Whether they admit it, or not, the oligarchs of Corporate Wealth, who stand behind the Republican Party are nervous. At the top, though behind the scenes, the GOP is run by a kind of American Aristocracy, made up of whose financial interests dovetail. Their central problem in maintaining political power has been that the economic policies they prefer are not really in the best interests of most Americans. Because of this disconnect they have made common cause with religious fanatics, gun fanatics, misogynists, homophobes and racist hatred of people of color. While most of the Republican field of Presidential candidate are bought and paid for by different members of this elite set, currently the polls are being led by Trump and Carson, who for different reasons are not malleable to their will. We can see this nervousness by the interview with Charles Koch recently, where he seems bemused by the situation he’s created.
Sean Illing at Salon.com wrote Charles Koch’s Frankenstein Problem: He Created the Tea Party Monster — and Now He’s Horrified With the Results. It opens with this:
“I’m a big fan of irony, which is why I enjoyed this Wall Street Journal profile of Charles Koch so much. In an interview with Patrick O’Connor, Charles – evidently the more diplomatic half of the two most politically active Koch brothers – spoke somberly about the tone of the 2016 presidential race and of political discourse more generally. “It’s mainly about personalities and ‘your mother sucked rotten eggs,’” he lamented to O’Connor.
On the one hand, I understand Charles’s frustration. After all, he and his brother are looking to invest $750 million on this election. When a man, his brother, and 450 wealthy donors build a national network of umbrella organizations in order to dictate political outcomes via dark money, they expect to get the results they want.”
Here’s the problem: The Koch brothers, whether they know it or not, got exactly what they paid for. If the tone of our politics has sunk to Cro-Magnon levels, it’s because the process has been flooded with money and propaganda and rabid right-wingers who’ve coarsened the discourse and made compromise impossible.”
Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch’s and was probably their preferred candidate. Walker, the perfect stooge was an early victim of a fanatic Republican base, bent on creating chaos. Walker’s problem, other than his distinct lack of charisma, found his greatest strength of imposing right wing policies on a formerly left wing state, oddly his greatest liability. The forces unleashed by the Koch Brothers and others with the “Tea Party” are not interested in governing, they are interested in destroying the Federal Government. Walker’s being actually able to govern was a liability.
Illing goes on:
“The Tea Party, from the very beginning, was designed for disruption, and it was a pet project of the Koch brothers (they actually created the first national website for the movement). Charles Koch says he’s interested only in advancing “free-market, small-government ideals,” but what he’s done is manufacture a faux-populist movement that has whipped the conservative base into an anti-government frenzy.
In the process of serving his narrow and self-interested ideological ends, he allowed the worst elements of the conservative movement – the xenophobes, the nationalists, and the theocrats – to hijack the Republican Party. Initially this worked, because it sent obstructionists to Congress whose only mission was to shut the government down. But, over time, it’s created a political climate in which it’s nearly impossible to govern. And it’s prepared the way for someone like Donald Trump (whose campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is a product of Americans for Prosperity), who exists only because he’s been able to tap into the sentiments let loose by the Tea Party movement.
Hence the incredible irony of a Charles Koch bemoaning what’s become of our political process, a process he, as much as anyone, helped engineer.”
The creation and animation of the Tea Party has been something that I’ve looked at and I’m going to show how the “Tea Party” came into being.
he corporate media in what passes for mainstream news-casting and publishing in America, has long been in the control of our nation’s wealthy elite. With some exceptions, since the 50’s it has served as a propaganda arm of wealth. What strikes me most though is that our mainstream media are the dupes willing, or unwilling, of people who would revise past history in a manner akin to what Orwell predicted in the iconic book “1984”. With a majority of our congressman owing allegiance to the “Tea Party” movement, this movement is now portrayed as being the joining together of ordinary citizens to express their views. That is not only false history, but is a downright lie.
The 2010 elections, which gave the Republican Party the majority in the House of Representatives, were portrayed as the elevation of a “Grassroots Movement”, composed of the spontaneously combustive wrath of ordinary citizens fed up with a bloated government. It was indeed a seminal moment for those people who disdained taxation, government handouts in entitlements, and the seeming waste of our tax dollars. The initial angry explosion was a reaction to the proposal and passage of the Affordable Care Act . Rallies were organized, town hall meetings disrupted and a “hit list” of both Republican and Democratic members of Congress circulated.
The initial mainstream media reaction to this nascent movement was one of disdain, particularly because it was seen as an “out of the Beltway movement”, thus not to be taken seriously. However, this changed in a large part led by FOX News and copied by its “wannabe” CNN. Led by these Cable outlets, thirsting for sensation to fill their 24/7 news maws, all media began to follow suit, not wanting to be left behind. I find it interesting though, that as late as April 22, 2010, Politico, hardly a left wing outlet, noted that unwarranted attention and media frenzy had begun, elevating the status of this purported movement: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36185.html It is ironic that this article, while laying out the irrational amount of attention given to the Tea Party, at its end discounts the effect the movement would have on the election. Its authors certainly were not prescient.
Lost in the tumult of media exaggeration and sensationalism was the fact that this was not at all a grass roots movement of average Americans, but a crafty example of political manipulation, laid out in tandem with the compliance of Rupert Murdoch’s news network’s assault upon all things they deem liberal. The prime mover in this is Richard “Dick” Armey, a former Texas Republican Congressman, House Majority Leader, and major senior lobbyist at a worldwide lobbying firm. Armey created the mythology of a grass roots movement, guided its progress, arranged, and then paid for its “spontaneous” events.
Dana Millbank, in the Washington Post related the involvement of Dick Armey in this movement. “Dick Armey is intellectually versatile: The former leader of House Republicans went from being a rainmaker for a Washington lobbying firm to being the unofficial leader of the anti-Washington “tea party” movement. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/15/AR2010031503730.html
After the 2010 election victory, sweeping away as many “old school” Republicans as well as Democrats, the media both expressed shock and provided substantive background on what had just taken place.
“There is particular irony in Mr. Armey — who has spent three decades in Washington, where he has become one of the city’s most enduring insiders — mentoring a movement that wants to hold on to its outsider ethos.” http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/dick_armey/index.html
The vehicle for Mr. Armey’s maneuverings is an organization called FreedomWorks, which if you go to the link below you will see a picture of Glenn Beck and a link to receive kits to be used in August disruptions of Town Hall Meetings. http://www.freedomworks.org/ FreedomWorks has its origin in an organization called “Citizens for a Sound Economy” which is not surprisingly a creation of the Koch Brothers that was tactically split into two entities, one being FreedomWorks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_for_a_Sound_Economy
In trying to make sense of politics and the forces competing within it context is everything. By its nature, politics is the art of using popular mythological themes (i.e. No New Taxes, less government, terrorism, etc.) to rouse the populace to given action. The Tea Party Movement, Freedom Works and even Dick Armey have every right to try to influence our political system. They also have every right to utilize what mythology they please, or can create, to advance their cause. Whether there is danger to our political system in their belief in, or promotion of, their myths should not result in suppression of their rights. That is not the Constitutional way in our country. Indeed, their aims and their backers are not hidden, but easily researched, as I’ve done cursorily here.
My concerns are that for this country to remain democratic and viable under our Constitution we need the information and context supplied by a free press, bolstered by freedom of expression. When the popular punditry and the mainstream news media do not supply context, but actually play a role in creating myths about the forces engaged in struggle for the hearts and minds of people, our democratic institutions suffer.
That the so-called Tea Party is a movement backed by some of the most powerful forces in this country to put forth an agenda that is beneficial to them and represents their ideology, should be contextually a part of any news report, media sound bite, or internet article. The myth of this movement being a spontaneous uprising of average citizens is well represented in media reportage. For the average citizen struggling to keep their families and themselves together, getting their news from small doses of mainstream media, it serves to reinforce the myth by omitting context. That this amalgam of people, led cunningly by a Washington Insider and lobbyist, is confused as to their purpose and misled by an ideology that is possibly antithetical to their needs is best represented by that well known poster, prominently shown at a Tea Party Rally: “Keep yourGovernment Hands off of my Social Security and Medicare!” Such is the effect of political mythology on the minds and actions of people.
The truth of the “Tea Party’s” inception is not hidden from view and the facts are blatantly out there. What is important though is that the cable news media, press and the Washington punditry continue to describe the “Tea Party” in terms of its meme and myth as a grassroots entity and thus are complacent in a deception of the American people.
Daily we see stories about these “Tea Party” legislators elected to office on all levels of our government. They are falsely portrayed as populists, who are “fed up” and ran for office to “change things” and return to our Constitution. Large percentages of “Tea Party people in polls still believe that Barack Obama was born in Africa and is a Muslim intent on destroying Christianity and America. They see him as a communist, socialist and fascist simultaneously intent on dismantling our capitalist way of life and crushing American exceptionalism. I understand that one can be a reasonable person and oppose Barack Obama’s activity as President. I oppose some of his positions strongly and I votedfor him. However, if you believe the “birthers” and those who call him radical names, then I must say in my opinion you are delusional. He is a slightly right of center Democrat, hawkish on foreign policy and deferential to the Corporate Plutocracy. He may be a Constitutional Scholar, but he certainly hasn’t done enough to protect our Constitutional Freedoms. Yet we see this ultra right wing faction of the Republican Party thinking Obama as the anti-Christ and believing they are part of a spontaneous revolution performed in the interests of “protecting” America. Here’s why that isn’t true.
As Al Gore wrote a few years ago:
“A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health reveals that the Tea Party Movement was planned over a decade ago by groups with ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote the anti-science, anti-government agenda of powerful corporate interests.”
“….Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, used to be a single organization that was founded by the Koch brothers and heavily financed by the tobacco industry. These organizations began planning the Tea Party Movement over ten years ago to promote a common agenda that advocated market fundamentalism over science and opposed any regulation or taxation of fossil fuels and tobacco products.
The disturbing history of links between market fundamentalists, the tobacco industry and the Tea Party movement is part of an even larger trend that I describe in my new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Following the era of Progressive and New Deal reforms that restrained corporate influence in American politics following the infamous Robber Baron Era, market fundamentalists were once again motivated and radicalized by the social turbulence of the 1960s. In 1971, a prominent lawyer for the tobacco industry, Lewis Powell, wrote a memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that presented a comprehensive plan aimed at shifting the balance of political power in favor of corporations. President Nixon appointed Powell to the Supreme Court just two months later.”
Gore goes on:
“Guided by the Powell Memo, market fundamentalists have pursued a comprehensive strategy to dramatically increase corporate influence in American politics. Powell himself worked with other pro-corporate justices to interpret laws in ways that were favorable to corporate interests, most importantly expanding the precedent of corporate personhood. As a direct result, corporate lobbying exploded, increasing from $100 million in 1975 to $3.5 billion in 2010. Corporations also used increasingly voluminous campaign contributions to promote the election of pro-corporate politicians at all levels of government. Wealthy donors founded conservative think tanks to influence public opinion in favor of market fundamentalism. The Tea Party is a clear extension of Powell’s strategy to promote corporate profit at the expense of the public good.”
We see that there has been an obvious, ongoing strategy on the part of Corporate interests to expand their power through the funding of “front movements” disguising themselves as protectors of the rights of the American people. Gore concludes:
“Our democracy has been hacked by this expansion of corporate power, preventing meaningful action on several crucial issues. The climate crisis is an instructive example. The strategic goal of the market fundamentalists to “reposition global warming as theory not fact” has created enough false doubt around the issue to hinder progress. The potential consequences of climate change have never been clearer than they are today. Consider what we saw in America just last year. 2012 was the hottest year in American history and 60% of America experienced drought. Extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy, caused over $110 billion of damages. Yet Congress remains paralyzed, with many lawmakers even refusing to acknowledge the validity of climate science. The future of our planet demands that we put the sustainability of our planet before corporate profit.”
I must admit that I have been somewhat disappointed by Al Gore since the 2000 election, where I thought he didn’t fight hard enough to win the Presidency, in light of the Bush team’s shenanigans of cutting off a recount in Florida. His reluctance to take the battle to Congress did great harm to our Constitution. When he came out with his book on climate change and its’ movie, I began to warm to him again. However, since I’m not a fan of the policies of the Clinton Administration, of which Gore was such a prominent role-player, I see him as the kind of Centrist Democrat, that has been too easy a “mark” for the forces of Corporate Plutocracy.
In 1969 I saw a great movie by Luciano Visconti titled “The Damned”
. It was an epic film that chronicled the destruction of a super wealthy German Family that backed Hitler’s rise in Germany, only to find that he wasn’t manipulable and then found themselves eventually destroyed by their creation. In thinking about the Koch Brothers and their creation of the Tea Party, I can’t help but draw an analogy. They have helped to elect a group of radicals that hate government, who are bent on destroying government, rather than governing. That Charles Koch now views the Republican political scene with dismay is indeed an irony and he might suffer the bad consequences of his creation. When governing becomes impossible, anarchy prevails and in a climate of anarchy the most guns win.