Bernard Weiner: Secret Rightwing Agenda Unearthed
Secret Rightwing Agenda Unearthed & The Liberal Resurgence (Fiction?)
By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers
This first article, which seems to have been delivered as a speech to a small group of Rightist movers and shakers, was discovered in a 2063 dig in the ruins of what was once the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. On the top of this copy were the words ''Confidential, For Your Eyes Only.''
This speech has not yet been verified, but its contents lend documented credence to previously discovered artifacts and articles concerning the history of the once-powerful rightwing movement in the U.S.
Below that planning document is a progressive essay found during another Washington dig the following year -- an essay that may well have helped pave the way for the liberal resurgence that followed decades of rightwing rule.
We remind readers that neither of these documents, apparently written in late-2004 or early-2005, has been authenticated -- even its authors are unknown. But they do seem to provide a valuable glimpse into politics in America shortly before and following the turn of the 21st Century.
-- Prof. Mary Andrew, Harvard University, Department of Social Anthropology (March, 2065)
SECRET RIGHTWING AGENDA UNEARTHED
We gather here today -- leaders in industry, government and civic life -- to re-affirm our patriotic goals. Our love of country, and belief in the wealth-producing virtues of American capitalism, demand no less than our full commitment to roll back the insidious institutions of socialist-type programs, lest they further pollute and destroy our society.
I know that the chronology I'm about to lay out is well-known to many of you, especially to us older conservatives. But many younger members of our "vast rightwing conspiracy" don't know enough of where they came from -- and besides, it never hurts to hear the good stories again. So here goes:
Liberals had been in control of most of America's public institutions since the 1930s -- the media, the courts, the Congress, academia, and, with a few exceptions (the diluted liberalism of Eisenhower and Nixon), the White House -- and their proto-socialist philosophy effectively was the dominant mode of thought of the country for decades.
But there were countervailing forces in the wind. Many of us recognized that it was high time to take back our nation -- Bill Buckley was there early on, laying the groundwork with National Review -- and so, finally, in response to the worldwide cancer of communism, in 1964 we were able to nominate, in Barry Goldwater, a true-blue conservative.
As it turned out, American voters were not yet ready for such a frank and dynamic leader. He was seen by many as an "extremist." It wasn't the voters' fault; we'd been able to take over the Republican Party from within, but we hadn' t done the requisite preparation work in the general public to make such an electoral victory possible.
BUILDING THE CONSERVATIVE INFRASTRUCTURE
The next time, we determined, we would lay the foundations for victory in such a way as to preclude the resurgence of liberalism ever again. Only in this way could our conservative agenda be realized to its fullest degree.
To accomplish this goal of total dominance, we recognized that we had to create, from the ground up, a massive conservative infrastructure that eventually would be unassailable. Yes, we realized that it would cost us a lot of money, time and energy up front, but we knew that we would come to see a huge economic and ideologic payoff down the road.
It took us decades to prepare the ground, but our movement began to take off big time in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan. (As suggested previously, we can't really call Nixon a true conservative.)
The Reagan years helped prepare the way for the institutional victories that followed in the '80s and '90s and early part of the 21st Century. The budding institutions we founded -- most notably much of the mass-media we now controlled, and our think-tank columnists and speakers -- aided considerably in critically weakening and effectively destroying the centrist-liberal presidency of Clinton.
The Democrat party played right into our hands when it nominated Gore -- tainted by his too-close association with the disgraced Clinton -- to succeed his mentor. Still, it wasn't easy getting our candidate -- not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree -- into power and keeping him there.
In both of his presidential races, Bush the Younger won only by the slimmest of margins, and in several instances needed, how shall we say, extra assistance from his friends. But now the liberals are preparing a massive counter-attack to oust conservatives from power. (Thank goodness we and our friends still have control over the election process, with privatized, secret, unverifiable vote-counting software.)
RETAKING THE PLEDGE
We therefore need to re-pledge our fealty, and a large portion of our financial assets and energies, to the following goals:
1. Consolidating our control of the mass media.
2. Increasing our control of the Congress.
3. Making more inroads into controlling the Courts.
4. Keeping control of the White House.
5. Rolling back the socialist programs from the FDR and LBJ days.
6. Tightening up our education reforms.
7. Strengthening our electoral base.
8. Increasing our redistribution of wealth upwards.
9. Further weakening of, and ultimately destroying, the Democrat party.
Let's take those areas one by one:
1. The Mass Media. True, today we do control most of the mass-media, especially those to which our base voters pay most attention: radio talk shows, Fox Network, cable TV anchors and pundits, along with our stealth mass-media: the fundamentalist churches and their publications and word-of-mouth networks.
But, in addition to not having full and consistent control of some of the larger-circulation newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, et al.) -- the liberal bastions in the Blue states -- we definitely do not exercise adequate control of the one fully free press in the country: the internet. There are numerous liberal/socialist websites and bloggers out there dedicated to our ruin.
It is necessary, therefore, to rein in the internet. This can be accomplished in a wide variety of ways -- either doing what we did earlier to the other media forms, buying them up and bringing them into line, or declaring a kind of " national security" martial law and take them over as "detrimental to the war effort." And, since our "war on terrorism" is designed to be permanent, our intervention will last forever. By and large, our friends run the large servers (AOL, Comcast, Microsoft, etc.), so it shouldn't be too difficult to accomplish this technically.
2. The Congress. Yes, we control both Houses, but the Democrat party still holds way too many seats, thus having a platform for attacking us -- and even filibustering some of our judicial nominees -- and a launching pad for their national campaigns. After decades of acting meekly in the minority, they are starting to get it into their obstructionist heads that they need to act as a true Opposition.
To put it bluntly, the Democrat party must be marginalized to the point of effective extinction. There is no way we can enable our agenda quickly if we permit them to exist and hinder our every initiative. In the same way we need permanent war to permit us to enact our foreign and domestic agendas, we need to treat politics as a permanent political campaign. Take lessons from Rove.
Go after our political enemies every day, as if we are running against them in an electoral campaign. Whatever it takes needs to be employed -- endless and expensive TV ads, running solid and (if possible) name and celebrity candidates against them in state after state and district after district, threats, dirty tricks, smear tactics, impeachment, recalls, extreme measures, whatever.
This is down and dirty smashmouth politics we're playing, which we've demonstrated we're far better at during actual campaigns. Permanent political war needs to be our motto. No more Mr. Nice Guys. The stakes are too high. Go for the jugular and slice and dice this opposition to bits.
3. The Courts. We've been able over the years to get our supporters onto the various federal appeals courts, but there are still way too many holdovers from liberal appointments. We've got to do a better job in packing those courts with our kind of folks whenever vacancies appear.
The Democrats in the Senate have filibustered our strongest nominees, and threaten to do so again. Nuke 'em. Remove the filibuster as one of their tools. True, by doing so, we'd give the liberals a massive weapon against us if and when they ever got back into power. But the idea here is that by taking the necessary action now, they won't get back into power, ever.
Effective one-party rule is what we're after and once we accomplish that, the hell with them. Short-term gain is always better than long-term wishy-washiness. We can always deal with unpleasant situations later, if we have to.
And, when those rare vacancies open up on the U.S. Supreme Court, we ram our youngish candidates through, no quarter shown to those who oppose us -- unless we have good stealth nominees who we can slip through without a real fight.
With our ideological supporters on the high court, we then will have total control of legal system, even if various Appeals courts are not fully in line, and thus can throw solid red meat to our more activist base: abortion, religious power, laissez-faire capitalism, free and unrestricted corporate use of the environment, etc.
4. The White House. Our history with Reagan and Bush the Younger demonstrates the effectiveness of our strategy to place lesser lights in the White House -- non-intellectuals with simplistic answers to complex problems -- that we can control from behind the scenes. We should continue this strategy, though we need to be aware that some of our choices often place our agenda and political tactics in jeopardy by their tendency to missspeak or stumble into telling the truth now and again.
Dumb but not too dumb should be our watchwords. But there are always are plenty of good candidates along those lines, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Other things to watch out for as we move forward in managing democracy:
* We might seriously want to consider doing away with presidential debates. They can be dangerous; we can't always control the situation.
* We need to resist with all our means any attempts to institute nation-wide voting reforms, including, of course, any moves to regulate the way votes are cast and counted. The current privatized and GOP-controlled e-voting system works just fine for us. And, of course, we need to permanently abolish exit-polling and other modes of so-called independent verification. We don't need them; they just confuse people.
* We must resist with all our might any attempt to have publicly-financed election campaigns. The current system works well, even if our opposition can raise as much money as we can. What we do need to do is to build a gargantuan, unchallengeable pre-election kitty -- billions -- well in advance, so that the opposition has to spend all its time playing catch-up and having to go to the same corporate sources as we do to get the big bucks, thus compromising their independence and leftward-leaning tendencies.
5. Smashing social programs. We must continue dismantling the various socialist programs from decades ago, starting with Social Security, Medicare, Head Start, Medicaid, and so on. Many of these programs are popular with the masses, so we can't always attack them frontally. But we can starve them to death -- blaming budget cuts because of foreign wars in the name of "national security" and "spreading freedom around the globe" -- or devise innovative alternative ways of ruining them, such as privatizing parts of them, and finishing them off later.
6. Education reform. We need to abolish so-called "liberal education" and curricula that emphasize critical thinking. Instead, we need to emphasize vocational training over broad-based education, and standardized testing over essay-writing. Public education can be starved financially, with more support going to faith-based private education. The end result of these reforms will be the raising of generations of malleable young people trained not to pay any mind to liberal strategems and theories.
7. Our electoral base. The fundamentalist movement is our bread & butter, and we must make sure to keep those folks happy. Bring them into the Administration, listen to their concerns, appoint them to high posts. We can't afford to lose them; in several states, they made the difference in getting us victories. But we need to expand beyond this guaranteed base; we made inroads into the African-American and Hispanic communities this time out, by hitting hard on gay marriage, but we need to do more. Don't let the Democrat party bring them back into the liberal fold. Bring their conservative leaders into the fold and use them for leverage.
8. Economic redistribution. Those who own businesses and offer major employment opportunities deserve our special support. We must continue to redistribute wealth upwards, by providing even more tax breaks to our friends in the corporate sector. The middle class may be even more squeezed, but this may not be a negative development for us, as they will be concentrating more on getting by in their daily lives, not paying all that much attention to our economic and political maneuverings.
9. Destroying the Democrats. If we follow the programs outlined above, the Dems should go the way of the Whigs into the dustbin of history. The key is: no mercy shown, no politics as usual, no compromise. They're out of here, and the public will jump on our bandwagon, even if they don't always agree with a particular policy, because they know there is no alternative. And because they know if they don't play ball with us, they won't get any of the goodies.
It will be argued by the opposition that our policies will harm the struggling middle class, outsource more jobs overseas, and create more poor people. But we can emphasize the virtues of self-reliance, faith-based aid, and trickle-down economics. That's why, in concert with slicing away at these social programs, our tax cuts must be made permanent; this is a win-win: Our wealthy supporters (including ourselves) will be happy; maybe some of that money will wind up creating jobs for the less-fortunate.
In summary, if we do all that's outlined here -- and remember that what we say today is absolutely confidential; we can't risk our agenda being aired in public -- we can guarantee perpetual rule for ourselves and our kind for decades and decades to come. God Bless America!
THE LIBERAL RESURGENCE
Look, friends, we've lost the last two general elections by a hair (if we really lost, that is, in a fair and honest fashion); our domestic programs are in tune with the public's desires; we dominate a good many state legislatures and control a number of major governorships. In short, we're not dead or dying, but, especially after the 2004 campaign, when so many million new volunteers came on board, vibrant and determined.
We made lots of mistakes, and we can do much better, but the important thing is that many of us are more than willing to rock 'n roll for the cause.
But we're certainly aware that we face an opposition that doesn't play by the understood rules of civil discourse; in a sense, they've decided that the " Geneva Conventions" of contemporary politics, so to speak, are quaint and obsolete. Their only objective is to win and nothing stands in their way of victory -- certainly not truth and fair play. Smash-mouth politics, and dirty tricks, are key methods of stealing their way to victory.
As a result of this aggressive approach, many of us liberals and progressives -- used to playing by the rules, used to using logic and reason to combat our opponents -- have been thrown back on our heels. Recent, ruthless developments in American politics, introduced by Rove-ian Republicans, reminds one of how the Nazis handled their enemies in '30s Germany: With Big Lies, and threats of brutal retaliation.
And, sad to say, those techniques have worked just enough to deny us victory and to get themselves installed, fraudulently or not, into power. So many Americans, badly educated in politics and history, and kept in a constant state of fright and confusion by the Bush Administration -- still milking the 9/11 attacks for political gain -- have permitted themselves to be swayed by the rightwing propaganda machine into voting against their own self-interests.
BUSH FORCES PEELING AWAY
But, as the imperial foreign wars grind on, for no good reason -- with thousands more dying and being maimed -- and as more and more popular social programs are decimated or eliminated, a good many Bush voters are finally coming to realize that maybe they made a bad mistake in November of 2004.
They have come to agree with us that the Bush folks are greedy, irrational, mean-spirited, power-hungry, selfish and ruthless -- in short, not the kind of political leaders who are interested in helping out the common people and in protecting the long-term national interests, but only in short-term gains and in aiding themselves and their wealthiest supporters.
Given that many more sections of the population -- including true conservatives -- are waking up to the realities of the Bush Administration, a window of opportunity is available to us, if we're strong and savvy enough to take advantage of it.
As often happens with arrogant leaders, they tend to believe that they are untouchable and can do anything they want. Since nobody has been able to stop them to date, they believe nobody ever will be able to stop them. And so they overreach, behave abominably, initiate policies that are self-destructive.
We are seeing that now in both foreign and domestic areas.
RUSHING TO WAR IN IRAQ
Their first war, in Afghanistan, was only partially successful. It could have been totally successful, but the Bush Administration wasn't terribly interested in that scenario. Bin Laden and his top cadres were more useful to them politically if they were still out there. So the U.S. arranged the installation of their guy, Karzai, in power and quickly abandoned Afghanistan in order to move on to their real target, Iraq. Of course, they had to tell a whole passel of lies to get their war started, but start it they did, in a big hurry before the U.N. inspectors reported that there was no WMD in Iraq.
Iraq is a thoroughgoing disaster, but once again, the neo-cons in charge of U.S. foreign policy are eager to move on to the next wars, against Iran and Syria -- although they may wind up having to deal militarily with North Korea at the same time.
The Bush Administration seems to feel they'll be able to install a U.S.-friendly government in Baghdad, but the recent elections may prove a disaster for U.S. aims, since Iran-friendly mullahs and ayatollahs will be in charge, either out front or behind the scenes.
Bush always has said that if the Iraqi government requested that the U.S. Occupation should end and the troops depart, of course that request would be honored -- but that they didn't anticipate such a likelihood would ever materialize. But it may -- then what?
"SHOCK & AWE" AS OBJECT LESSON
So two festering wars still going on, and maybe three more on the way -- all this in the face of high desertion rates in Iraq, inability to meet recruitment quotas for new troops, forcing old ones to stay on and return to duty, and a military draft necessity that would be political poison. (Another huge terrorist attack in the U.S. might provide enough political cover for re-instating the draft.)
Now the Bush Administration would prefer not to have to invade Syria and Iran and North Korea. It's hoping that the example of "shock & awe" bombing and regime change will do the trick, and the leaders of those "axis of evil" countries will bend the knee appropriately to U.S. demands.
But the lesson that many countries seem to be learning is that the only defense that might work against the U.S. is to arm itself quicly with nuclear weapons, thus re-creating the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) scenario that kept the U.S. and U.S.S.R. from annihilating each other during the Cold War.
The Bush Administration finally has come to realize that none of their geopolitical moves in the Middle East will be effective unless there is some major progress on the Israel/Palestine issue. So it is engineering a cease-fire and more talks between the warring parties.
BUYING TIME IN THE MIDDLE EAST
It hopes that the Israel/Palestine pot will stop boiling long enough to permit the U.S. a claim to a kind of victory there, while it moves aggressively to alter the geopolitical realities in the rest of the Middle East.
But one can guarantee that the slaughter will break out again unless the U.S. is willing to force Israel to abandon virtually all its settlements in the West Bank, to end its Occupation, and to somehow agree to give the Palestinians rule of part of Jerusalem, perhaps under an International City mandate by the U.N. (Of course, the Palestinians also must come through by agreeing to the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, and to cease its terror attacks on that country.)
There is no indication that the hardliners in Israel have any desire or plans for abandoning the major West Bank settlements, or in doing much more than giving the Palestinians a severely circumscribed, geographically and economically non-viable state.
The Bush Administration is gambling that the Palestinians, worn out and desirous of any kind of peace and state of their own, will accept whatever compromised Palestine the Israelis offer. Perhaps the present Palestinian Authority leadership will be tempted, but the hardliners in Hamas and Islamic Jihad will ensure that such offers will be rejected. And then it's back to the usual bloodbath on both sides.
Taking all the above into account, it's clear that the neo-con Bush Administration is vulnerable on its wars and its diplomacy, despite Condoleezza Rice's fresh face.
BUNGLING ON SOCIAL SECURITY
But the Administration also is overreaching domestically, and thus is highly vulnerable there as well.
Its incompetence in foreign and military policy -- best expressed in its never-ceasing bumbling in Iraq -- is matched in its domestic policy battles.
The best example of its overreaching arrogance in this regard is its attempt to "reform" (read: decimate and ultimately destroy through privatization) Social Security. The Administration is having trouble selling this destructive, dangerous plan not only to seniors and Democrats but to Republicans as well, who are hearing from their constituents that this is a non-starter.
But rather than back off, Bush and Rove are determined to brazen it through, hoping that their lies and distortions will do the trick, just as they did in getting the country to approve of going to war against Iraq.
Here is our best chance to hand the Bush Administration a huge, embarrassing defeat, and to build on that for other such battles coming up on Medicare " reform" and judicial appointments of extremist nominees.
Of course, it ain't gonna be easy; we still have to battle the corporate-controlled mass media to get our message out, but the times are right for making headway even in that difficult area.
With a revitalized Democratic National Committee, millions of revved-up volunteers from the 2004 campaign, huge political warchests from internet-inspired donors, the beginnings of a liberal infrastructure building, increasing resistance domestically (and worldwide) to America's bullying approach abroad, and more and more moderate conservatives peeling away from the extremist Bush Admi nistration -- with all these developments, it is entirely possible that what we are part of right now is the start of a liberal resurgence in this country that will turn politics around in the near-future.
Keep on keepin' on. We will prevail.
Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet and Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org).