The demonstrations in Wisconsin continue, and represent something great about America, and something horribly broken. The Wisconsin demonstrations are a testament to the brilliance of our Constitutional design insuring the right of the people to publicly voice their opinion about government without fear of retaliation or necessity of violence. They are also a symptom of the gridlocked and grossly ineffective political system that governs America's present, and ill-fated future.
Our nation's Constitution is a necessary, but, insufficient requirement to produce a competent and capable government of, by, and for the American people. The demonstrations in Wisconsin represent many currents in our society clashing against each other, like ideological differences, economic theory differences, and historical interpretation differences. But, at the heart of the Wisconsin demonstrations is a power struggle not unlike that in Egypt, to determine who shall control government and the fate of the people, the wealthiest power brokers, or the common sense and informed free choice of the people themselves.
The reason these Wisconsin demonstrations are occurring now, and not years ago, when Republicans had control of the federal government, can be traced directly to the Citizen's United v. FEC Supreme Court decision which, opened unlimited election spending to the deepest pockets of America's wealthiest and corporate coffers. The only deep pocketed voice capable of representing middle class workers and consumers in America and standing up to the opened floodgates of corporate and individual wealth spending on elections, was the labor unions.
The labor unions are the last obstacle to the complete takeover of America's political future by the corporate and wealthy individual special interests like the Koch Bros., Exxon-Mobil, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce membership. Therefore, a year after the Supreme Court ruling, the first major launch of a crippling blow to labor unions and their workers was provided by the new Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, and State legislature Republicans. No one dislikes the idea of workers having power to bargain with employers, more than the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers, Charles and David. As Mother Jones outlines from verifiable public records:
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used political maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.
Now, who is Scott Walker working for in this action against public Wisconsin workers? The Wisconsin people, or the Koch Brothers? Where is Scott Walker's record against public service workers in the past? Oddly, it doesn't appear until after receiving the funding for his election victory by Koch Industries, and realtors who have a vested interest in lowering property taxes on the properties they sell, and that means going after teacher salaries, among others. Wisconsin schools are rated among the best in the country. And now special interests are willing to sacrifice that standing for a few dollars more in lower taxes or ending worker rights to negotiate with their employers.
The connections between corporation interests and the GOP real and well established. The Republican Party first aligned itself with corporate interests in the elections of 1892 and 1896, in response to the populist movement which had gained enormous strength and power, since the end of the Civil War. The courtship between the Republican Party and corporate wealthy special interests resulted in marriage in the 1936 presidential election attempt to unseat the popular Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President. The only way the Republican Party could hope to launch an effective campaign against FDR's well funded reelection, was with a massive cash infusion from corporate and wealthy special interests, opposed to so many of FDR's tax increasing policies in favor of the working classes and unemployed. That 1936 marriage has stood the test of time, to this very day. The Republican Party remained a competitive but, minority Party in America throughout most of the decades between FDR and today, holding the reins of majority power in government only briefly during that time.
The GOP remained competitive with the Democratic Party with its financial support from wealthy business interests, and non-wealthy voter support from conservative Christian social issue groups, and tax hating rural folks, who didn't and couldn't, because of distances, rely on government services to keep their homes safe, or put out the barn fire before it was destroyed, or deal with daily garbage accumulation which is a must in urban areas. The 1992 'Contract With America' was primarily a social issue campaign centering on rural Christian family values, and it worked for a brief time, until Pres. GW Bush and a Republican Congress (with some Democrats help) made the economy the number one issue with the Greatest Recession since the Great Depression, bankrupting homeowners and small businesses, costing middle class 401K investors and Pension plans billions, and doubling the federal national debt from 5.65 Trillion to over 11 Trillion dollars in just 8 years.
Today, it is nearly all about the money. Even Sarah Palin this week, said the whole 'Birther' Issue and 'Obama as a Muslim' was a distraction, and not true as far as she was concerned. A bit late to the table. Nonetheless, Palin's remarks signify the shift of priorities within the GOP's rhetoric, from social phobic issues to financial and economic ones, despite GOP House efforts to once again revoke funding for Planned Parenthood and interfere with millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for HIV testing, pregnancy testing, and a host of other reproductive health issues, this last week. It must be said, that there is a budget cutting element to this move which has arguable merit in light of the new health care law kicking in and current deficits.
The GOP has donned the role of Humpty Dumpty, who broke the economy and is not even concerned about finding a way to put it back together again. What they are doing, however, is making every effort to impede economic recovery while President Obama is in the White House, and lay the blame for it at Democrat's and Obama's feet with the help of funding from the likes of the Koch Bros. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This explains in part, the overtly contradictory messages and actions of Republicans. Let's look at some examples.
On July 3, 2010, Representative John Boehner (R-OH) asked: "Why isn't the president focused on creating jobs that the American people are asking for?" On Feb. 15, 2011, Boehner said, "over the last two years
since President Barack Obama has taken office, the federal government
has added 200,000 new federal jobs." And that's just federal excluding private sector jobs created since his taking office. Oh, the contradiction! Which is it, Mr. Boehner, is Obama ignoring jobs, or has Obama's policies created 200,000 government jobs for unemployed Americans? To the unemployed, it matters not whether they get a job with the government or the local merchant. When you are out of work, getting hired and earning an income is what matters. To the unemployed, it should matter that they became unemployed as a result of 8 years of economic mismanagement during the GW Bush years.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R) put forth the only Republican sponsored deficit reduction budget plan to date, and the thrust of it would send our economy back into a recession at the very least, causing increased lay offs, in addition to growing the national debt in the long run. How contradictory can one be when decrying the president's budget as too little in deficit reduction. Ryan's own budget plan will cause the economic recovery underway, to run backwards by cutting deficits deeply and immediately, laying off 10's of thousands of people. In addition, his plan cuts taxes and dramatically reduces federal revenues, which in turn actually grows the debt in the long run as a result? C'mon, Mr. Ryan, your contradictions are as dramatic as your budget plan is a failure at addressing long term national debt.
But, there is the thing. Its not about deficits and debt, short term or long term economics for Republicans. It is about winning power, no matter the cost to America or the American people, in order to carry the water for the GOP funders, the Koch Bros, corporations loopholing their way out of taxes and off-shoring American jobs to foreign workers abroad, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce whose wet dream is economic anarchy where everyone is free from regulation to compete for monopolistic power over all workers, consumers, and competitors, through Darwinian execution of competition. In other words, truly free enterprise without legal or regulatory constraints.
And that is why Republican actions in Wisconsin, offending the sensibilities of millions of American voters at the very least, and their publicly stated plans for the economy, make no rational or logical sense. Doesn't have to. These things are not their top priority or end goal. They are tactics designed to say different things to different people. Winning control of the White House and keeping control of at least one body of Congress is what their actions are really about. Deficits and debt are tools in the verbal war to win that power.
But, how can they hope to win if they keep making false claims, contradicting themselves, and alienating voting workers, one might intelligently ask? And the answer is simple, money. With the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case, and the full financial support of deep pocketed, record profitable corporations and wealthy multi-billionaires like the Koch Brothers, they intend to control the media message which gets to voters in 2012. That media message will paint a picture which leaves audiences believing through redundancy and shear weight of volume, that it is that man in the White House and his evil liberal union loving Democrats that are destroying our nation's future. Now, if 51% of high school educated voters hear that, 3 times for every 1 of the counter message by Democrats, in 7 or 8 key battleground states, Republicans win back the White House. Or, so goes the plan, and their probability estimates, on the matter.
The demonstrations in Wisconsin are a symptom of an ever deepening war between Democrats and Republicans for raw power to repay their supporters in the near term with the borrowings, without consent mind you, from future generations. Future generations will have their own crises arise requiring deficit spending, but, their ability to borrow to deal with their own crises is being taken away from them by Democrats and Republicans elevating our national debt to the highest levels in our history by 2020, and beyond, if nothing changes and both sides continue this war for power between them at the expense of regular main street Americans. And it will be at the expense of regular main street Americans if they fail to pass a realistic and effective deficit and debt reduction plan, both sides will stick to.
And there's the rub. Even if Democrats and Republicans pass a bi-partisan plan for deficit and debt reduction, they will not stick to it. The deep pocket vested interests supporting their election and reelection campaigns will not permit them to stick with the Grand Bargain if passed. They will demand more their own interests. The Wisconsin demonstrations are a symptom of our teeter-totter government, in which Democrats and Republicans take turns reversing each other's long range plans, too often every 4 to 8 years, such that America strides headlong toward the precipice without a long term plan ever having a chance of maturing and solving the long term challenge. Unions have been declining for decades, a result of a constant barrage of criticism from the Right against workers having a say in their contract with employers as well as corporate greed within and lack of foresight by unions themselves. Unions now, however, constitute the last obstacle to corporate and wealthy special interest control of election year messaging and media coverage.
The American people, and their children, are going to have to take control of both of these political parties or, become the expendable foot soldiers in their war with each other. The wealthy don't fear the future, that's a big part of why they wanted to be wealthy. If need be, they will leave a broken and battered America to take up opulent living in Europe or S. America. But, what an inconvenience, eh? So, the Soros' and Koch Bros. fund the political war between millionaire Senators and millionaire wannabe Representatives, over who will control the future of America for the wealthiest. Notice, that the American workers and non-wealthy middle class and poor have little role in this scenario except as pawns, and symptoms like the good people of Wisconsin exercising their Constitutional right to be ignored by their elected representatives. There's many Wisconsin worker who voted Republican in 2010, who now regrets that vote, intensely.
The Wisconsin demonstrations are a symptom of far greater hardships and internal conflicts to come before America rescues herself from this political civil war bankrupting her future. It is now estimated a billion dollars each will be raised by the Democratic and Republican candidates for president. Will you or I see any benefit of that 2 billion dollars spent to elect or reelect a president? Not likely. It will nearly all go to media corporations, marketing and advertising firms, legal firms, corporate call centers, and the U.S. Post Office for mass mailings. Will it really matter who is president if this political teeter-totter continues to destroy every plan either Party ever gets in place to rescue our future? I think the answer is pretty clear.
Democrats will not cut spending which will alienate their voters. And Republicans will not raise taxes on those funding their election year campaigns. That leaves regular Americans in the middle, headed toward national bankruptcy, unless they use their Constitutional right to Vote Out Incumbents of both parties, until those parties are forced to act on the people's behalf in order to stay in office. The ball being batted back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, is really, in the voter's court. The voters are the referees who can call foul on both Parties until they are forced to comply with the rules of protecting and defending our great nation's future.