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“Historically, the most terrible things - war, genocide, and slavery - have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.” -Howard Zinn

tastes like socialism

The question was posed to me very early on this fine Wednesday morn from a friend on Facebook: Why do so many Americans (particularly the white ones) vote against their economic interests and the future of their children?

Good question. Is it the jaw-dropping stupidity of the American people? I lose patience with the argument that otherwise intelligent human beings have been duped by Fox Noise. An intelligent person would be able to take one look at their programming and realize at a glance what utter nonsense it is.

But how could it be that people I know personally - far more intelligent that I - continue to cast their lot with that disgusting party (I am referring to the GOP in case you were wondering).

My response might have been a tad reactionary - at first. Hey, it was 2:30 in the morning and I was cranky! Of course after further alert and non-cranky reflection I realized that the answer to that question is a bit more nuanced....I think....I hope.

Could it be a self-destructive, even suicidal tendency in our fellow countrymen and women? I've given that a bit of thought and have come to the conclusion that this is not the case. The simple fact of the matter is that Americans in general are depressingly deficient when it comes to their understanding of history.

Here's a tasty last morsel to munch on: What's the right wing's favorite argument against reelecting President Obama on November sixth?

"He has had four years to clean up the mess (THAT HE INHERITED) and yet he has failed to do so!"

They make that argument because they know that most of us are practically brain-dead when it comes to our knowledge of the history of the country we profess to love so well. I once had a conversation with a high school senior who identified Abraham Lincoln as the president whose time of office had been during her father's childhood.

"You mean Kennedy, don't you?" I asked slightly aghast.

"No", she insisted, "It was Abraham Lincoln."

Can you imagine? And this gal was not what I would describe as a dunce. She was well-reasoned and articulate beyond her years. She was a nice kid, too; I wonder whatever happened to her. My guess is that she'll probably be voting for Mitt Romney in 2012.

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Once in a while a total stranger will come up to me and start berating me because of my politics. Whenever this happens I always respond to them with a simple question:

"Who was the president during the First World War?"

They're never able to answer. The next time one of these Über right wing freaks hassles you about your beliefs, give them the Woodrow Wilson test. I tell you it works like a freakin' charm every single time!

Think about it. Which American president in our recent history came into office with a bigger economic calamity to contend with than Barack Obama? Franklin D. Roosevelt! When FDR campaigned for reelection in 1936 what was the argument that was made against him by his opponent, Governor Alf Landon of Kansas?

"He has had four years to clean up the mess (THAT HE INHERITED) and yet he has failed to do so!"

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Roosevelt had not ended the Great Depression by Election Day 1936. It would still be lingering on Election Day 1940! It would take almost a decade to end it. And bear in mind that President Obama does not have the luxury of running for a third term (Roosevelt was elected to four). It's going to take at least two administration - possibly three - to dig ourselves out of this hole. And the only way to succeed is for those administrations to be progressive ones. A turn to the right is a turn backwards.

What would have happened had Roosevelt been defeated in the election of 1936 - simply because he had not completely ended, in less than four short years, the worst economic catastrophe in the history of humanity? What if the American people had been silly enough to revert to the policies that had started all the troubles to begin with? Alternate histories are, as CBS newsman Charles Collingswood once said, "like throwing darts into a fog". All we can say for sure is that this would be an entirely different world had Franklin Delano Roosevelt been defeated in 1936.

Or ask yourselves this question: What if he had never been elected at all? Where would we be today if FDR had been defeated by Herbert Hoover in 1932? Elections do matter - even 80 years after the fact

tom degan

Right wing form of governance does not work. It never has. It never will. Sadly, the American people (most of them anyway) are blissfully ignorant of this indisputable, non-debatable historical truth. And on they go, like lemmings to the sea.

Tom Degan
The Rant

Published: Wednesday, 26 September 2012