privatizing social security
Running-up trillion dollar budget deficits while continuing to cut taxes on corporations and the rich
Encouraging the outsourcing US jobs to cheap overseas labor markets
Eliminating overtime pay
Use of "privatized " vote tallying with unverifiable results
Appointment of federal judges holding radical, revanchist judicial philosophies
Allowing increases in pollution
Direct federal subsidies to churches
That the UN is "irrelevant " if it doesn 't rubber-stamp questionable US policies
Preemptive war based on false pretenses
Torture of alleged terror suspects
Based on the tax, health-care, and employment policies enacted by successive Republican administrations, we 're now seeing declines in the standard of living of middle-class Americans, with greater upward social mobility now being achieved in the European social democracies than in the USA.

And torture, for God 's sake. Torture! As official US policy!

How did we reach this state? It wasn 't by accident. It was the result of a 30-year plan that had been carefully crafted and lavishly funded (totaling up to a billion dollars) after the electoral debacle of the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign. Interestingly, Goldwater himself came to refute many of the radical tenets of the so-called Goldwater Revolution, but the revolutionaries simply branded him as senile and redoubled their efforts.

The sustained efforts of the wealthy right-wing foundations and think tanks have paid off handsomely. These organizations are so lavishly funded that they can even afford to recruit and pay promising young prospects while they are still in college adding them to the "farm team " as they are groomed, painstakingly prepared and handsomely paid for both the honing and delivery of deceptive rhetoric for media appearances. There are no counterparts on the left to these professional sophists. Touting for the rich and powerful can be a lucrative career for those long on ambition but short on ethics. Liberals must rely on "amateurs " motivated only by love of country to defend the interests of ordinary Americans.

In spite of the feudalist right 's hundreds of millions of dollars spent and their legions of brilliantly sociopathic spokesmen, the truth was still a hard obstacle to overcome, and Democrats managed to maintain rough electoral parity until now.

Of course, the press used to be a watchdog for the interests of ordinary Americans. But again, no more. Media consolidation has made the once proud tradition of American journalism into one big timid steno pool for the RNC and the Bush White House. Any doubt of this reality should have been put to rest after the 2004 election when, as in 2000 and 2002, exit polling inexplicably proved incapable of accurately predicting electoral results. The corporate press ' response? Maybe we should just abolish exit polling. Yes, that would be a lot less embarrassing ...

Having decided that the electoral process offered too iffy a return for their investment, the radical right decided that a more direct strategy was necessary. The technology of electronic balloting provided the means and the Republicans most definitely had the motive and opportunity.

Only the most naïve can doubt that right-wing radicals seized the presidency by undemocratic means both in 2000 and 2004. The mid-term elections of 2002 are similarly tainted just look at the "upset " GOP victory over Max Cleland in Georgia. Any further doubt should be erased by the GOP 's threatened use of the "nuclear option " against potential Senate Democrat filibusters of Bush 's judicial nominees -- permanently abolishing the 200-year-old tradition of protecting Senate minorities' rights.

This proves that Republicans do not fear ever being relegated to minority status in the Senate again -- ever. Why should they? They 've proved that they can steal elections with impunity, with no angry mobs in the streets demanding justice or so much as a peep from the mainstream media.

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Fighting for what freedom? Aren't we in bondage to... by Dom Jermano on Tuesday, Aug 16, 2005 at 11:29:35 PM