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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/19/12

Occupy the Tea Party

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This blog refers to politics in my home state of Oregon, but the lesson is one that all Americans should learn. Only the Tea Party can save the Republic. It is time that we reached out to them to work together to end fascism in the United States. 

The corporate media and the politicians who depend on it to get their message out would have us believe that Americans are sharply divided about the issues that are causing gridlock in the US Congress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Roughly 70% of citizens want out of Afghanistan, nearly everyone wants the debt limit raised when necessary, most Americans agree in principle that we should work to achieve universal health care in some form and a large majority wants no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.  The difference between what Americans want and need and what the corporate-driven Congress will give us is appropriately referred to as the "democracy gap."

What was quickly forgotten by the corporate media and largely by the "alternative" media is the fact that nearly 80% of both self-identified liberals and conservatives are opposed to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. Recognizing that giving corporations carte blanche to buy the politicians of their choice to serve their interests in Congress is a dagger aimed at the heart of democracy, Americans across the political spectrum were momentarily united in the common cause of defending the possibility of true representative democracy. Unfortunately, the point was lost to most as the story was quickly buried in the 24 hour infotainment cycle.

The significance of the Citizens United case is not just that it is an outrageous step closer to fascist control of the US government but lies in the possibility of using the nearly universal anger toward it to build a bridge across the artificial divide between those who regard themselves as liberals or conservatives, Democrats, Republicans or independents. We the People now have an historic opportunity to create a truly democratic Republic in which the interests of the citizens of the US take precedence over those of the corporate Puppetmasters of Congress. All we need to do is to heed the lessons of 1775 and come together to fight for liberty and justice for all.

There is a growing movement to abolish corporate personhood and overturn the Supreme Court in Citizens United by working together to get a constitutional amendment introduced and passed in Congress. Members of Congress have in the last year taken an important first step in introducing a variety of amendments that would give states the power to regulate corporate money in elections. While still falling short of the goal of eliminating all "rights" granted corporations by an Imperial Supreme Court, the effort by members of Congress to pass a constitutional amendment has the potential to lead to the end of corporate control of the US government. If enough in Congress are willing to step up and support the idea of an amendment, the issue will finally get the attention it deserves in the so-called "alternative" media.

Imagine if a sitting member of Congress would introduce an amendment that would not only abolish corporate personhood but one that would ban all campaign expenditures by corporations, including unions. This would shine a spotlight on the issue of where unknown Tea Party candidates get their campaign funding.  In 2010, crackpot scientist Art Robinson came from nowhere to raise $1.3 million dollars in his challenge to Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio. Much of this money appeared as soon as he announced his run. That's pretty good for an unknown.

Apparently such useful idiots are not unknown to the big money interests who supported him and other ostensible "Tea Party" candidates. As was pointed out by a member of Americans for Prosperity in the district, he cannot be both a Republican and a Tea Party candidate, since the Tea Party represents those to the Right of the Republican Party. Similarly, Sharon Angell challenged Harry Reid and almost beat him, Rand Paul was actually elected in Kentucky and other candidates who were marginal at best were elected with sophisticated and very expensive corporate-funded propaganda campaigns.

In 2008 DeFazio won with 82% of the vote.
  In 2010 he won with less than 54%. Despite his liberal voting record, he has historically been supported by conservatives in his purple district because of his staunch support of veterans and his principled stands with Republicans when the Democratic leadership is on the wrong side of issues such as the first bankster bailout. In 2010, amid wild charges of socialism by the Robinson camp, his re-election was seriously challenged for the first time in years. The corporate money behind Robinson financed a very successful propaganda campaign that convinced many self-described conservatives to place a false ideological principle ahead of their own interests and that of the people of Oregon.

Interestingly, when I asked Robinson in Roseburg at one of his mock "debates" why he referred to a government that funneled taxpayer money to corporations "socialism," he had a momentary lapse into reason. He shouted "You're right! It's fascism!" Then he expounded on the point for a full five minutes while I listened in amazement. Of course, by the time he got to the real debate in Coos Bay he had returned to the script written for him by his corporate Puppetmasters. If even Art Robinson recognizes that allowing corporations to buy Congress and dictate legislation and policy amounts to fascism, why don't more Democrats capitalize on the fact when running for Congress? Neither Defazio nor Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) take dirty money. Making their support of a constitutional amendment to get special interest money out of elections would not only be principled but would tap into the truly independent voters who want to see something done about our system of corporate welfare.

Some time ago I wrote an editorial in which I argued that the key to saving the Republic is to get Tea Party supporters to join the effort to challenge corporate control of Congress through a constitutional amendment. Many of my friends scoffed at the idea. What they seem to have forgotten is that these people are more highly educated than the general public. They are not stupid, just misinformed and thus unable to see that the solution to our woes is not fighting the imaginary specter of "socialism" but in fighting creeping fascism. It is our job to educate them of this fact. They value democracy as much as the rest of us do. I spoke to Jeff Kropf, former state director of Americans for Prosperity about this. He was intrigued by the idea of working together to restore our democratic Republic through the process of constitutional amendment. He also confirmed my impression that although the Koch brothers initially provided funding for Tea Party events, the state organization is now self-funded.

Tea Party supporters are actually ahead of the political curve in one respect: They have rejected both Republican and Democratic politics as usual and are seeking to create the change America must see to save itself from economic, social and moral destruction. While I remain convinced that they are going about it in entirely the wrong way, they will be key allies in the fight to end corporate rule in America once they understand what Robinson in a rare moment of honesty admitted: Fascism is the enemy, not our fellow Americans. Partisan Democrats can take a lesson from the Tea Party. If they learn to put America before the Democratic Party, they can join in common cause with the Tea Party to rid Congress of the corporate tools who are destroying the American experiment in democracy.

This article originally appeared on the blog of Soldiers For Peace International under the title Across the Great Divide.
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Rick Staggenborg, MD Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and regulate campaign finance. A constitutional amendment banning (more...)

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