While angry partisan hack Brett Kavanaugh snarls about the vast, vindictive, well-funded Left Wing conspiracy conducted on behalf of the Clintons, the people whose plan to put a permanent corporatist majority on the Supreme Court is likely about to come true are laughing into their cocktails. They’re not laughing at Kavanaugh’s childish performance, that truly doesn’t matter. They’re laughing in the giddy realization that their sixty year long game is finally bearing such wonderful fruits. With the beautifully orchestrated 80,000 vote Electoral College victory of a supremely malleable vain, wealthy imbecile and the appointment of their picks for the federal courts that decide what’s constitutional and what’s not, these freedom loving old fucks can finally die in peace, leaving vast, untaxed fortunes to their liberty loving offspring.
The Left Wing Conspiracy Kavanaugh fulminated against the other day during his tearful denials of sexual abuse alleged against him brought us exactly one president: Bill Clinton. Clinton moved his Democratic party quite a bit to the right in order to win approval and a second term. “Our first black president” is as often called the “greatest Republican president of the 20th Century”, and there is a strong argument to be made for that second proposition. He signed an anti-crime bill that wildly accelerated America’s mass incarceration crisis (for the poor, the wealthy are doing well with privatized prison stock, thank you). He signed off on the repeal of Glass-Steagall, a law put into effect during the Depression to prevent the next massive, speculation-fueled economic disaster, a law that had worked well for 66 years. Within eight years of its repeal, the dismantling of the wall between risky financial investment and government insured consumer banking brought about a vast, predictable economic catastrophe (again, for the middle class and poor– for the already rich, it turned out to be a boon, go figure!). Clinton “reformed” welfare. He told homosexuals that as long as they keep their mouths shut, they could stay in the military. His health care plan died on the drawing board. A real liberal firebrand, Mr. Clinton. In addition, recall the army of vitriolic enemies who emerged to make names for themselves fighting Clinton’s tyranny and immorality– Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and a young Brett Kavanaugh among them.
On the far right, the once lunatic fringe has conducted a brilliant long game, learning from their mistakes, perfecting the uses of a public influence machine with many moving parts to normalize their extreme and unpopular views, eventually capturing the Republican party. By lunatic fringe I mean the founders of the radical right John Birch Society. Not surprisingly, the fire under these very rich boys was set by the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Bd. of Education, ruling that the former Confederacy’s “separate but equal” racial segregation of schools (it’s done nationwide, didn’t mean to malign the now solidly Republican southland) was in fact an unconstitutional denial of equal rights and equal protection under the law. The history of “massive resistance” to this belated attempt to enforce the constitutional amendments made to extend equal protection to former slaves and their descendants is a long and ugly one, and ongoing.
In 1958 this small group of very wealthy men, including Robert Welch, maker of Sugar Babies, and Fred Koch, father of the infamous Koch Brothers, organized as the Birchers, sought to fight back against what they felt was federal government overreach. Their political descendants would make a move toward mainstream respectability by morphing into the Libertarian party, a group that embraces American liberty and opposes all “government coercion”. The government, they argue, may not coerce integration, segregation or anything else. The government is, and must always be, merely a guarantor of personal liberty, the only truly precious human value: the right to choose.
The comical aspect of this assertion was lost on these serious, angry white men, threatened at the very core of their autonomy. There was nothing funny about what was at stake. A rich man’s right to choose what to do with his own goddamned money is the only value government should protect. The rest of you motherfuckers are free to make any choices you like about your own money, and we will defend your right to do that, just don’t ask the government to do anything else for you fucking parasites.
Among these rich guys were some brilliant men, including autocratic Charles Koch, an engineer who used his skill, and some of the reported three hundred million inherited from his father, to vastly increase the profitability of his many family businesses, and his political influence. They understood they were playing a long game, had to build a lot of infrastructure, institutions that could bring about the endgame they were seeking: permanent freedom, for everyone, from all government interference. It was, as they understood it, tyranny for the government to penalize the wealthy for the benefit of the poor and the useless. Why should rich people be forced to pay for something they got no benefit from? It was economically illogical, morally wrong.
The closest to the mainstream these forces ever came, until recent years, was Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. He espoused many of their core beliefs. He lost badly in 1964, to a liberal who would betray the powerful men of the South by passing laws to protect the rights of blacks and poor whites, including the goddamned Voting Rights Act– a deadly threat to those wealthy men who had always ruled the South– give low cost government-subsidized health care to old people, use the federal government’s newly expanded powers to wage a senseless and futile war on poverty.
These rich Libertarians soldiered on. In the mid-1970s they founded their first “think tank”, the Cato Institute. Funded by Charles Koch, we can probably date their movement’s present day power to this move as much as to any other single choice made in the long course of their ascendance. Koch realized they must create institutions that could train and graduate a cadre of dependable warriors, men who would not waver, who could forcibly argue their case and withstand the public tyranny of popular democracy. He learned this lesson from the strategy of Vladimir Lenin, ironically enough. Lenin succeeded in toppling the Czar by creating a well-organized leadership cadre and having a small army of dedicated, loyal believers in place to seize power all over Russia.
The Libertarians ran David Koch as their vice presidential candidate in 1980. They employed a loophole in the then campaign finance laws — no limit on what a vice presidential candidate could spend of his own money– allowing the Koch network to basically fund the campaign themselves. Koch and his running mate garnered a mere 1% in the national election. An accurate reflection of the percentage of Americans who would actually benefit from their program.
Realizing the massive unpopularity of their views, they began relying as much on extra-electoral power as on influencing democratic elections. The real power in America, they realized, is the Supreme Court, final, unappealable arbiters of the law. The best way to change the hearts and minds of Americans is by taking over every state government in the country. The state houses, they understood, were the minor leagues for national politicians. It behooved them to cultivate a constantly replenishing network of up and coming true believers. For years they focused their electoral strategies on the state level, where there were also, conveniently, far fewer restrictions on how much they could spend to influence these races.
The rest of their story has become more well-known and open in recent years, their confidence about taking their bows publicly has come with their great successes. They created, among an army of influential organizations, a corporate-legislative partnership called ALEC, active in most states. ALEC provides legislators with model laws they can sponsor, written by legal academics at conservative Think Tanks. “Stand Your Ground”, the state law that allows someone with a reasonable fear to shoot to kill anywhere he is with his gun, is an ALEC law. So are laws placing restrictions on voters likely to oppose their carefully vetted candidates. Many states have voter restriction laws that have been rendered constitutionally inoffensive by a recent Supreme Court decision declaring the racism that formerly motivated such restrictions definitively dead in the US, as shown by the election of a popular black president. The Court ruled that there is no longer a need for the federal government to restrict or even scrutinize state laws that tend to disenfranchise particular kinds of voters.
When Barack Obama became America’s second black president, the Koch network immediately organized and funded the spontaneous outpouring of popular rage against him, the “grassroots” Tea Party. In the midterms they spent a fortune primarying moderate Republicans out of office in Congressional elections. The new, radical Tea Party Congress was tireless in its obstruction of anything Obama proposed, even going so far as shutting down the government during a showdown with the president. After Citizens United, their corporate avatars were legally allowed to spend as much money as they wanted to get their candidates elected, this unlimited spending was deemed a corporate “person’s” “free speech”. Finally, a Supreme Court that would advance the rights of the persecuted “persons” who’d been the real victims all along, the eternal, legally-created vampires known as corporations.
These extreme and unpopular right wing views have now influenced several generations of academics, lawyers, and politicians, as well as an industry of self-proclaimed pundits. Their views have been tirelessly promoted and are now embraced by about a third of average Americans, who tend to vote in a block for politicians who spout these populist sounding principles. These extremely wealthy men and their corporations are closer than ever before to actually achieving their dream of permanently ending all “government coercion”.
Who is the government, and who are the goddamned scientists of the world, to say that lucrative corporations are destroying the earth, regulate their profits in the name of trying to slow catastrophic climate change? A well-funded, cleverly run decades-long campaign has transformed a good proportion of Americans, values voters, into sophisticated “climate skeptics” who doubt the veracity of the world’s scientists and the cynical politicians who cite them, men and women who don’t really care about the earth but want to kill jobs and punish the job creators. Parasites. Fucking parasites, all of you.
Welcome to the Supreme Court, Brett, and never be ashamed to embrace the radical values that will protect liberty, free Americans from the tyranny of government coercion and make America great again.
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean