I know I’m doing a lot of these on the subject of hate lately but I don’t think there’s ever been any better example of a hate based society than many of the examples produced by a large number of Americans during the presidential election just concluded and since I’m getting to experience the fallout from it in a more up close and personal way than many, it’s a subject that weighs heavily on my mind lately.
As someone who was a long time Republican (now an Independent) I find myself doing a bit of wondering from time to time as to just when it was I began to feel that my party had moved a whole lot farther to the right than I cared to go finally reaching the point where if it goes much farther it will wind up going full circle and coming at me from the left. At various times, a lot of different events have come to mind that all played a part but there was never any really BFD that I could point to and say THAT’s the one. THAT’s when it happened. There were many contributing factors which over the years combined to produce a change in mindset that I didn’t even know was occurring until finally I woke up one day and realized that the Republican party had moved so far to the right as to be operating in the realm of extremism while I still remained firmly planted in the 60s.
Thinking back… WAY back… the reason I had become a Republican in the first place was because the Democratic Party, while containing a few “liberal lights” such as the Kennedys, Humphrey and McGovern. was largely made up of hateful bigoted racist old southern white guys like Orval Faubus and Lester Maddox and the one that was pushed into our living rooms via TV most often, George Wallace. Those old farts were some of the most hateful people the country has ever produced and even had their own name for their particular brand of Democrat. We called them Dixiecrats because the majority of them were old school, deep south antebellum Democrats who refused steadfastly to admit that the Confederacy had actually LOST the Civil War, which to this day they still call the War of Northern Aggression, and that indeed ALL men were truly created equal and that included the black and brown ones.
Once the choice was made to be a Republican and not to be part of or support all that, I just trudged along through life, sometimes taking note of the cracks in the façade of Democracy that had been so carefully erected in this country, but like all the other rank and file Republicans, always taking the cheapest view and blaming the Democrats (the terms “Liberal” and “conservative” weren’t flung about as meaninglessly as they are today by us mere working class types) for every social ill that befell the nation.
So absorbed was I in my own little corner of the world and in sweeping it up and keeping it tidy, I didn’t even notice the quantum paradigm shift that was taking place beginning with the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964 which I was naïve enough to think marked the beginning of the growing up of America. So many of these old southerners were so enraged over what they felt had been outright treason by Lyndon Johnson (whom they felt was one of their own) and the northern Democrats that they began to leave the Democratic party in droves and of course the Republican Party, always looking to establish itself as the majority party, was only too happy to open its big tent and bring them in. A lot of Democrats actually changed parties back in those days including the patron saint of modern Conservatism, Ronald Reagan. By the time of his presidency the shift was pretty much a done deal with just enough of the hateful old Dixie/Democrats like Helms and Byrd left to remind us of the era preceding it.
The upshot was that I gradually started waking up and taking more and more notice of what was going on in other places until one day it finally sunk in that my party was no longer my party and that far from all those bigoted old Dixiecrats having died out they were actually not only still around but in greater numbers than ever and actually thriving under the Republican banner. Not sure when you could pinpoint the actual dawning of enlightenment or if there even was one. All I knew was that my perspectives, woefully behind the times, were going to have to do some catching up here.
And since I was going to have to do all this soul searching and evaluation anyway, I might as well go for it and see if I could get at least a glimpse of the causes and effects that had produced an almost total cessation of societal evolution in huge parts of the country and among huge segments of the population. Not being a scholar or a trained journalistic investigator, the specifics of my conclusions are of course open to question but one thing is inescapable… the first thing anyone seeking these kinds of answers needs to do is determine how much money is involved in any otherwise inexplicable situation and who stands to profit from it because nothing happens in this country that doesn’t because of or in spite of the Wall Street bankers.
You’ve all seen me rant about the various “industries” that shouldn’t be industries. The prime example is of course, health care and a system that allows private corporations to hold the very lives of American citizens in their hands with final decisions based on nothing more than a requirement to maximize the return to institutional shareholders.
In the same vein we have our war industry where corporate contractors are making billions of dollars betting the lives of our loved ones against… well… against enhanced returns to their institutional shareholders which requires that our kids be in harm’s way somewhere on constant basis, hence our pretty much eternal eternal state of war these days. I we ever succeeded in taking the profit out of war there would never be another war but today the average American works over six months a year just to finance wars and war spending.
Education… where out kids mortgage the first 10 years of their working lives to pay for the exorbitant costs for a secondary education that will allegedly enable them to get decent jobs… and now even basic or primary education in which instead of attending public schools where education itself is the primary motivating factor, our kids get to attend “charter” or private schools where the primary motivating factor becomes… you guessed it… enhanced return to institutional shareholders, After all who better to determine the levels of knowledge required to function in our new servant service to the rich based economy than the rich themselves? Really, how much education does it take to mow lawns or scrub floors or push the button on the car elevator when the batteries go dead in the remote?
Those are just a few examples to illustrate the fact that nothing happens in America today unless someone is making huge profits or otherwise deriving huge dividends from it. Our entire government has become structured around maximizing profits for institutional share holders of huge multinational corporations and it’s for that reason the same hate and bigotry that dominated the first century after the Civil War has not finally evaporated but has actually intensified.
By keeping half the population constantly at the throats of the other half , attention is distracted and when attention is distracted the skunks are going to wind up in the hen house sucking eggs. That’s just human nature people. Give someone greedy enough to have already amassed more wealth than he can spend in a hundred lifetimes an opportunity and he’ll take everything you’ve got. Elect politicians venal enough to put private money ahead of public service on a regular basis and they’ll help that rich dude do exactly that.
So that’s where I find myself today. Right back… or maybe still… pretty much where I was 40 years ago except now the fat rich old southern white dudes that hate anyone not a fat rich old southern white dude are called Republicans and the Dixiecrats are called the Tea Party. The major difference is that the intensity of the bigotry has increased a hundredfold or so since some Wall Street banker figured out how to suck up to his shareholders by manipulating the basest instincts of the human race for profit and the people getting rich(er) by exploiting the easily aroused hatreds… and the desire on the part of the ignorant to always find someone else to blame for their own f**kups… just keep right on taking.
But if you ever find yourself wondering why the more things change the more they stay the same and if you ever want to try to find some answers to questions like that, you can’t go wrong by following this little rule… always follow the money. It’s become my motto and in today’s NeoCapitalist American society, it’s the umbrella all other explanations reside under.