May 1, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
With very, VERY rare exception (notably in its earliest years and again, briefly, during the progressive-era presidency of Teddy Roosevelt over 100 years ago), the Republican Party has never stood for or represented the best interests of working people or the small businessperson. Rather, it has allied itself time and again with the wealthiest, biggest, and most powerful businesses of the day, such as the banking and railroad industries of the 1870s, to the robber barons of the 1890s, to the reckless Wall Street speculators and laissez-faire capitalists of the 1920s who put us into the disastrous Great Depression, to the huge multinational corporations , and the “free trade” / “free market” advocates of recent years, whose insistence that government safeguards and regulations be lifted on hundreds of businesses helped bring on more reckless speculation which led to our current Great Recession of 2008 .
Along the way, Republicans have also aligned themselves with some of the most extreme, autocratic, and oppressive forces our country has ever produced. These have included the Temperance Movement (which gave us the bar-busting Carrie Nation and the ill-fated Prohibition era), the post-World War I and post-World War II communist witch-hunts (which gave us McCarthyism and blacklists), the Ku Klux Klan, the “Moral Majority” (which gave us the hypocritical Jerry Falwell and the institutionalized persecution of gays), and now the Tea Party (which has yielded legislative stalemate, plus an incredible array of crybabies, crackpots, and outright kooks, including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, to name but a few). Truly, if one is looking for ignorance, excess, or extremism, one need look no further than today’s Tea Party-infested, reactionary Republican Party. For. like a plague of disease-ridden cockroaches, the once-proud Republican Party has been literally swallowed up whole by this malevolent force of backward-looking anti-government crazies. . There is a very real danger that this unhealthy epidemic could engulf our entire government.
This Tea Party was literally born amid distortion, disinformation, and lies. It first became prominent in the summer of 2009, when shadowy far-right, very wealthy, government-hating reactionaries were desperately trying to derail any attempt to reform our very broken health care system. They paid for buses to transport innocent citizens who were first wound up with lies and scare tactics to invade and disrupt selected Democratic congressional town hall meetings nationwide. These people were given signs and talking points and were instructed to argue with and shout down Democratic congresspersons. The very irresponsible Fox “News”, itself the most disingenuous de facto propaganda arm of the now far-right Republican Party, wasted little time in promoting this as a bold new popular movement with broad voter support, which at that time it certainly was NOT. But through incessant lying and constant misreporting, Fox managed to create enough widespread voter fear that this new “movement” suddenly had legs.
In 2010, numerous moderate, mainstream Republicans went down to defeat at the hands of newly-recruited reactionary Tea Party candidates who successfully opposed them in party primaries. They were then elected that fall, casting the already conservative party into a much further rightward shift. Some of these successful candidates, like Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, proved themselves to be utterly lacking in politesse, whereas others, like Kentucky’s Rand Paul, displayed a twisted interpretation of the U.S. Constitution on numerous issues. Virtually all of them committed themselves to pursuing a path of very small government and a policy of obstruction and opposition to compromise of any sort with their political opposition. With this sizable influx of newly elected Tea Party members, Congress ground to a halt and put forth the least productive session in its entire history!
Several successful Tea Party candidates implemented a number of moves they slyly omitted in their election campaigns, knowing full well that had they even brought them up, voters would not have elected them. In Wisconsin, newly-elected Governor Scott Walker slashed corporate taxes, cut state aid to public schools, and then had his Teapublican-controlled state legislature ram through a bill which took away the rights of Wisconsin state employees to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. That he had shattered 50+ years of state precedent or that hundreds of thousands of voters reacted with obvious disapproval to this action mattered little to Walker: he was bound determined to cut taxes and smash state labor unions no matter what.
In nearby Michigan, Teapublican Governor Rick Snyder boldly implemented a most anti-democracy policy to sell off public land to private investors to restore fiscal soundness to financially -troubled cities. Using what he termed “Emergency Managers”, he basically dissolved the duly-elected mayors and city councils of a number of Michigan cities (like Benton Harbor, Flint, Pontiac, and even DETROIT, to name but a few) so that an Emergency Manager appointed by Snyder himself could assume total dictatorial control over running the affairs of each city. So much for freedom and democracy in Tea Party-infested Michigan!
But it is in North Carolina that the most ominous news of all is happening. There, longtime notorious Koch Brothers ally and multimillionaire Republican activist Art Pope has parlayed the millions he has spent to elect Republican candidates into a Cabinet position as Deputy Budget Director. Pope made and maintains his vast inherited wealth by owning and operating a large chain of inherited dollar stores in his state as well as chairing the very well-funded John William Pope Foundation, which was named for his wealthy father. The Institute for Southern Studies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group founded in 1970 by former civil rights activists to promote progressive policies throughout the American south, has begun an investigation of Pope’s often secretive political activities, They have found that he is a frequent invited guest to the Koch Brothers’ ultra-secret political gatherings and that Pope himself, through his foundation, has provided nearly 90% of the operating costs of North Carolina’s major far-right organizations. In fact, it was a shadowy 527 organization Pope co-founded called Real Jobs NC which ran smarmy political attack ads against selected Democratic legislators. For the first time since the Reconstruction days of 1870, the Republicans now have super majorities in both state houses as well as control of the governorship due to Popes influence. This does not bode well for workers or minorities in the state.
Like his idols the Koch Brothers, Pope has managed to operate mainly behind the scenes, and many North Carolinians are completely unaware of him as a result. Now this sneak sits as Deputy Budget Director for his state. The negative effects of his growing power and influence are already starting to emerge. Redistricting has changed what used to be a fairly balanced state into a new Republican stronghold. What used to be a slim 7-6 Democratic edge has now shifted to a 9-4 Republican congressional advantage. Like we have seen in other states Republicans have overrun, numerous voter suppression laws were enacted almost immediately. They have introduced Voter ID, which usually restricts turnout by minorities. low-income people, and students, all of which tend to be Democratic-leaning voters. They have reduced available hours for early voting and have eliminated voting on the Sunday before an election altogether. This directly affects African-American turnout, as many of their churches have adopted popular early vote “Souls to the polls” programs. They are even attempting to lock a very restrictive anti-worker “right to work” clause into the state constitution!
These are but a few of the many examples of how the reactionary Tea Party is attempting to force its very autocratic and anti-democratic agenda upon the entire nation. They want to minimize the power of the federal government to the point where it will be unable to further regulate those who MUST be regulated or protect those who desperately need protection! They hope to accomplish this by sly circumvention. They must be stopped COLD in this sneaky effort! DON’T TREAD ON US, YOU REACTIONARIES!
The best way to stop them dead in their tracks is to NOT VOTE FOR A SINGLE REPUBLICAN FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT THREE ELECTIONS! The more friends and relatives you can enlighten about this need as well, the better!