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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 12/18/09

Healthcare: First They Came for the Banksters

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With apologies to Pastor Niemoeller:

First they came for the banksters, and showered them with money and put them in the Administration in a way that was not change we could believe in.

Then they came for the military industrial complex, and sent more and more of our children to die in faraway lands that had never attacked us in a way that was not change we could believe in.

And now they've sold out our hope for a national health care system not run by millionaire gangsters in suits. And who is left to speak for us?

President Obama is playing the Bill Clinton game of throwing people a bone and telling them it's steak. Perhaps he's doing it because he thinks it's his only choice; perhaps it's because he's surrounded himself with Bill Clinton advisors (and Hillary as Secretary of State); whatever the reason, while it worked for Clinton, it won't work for Obama.

It worked for Reagan, and for the first Bush, and even worked somewhat for George W. Bush.

But it won't work anymore. Here's why.

From 1929 until the 1980s, most Americans were "high information voters." They were paying attention to politics. The Republican Great Depression of 1929-1938, World War II, the Korean War, Kennedy's election, and the War in Vietnam were all Big Events that caused Americans to pay attention. Americans of that era needed to know what was up in Washington, DC, because they felt the consequences directly.

This is why in November of 1954, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter to his John Bircher brother Edgar, "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

The voters knew. Even as late as 1977, when George W. Bush ran for Congress from Texas on a nearly singular platform of privatizing Social Security, he lost badly. The voters knew.

Then came Reagan. He seemed so nice. He talked friendly. At the very minute - to the second - that he put his hand on the bible to be sworn in, those nasty Iranians let go the hostages they'd been holding (a kidnapping that had so humiliated the Carter administration that Carter lost the election).

America was once again a "shining city on the hill" and even though there were a few small invasions, Panama and Grenada and all, and a small recession, and a few S&L bank failures, mostly people lost interest in politics. TV was going big, home entertainment was huge, blockbuster movies were coming onto the big screen, and America was prosperous. Americans partied on cheap debt. We went to sleep. It was the beginning of the era of the "low information voter."

During the 1980s, the right wing was working hard. Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and most of the media Americans consumed was consolidated in the hands of about a dozen very conservative-leaning corporations. Top tax rates were cut from over 70 percent to around 30 percent, so salaries at the top exploded, including those of the stars on TV...including the "news" stars.

The newly-rich TV news people began to hang out with the becoming-fabulously-rich business people, never again criticizing them because they now worked and played together and were members of the same clubs and their kids went to the same best schools. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous became our new religion, "greed is good" our new mantra.

Conservatives began a war on textbooks, stripping from them references to the labor movement, so that anybody who went to middle school or high school during or after the mid-1980s can't today tell you why phrases like "Pullman Porter" or "Haymarket Square" or "Great Flint Sit Down" have any meaning.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)
 

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