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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/27/12

Democrats Battling the War Against Government Conspicuous by Their Absence

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Note: This is a Fabricated Time Cover

What if they gave a war -- and only one army showed up?

Here's my pro-government, Thanksgiving hurrah: federalism dodged another Florida 2000 election fiasco, a looming prospect were Gallup's blunderbuss polls taken seriously. That calamity would have crowned an especially grinding, deception-laden campaign. Yet out of this alleged neck-and-neck tangle radiated a decisive victory and two noteworthy blessings: no violent insurrections erupted (just secession babble) and we affirmed majority rule, with a 50%+ winner. Voters old and young, light and dark, bright and dull, generated by the end of election eve nothing less than what would be a Christmas miracle for our Senate: a clear-cut decision about something important.
Certainly, racist hostility of an extremist type bared its teeth across the multiple-state voter suppression attacks on democracy. Add in torrential reactionary payola and over-the-top House gerrymandering to complete a trifecta of abuse. Gerrymandering alone concocted the current 33-vote GOP House majority, though Democratic winners polled many more votes. What blatant suppression failed to do -- neuter Obama Democrats -- was nonetheless achieved by state-entrenched, district discrimination, awarding excess power to GOP voters based solely on residence. Echoing The Animal Farm, "all voters are equal, but some are more equal than others."
Despite the definitive election message -- Feh! to Romney's nightmarish vision for America -- we search in vain to unearth any lessening of the core propaganda engine driving obstructionism -- the war against government. Note Thomas Frank in a Salon interview: "To talk about government failure should not lead automatically to this Republican dogma that government fails because it is in the nature of government to fail, because government always fails, because government is the problem." This is the true, vast rightwing conspiracy, still operational because defenders of federalism are conspicuous by their absence. Pray tell, where's the PR campaign, say matching Obama's re-election mastery, that elevates our nation's monumental achievement: majority government "of the people, by the people, and for the people"?
Who Speaks FOR Government?
Name one top leader who dedicated one speech to the unimpeachable legitimacy of 50-state federalism, not with "fiscal cliff" band-aids, but as the best, only instrument for national redemption. A unifying movement addressing climate change, done for and by the people, could unify and heal with a genuine national vision. Why not rebuild decrepit infrastructure by resurrecting WPA job programs that we know will work? Why not shame minority extremism by restating this ideal: the greatest good for the greatest number? Unimpeachable New Deal lessons prove the answer to the scourge of capitalistic excess is centralized, coherent action, states partnering with Washington, not calculated, regional acrimony.
The self-fulfilling war on government, after all, surpasses our longest shooting wars, and why not? Belligerents "declared" their own combat zone and pushed unchecked frames of reference. Yes, this proves you can have a fraudulent political war in which only one side shows up banging drums. For three decades, Republicans have managed to stage (like W. did in Iraq) a unilateral, pre-emptive campaign -- and got away with it because passive Democrats closed down, blind to their own party accomplishments conquering the Depression. Prescient H.L. Mencken captured the future, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Of course, we are inundated with fake, deflective wars, overseas against shadowy terrorism or domestically against crime or drugs, even Christmas and "moral laxity." We also experience corrosive wars against science, immigrants, women, minorities, and gays. What would it take to incite a pro-federalism clamor that declares this simple message: corporations aren't people but governments are, and Washington, like it or not, is the only viable counter-force to big challenges and fat cat obstacles? Only federalism can restore both the middle-class and the working classes with retraining, along with activist support for organized labor, effective NGOs like Planned Parenthood, plus hardworking community organizers battling poverty, hunger, and unsafe housing.  
Sure, now and again, many politicians nod to federalism, when funding drones or new invasions, upping scurrilous Patriot Acts budgets or never-ending farm, drilling and energy subsidies. At times Democrats sound alarms over Social Security and Medicare. In fact, the Affordable Health Care (Insurance) Act provides a compelling case for federal oversight, but that demands full-throated education to demonstrate comprehensive health and life benefits, now and the future, not just in dollars but in compassion honoring national welfare.
Heroes Begin a Movement
Aside from the heroic Bernie Sanders, or folks like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, the most vigorous, visible pro-government advocacy I see comes from Ken Burns documentaries (National Parks, Civil War, Dust Bowl), liberal economists like Paul Krugman, and a dozen left of center media platforms and think tanks. Sure, mushy centrists reluctantly accept the role Washington plays during emergencies but, hurricane over, many return to the safe depiction of government as a necessary evil. We need a prestigious, Martin Luther King figure to articulate this case and offset the merciless barrage from buffoons like Limbaugh, Palin, Beck and the FOX gang. By the way, the root of "govern" is not about imperial over-reach, even control or oppression, but "to steer," to set the course -- which sounds to me like leadership, the opposite of gridlock.
Perhaps the phony brouhaha over the "fiscal cliff" sets up an inflection point wherein unifying forces begin to neutralize reams of mindless distortion. Perhaps the discredited Romney marks a low point for "government is bad" nominees, especially if the right is "shell-shocked." Yet, that Speaker Boehner has the gall, and/or cynical scorn, to put the Affordable Care Act on the fiscal table, augurs for more BS. Just as House crazies injured our debt rating last year, tossing tainted red meat to its base, still desperate obstructionists will reach for any straws in the wind.
That Democrats and liberals haven't revived the New Deal while the Great Recession rages on is a tragedy and a blunder. Even political mediocrities can articulate proofs that align the duration of jobless misery with a hypocritical minority that covets federal pump-priming only for wars, tax loopholes, and anti-terrorism. Here's Erik Kain of Mother Jones:
Republicans like to talk about "Big Government' as though it were the root of all evil. But . . . when Republicans actually rule the roost government almost always grows . . . Big Government is just another bogey man, like the deficit, which gets a lot of air time whenever a Democrat is in charge . . . And while Obama and the Democrats often adopt the language of anti-Big Government to please crowds . . . they have no intention of shrinking . . . the size of government.
Could this be why this presidential team won't lead, with open condemnation of bad, overpaid ideologues enriched by the gridlock of dysfunction? Let us simply repeat this truth, already inscribed by the public take on Congressional "spoiled brats," per this CNN poll. When will more courageous leaders, commentators and politicians invoke fully-tested, pro-active New Deal solutions that overcame an even worse employment calamity?   This recession is pushing five years. Is this rocket science or what?


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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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