The first consideration of this essay is to establish definitions of some of its most relevant terms. Of course this should apply to all debate and discussion.
Conservatism: commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation... the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas... Oxford Languages
A disposition in politics to preserve what is established...a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change, specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs ... the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change – Mirriam-Webster
Democracy: 1a: government by the people, especially rule of the majority
b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections - Mirriam-Webster
Equality: the quality or state of being equal (like in quality, nature, or status...like for each member of a group, class, or society) - Mirriam-Webster
Liberalism: Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. - Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics
A political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties, specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class) - Mirriam-Webster
Progressivism: of, relating to, or characterized by progress...one believing in moderate political change and especially social improvement by governmental action - Mirriam-Webster
Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized. - Oxford Languages
There are basically two versions of what ails our country. As always, the proponents of each version are blaming the other.
An easy, albeit incorrect, assumption would be the notion that both sides share the blame.
Not this time.
This isn’t another bi-partisan blunder and tragedy like the failed and cruel war on drugs, or de-regulation of Wall Street, or invasion of Iraq.
This affliction is rooted in a long tradition.
Since the American Revolution the republic’s experiment in representative government has been suffering from a toxic flaw that is inherently adversarial to democracy and equality.
This flaw has been characterized by immorality, greed, racism and authoritarianism. In fact it is as authoritarian as the Monarchy that drove the colonists to rebellion. The new nation was founded by wealthy white men, who rightfully resented being ruled and taxed without representation.
They held progressive ideals of the Enlightenment, including consent of the governed, inalienable rights, and all men being created equal.
But there was a contradiction of those ideals that would become the most serious defect in the Great Experiment in representative democracy. Many of those wealthy white founders owned slaves. They believed in the culturally accepted superiority of white Europeans, or white colonists, over Black African Americans.
Brutality inflicted upon slaves and native tribes became the human price for the preservation of the wealth and power of white elites.
That power was always dependent upon the support of poor white people, including the degradations of child labor and sweatshops. The elites needed to assure poor whites of their superiority over Blacks and Native Americans. They needed to convince them equality itself was a threat to them.
Racism was an essential component of early American economic power, and its expansion through its concept of Manifest Destiny.
Native Americans were removed from their homes, killed or forced onto reservations. Even after Emancipation and the Civil War, African Americans suffered terrible cruelties and injustice under Southern white supremacy and social conservatism. The Klan and post-reconstruction Jim Crow laws and poll taxes extended inequality into the 20th Century.
Institutionalized racism was built into the foundation of the republic and American conservatism. This unique American conservatism has left a long trail of oppression, strife and war.
Let’s take a moment to clarify. I’m not saying conservative values are racist. Personal values like faith, marriage, family, honesty, responsibility and patriotism are decent and worthy conservative values. It’s good that conservatives embrace these values. If that’s what they feel are conservative values, good for them. No harm done. Of course, these values are not exclusively conservative.
Liberals and progressives also share these values, despite the contrary claims of political propaganda from conservatives on the far Right. The same propagandists have been smearing and unilaterally re-defining liberalism and progressivism as “socialism”, “Marxism”, “Communism” and even “Fascism”.
Indeed, liberalism is framed as an evil threat to all that is good, while conservatism is portrayed as virtue itself.
In recent decades America’s political conservatism has morphed into a blend of far Right white nationalism and cold-blooded corporatism. Xenophobia, intolerance, greed, and bigotry are its uglier elements. Democracy and equality are not its values. These remain liberal/progressive values.
Public healthcare, public education, Social Security, Medicare, environmental protections, higher taxes for the rich, corporate and banking regulations, and other progressive values are far more popular with the people than are reflected in government policies.
Conservative political methodology is to seize and hold power by any means, and to basically stomp on the downtrodden and coddle the rich.
Obstruction of Obama’s judicial appointments was elevated to extremes by Republicans.
Now Trump is filling the obstructed court vacancies held by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with unpopular theocratic corporatists.
The Supreme Court was hijacked by McConnell through his disregard and disrespect for the Senate’s Constitutional role in voting on Obama’s selection of Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court vacancy. “It should be up to the voters”, he claimed.
That was then. Now he’s rushing Trump’s latest candidate just a few weeks before the election.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 57% of Americans want the winner of the presidential election to nominate Ginsburg’s successor.
“Consent of the governed.” How quaint. How antiquated. Conservatism overrules the will of the people by holding a disproportionate amount of power in government. There is no equality of representation. The Senate Republican majority represents a significantly smaller, and whiter, portion of the population than the Democratic minority.
The president did not get more votes than his opponent. Consent of the governed was again demolished by Electoral College.
Along with the Electoral College, a disproportionately conservative Senate, and by extension, the courts would become vestiges of conservative Southern slave states.
This is not a democratic republic that reflects the will of the people. It’s as if “consent of the governed” didn’t appear at all in the Declaration of Independence.
Ideals of the Enlightenment were compromised to entice the Southern colonies to join the United States. They weren’t as dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Equality and consent of the governed wouldn’t apply to African Americans. They were one third of the population in the South.
The Civil War didn’t eliminate racism or its horrible effects on African Americans.
Racism and inequality were still prominent into the 20th Century and beyond. Confederate flags and monuments are as popular as ever among far Right American conservatives.
The Civil War ended, but the struggle for equality, voting rights, and civil rights continues.
In their denial of this fact, the conservatives of the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
Today’s conservative media and Republicans engage in the most dishonest far Right propaganda since Goebbels. “Fake news” is their equivalent of the Nazi’s “Lügenpresse”, or lying press.
Journalism isn’t the only target of the far Right. Any source of information that disproves their conservative propaganda becomes a target. Scientists, doctors, educators and historians are fair game for their evidence, facts and truths that the far Right prefers kept in the dark.
American political conservatism is nothing more than the far Right propaganda and machinations required to maintain minority rule by the wealthiest of our population. The greatest threats to conservatism have always been democracy and equality.
Throughout our history conservatives have obstructed every stage of progress towards democracy and equality. They opposed independence, emancipation, civil rights, voting rights, labor rights, and women’s rights.
Conservative royalists sided with the Crown in the Revolution. Conservatives sided with racist Southern slave owners through the Civil War. They violently suppressed ex-slaves after Reconstruction. They slaughtered and removed native tribes from their homes.
They resisted women’s suffrage, and stood athwart civil rights and voting rights for minorities through the 20th Century. They have continued to engage in voter suppression well into to the 21st Century.
They are blocking and dismantling our Constitutional provision for the general welfare. They howled “Socialism” and “Statism” in their outrage at Social Security for a public safety net, and at Medicare for public healthcare. Now the Republican president is proposing the elimination of the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.
And throughout this war on democracy and equality, conservatives have worked relentlessly to deny women’s right to reproductive freedom.
The enemies of democracy have been ramping up their war for the last 40 years, since Reagan advisor Paul Weyrich openly stated, "We don’t want everybody to vote. When everybody votes we lose.”
Unprecedented and extreme gerrymandering was imposed by Republicans, marginalizing minorities’ access to fair representation.
Then came more restrictive voter IDs that mostly impacted poor urban Black people.
Then came purging of voter rolls that disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters.
Then came limiting voter registration drives, targeting the League of Women Voters among others.
Then came limiting poll access by reducing the numbers of polls and last minute changes of poll locations.
Then came the efforts directed at elimination of same day registration and early voting.
Minorities and especially Black communities were targeted. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that HB 589, often referred to as North Carolina’s “monster voter suppression law”, was enacted with “racially discriminatory intent" that targeted African American voters with “surgical precision.”
Then came the candidate who declared the election would be rigged if he lost. He then denied losing the popular vote, and pushed lies about millions of “illegals” voting.
Then came the sabotage of the United States Postal Service to hinder mail-in ballots.
Channel 4 News revealed a 2016 vote-suppressing propaganda scheme by the enemies of democracy and equality. They were targeting Black people to deter them from voting.
“Channel 4 News has exclusively obtained a vast cache of data used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign on almost 200 million American voters.
It reveals that 3.5 million Black Americans were categorised by Donald Trump’s campaign as ‘Deterrence’ – voters they wanted to stay home on election day...In 16 key battleground states, millions of Americans were separated by an algorithm into one of eight categories, also described as ‘audiences’, so they could then be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other platforms.
One of the categories was named ‘Deterrence’, which was later described publicly by Trump’s chief data scientist as containing people that the campaign “hope don’t show up to vote”.
Analysis by Channel 4 News shows Black Americans – historically a community targeted with voter suppression tactics – were disproportionately marked ‘Deterrence’ by the 2016 campaign.
In total, 3.5 million Black Americans were marked ‘Deterrence...The 2016 campaign preceded the first fall in Black turnout in 20 years..”
“Gov. Abbott issues proclamation CLOSING (as of Oct. 2) satellite offices where voters can drop off completed mail-in ballots. Counties can only have 1 dropoff point, he says. Travis has 4, including 3 downtown. Harris has 12.
Abbott says move, which also requires early voting clerks to let poll watchers observe ballot delivery, is an election security measure. Clerks said the multiple dropoff spots were to help voters, particularly amid questions about Postal Service efficiency.”
Also: “Texas can enforce law that ends straight-ticket voting for the Nov. 3 election.”
Reporter: "Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of power after the election?"
Trump: "We're going to have to see what happens. Get rid of the ballots and we'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control.”
This is a rogue autocrat bent on destabilizing our democracy by constant and deliberate efforts to delegitimize our election.
During the first debate with Joe Biden, he instructed his armed militia nuts and Proud Boys to “stand by”, and to intimidate voters at the polls. He was asked, and refused to condemn white supremacists.
He did the opposite. He threatened more confrontation and lied about who the most violent ones are. "Proud Boys -- stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem."
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress the bureau is putting racist violence on the same threat level as foreign terrorist groups.
“We elevated to the top-level priority racially motivated violent extremism so it's on the same footing in terms of our national threat banding as ISIS and homegrown violent extremism.”
They are Trump’s foot soldiers. His Brownshirts. His SS.
The Kenosha killer broke the law before he pulled the trigger on his victims. It was illegal for him to be carrying his weapon in public. No matter. The authoritarians of the far Right are defending this type of vigilantism. "Law and order for thee, but not for me."
Many of these brainwashed authoritarian bigots are threatening civil war if Trump loses the election. Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, heard Trump's "Stand back and stand by" as "Get ready for war."
“Not a right wing problem”.
There has never been a greater enemy of the people in the White House.
The Trump Republicans’ war on democracy has now reached the brink of fascism.
The militia nuts, Proud Boys, 3%er’s, the Klan, white fundamentalist bigots, and the Republican Party are with him all the way. Right wing terrorism will escalate if Trump can't steal the election
Conservatives do not want a democratic republic. They have always wanted minority rule.
When not in power they obstruct. They will capitalize on the Electoral College and their disproportionate representative power in the Senate, and their lock on the courts. To hold that power they will behave like authoritarians and despots. They will lie like fascist and communist dictators. They will cheat, blame, scapegoat, and falsely accuse the opposition.
They will assail dissent and call progressives or Democrats who question them “libtards”, “snowflakes”, “cucks”, traitors, socialists, and communists.
These are the fetid fruits of conservatism that have been rotting the core principles of our Republic. As far Right conservatives demonize opposition and howl about “fake news” and “Marxism”, these enemies of democracy and equality are leading the nation down the dark path of authoritarianism.
The resentment, divisiveness, willful ignorance, anger, lies, and hate from the conservative far Right have degraded our media, schools, and society. They have poisoned our law enforcement, our politics and our government.
It is difficult to exaggerate the threat they have become to our nation.
Not since the Civil War has the republic seen a more dangerous domestic menace.
And if they don’t get their minority rule, another civil war is what the worst of them will want.
And once again, they won’t be fighting for democracy and equality.
Dave, so very well said.
No argument from me. Kind of quaint though to base actions upon philosophy and outdated notions like democracy. I thought this was a team sport!
The cons see it as a team sport. They are the Harlem Globetrotters, and that makes their opponents the Washington Generals. Not that they would would make such a colorful metaphor.
Rules are for losers.
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