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By Carolyn Kay
The forces of fear, greed, and hatred have won again. They used lies, thuggery, and other illegitimate methods, to be sure, but considering the list of Bush administration failures, the presidential race should not even have been close enough to steal. And we should have had more victories in the House, but especially in the Senate where two Republican winners have sounded almost insane in their vilification of their Democratic opponents.
There are two things we the people have to do, and we must start immediately. We have to take back the Democratic Party and we have to take back the political discourse in America.
Taking Back the Democratic Party
One of the things we can learn from right wingers is to take a licking and come back kicking. It is absolutely essential that as soon as possible we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start working to take over the Democratic Party. It has lost its moorings, and because of that it is losing elections, over and over and over again. We must organize to take back the House, the Senate, and the presidency. It will be many years before we get any reasonable decisions from the Supreme Court.
We rank and file Democrats must take responsibility for our own part in this mess. We allowed the party leadership to steal the primary out from under us. They were afraid that they would not be able to control Howard Dean, the frontrunner going into Iowa, so they started a well-coordinated whisper campaign in the Iowa caucuses that Kerry was electable, and that Dean was not. That is what won the Iowa caucuses for Kerry, and what gave him the momentum to go forward and win the Democratic nomination.
Forcing Kerry down our throats worked out so well that a man with nothing but losing policies, in the process of losing a war he started based on lies, a total inept, came close enough to winning to steal another election.
I have to single out Tom Daschle for rebuke. His maneuverings in the Senate, as leader of the Democrats, were too often geared toward appeasing the voters in his conservative state. And it did him so much good that he lost his Senate seat last night. He sacrificed the entire Democratic Party for his own re-election chances, and he did not even win.
What is missing from the Democratic Party is a sincere commitment to the principles of democracy, a belief in human values, and ringing oratory extolling that commitment and that belief on every platform its members can muster. The Democratic power structure has preferred back room maneuverings to standing up for what is right. Sometimes you must fight even if you know you will lose the current skirmish. Democrats seem to know nothing about winning wars by losing battles that are worth fighting. Republicans know a lot about it.
The longer the right wingers stay in power the harder it will be to take power back from them, because they consolidate their power with almost every breath they take. We can look forward to more redistricting that favors Republicans. We can look forward to more anti-democratic, totalitarian tactics. We can look forward to more Brownshirt-style thuggery.
But we must fight them, no matter how hard it is now and no matter how hard it becomes. I spent years reading about the Nazi takeover in Germany, wondering how it could have happened. I came to the conclusion that not enough people stood up against them early on. By the time they had seized total control of the media, the courts, and all of the government, it was too late for protest. After that, anyone who disagreed with anything the Nazis did was thrown into a concentration camp. That may not be the eventual goal of the right wingers now in control of the United States, but you could hardly tell by their actions. And we must always remember that unchecked power corrupts.
There are those who want to start a new party. I believe that is a waste of a lot of time and effort. The Democratic Party is ripe for the picking, and we can remake it into a party that stands up for ordinary citizens. I believe we should follow the lead of Howard Dean and his Democracy for America organization to take back our party and our country.
Taking Back the Political Discourse
This country needs an organization dedicated to establishing, developing, and supporting talented researchers, linguists, writers, investigative reporters, social psychologists, speakers, filmmakers, and cartoonists who believe in truthful reporting and commentary, and making sure their work receives wide exposure. Creating and supporting new and independent media outlets is one of the ways of accomplishing this goal, especially if these outlets are sponsored by an umbrella organization that provides funding, and perhaps spins off some profit making endeavors that send after-tax profits back to the tax exempt corporation. That way, a contribution to the umbrella organization is not only tax deductible, it is a gift that keeps on giving.
Here is why I think this organization is necessary. I first became involved in politics in the summer of 2000, when it became obvious that the mainstream media had joined the Bush campaign, and were picking up their paychecks from Karl Rove. When the Supreme Court handed the election to George Bush, I decided to continue to keep up the website I had established to counter the lies about Al Gore and to give to George Bush's mostly unreported failures as a businessman and his pandering to campaign contributors as governor of Texas. It is only because of the extremely unfavorable treatment of Gore and the extremely favorable treatment of Bush by the mainstream media that Bush got close enough to winning to steal the 2000 election.
Over the last four years, in my daily research to update my website, I began to piece together some of the history of how we arrived at a place where so many Americans consistently vote against their own self-interest. What I discovered is that starting in the early 1970s, a few wealthy families with right-wing political views began funding organizations and media outlets to promote their beliefs. These efforts have been enormously successful. Not only does the right wing now have its own powerful multi-media echo chamber, it has attracted foot soldiers to Mau-Mau the mainstream media into bending over backward to avoid saying anything good about any liberal, or anything bad, even if true, about any conservative.
In such an environment, where the Speaker of the House of Representatives feels free to label as a terrorist the Democratic candidate for President of the United States, where liberals are openly called sinful and evil on America's airwaves, it is past time to take concerted action.
The upshot of my research is this: Right-wing rich people made it lucrative to do research, write, and pontificate for their point of view. Meanwhile, too many of those who speak for liberal values must do it simply for the love of the cause. Since we all have to put food on our family, as a certain squatter in the White House once said, we have fewer writers and pontificators on our side. Consequently, despite continued assurance that Americans agree with us on so many important issues, Democrats are losing the battle for their votes.
You cannot really call it a conspiracy, because it is right out in the open.
[T]here is a unified network of interconnected organizations that work together to influence public policy. Most of the top 25 foundations do indeed have direct relationships with one another through their directors and board members. For example, "The Sarah Scaife Foundation is one of several Scaife Mellon family foundations, including the Carthage Foundation (10th largest) and the Scaife Family Foundation (19th largest), as well as the Allegheny Foundation (46th largest). Similarly, the Charles G. Koch Foundation (seventh largest) is one of several of the Koch family's foundations, which also include the David H. Koch Foundation (eighth largest) and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation (13th largest)." Similarily, NCRP found that 23 of the people in its database of conservative foundation and grantee board and staff members "are leaders of three or more foundations and/or nonprofits, with 19 of those individuals serving on the board or staff of at least one foundation and of at least one nonprofit. Notably, the leading family members who direct foundations also serve on the boards of various nonprofits to which their foundations often provide grants," implying a well-connected and like-minded group of people who share a single agenda and the resources to shape public policy in its political direction. - Eric Alterman and Paul McLeary, Center for American Progress, October 14, 2004
Air America Radio and the Center for American Progress are two important new efforts for our side, but they are not enough. We need to begin our battle to win the presidency in 2008 today, and we need a long-term strategy for better media coverage.
What we must do above all else is to debunk the many myths and outright lies promoted by the right wing, to make sure Americans are given the tools to see through right-wing tactics, and to counter the sound bites that resonate with Americans but either mean nothing or actually promote actions that are inimical to the best interest of most citizens. There are examples of the kinds of things we need to do on my website.
Some myth debunking is here.
An example of exposing tactics is here.
Granny Bee, a cross between sweet little Aunt Bea of Mayberry and Sam "I'm just an old country lawyer" Irvin, turns the tables on the "slippery slope" phrase - Click here and then choose a player for the “Assault Weapons” commentary.
Granny Bee debunks the idea that tax money is “your” money - Click here and then choose a player for the “Taxes” commentary.
Granny could be an important influence to help Americans become more skeptical--to think beyond the flip phrases invented by the right. But she needs your support. And so do I. Whether or not you decide to help with the larger effort, I hope you will contribute to my website to keep the lamp burning through these dark ages.