Interestingly, when I asked Robinson why he refers to the giving of our tax revenue to private corporations as "socialism," he had a momentary lapse of into reason when he responded "You're right. It's fascism!" He went on to expand on this for several minutes to the several hundred people present. Of course, he went back to the script for the rest of his well-funded "town hall" series.
As a member of DFA, I was forced to ask the question "Does Democracy for America support Democracy in America?" The strategy of the Democratic leadership seemed to be working, as some of the brightest and most energetic progressives got behind this phony "reform" effort, accepting the self-fulfilling prophecy that "It's the best that we can get."
Peter DeFazio was one who argued that it was implausible to extend Medicare to everyone because it was economically troubled. He neglected to mention that it was his fellow Oregonian Senator Ron Wyden who created the mess that he and DeFazio declined to address in a responsible manner, along with the Democratic Party as a whole.
The task of explaining why America must adopt a single payer system like every other industrialized nation with universal health care is difficult. The principle reason is that the interests of the corporate media coincide with those dishonest politicians who either leave out the downside of their “accomplishments” or lie outright. When honest politicians are fooled by their Party leadership into working for cynical political goals that are bankrupting the country, the problem is truly concerning.
The wealthy prospered by trading on the false hope that housing prices would always go up. Managers of pension funds felt obligated to invest in the derivatives market, putting the retirement funds of millions into a Goldmann Sachs-built casino that was rigged by the financial house. Working people were largely fooled until they fell into the ranks of the unemployed and often homeless during the ongoing financial crisis that began in late 2008 when the first Wall Street bailout took place. In their anger, they blame whoever the corporate media tells them to. In their minds, they have met the enemy and it is us.
When the target proves too elusive, arrangements are made to demonize leaders in countries that won’t submit to the Empire. This is the first step to wars planned years before, as the Iraq fiasco has been proven to have been. War is no longer the failure of diplomacy. It is the success of international corporate terrorists in marketing war as a means to fight whatever enemies they convince us threaten our common interests. In reality, the only interest threatened in modern times is corporate profit.
This is only one of the myths that suspend the Empire, of course. Our task is to show the Peoples of the world that increasingly, the Empire has no clothes. As the People of the United States become more aware of their complicity in fostering terrorism as an excuse for endless war, they will demand that the effort to impose a fascist New World Order be brought to an end.
Citizens of the US who understand that life is not a zero-sum game must reach out to them as fellow Americans and show others how it is possible to Take Back America for the People. Only by breaking down the artificial barriers between one People from whom their government derives all of its just powers can democracy succeed and the threat of eternal war averted.
Our message should be that both Parties have sold out to the corporate interests who own them, putting their interests over those of us who actually elect them. Both progressives and the rank and file Tea party supporters reject top-down authority over their lives. We must use this to unify our efforts.
Only through such a unified effort can we hope to challenge the corporatocracy that has seized control of the American government. There are many more of us than there are corporate war profiteers. If we unite to fight for our common interests, we can change the politics of division that have paralyzed Congress and imperil the survival of the United States itself the sovereign of its citizens.
Corporatists dangle this dream in front of a citizenry raised to believe that democracy automatically guarantees the right to advance ones station in life but who often don’t realize how far from democracy our government has strayed. Those who do and accept it as a fact of life do not understand the nature of a true democracy. It is our job to teach them that an egalitarian society does not have to be socialist. Conversely, if a “socialist” society is egalitarian, it cannot be the type of authoritarian communist society most Americans imagine when they hear the term.
Thus do the interests of those who believe that supporting small business is the key to a healthy economy converge with those who believe the key is to assure that workers have a living wage. We need to work together to advance both causes and build a locally based, environmentally sustainable economy that will deliver us from the consequences of globalization.
The idea of limiting government's role may seem frightening to progressives worried about the power of individuals to oppress the less powerful. However, if we succeed in building such a society it will be seen as in the interests of all to provide such protection without excessive government intrusion on our personal lives or our businesses.
To return to my original example of corruption of government by corporate money, I have to ask why Wyden felt the act that created Medicare Part D was "the best we can do." All I know is that it was heavily pushed by AARP, the "advocacy" group for seniors who along with unions put Wyden into Congress 30 years earlier. AARP in fact exists primarily to sell health insurance supplements to the very seniors they claim to represent. Since they don't actually offer coverage but only serve as a middleman adding cost without value to these plans, their motives are suspect at best, as are those of Senator Wyden.
The result is that Democratic power decreased as a result of their sacrifice of their own stated principles. The damage to Democrats was almost indiscriminate in that some of the most effective progressive voices were removed from office along with some who deserved to be handed walking papers.
I would argue that their fall is a direct result of party leadership believing that they could fool all of their base all of the time in pretending to champion progressive causes while catering to the same corporations that had bought their Republican counterparts. The medical insurance reform bill was neither the first nor the last of these betrayals.
As none of these things seem likely in the short run, the solution for now may be to push for reform within the major parties at the local and state levels by nominating and supporting members who will take the pledge to amend. If the choice is between a corporate Democrat or Republican who refuses to take the pledge, voting for a third Party candidate who agrees to do so will take on a new appeal.
Anything less than a grassroots revolt within the major parties will be unlikely to lead to reform of a party whose candidates are dependent less on the will of its members than on corporate money to win elections. The only other way it could occur is if Democratic leadership were to realize that the number of their supporters who stayed home in 2010 will only increase if they continue betraying the stated core values of the party. Only time will tell which occurs, but it is clear that we cannot allow the present corporate control of government to continue and we must challenge both parties if we are to Take Back America for the People.
An arrangement such as this is more typical of fascist governments than democratic ones. The difference is that instead of being ruled by a dictator, we have allowed this to happen ourselves. We came dangerously close to this form of government when Congress ceded its war powers to a President who was all too happy to serve corporate interests over those of the People.
At the same time, a partisan Congress blindly followed the lead of President Bush in attacking the social safety net while lowering taxes for the rich, refusing to challenge his most outrageous ideas for purely partisan reasons. No one in the Bush-Cheney regime has taken responsibility for the resulting crises that our paralyzed Congress refuses to deal with.
Many Americans have been dismayed at how little their hope for change has been rewarded by the Obama administration. The wars have escalated and expanded, Guantanamo remains open, the banksters are back at their old gains with trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to play in the Wall Street casinos, health care reform is proving to be an illusion, the numbers of jobless Americans remains unacceptable and home foreclosures are growing. Meanwhile, the tax breaks for the rich take precedence over the needs of ordinary Americans.
The government continues to abridge civil liberties in the name of fighting what is largely a US-manufactured war on terror while other manufacturing is shipped overseas for the profits of CEOs who stash their corporate earnings in offshore accounts, safe from the government Treasury where it might help shore up the social safety net and begin to reign in a deficit that threatens its solvency. President Obama has done little but pay lip service to the need to address these and many other problems.
While I am not going to apologize for the many failures of the President to show leadership in this onslaught against the American worker and traditional American values, I argue that the focus on the President's failings is a useful distraction from the real problem: The failure of ordinary citizens to carry out the basic duties of being well-educated voters and demanding the change that he warned us we must create for him to have any chance of moving America forward.
The real power of government is vested in Congress by the constitution. It is the Senate that is the chief roadblock to democracy in America. This privileged millionaires club is so deeply in the pockets of corporate interests that even Teddy Roosevelt would have trouble getting any useful legislation out of it. Congress handed over its war powers to George Bush and seems disinterested in taking them back from Obama, who is pressured on all sides by the corporate interests who could just as easily fund the propaganda campaigns of a Republican in 2012 if he were to challenge them. Worse, if he were to challenge certain interests of the military-industrial complex and the international corporate terrorists who profit from war, he might find himself in a situation very similar to JFK in 1963.
Clinging to an outmoded view of economic reality, elderly Americans are desperately attempting to hold on to what they have earned during an era of responsible government while the corporate vultures that they helped seize power systematically tear at the carcass of what once was a thriving American economy. The American system of corporate welfare and crony capitalism is inherently unsustainable and their assets will be lost with the crash of the American economy but they are too busy protesting "socialism" in government and the media to recognize that both serve fascists.
Many seniors were comfortable enough in their retirement due to having had the advantages of spending their working years in more secure economic circumstances that they were aroused only when the global economic meltdown touched them directly. The majority of these retirees do not realize the profound changes that have occurred in our society that make it difficult for ordinary Americans to succeed despite their best efforts. The wage earner has been hardest hit, but the collapse of the economy is felt by anyone who has to work for a living and increasingly, those who live off the labor of others.
Unions have been demonized since President Reagan took office, even though all advantages in the class war started by the rich and selfish belong to the corporations that are only too eager to increase profits by outsourcing jobs. This not coincidentally has the additional benefit to them of minimizing taxes by placing profits out of the reach of our government.
Unions are not perfect, since anyone given power over others is subject to confusing their interests with those who they represent. It is fortunate that this is not universally true of union leadership. However, there is an unfortunate trend for union leaders to value access to the corporate Democrats over the increasingly ignored needs of the workers themselves. The big lie is that unions are self-interested groups that would destroy their own industries for short term gain, a description far more fitting to CEOs. Unions represent a balancing force between corporate power and the power of the worker. We must advocate for democratizing unions, not work to destroy them.
The backbone of America is the small business owner who finds it increasingly difficult to compete against corporate behemoths who can afford to buy the Senators who tilt the playing field to their advantage in return. As a result, small business owners suffer and the average worker grows poorer as the wealthy accumulate an ever larger piece of the American pie.
The Democratic medical insurance “reform” bill only makes matters worse by mandating increased for-profit insurance to truly ill patients who were previously denied it, often even when insured. This new mandate is of course paid for by you and me. The rich are crying about paying for health care for others and are backed by many middle class voters who don’t understand the economics of the issues.
These well-functioning systems would not have been created in many of these countries if the only benefit was to provide care to all of their citizens at increased cost to the taxpayers. To the people of these countries, for-profit health care is another form of corporate welfare in which the well-connected profit while the rest of us receive only empty promises.
Given the likelihood that Obama will retain the presidency, his lack of progress in fostering a more transparent government is extremely concerning. The danger of this failure is most apparent when he insists on carrying the Bush policies on the “war” on terror forward without major revisions.
What America needs to restore democracy, end wars of choice and recover economically from the devastation of predatory capitalism is honesty from politicians and the willingness of partisan voters to accept the hard truth that leaders of both major parties have failed to work in their interests. We cannot continue to accept as inevitable that we almost always have to choose between the lesser of two evils presented by the corporate parties.
It is time that the Democratic Party lived up to its stated ideals and supported candidates willing to challenge corporate interests. The Republican Party must live up to the true ideals of conservatism by rejecting the neoconservative redefinition of what it means to be conservative. If party leaders do not understand this message we have little to lose by voting for third party candidates, if only to force both parties to understand that we will not support either of them blindly as they continue to betray the American people.
People like Lincoln are the reason Democrats did not produce any real change in the 2010 Congress, yet Obama stumped for her and Clinton chastised unions that dared support her primary opponent over their handpicked choice. In explicitly favoring Lincoln over Bill Halter in the 2010 primary the Democratic Party leadership has proven that it is more interested in power itself than in using it to heal America. No Party has the right to dictate who its members should vote for in a primary.
It is understandable for candidates to seek endorsements from within a Party but when two Presidents appear to help save a failing campaign of a Senator who worked to abolish the estate tax, something is seriously wrong. Undermining the estate tax ignores Jefferson's warning that a “confiscatory” estate tax is necessary to prevent the rise of an economic aristocracy. That aristocracy already exists and is waging a winning battle in the class war that it denies claims it deplores.
As noted above, Democrats also made the difference in the passage of Medicare Part D, banking deregulation and the unprecedented series of bailouts of private corporations. This was argued to be necessary but it is little noted the crash resulted from unleashing the greed of the bankers by the repeal of Glass-Steagall approved by Clinton and a bipartisan majority in Congress. The consequences were magnified by failing to regulate the derivative market even after the creator of derivatives warned the government that they must be regulated to avoid the very abuses that have now devastated the American and world economies.
This repeal of Glass-Steagall broke down the wall between banks and investment houses, allowing them to use increasingly worthless mortgages as collateral to bet 30 dollars in the Wall Street casino for every dollar of value they claimed to hold. The investments were said to be backed up by AIG with what amounted to default insurance that proved woefully inadequate to cover the losses in the housing market collapse.
The shock waves of the collapse of this massive Ponzi scheme are still resonating throughout the economy. The failure to regulate derivatives gave Goldman-Sachs and Citicorp the means to destroy competitors and consolidate their market position at tremendous cost to the taxpayers of American who footed the bill in the banking bailouts. The list of the failures of Congress goes on ad nauseum. In the process, Goldmann Sachs and Citicorp made record profits and distributed record bonuses to the engineers of this economic destruction.
This trend is of the Democratic Party to devolve into the evil twin of the Republicans is reinforced by so-called progressives prominent in the blogosphere. They are in reality Party hacks like Markos Moulitsas, who earns his access to Democratic Party leaders by ridiculing Democrats like Dennis Kucinich when they speak up for the People in opposition to the Party line as formulated by the Democratic "Leadership" Committee.
The politics of the possible has become what corporations dictate is possible thanks to the brainwashing of too many people by those who speak for the echo chamber of the Left and think only within the two-Party box. Until enough Democratic voters recognize this harsh reality and either fight for reform within the party or join independents in building a third Party movement, the task of reforming our government would likely remain insurmountable if there were not a single that has the potential to not only unite the Left but the Left and Right. That issue is the abolition of corporate personhood
Most people think that it is too hard to amend the constitution. With with all the other problems we are organizing to fight and no help from the corporate media, they argue that the will and spare energy to build a movement sufficient to achieve this goal is not there. What the naysayers miss is that this is not simply another issue to be fought over but the single issue that is central to ending the influence of corporate money in elections.
As importantly, the abolition of corporate personhood is an issue that will determine the outcome of elections even before it passes. By making support for such and amendment a litmus test in all congressional races, we would have the tool we need to remove the corporate Puppets in Congress when they run for re-election against candidates who have taken the pledge to amend. Within two to three election cycles it would be possible to pass the amendment in Congress, by which time state legislators will surely see the writing on the wall and ratify the amendment at the state level.
Extremists on the Left are as divisive as extremists on the Right. We must find a way to get past mutual animosity and begin to work together for the good of all. Thinking in absolute terms of black and white is inherently destructive to any effort to build a democratic movement. We must begin with open minds to engage in productive discussion with our self-chosen enemies about how to unite and demand a government that puts the interests of the People over those of corporations. Only if we put ideology and ego aside can we find the common ground on which to take a stand against the corporate plutocracy that our government has come to serve to the virtual exclusion of the rights and needs of the American people.
The media openly conspire with the power elite to unquestioningly use the Libertarian language that corporate politicians choose to justify their betrayal of the average American. They have spun a carefully constructed web of lies that has caused the average unsuspecting American to betray our tradition of socially responsible government answerable to the needs of all the People.
If self-described conservatives and liberals want to follow the ideas of our Founders, they cannot pick and choose what quotes they like and interpret then in a way that fits their prejudices. The same is true of increasingly political Christian and other fundamentalists who choose passages from their holy texts to justify antisocial, anti-human acts against individuals and society as a whole. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, but our freedom do not belong to the government and can only be taken away if we persist in fighting each other rather than the corporatocracy our government now seems to exist to serve.
By our example we can teach others to talk to each other. Eventually, I hope to see a consensus reality merge that is held even by those who have been brainwashed into accepting the Orwellian redefinitions of commonly understood terms. Until we help these angry, deluded souls to come out of their hypnotic state, they will continue to forget that we are all Americans who share many common values.
Most of us understand that government is necessary to restrain those who would strip from us our rights and our liberty. We must come to a common understanding of what the proper role of government is in guaranteeing these rights if the nation is to get through this time of crisis and show by its example that freedom is possible only in a democracy. Only then will we have regained the moral authority to join the effort to lead the world to a rational, sustainable and just future where the threat of war is but a distant memory.
Progressive conservatives and liberals will begin to make progress in using government to serve the interests of the People only when they talk to each other. We can end the corporate dominance of the American government if we join in a new abolition movement, one that will end our economic enslavement by abolishing corporate personhood.
Fortunately, Americans showed when they elected Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama that they prefer to hear a pleasant view of an imaginary America. We must talk to each other to develop a shared vision of what that America can and should be. If we calmly discuss with each other about the America we can create by working together, we can become the shining city on the hill that Reagan saw before starting the process of giving away our government to corporate interests.
I see the job of the Soldier For Peace as being to promote social justice and the highest ideals of the Founders of the American experiment in democracy. In an army, we depend on each other for our survival. When everyone is a Soldier For Peace, we cannot lose because the battle will be over and all will have won.
Most of these essays were first published on the Democracy for America website and some have appeared on the Progressive Democrats of America website and elsewhere.
I release all rights to reproduction of all or part of this work, except if any renumeration is asked for said reproductions.
The essays in this book have been edited from the original postings for clarity and in some instances to reflect events subsequent to the original posting that make the significance of certain points clearer.
Dates of publication listed in the body of the essays are the dates they were published on the DFA blog or on the date they were first posted in this book. They were posted here in reverse order (often much later) to follow a standard book format.
I welcome constructive criticism from readers, and especially correction of any factual errors, particularly in the attribution of the writers of songs whose lyrics are found in these pages.