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The Price of Staying Away

Robert Illes: History of sorts was made in 2010 - but about as opposite as possible to what happened in Egypt, which we admired and supported so much. They were clambering for democracy… while we are doing our best to discard it.

In November of 2000, Democratic Presidential nominee Al Gore “lost” the initial Florida count by 287 votes. Ralph Nader collected 97,488 votes. No doubt 287 of those Nader voters would ordinarily have voted for Al Gore, allowing for even 97,200 who just wanted to vote Green, loved Nader, hated both Democratic and Republican parties. Some could also argue, that, thanks to confusing “butterfly” ballot designing in heavily Jewish populated districts of south Florida, many of Pat Buchanan’s 17,000 votes were in error – magnifying the significance of the proactive Nader vote.

antonin scalia

Had GORE been awarded the 287 vote margin after the initial counting, and been projected the winner by all networks, perhaps then Antonin Scalia could not have been credibly concerned about any violation of George W. Bush’s “civil rights”, we would have avoided the HDDSCD#1 (Horrifying Democracy Destroying Supreme Court Decision #1 – Citizens United being HDDSCD#2) and, most important, avoided HDDP#1 – Horrifying Democracy Destroying Presidency #1, that of George W. Bush. I am being both pessimistic and realistic when I refer to Bush’s presidency as HDDP “#1” – because thanks to HDDSCD-2, I fully expect a HDDP#2.

Which is how I come to the topic of the current “Cairo in Madison” situation (at this writing, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is seeking to gin up the national guard to clear out the protestors). Not sure if he was watching the same confrontation between hard ass non-compromising oligarch Hosni Mubarak and a few hundred thousand twittering people of Egypt the rest of us watched in early February, but apparently despite the futility and failure of Hosni’s attempts to cling to power, Mr. Walker seemed to side with Mubarak’s initial approach: bring on the thugs. Or maybe young Gov. Walker prefers to look at the bright side, and is observing how Iran and Libya (so far) used their armies to beat back and shut the fuck up protestors. Walker may even consider the use of jet fighters against teachers.

The same Fox news types who tepidly praised the outbreak of democracy in Egypt are, naturally, blind to it when it comes to American citizens. Of course the huge, relentless throngs of government workers and union members Walker wants to steal from (the deficit! Lordy, the deficit!) , and disenfranchise (by way of ending collective bargaining) are, per Glenn Beck, “useful idiots” – he likes to quote from Vlad Lenin – or outside agitators* (they even used that line in “The Grapes of Wrath”, the 1940 film based on the Steinbeck novel).

*Note: Koch Brothers funded FreedomWorks, run by Dick Armey, DID bus in a dick army of faux grassroots citizens to disrupt healthcare reform town hall debates during the summer of 2009. Hypocrisy is not in the right wing dictionary, because if it was, they might read the definition and get all embarrassed by seeing their pictures in the margins.

Who is the Walker, one might ask. Well, I don’t care really – he seems to be a right wing weirdo bent on following the precepts of Ronald Reagan – destroy unions, and give money to rich people. But the bigger question is WHY Scott Walker?

See, yes, I see right wing lunatics like John Kasich, Rick Scott, Mitch Daniels, Paul LePage, and I mock them like everybody else (look at Kasich, former Fox News pundit, turning DOWN federal funding for a high speed rail system – lots of jobs but not the “right kind of jobs”). The “right kind of jobs” are in China or India.

But the thing is, I mock them – but it’s not their fault they are in power, doing their crazy shit that only the Koch Brothers want done.

The real fault is that voters voted for them, and in turn the right wing disinformation propaganda machine that rules the media, in turn thanks in part to Bill Clinton's media consolidation of 1996, in turn thanks to Lewis Powell's chamber of commerce memo of the 1960s describing how the right can takeover things.

The one thing well learned from the Cold War is that the scary USSR had one thing correct: Pravda. We scoffed at how that organ lied to its people. We scoffed, while others in our government learned.

But still, aren't there more of "us" than "them", more of "us" who are necessarily policy wonks but know what's good, and decent, and compassionate and American. More young people, more minorities.

Why does more = less?

Wisconsin – big blue state, (although yes, it did produce Joseph McCarthy in 1947). Why are they electing this guy? Ohio went blue in 2008, after Ken Blackwell and Diebold's election theft of 2004. Well, in 2010, they went for Kasich. Maine's bluer than blue; even its two Republican senators are at least purple. But now they have some tea party governor.

Well, let’s look at the voting public. Who’s voting with glee? But also, who is not voting. Is Boehner’s crap REALLY “what the American people want”? Or just 20% of them, the ones that vote, and, the Koch Brothers.

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So after the relief of getting some non-Bush into office in 2008, and achieving victory for the amazing Barack Obama, wha happen? Well, many things. Perhaps Obama couldn't or wouldn't act as fast and as progressively as he could, given the disastrous (and well calculated) inheritance from Mr, Bush. Obama was confronted with a right wing megaphone on steroids. But perhaps more sinister, he was also confronted with a rather demanding liberal class demanding a quick cure of Bushitis. They had expended time, money and enthusiasm on electing this "hope we can believe in". "We are what we have been waiting for" was absolutely correct.

george bush flies

Then there was the healthcare "debate", where Obama faced the unique problem of being opposed with feudal error by those on the payroll of the health insurance companies and those who expected Canadian healthcare for all. He coughed up as much as he could to the first, and naturally still got spanked - they never are deterred by facts. But the coughing up, despite the "first step" gains of "Obamacare", devastated liberals.

Liberals, experts at the circular firing squad approach to such political defeats, decided the best approach in November 2010 would be to punish Obama by not voting. The right wing echo chamber naturally encouraged this discouragement with fervor. Polls were flouted that showed Obama's favorability numbers flagging, and relentlessly predicting Republican victories all over the country. The Enthusiasm Gap grew, as the young folks, feeling betrayed and discouraged with fallen expectations returned to their Wiis. And with the immigrant demonization programs, most ardently displayed in Arizona, many brow people, concerned with confrontations at the polls - promised by Republican thugs - were skittish.

And the extraordinarily strident "tea party" people, actually fueled by the Koch Brothers, Dick Armey and other anti-Democratic icons, were feverishly getting out the vote especially in local districts where they had been able to beat up Democrats and disloyal Republicans alike in those "town hall meetings" in 2009.

The irony of 2010 is that true progressives in fact did well. It was those scaredy cat Dems running as Republicans, such as Blanche Lincoln, were trounced by ACTUAL Republicans. Harry Reid survived, but, back to Wisconsin, the great Russ Feingold did not.

Sure enough, Democratic voters stayed away, and quickly and eagerly filling the vacuum was a class of Republicans never before seen. And so, Wisconsin has Governor Walker.

And so, Wisconsin. But of course we know there's no real "Tea Party" ethos, as espoused in bumper stickers - stuff about smaller government, protecting our borders, and managing the deficit. That's the sizzle they are selling, with not a little undertow of racism (the frightened John Boehner can never completely dismiss the birthers, less he turn off a legion of haters who vote).

No, we (the informed) knew what Scott Walker was up to, and it had nothing to do with responsible spending, and budget balancing; rather he is the initial cannon shot of a broad Republican corporate strategy - the war on the middle class, the war on the New Deal, the war on unions initiated by Walker's hero Reagan. Bust the unions, and then they aren't organized to support Democratic nominees. Strangle public services, such as heath and education, by withholding money, and people are too busy scrambling for survival or sufficiently dumbed down to worry about informing themselves on how to vote.

And then, as they always do, Walker busted himself. Punked by a journalist pretending to be his benefactor David Koch, Walker admitted to his real ploy, toady that he is.

They implode, they always do. Is Frank Luntz working over time to save his ass, so that Kasich can do the same stuff in Ohio, and LePage in Maine, and Daniels in Indiana?

But this battle raging now is the price of staying away. There is even talk among some of my progressive friends of "voting green" in 2012, as if the complete the deal. Imagine how Citizens United beneficiaries are to take the White House in 2012, if for no other reason than to pack the Supreme Court with even more Scalias and Alitos. And there's not just money for TV ads, there's all manner of vote suppression in the works. Hosni Mubarak could have learned something from the take no prisoners approach. We mock him and Gaddaffi who will stop at nothing to maintain their power. Well, they have nothing on Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers.

bob illes

This is the price to pay for staying away.

History of sorts was made in 2010 - but about as opposite as possible to what happened in Egypt, which we admired and supported so much. They were clambering for democracy… while we are doing our best to discard it.

Robert Illes

Valley Dems United, Margie Murry, Editor