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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/9/11

I Am Coming Out of the Closet

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Sandy Shanks


This is the confession of a wayward moderate conservative, a man who has lost his way. A man who is no longer represented by the GOP today. The Republican Party today is Draconian, throwing the middle class, the elderly, and the defenseless to the wolves, meaning corporate elites.

But wait. Who abandoned whom? I considered myself a true conservative, an Eisenhower conservative. While supporting conservative principles, Eisenhower did not throw anyone under the bus. Indeed, he sponsored the Interstate Freeway System that changed America forever, helping to create an American economic dynamo and bringing prosperity to every working American. He even warned us of corporatism -- a term Mussolini used to describe his fascist regime -- by informing Americans of the dangers of the Military/Industrial Complex Now this is my kind of conservative. Unfortunately, we do not have Presidents or conservatives like Eisenhower any more, but that is a different story.

Unfortunately, too, the GOP today with its ruthless neo-conservative and tea party agenda bears no resemblance to true conservative principles. Ergo, I did not abandon the GOP. The GOP abandoned me and millions of moderate conservatives just like me.

As a young American voter, a college grad and a teacher, I embraced liberalism in my 20's and 30's. At the age of 26 I volunteered for the Marine Corps and, having attended OCS Quantico, became an officer while still clinging to liberal values. I also developed a sense that our President, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, should be a hard-nosed, decisive kind of guy. The idealistic Jimmy Carter changed my political philosophy for decades. 52 American citizens were held hostage, America was held hostage, for 444 days, and Carter appeared pathetically weak in resolving the crisis. Right or wrong on this particular issue that was what I believed at the time. My sojourn with the GOP began. I voted for Reagan in 1980, voted straight Republican for 20 more years. Yes, to my everlasting regret, I voted for Bush in 2000.

That has now changed. The GOP has left me with no choice. I have grown weary of their heartless policies and, in the case of the Bush administration, illegal policies. How does one embrace illegal activities? Consequently, I later reunited with my liberal friends, albeit with some reservations concerning President Obama.

As intimated, it all began when, to my everlasting horror, the neo-conservative Bush White House launched its illegal invasion of Iraq, a sovereign nation, on March 19, 2003. This invasion violated the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Charter. At the behest of President Bush and implemented by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "enhanced interrogation techniques," a euphemism for torture, was adopted, thus violating the Geneva Conventions. Since all three are signed treaties by the United States, thus the law of the land according to our Constitution, it is readily apparent that the Bush administration violated our laws. Despite the absence of coverage by the MSN this war is about to enter its ninth year with no end in sight.

Still I clung to my conservative values, believing the Bush administration was an aberration. Then came the elections of 2010. The two wars started by Bush, the economic collapse that took place on Bush's watch coupled with health care issues and deficit spending caused American voters to turn against Obama and the Democratic Party. The GOP wiped out the Democratic majority and gained ascendancy in the House of Representatives. The Democrats barely hung on to a majority in the Senate, but the Republicans swept into power in many gubernatorial races and state legislatures with the nebulous, sometimes confusing, tea party at the forefront.

One of those states was Wisconsin. In my case, the proverbial straw that broke the back of the camel is the events in Wisconsin. 

After inheriting a budget surplus of $120 million, in his first month in office, the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, orchestrated a nearly $140 million tax break for out-of-state corporations. After a mere two months in office he then declared a budget shortfall for this year of $136 million. To reduce the suddenly created deficit of his own making, Walker has sought to reduce the budget by stripping public employee unions of many collective bargaining rights. Spurred on by his intimate associates, the Koch brothers, it has been readily apparent this is not about the budget. It is about union busting.

Daniel C. Maguire, a professor at Marquette University, states, "Gov. Scott Walker's project is to impose the neo-liberal (neo-conservative) political economy on a state that pioneered many progressive traditions and reforms."

Allow me to digress for just a moment. Neo-liberalism is not a term used widely in America nor in the American media, perhaps for a good reason, noting the American news media is now owned by huge corporations To Americans, neo-liberalism is a misnomer. "Neo" means new. Liberalism is self-defining. However, in this case, neo-liberalism means a liberal structure for the economy for use by corporations to be free from any government interference or regulation. It is the neo-conservative equivalent of economic policies, whereas neo-conservatism itself deals mostly with foreign policy. Maguire continues, "Neo-liberalism despises government because government is the enforcer of the sharing (e.g. taxes, regulations, monopoly curbing) needed for the common good. Neo-liberals want to shrink government so small that it can be drowned in the bathtub, as right-wing political operative Grover Norquist cleverly put it."

Maguire states, "Neo-liberalism (or neo-conservatism) has been the operating system of the Right since the 1980s, though its roots go back further. It has these four characteristics: Neo-liberalism has been called a philosophy of "possessive individualism.' Historian Richard Hofstadter called it "beneficent cupidity' or the notion that "greed is good,' in more modern parlance. It embodies Social Darwinism -- survival of the fittest -- which sees society, as C.B. MacPherson said, as a mass of competing dissociated individuals.'"

Maguire adds, "Neo-liberalism is anti-union. Though neo-liberals laud competition, they do not want competition coming from workers who are instead reduced to "human capital' that can be discarded as readily as a worn-out machine. You don't do collective bargaining with machines, so why should you with workers? Believers in neo-liberalism talk about "the magic of the market' or what "the market decides' as if it were some supernatural or all-knowing deity, not just a collection of corporations and investors. The goal of the corporations and investors, of course, is profit and growth, not the common good. So, not surprisingly, neo-liberalism, when unleashed, produces economic and social inequality. But its adherents insist that whatever the "market' creates is "good,' regardless of the harm to the planet's environment or the human pain."

Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister in the 1980s, declared, "It is our job to glory in inequality!" She was not kidding. In pre-Thatcher Britain, one person in ten was classed as living below the poverty line. When she finished in 1990, one in four was poor and among children the ratio was one in three.

Reagan-ism achieved a similar result in the United States. Kevin Phillips, a former aide to President Richard Nixon, notes that during the 1980s, wealth gushed to the top. The top 10 percent of Americans increased their average family income by 16 percent; the top five percent by 23 percent; and the ecstatic top one percent reaped a whopping 50 percent increase. As economist Susan George pointed out, the bottom 80 percent all lost, and the lower you were on the scale the more you lost.

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Sandy Shanks Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)
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