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Paula Gordon

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Feint Praise

Posted: 09/24/2012 8:45 am

The Oxford Dictionary defines plutocracy quite simply:

government by the wealthy

Let us now praise ... Willard Romney? Yes. In what he assumed to be private, Mr. Romney actually said something he believed. When Romney spilled the beans about Republican-think, he did voters a real service. The details remain opaque but the attitudes of a Romney-Ryan Administration are now much more clear. Never again need we guess what poisonous ideas run through the veins of America's cynical monied interests and their self-righteous right wing confréres. Justice? Not on their agenda. Fairness? Hidin' out. Liberty? heavens forbid, equality? Forget it.

Tucked away in private, privileged settings, these people cling desperately to their rock-solid belief that they are not only different from the rest of us -- they firmly believe they are superior to the rest of us. This certainty sprouts from degenerate Calvinist roots and our white supremacist heritage.

Self-serving, myopic, wealthy and chimerical individualists have always infected the American political system. They've always tried to keep these propensities under wraps inside clubs-of-privilege and Wall Streeters' digs. In his familiars' presence, Romney's infamous 47% comment seemed to be stating the obvious.

Romney's articulation is his most honest statement of his party's intentions as they strive to keep control of the House of Representatives while lusting after domination of the Senate. He is an eager partner to Senator Mitch ("The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president") McConnell's obstructionism. McConnell's certainly done his part. He's steadfastly subverted our democratic processes by making it impossible for a Senate majority to take actions supporting veterans, women, the economy, the environment and others of America's vital assets.

The one authentic thing about Romney is how iconic he is of the big corporations fronted by the Republican Party. They're practically indistinguishable from the 1930s' monied gang who damned Franklin Delano Roosevelt even while FDR was saving capitalism for the capitalists. (FDR: "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.") It's all too easy to imagine today's extremist Republicans embracing Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. In 1954, 22 stalwart Republican Senators voted against censuring him. Indeed, broadly respected journalist Haynes Johnson's The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism directly connects today's Republicans to yesterday's McCartyites. Romney's choice of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is easy to caricature as the selection of yet another diseased apple falling from the hateful McCarthyite tree, again intent on souring America's apple pie. Connections via the Kochs to the John Birch Society are a special bonus.

It's dangerous to simply dismiss Republicans as just crass or cunning or nuts. Left unchallenged they mutate and grow as Frank Rich reported from his week watching the Republican convention. Anyone over the age of 15 knows that Ayn Rand was writing tendentious fiction, unless they've swilled the plutocratic kool-aid. As the Treasurer of Australia, Wayne Swan, succinctly stated: "Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican Party."

All this is correct. Yet, there is good reason to take heart. The people of the United States have overcome unrelenting and uninterrupted reactionary elements from Day One. Remember, Alexander Hamilton was simply the most recognizable name among the many pushing for a king to lead the aristocracy he represented in a newly minted United States. Hamilton's ultra-Federalist colleagues (saner versions of today's neo-Republicans) failed to codify many of their anti-democratic principles in the Constitution. Fortunately, there was enough push-back then that we have over the decades had the room to grow within the (God-free) Constitution.

Yes, our Constitution says, "We, the People ... ." Yet it's taken two centuries and many, many lives to get from what "People" meant then -- white, propertied, protestant men -- to something approaching Abraham Lincoln's vision of self-government of, by, and for all the people. The neo-Republican response to government by the people is to write-off the 47%, suppress hard-won voting rights and try to turn political power over to big corporations.

So first, we should rejoice at the progress hard won over 224 years and then ... back to work. In this election, we really do have the opportunity to send Romney & Friends back to the privacy of their clubs to share their primitive views ... in private. How? Join others accepting the responsibilities of citizenship. Push back against nationwide Republican voter suppression. Get people registered in spite of whatever obstacles Republicans throw in our paths. Then get out the vote to remove the Republican-sponsored barriers to America's future. Knock on doors, people the phone banks, drive voters to early voting locales and on election day itself. Do these things publicly to serve as both guide and inspiration. It is a certainty that no one will do it for us. As Dr. King told the world from the Birmingham jail:

"Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

When the plutocrats and their minions abuse the average citizen, it is called "oppression." When the oppressed presumed to assert their rights as citizens, the Republicans call it "class warfare." We call it justice ... or, the American way. No feints in that.


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