Remember the Contract with America? The brainchild of Newt Gingrich after Bill Clinton was elected. That GOP promise to cut taxes and limit the return of incumbents by promising voters they would enforce voluntary term limits? It was the 1994 game plan conservatives thought would finally give them the mandate to gut social programs in the name of their pogrom on big government.
It was on a wave of anti-Clinton animosity the GOP invented from rumors and innuendo that conservative ideologues including John Birch members and Federalist lawyers like Ann Coulter, thought they would once and for all sabotage the liberal elite and torpedo the liberal biased media. Rush Limbaugh was just starting to spew his vocal vomit and a new breed of pundit; female, blond and vicious was introduced. Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham were suddenly media darlings or whores, depending upon your personal dogma, and Bill Kristol was just finding his voice.
These were the days post-Anita Hill, and conservatives were still stung by the well-deserved backlash Democrats had served them for knowingly nominating, and forcing through, a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court who had a penchant for Playboy and maybe pubic hairs in soda cans. Though Clarence Thomas made it to the Supreme Court, the public outcry as the story unfolded uncovered the blatant hypocrisy of the ideological warriors of the right.
And here we are again, hearing the same rhetoric from the right. Our President hates America. The President is weak and his policies are "ruining" America. Liberals are evil, immoral, same-sex loving, family-hating, business bashing socialists. Talk about déjà vu! Even Mitt Romney has the talking points and zingers memorized.
But how did we get here? And why do we keep ending up with the same lame blame game?
I think the answer goes back to a TV show I happened upon in 2000. I was flipping channels, looking for anything to distract me and happened upon a show on how to organize to elect judges and sheriffs. The show was very detailed. The messages included: Judges are important as they will be interpreting the law and sheriffs enforcing it. The show went on to explain that school boards and local councils were also essential. That in order to ensure that schools taught the right message, voters needed to organize and ensure they were represented. And when this show said "right," they meant "Right."
You see this show was on a Christian Network, preaching to the faithful on how to guarantee the next decade would reflect their "right" Christian values. For the next ten years I watched as slowly school boards removed sex education and tried to put prayer and "intelligent" design into curriculums. State legislatures defunded reproductive health clinics and courts upheld the obvious back-door attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade. The war on drugs became a WAR on drugs and our prisons overflowed as conservatives fought to privatize our correction institutions while they socialized corporate losses.
Overall, Democrats seemed unable, or unwilling, to challenge the GOP on the big issues. They just stood by while conservatives put lipstick on that pig and called it a silk purse. How is it that the country that was founded by community organizers was suddenly arresting protestors and allowing them to be bullied and intimidated? Did we really value business more than education? And is that why no one seems to understand that energy independence based upon reliance to fossil fuels is an oxymoron of epic proportions? Or that funding corporate subsidies and calling money speech are both a perversion of everything our Founding Fathers fought for?
It seems to me the defunding of education was key to everything else the GOP wanted to accomplish. You can't have an electorate who understands economics and public policy and convince them to vote against their own best interest. It is hard to convince a savvy voter that defunding education to build prisons is the best use of our tax dollars. Or that funding war is important, but funding health & human services is not. In order to do that, you have to murder the education system and hijack all avenues of intellectualism by making it seem as if intellectuals are "bad."
So that is what they did. The GOP put forth a doctrine that was, and is still today, a contract on America, the goal of which is the privatization of our public education, health & welfare system. Most of us weren't just "blinded by the right," as David Brock titled his book on the subject; we were totally blind-sided by the all-encompassing strategy that has insinuated conservative dogma into every aspect of our lives.