Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Divide and Conquer Politics made Easy in America

A few years ago I was reading The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman. Detailing the turn of the 19th century and the anarchist movements that swept the world, violence played out against the backdrop of enormous gaps between rich and poor.  The United States was not immune as William McKinley could attest. So I couldn’t help wonder how the vast poor allowed the rich to get away with this in a country that voted. Well, if you consider how easily Barack Obama is sold as a socialist, the explanation is pretty straightforward.
A learned acquaintance, though not necessarily from a historical perspective, described it to me this way. “If you give people the opportunity to be dependent and level the rewards - despite how hard individuals work - they'll take the free ride and initiative goes out of society. But if you make your environment pliable to self-reliance where people are eager to seize opportunity, everyone will be better for it.”
Yeah, no kidding and for some reason conservatives feel the need to explain this basic facet of human behavior to liberals. Either way, he reasoned that Obama is wed to a philosophy of dependence - making the 2012 election the most important election of our lifetime.
So instead of having common cause, we’re divided and conquered. And it’s not that I believe the liberal model of economics is always the better way to go.  I’m for whatever works.
For instance, I find it curious that the corporate tax rate isn’t lowered so trillions of dollars of overseas business assets could come back here.  At the same time, if giving the Koch brothers tax breaks creates more opportunity for me, I say give refunds – and in spades.  The only thing, the remnants of the Reagan revolution has seen wages remain stagnant for 40 years and has the gap between rich and poor reaching unsustainable levels.
In accordance, unions have been decimated with the political check they provide, money has overwhelmed the political system and the consolidation of the media delivers the divide and conquer message.
Of course, that’s nothing new, and I’m going apply the old English approach to the handoff that occurred here with the American Revolution. Just to let you know, I’m switching to Howard Zinn – if you’d like to get off this train.
The American Revolution – from the point of view of the common folk – was mostly just a switch in overlords. In turn, you hopefully chose the winning side or successfully bided your time, awaiting an outcome.
Nonetheless, the men at the top knew the discontented had to be placated, given the democracy of the few that was planned. The burden then was throwing a bone to just enough people to solidify their position. “There developed a white middle class of small planters, individual farmers, city artisans, who given small rewards for joining, would be a solid buffer against black slaves, Indians and very poor whites,” writes Zinn.
Of course, all those discontents left out of the Declaration struck fear in the upper crust – specifically if they unified across race and class. One part of the method involved the westerly movement of poor whites of their horrid economic condition. In turn, they would obviously be confronted by Native American trying to preserve their way of life.
The inevitable conflicts that arose made it understandably easy for whites to see the Indians as the enemy – rather than the rich who sent them there by design.
In terms of black and white, fermenting racial hatred allied the white rabble to the plantation owner as easily as apple pie.  Of course, this is all just one radical historian writing but has the formula changed. Poor whites in the south would rather hate blacks than find common economic cause – just look up at all the state houses still flying the Confederate Flag.
Couple that with Kenyan birth certificates, Obamacare equals Nazism and this center left President as the socialist standard bearer - the founding fathers wished they could have had it this easy.  Then, there’s 2016, the film.
I didn’t see it but I saw the filmmaker state that serious economic troubles that have persisted under President Obama are by design so he can usher in a socialist Islamic State.  That film grossed $33 Million. The names have changed, but the means haven’t.

All this said, I don’t have an answer to our ills. But if the conversation ends before it even starts and the advantage we have in numbers is lost to something that should have been figured out long ago – then what’s the point.

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