America In Danger

America has reached a moment of crisis unlike none other in its history.  It is a crisis an American President long ago warned Americans to guard against:

“[The] conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government.   * * *  We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

          “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”  — Dwight D. Eisenhower, farewell address, 1/17/61 (Emphasis added.)

Today, our liberties and our democratic processes are in grave danger, threatened by the very misplaced power we had been warned about, and more.  Eyes are opening wide to elements of this threat, now that the attack on Wisconsin public sector workers and their unions by a new governor, although somewhat obscured by mainstream media, has drawn national attention.  Consider this report that came in just yesterday from a political action group:

“In less than four days, we mobilized a national movement to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin and to save the American dream. Over 50,000 people all over America took to the streets in every state capitol and in major cities. We made it clear: It’s time to stop the attacks on the middle class and for the rich to start paying their fair share—in other words, to save the American dream. * * * Everywhere I look, the American Dream is under attack. Ohio Governor Kasich is pushing legislation that would take away the rights of firefighters, teachers, and nurses. And in Congress, the Republican budget proposal would destroy 700,000 jobs in the next two years. – Lenore Palladino, MoveOn.org Political Action, 3/1/11 (Emphasis added.)

When we started working on this site a few months ago, after the November elections, we were deeply concerned but, frankly, unprepared for the full gravity of the situation that would soon develop.  After the Wall Street debacle and the onset of the Great Recession, we were inclined to believe most people in Congress would want to work for economic recovery.  Even President Obama, in his first two years, clearly believed he would get needed cooperation.  But his Republican opposition would not help, and their attacks on the President made it clear that their top priority was to quell the popular uprising that got him into office and end his presidency in 2012.  Now we know for sure that they are not working for recovery and, stunningly, are not concerned for the well being of ordinary Americans.

In 2010, a few months before the mid-term elections the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. FEC, decided that corporations could spend as much as they wanted in election campaigns.  This was an act of judicial activism going beyond the narrower issues of the case.  In the subsequent elections, corporations spent unprecedented amounts on behalf of Republican and tea party candidates, and discontented voters turned over Congress and a number of Statehouses to them.

The election winners have wasted no time pursuing their underlying agenda.  In December they forced the President into a compromise which allowed the wealthiest Americans to keep their Bush tax cuts, at a ten-year cost of $800 billion.  Exit polls showed that, by far, the major issues concerning voters last November were the economy and jobs.  The new majority they elected in Congress, however, immediately began to insist (under threat of shutting the federal government down) on dismantling virtually all programs benefitting middle class Americans and the growing legions of unemployed and impoverished Americans.  Their proposals will decrease economic activity and cause the loss of 700,000 to a million more jobs.

In Wisconsin, after granting tax breaks for businesses, and on the pretext that their collective bargaining agreements include unreasonably high benefits, Wisconsin’s new governor Scott Walker seeks to strip unionized public sector employees of much of their compensation.  His real concern, however, is a provision that would take away their collective bargaining rights.  With public sector unions out of the picture, most of the remaining financial resources available to oppose corporate spending in elections, and to support candidates representing the interests of ordinary Americans (the 99%), will be eliminated.

The ultimate target in what has become a relentless drive for corporate hegemony is the middle class, and virtually every federal government program that would help provide for a secure and comfortable life for American citizens is now under attack.  The fortunes of the middle class and labor unions have long been intertwined,  and the decline of unionism and collective bargaining over the last 30 years has been matched by a parallel decline of the middle class and its share of national income. [1]

We now know that the billionaire Koch Brothers financed the Wisconsin governor’s campaign for office last fall, and that Scott Walker is beholden to them. We also know that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas met with the Koch brothers prior to deciding Citizens United.  Koch Industries has acquired much of its wealth through government contracting, and it is now using that wealth to unduly influence and control government.

No doubt more information will be forthcoming, but it is already apparent that some very wealthy people have invaded the political arena to hijack American governments in pursuit of their own agendas.  For some reason, these agendas entail the destruction the American middle class and its prosperity.

We Americans honor the sacrifices of our parents, so many of whom fought and died in World War II to save the world from the evils of fascism.  Today, incredibly, a similar threat has emerged from within our own country, and from within the halls of our own governments.  Unless the bottom 99% of the American people become informed and use the democracy our forefathers gave us, the patriotic sacrifices of our ancestors could ultimately be in vain.  The American Dream could be destroyed.

JMH – 3/2/11

______

[1] MSNBC’s Ed Schultz recently showed that the decline in union membership from about 25% in 1980 to under 10% today has closely matched the decline in the middle class share of national income over the past 30 years. (ed.msn.msnbc.com)

This entry was posted in Government in Society, Labor & Unions, State & Local Government. Bookmark the permalink.

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