Plutocracy Rules

hunter s thompsonCitizens United and the Wisconsin Election

“This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it – that we are really just a nation of two-hundred and twenty-million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern….is one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.” –Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

When Hunter Thompson killed himself in the late winter of 2005, I could never bring myself to write about it. Although his greatest work was years behind him I couldn’t bring myself to accept the fact that he was gone forever.

It is said that he was so depressed about the reelection of George W. Bush three months earlier that he had convinced himself – rightly – that the America he loved so much was gone forever; that its promise had been rendered ashes in the wind. At the time I had not yet reached the state of such utter despair. Although I remarked at the time America had figuratively pointed a loaded pistol at its head and pulled the trigger, in my heart I lulled myself into thinking that the wound would not prove fatal.

I was as wrong as I’ve ever been in my life. On February 20, 2005, Doctor Gonzo pointed a pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. There was nothing figurative about it.

When Hunter Thompson committed suicide I couldn’t understand it. I understand now.

The fallout of the Supreme Court’s hideous Citizens United vs FEC decision from January of last year was on display last night in Wisconsin for all the world to behold. In spite of the public outrage toward Governor Walker’s attack on the rights of public workers, Karl Rove and company were able to pump at least forty million dollars into the recall effort. The result was predictable. There are enough fools in that state who were attracted to the pretty bells and sweet-sounding whistles. This morning the Wisconsin statehouse remains in the hands of plutocracy’s whores. Thanks to the Supremes, most of the people/corporations who donated to that campaign will forever remain anonymous.

Six seats were being contested by the people of Wisconsin. The Democrats needed three in order to regain control from the stooges of Corporate America. In the end they were only able to take back two. The Citizens United ruling has done its damage.

I’m thinking about my cousin Amy Clements this morning. She’s a resident of Wisconsin and is a card-carrying participant in the Madison Revolution. She also became a parent for the first time last year. She is the proud mommy of a little boy named Theo. That’s the two of them in the photograph on the left. A few hours ago she posted this prayerful thought on her Facebook page:

“Please O Please O Please let tonight be the beginning of the demise of Scott Walker’s regime”.

What can I tell you, cousin? At least you folks in Madison put up a good fight. Corporate dominance of America is instilled too deeply in its collective nervous system. It’s going to take time – possibly even decades – for the American people to wake up and get their civic shit together. Scotty Walker is facing a recall of his own come January but now I’m not too optimistic about that happening. This doesn’t mean that the forces of darkness should be deceived into thinking that the Madison Revolution is dead. Far from it. Like little Theo, the movement is only in its infancy. Get the hell out of the way.

“Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous ‘trickle-down’ theory of U.S. economic policy. If the Rich get Richer, the theory goes, before long their pots will overflow and somehow ‘trickle down’ to the poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family plates than eat nothing at all. Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they never will. It goes back to pre-industrial America, when only white male property owners could vote.”

Hunter Thompson

You haven’t read about America until you’ve read Hunter Thompson. He believed in this country’s promise to his very core. In all that I’ve read of his work, I don’t recall him ever quoting the Gettysburg Address. And yet I have to believe that when Lincoln spoke of “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, it marked his soul. In the end, confronted by the stark reality that America’s promise had been destroyed forever, he ended his life.

This country has been sold down the river to the highest corporate bidder. What used to be seen as a beacon of hope and enlightenment to the rest of the world has devolved into a fucking ideological cesspool so disturbing it’s next-to impossible to put it into words – and the American people jumped headfirst into the muck smiling with both eyes wide-opened. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

What the people need to understand – and what is hardly mentioned – is that we are no longer living in a democracy. This is a plutocratic dictatorship. Think I’m exaggerating? Munch on this juicy delight:

They have looted the national treasure at taxpayer expense in order to bail out corrupt financial institutions that have spent decades raping this economy. At the same time they are trying to do away with Social Security, Medicaid, and public education. And all the while the witless American people are too distracted by their neat high tech toys to notice or give a damn.

Are you pissed yet?

In the meantime our downward spiral will only continue. This is as it should be. A people moronic enough to squander the treasure of their once-great nation as they have been doing for the past thirty-one years deserves everything that happens to them. There is an indescribable joy – call it “schadenfreude” if you must – in watching people who are losing their homes and pensions while simultaneously complaining about “those goddamned liberals”.

It’s quite a funny thing to witness. As America continues to slide into the depths of destruction and despair, I can console myself with the knowledge that there will be no shortage of entertainment value in its decline – for me at least. Life will still be beautiful, thank you very much.

Tom Degan

Published by the LA Progressive on August 13, 2011
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About Tom Degan

Tom Degan is a fifty-four-year old video artist who in 2006 became so thoroughly disgusted at the state of America's national political dialogue, he decided to take time off to become a freaking civics teacher. He was born in Goshen, NY in 1958 and, after living all over the United States and Canada, moved back there in 1992. He is a high school dropout who in 1977 received an equivalency diploma (HEY, IT'S LEGAL!) He attended SUNY in Middletown, NY and in 1986 studied journalism at the New School in New York City. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has worked as a truck driver, a radio DJ, and a metal worker... OK, he didn't ACTUALLY receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but he DID get some kind of ribbon of sorts when he was in the Cub Scouts. He is the inventor of Cheez Whiz and lives off the royalties on the sales of that fine product. He loves children and little baby duckies. FULL DISCLOSURE: He didn't really invent Cheez Whiz. His address is: 2590 Rte 17M (PO BOX 611) Goshen, NY 10924 (845) 294-5714