Sunday, November 1, 2020

● 1920-2020: Left Right Cycle

What Happened to the U.S.A. ? 


A Very Brief Timeline: 

We only have to go back 100 years, in this very brief timeline, to gain a general understanding of how we ended up here. Continuous corporate-media consumption provides a framing of issues, and worldview, conducive to corporate interests above our own.  …with the lie, that corporate interests are our own.

In the 1920’s, the labor movement had been stifled after suffering a series of devastating losses. Laissez-faire capitalism and fascism were on the rise, crashing the economy by the decade's end.

During the 1930’s, the labor movement was revitalized, and the Democratic Party was transformed. CIO organizing began. Socialists, unions, and communists pushed FDR to implement the New Deal. The 1935 Wagner Act (NLRA: The National Labor Relations Act) guaranteed employees’ rights to organize, collective bargaining, and collective action.

Democrats were progressive on economic issues, but regressive on most social issues. But, that changed over time.

In 1944, FDR proposed a 100% tax on income above the top marginal tax bracket of the time. They ended up with a 94% tax on the top marginal tax bracket. These socialist policies gave us the strongest economy we ever had, and like all great policies, never would've happened without pressure from the Left: workers unions, communists, and socialists.

1945-1975: The Golden Years of Capitalism
Although, it should be called The Golden Years of Socialism, since all economies are mixed, and it was the socialist policies that made the economy great. Of course, greedy capitalists continue to take credit for the achievements of the Left. The Right claims that the strong economy was a result of WWII, but we know that war profiteering only helps (the rich) war profiteers, demonstrated by our policies of endless war. The 1947 Taft–Hartley Act was an assault on the 1935 Wagner Act (NLRA), launching attacks and propaganda, undermining labor, which continue to this day. In 1949, the FCC introduced the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters (in exchange for, otherwise free, licensing) to devote some airtime (with varying viewpoints) to matters of public interest.

Throughout the 1950’s, the top marginal tax rate remained above 90% (1951-1963). Inequality was greatly decreased, and a strong welfare state created a vibrant middle class. Early on, the wealthiest psychopaths (disgruntled Industrialists/Robber Barrons) released a barrage of propaganda, resulting in making 3 generations ignorant on class/economic issues: The Traditionalist and Baby Boomers of the time, and then to their children, Generation X. The first two generations benefitted from the social democratic economy, but then by the mid-70’s, began to destroy it for the rest of us.

In 1956 the FBI’s counter intelligence program, COINTELPRO, began a series of extralegal covert projects, surveilling, infiltrating, disrupting and, discrediting American political organizations.

The Social Democracy of the 1960’s gave way to the Peace and Civil Rights Movements. LBJ and the Civil Rights Acts solidified the Democratic Party’s shift toward being more progressive on social issues. Nixon’s Southern Strategy did the opposite for Republicans. Taxes for the rich were lowered to 77%, and then to 70% for the wealthiest 1%.

On December 4th 1969, as a part of the illegal counter-intelligence program, COINTELPRO, the FBI assassinated Fred Hampton, in cold blood, in his bed, just before dawn. COINTELPRO continues to operate to this day. Peace and equality are always under attack by those who benefit from war (racist violence) and inequality.

The 1970’s: Women’s Rights made great strides. In 1971, Nixon declared a “war on drugs” with the intent of terrorizing and criminalizing those he viewed as his enemies: black people and (the peace movement) hippies. In 1974, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his crimes against America in the Watergate scandal. The top marginal tax rate remained at 70% throughout the decade. Milton Friedman’s economic policies began to take hold. Sharp rises in oil prices, due to OPEC's 35th conference (1973), led to an economic downturn.

Money Entered Politics
to a much greater degree:
  • Buckley v. Valeo (1976) held that limits on campaign contributions are unconstitutional, and that spending money to influence elections is protected speech by the First Amendment.
  • First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) upheld the rights of corporations to spend money in non-candidate elections (i.e. ballot initiatives and referendums). 
The conservative Supreme Court (Nixon's appointees) voted to deregulate campaign finance, so that the rich can now buy politicians, subverting democracy. Corporations are people, and money is speech. The fossil fuel industry, knowingly set out on a decades-long campaign, to deceive the public about the urgency of climate change, putting the entire world at risk, for their short term profits. Jimmy Carter’s fuel efficiency requirements made for an easy economic recovery during the Reagan Administration.

The 1980’s ushered in Milton Friedman’s destructive economic policies of deregulation, commonly referred to as the Reagan Revolution. The corporate elite and their media were thrilled, and celebrated this transition of flipping the New Deal on its head. Protections against usury were deregulated. Attacks on unions, workers’ rights, and consumer rights increased exponentially. The top marginal tax rate dropped below 70% for the first time since 1935. The fiscal irresponsibility of Reagan, very quickly turned America from the world's leading creditor nation to the world's leading debtor nation. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Workers’ wages stagnated, and the middle class gradually began to fall.

In 1987, the Reagan administration eliminated the Fairness Doctrine, giving way to an environment of ever increasing corporate propaganda. The return of Laissez-faire capitalism with Reagan's policies of deregulation also exasperated the S&L crisis, and caused the first crash on Wall Street since 1929. The top marginal tax rate continued to dropped, finally reaching 28% by 1988.

The list of Reagan’s crimes amount to beyond extensive. He supported the apartheid in South Africa, sold weapons to Iran, to support terrorism (by the Contras) in Nicaragua, and his malfeasance in response to the AIDS crisis led to a massive domestic death toll. The only country in the world condemned for international terrorism by the World Court, thanks to the Reagan Administration, is now the United States of America. Among Reagan’s many crimes, not least of which, is putting life on Earth at risk, by expanding the Military Industrial Complex.

Friedmanism (the Reagan Revolution) continued throughout the 1990’s. Bill Clinton’s Third Way officially declared Democrats as being center-left on social issues, while being center-right on economic policy. Running as an economic conservative, depressed the vote on the Left. He only won because Ross Perot divided the vote on the Right, but the corporate media continued to push the narrative that running to the right, is a winning strategy for the Left. As President, Bill Clinton turned his back on workers, deregulated Glass-Steagall, and cut welfare, continuing Friedmanism, Reaganomics, austerity, and the ensued bubble economies.

There's a perception that unions have gotten larger, when they've actually gotten smaller. Local branches used to be huge, while national branches were very tiny, as they would merely serve a tangential connection. The real work, specific to each location, gets done at the local level. Decades of the Right's attacks on unions have decreased the size of local branches, decreasing their ability to be effective. As a result, the surviving national branches grew, simply in order to keep their unions alive.

The "center" (Overton Window) moved further to the Right. No longer the party of workers, nor the party that taxes the rich, the Democratic Party is now (not surprisingly) no longer the dominant party. This is the Neoliberal Era, an era in which the Democratic Party betrays the Left, priming the country for another right-wing victory.

The 2000 election was a disaster. Roger Ailes made the decision to have John Ellis (Bush’s first cousin) call the election for Bush on Fox, election night, and the rest of the corporate media fell in line. Gore won the popular vote. When all the votes were counted, Gore also won Florida, and every independent recount showed Gore won Florida, meaning he won the 2000 election. The Supreme Court threw out the ballots, and the loser took the office of the U.S. Presidency.

Bush was out of D.C. more than 40% of the time, his first year in office. He was basically on vacation up until 9-11. The Republican Party stole the election, left our country open to attack, started an illegal war by attacking a country that never threatened us, instituted a global torture program, and crashed the economy, devastating the world economy by the end of his second term.

Bush failed to keep America safe, left us with the worst economy since the Great Depression, and turned Clinton’s surplus into a 1.2 trillion dollar deficit.

In 2008, Obama ran his campaign as a progressive, and won. The more they called him a socialist, the more he went up in the polls. Unfortunately, he governed like a Republican, or Reagan Democrat. Although, the top marginal tax rate ranges from about 35% to 39%, it’s important to understand that the effective rate (what they actually pay) generally remains at around 0%. The "loopholes" are intentional. Those big campaign donations, from the rich to both parties, are not for nothing. They called him a Keynesian, but his policies and record show otherwise.

Obama extended the Bush Tax Cuts, ramped up deportation at the border, escalated the war in Afghanistan, ended the Iraq War on Bush’s timeline, increased U.S. drone attacks, and renewed the Patriot Act. Merrick Garland was a Republican suggestion. Mitt Romney suggested his healthcare plan, and Obama took it. Obama passed the ACA, a corporate healthcare plan, developed by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank. The most socialist thing Obama did in office was to implement Mitt Romney's Republican healthcare plan.

Obama broke his promise and didn’t even try for the Public Option, even with majorities in both houses and a sweeping mandate. Instead, he went with the highly unpopular right-wing Individual Mandate, what people hate most about the ACA. Hypocritical Republican indignation over their own plan is endless. Of course, not everything Obama did was objectionable. To his credit, the Iran Deal was arguably one of the best foreign policy achievements by a U.S. president in recent history.

One thing we learned from the Obama years, that he never did, is that we cannot work with Republicans. Obama spent eight years foolishly bending over backwards for Republicans, as they spit in his face every step of the way. The list of Republican policies goes on, and on… Obama was further to the right than Reagan on the economy. But, instead of appreciation from right-wing media, there was outrage. Remember the aggrievement from those hypocritical psychopaths? Republicans only care about power (for the rich), and will destroy the country and the world pursuing it.

2010: More Money in Politics: with more Campaign Finance Deregulation:
  • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310: The Conservative Supreme Court held that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political communications by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.
    Studies show this ruling boosted Republican electoral success.
Obama failed to meet the progressive mandate, which carried him into office. It’s not a coincidence that the most popular policies are still the most socialist policies, implemented by the most progressive administrations: FDR’s Social Security (of the New Deal) & LBJ’s Medicare (of his Great Society). The most popular president in American history was the one who taxed the rich. The Democratic Party was the dominant party when they were the party of working people. But unfortunately, the Democrats learned the wrong lessons from the McGovern (1972) and Mondale (1984). From 1968 to the present, Democrats have been moving further and further to the economic-right, becoming the weaker party. Obama campaigned to the Left and won, but then governed to the Right, and lost over a thousand seats during his terms in Office.

2015: Bernie Sanders ran on the Democratic ticket, becoming the most popular politician holding office, in the U.S., and now the world. Throughout the Primary, the corporate media continued to push the lie, defying all polls, that Hillary was the most electable for the General.

In 2016, the Democratic Party nominated the most hated politician among conservatives, Hillary Rodham Clinton. They pandered to the Right, depressing the vote on the Left, and then lost to Donald Trump, the least popular candidate in recent history.

He lost the popular vote by 3 million, and began his term with no public mandate other than possibly performing a political 180° from his previous positions. Trump United The Right, rallied the racists, relentlessly lied, incited violence, and very predictably provoked an environment of death & destruction.

Trump’s Top 10 Fascist Headlines for his term:
  1. The Wall
  2. Concentration Camps at the border
  3. Kidnapping & family separation
  4. Greatest transfer of wealth to the rich
  5. Weakest response to highest unemployment
  6. Weakest response to worst pandemic
  7. Doubling Covid deaths by spreading lies
  8. Spreading Covid himself
  9. Forced Sterilization
 10. Vows to never stepping down

Trump destroyed Obama’s Iran Deal, increasing tensions, putting America and the world at risk.

After decades of the Left dropping out, Progressives inspired by Bernie made historic victories in 2018. Part of being on the Left is learning how to collaborate and cooperate by building coalitions. Centrists concede all the way to the Right before negotiations even begin. They kowtow to Republicans, and attack the Left. Democratic-Socialists put forward the most popular progressive policies, and fight for them. #DemEXIT is saying, let the corporatists and fascists decide. Although, the response of disengagement is understandable and cathartic, it’s exactly what the rich want. The harsh reality is that 3rd Parties have accomplished little more than nothing in over 40 years, while #BrandNewCongress, #JusticeDemocrats, Bernie, and the #DSA have taken out a dozen corporatists with a dozens Democratic Socialists, in just the last 2 years. Corporate Democrats are beginning to realize they’re on notice from the Left. That’s how you send a message. 💌 

2020: #DefeatFascism or succumb to an increasingly brutal authoritarian regime. Bernie Sanders ran another historic campaign, and lost. The lack of organization on the left was demonstrated clearly when the most popular politician with the most popular policies couldn’t win an election against a guy who barely campaigned. Elizabeth Warren would’ve dropped out when Klobuchar and Buttigieg dropped out, if she was actually part of the left, and if the left was actually organized, in which case #BernieWouldHaveWon.

No one on the Left, who understands electoral politics, would #WalkAway or #DemEXIT, since that leads to a corporatist winning the Primary, and a fascist in the General. What got us here, has a lot to do with the working class (i.e. Left) dropping out. This trend is the opposite of #LesserEvilVoting, which is merely the exact same strategy as voting for the best candidate, who has a chance. When the Left drops out, the Right wins, resulting in #GreaterEvilVoting, not lesser. Disengaging is continuing a losing trend. Strengthening engagement is the reversal of a losing trend. Since 2018, the trend is just beginning to reverse. That’s how we’ve elected over a dozen unbought uncorrupted progressives (inspired by Bernie) to congress. Even if you like center-right economics and you’re not a fascist, you’ll vote Democrat, for now. If you want to keep any civil liberties at all (i.e. freedom), you will vote Democrat. Biden is more left than Trump on every issue. We get better candidates by voting in primaries. Our democracy is under constant threat from the Right. Trump said he will not step down, even if he loses. Only dictators do that. If it’s close, he will steal it. If he gets away with it once, he will keep doing it, ending our democracy. This is our last chance to #VoteHimOut.
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Post by: Kurt Riebel: artist, activist