Do America’s conservatives at least conserve the American Dream? No such luck. Slice by slice, the whole salami went. Professor Noam Chomsky’s Requiem for the American Dream (on YouTube) shows how.
- Reduce Democracy. Conservatives’ dirty tricks, gerrymandering, voter ID hurdles, roll purges, voter intimidation, long voting lines and vote theft are a disgrace. President Carter calls America’s politics an “oligopoly with unlimited political bribery.” Oligopoly is rule by the wealthy few, as in Russia. And The Economist now rates America as a “flawed democracy,” like Korea.
- Shape the Ideology. Lewis Powell held that conservatives should play a more aggressive role in politics. He was appointed to the Supreme Court. In 1976 it ruled that money was “free speech.” If you think speech flows out of mouths, think again. It flows out of deep pockets. Conservatives were therefore overjoyed at Ronald Reagan’s TV persona. As president, Ronnie abolished the Fairness Doctrine in the media. This allowed conservatives’ lies to run wild. The narrative was spread that greed was good and pursuing the common good was bad. Only the wealthy could be trusted with the economy. Reaganomics accordingly became America’s prevailing ideology.
- Redesign the Economy. In broad daylight, conservatives took America from a high-wage economy to a low-wage economy via Reaganomics and union-bashing. Moreover, America’s billionaires realized that they had more in common with China’s billionaires than America’s workers. They told everyone that globalization was unstoppable, reshaped the economy to suit themselves, and threw workers under the bus.
- Shift the Burden. The burden of taxation was transferred away from those most able to pay. The lie was spread that America is an over-taxed country. In reality, taxes are exceedingly low by international norms, even before considering military spending.
- Attack Solidarity. Collective action was attacked such as labor unions, public education, Social Security and environmental protections. This is the old divide-and-conquer tactic, reducing cohesion.
- Run the Regulators. Conservatives attacked the very notion of regulation itself. Lobbyists now draft laws to benefit their clients, and politicians in their pockets pass them. This led directly to the 2008 Crash.
- Engineer Elections. Other countries have short elections and strict limits on money in politics. But America’s elections go on to the point of stupefaction with unlimited spending. This enables lavishly funded conservative “think tanks” acting in the “public interest” to saturate the airwaves and manipulate voters.
- Keep the Rabble in Line. American workers no longer have unions behind them. They are cowed down into believing they cannot get better wages and conditions due to the “free market,” not even at fabulously profitable companies like Walmart and Amazon.
- Manufacture Consent. Conservatives have invested millions into the techniques of mass communication to drive their agenda and shut out competing views.
- Marginalize the Population. FDR’s liberal policies, implemented up to 197, produced benefits for everyone. But conservative-driven policies thereafter resulted in government “of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent” (Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize, economics). The 99 percent were left behind.
The response to this onslaught was pathetic. The Democratic Party had become dependent on corporate money. It turned its back on blue-collar voters. They eventually rebelled in sufficient numbers to defeat Hillary Clinton. She had no message for them, having stupidly fired Stiglitz as her economics adviser.
Another documentary, Merchants of Doubt, shows the purveying of conservatives’ lies. We see inside lie factories laughably called “think tanks.” We see Charles Koch, with major investments in petroleum, undermining the fight against global warming. He invests in politicians and reaps rewards beyond the dreams of avarice. He has admitted to requiring them to support his interests, thus perverting the common good. Jane Mayer’s excellent book Dark Money exposes his tactic of setting up bogus “charities” to advance his extreme agenda under the guise of “freedom.”
Stiglitz gives the result of all this: “The belief in the American Dream is not supported by the data.” Despite the mythology, “The life chances of a young U.S. citizen are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in any other advanced industrial country.” America now has a hereditary aristocracy similar to the old British landed gentry in TV’s Downton Abbey.
A few honest conservatives agree with Stiglitz. David Frum said, “In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners.” David Stockman, the architect of Reaganomics, says “trickle-down” economics destroyed America as he knew it.
If you can find anything these “conservatives” actually conserve, apart from America’s enormous bullshit industry, please let me know.