Time to Fight Is Now

budget cuts“Heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act” — Sophocles

One of sharpest of the many good and original signs held by participants at a pro-union rally Feb. 26 at the Minnesota Capitol was this: “There’s oil in your tea.”

It goes directly to the greatest irony of all the apparent ironies in our escalating war between informed citizens and the irrational deniers of fact who have been suckered into helping the financial aristocracy – including oil barons such as David and Charles Koch — destroy our poor and take down our middle class.

Wisconsin is the present focus of the conflict, but the war is going on all across the northern two-thirds of the country. (The super-rich won easily, long ago, in the deep South and parts of the West; what’s going on there is just a mopping-up and maintenance operation.)

The spectacle of millions of Americans fighting with passion and rage against their own interests, as well as the interests of everyone who isn’t very rich, all but paralyzes many liberals and even sane conservatives.

“They can’t be serious,” some folks say. “They don’t understand what they’re doing.” “Don’t they get that they’ll be ruined along with the rest of us?”

In truth, it is stunning to be faced with such total lack of logic, such complete absence of what we (ironically) call common sense as we see in the signs of tea party ralliers who tell us to “Keep government out of my Medicare.”

If you can’t argue facts, since facts they don’t like don’t exist for the suckers of the far right, and you can’t use logic, a concept they never grasped, how do you fight for sanity in government and fairness in politics?

Some gentle types, taking a lead from our craven “Capitulation Are Us” president, want to have a “dialogue” with the dummies rather than fight, hoping that calm discussion will change the minds of at least some of those who worship at the feet of Glenn Beck and believe that the “Tea Party” is a popular uprising of patriots.

Some think it’s a matter of “framing” the issues in a way that will be understood by the boobs.

Well, let’s grant that Democrats, to whom many liberals unfathomably still look for help, are lousy at explaining or selling good policy. Even if they could (or wanted) to do that job, it wouldn’t win this culture and class war, or even keep us in the battle.

People you see carrying the tea party-type signs, the counter-demonstrators (few as they are) in Madison, those who plug in endless “unions are rotten relics of the past” comments on online discussion boards and write searing letters to editors about the “laziness” and general uselessness of all government employees are not even slightly touched by reason.

They know what they know and that’s what they know, even if it is the most extreme nonsense.

That is because the things that motivate them, folks, are fear, envy and worship of those who are rich – the latter a true American religion, more deeply held than the Christianity that many loudly and mostly falsely profess.

(How many of the radical right’s leaders, clergy and politicians, have been caught almost literally with their pants down in the past decade or so, or with their hands in the till, or both, and how many of those same clergy and pols have devoted themselves to cheating and grinding the poor into the dirt, contrary to what the Bible says were Christ’s teachings?)

One of the most effective tactic of people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – demonstrably a characterless cheat*, by the way – and his owners, the Koch brothers, is to fan the flames of envy that some people feel for others.

Envy, I learned long ago, is a powerful human characteristic.

I worked once for a very small daily newspaper in a small town in the heart of farm country. Something I learned there, and have confirmed over and over in the ensuing 50 years, is that rural people are sure that the people in cities are cheating them. They believe deeply — although it is demonstrably the reverse – that cities are sucking up their tax dollars while they get nothing back from their states or the states’ metropolitan areas.

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