How did we get to the point where a man, through his actions and inactions, literally killed over a quarter of a million Americans, almost five times the people killed in the Viet Nam war, and may ultimately have killed close to a half of million before the pandemic is over, could still get a vote of confidence from over 70 million Americans? To answer that question I must do something I really don’t like to do, which is to judge or condemn another person. However, I don’t think you can fully appreciate the gravity of our current situation without understanding the evil that has made it possible.
Recently I witnessed an interview on program called Axios on HBO of the conservative billionaire Charles Koch. Mr. Koch claimed his purpose for giving the interview was to apologize for supporting candidates in the past who went on to become responsible for dividing the country and instituting polices that are anti trade, anti immigration, anti political compromise in government and that promote racism. He claimed he was surprised by the policies they pursued and that he was mislead prior to supporting them. Then in the very same interview, he endorsed the Republican David Perdue for senate in the Georgia runoff election; a man who’s ads suggest he will continue to do exactly what the people Koch claims to disavow are doing to this very day. This man, who was raised by a Nazi governess and was a former John Burch Society supporter, wants nothing more than for our government’s policy to continue to promote pumping oil out of the ground and burning it in the atmosphere and thereby furthering the destruction of the environment. His only interest is supporting the fossil fuel industry, which is the foundation of the empire that has made him the second richest man on Earth, with more money than he could even begin to spend in his lifetime. He doesn’t care about any of that because he’ll be dead long before he can experience the consequences of his actions. I don’t begrudge any man his greed, but to do so in the name of the very things needed to reverse what’s occurring, is consummate evil in my opinion.
What’s really disturbing about all of this, is that so many Americans still buy into that kind of Republican, Reaganomic myth that by allowing wealthy corporate moguls to become wealthier at taxpayer expense will somehow improve the lives of the average American and that government is the enemy that threatens to enslave them. Seventy million Americans are knowingly or unknowingly, actively seeking to destroy America in defense of that belief. I would like to take a stab at explaining why this is so.
Around 2007, Americans experienced in a way that was undeniable that the Reaganomic myth was a lie when they lost 30% of their net worth to corporate bankers and insurance industry executives. So enraged and incensed were they that they completely rejected all things Republican. They so whole heartedly and completely embraced the Democratic Party in 2008 that they elected a black president, the ultimate symbol of rejection of Reagan Republicans, and provided him with a super majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Not since the Reagan election in 1980 had Americans given their elected representatives such a clear mandate. It was a mandate to do two things:
- Take retribution on those who stole their money.
- Prevent bankers and insurance companies from taking their homes and small businesses.
That kind of mandate calls for drastic measures, fueled by outside the box thinking. They intended for the president to risk everything, including his own reelection, to carry out their mandate. The last thing they wanted was to carry out some moderate status quo policy that included them loosing their homes as well as their jobs and careers and gradually readjusting to some lesser standard of living that required longer work hours and less pay for survival. Perhaps it was an impossible expectation and the need for many of them to make those kinds of adjustments was inevitable, but it was the last opportunity for the Democrats to prove that their Franklin Roosevelt philosophy of strong central government monitoring and regulating industry to benefit the public for its protection and welfare – the very model adopted by all of the free democracies of the world – was the direction America should be heading for the foreseeable future. Sure, improved and affordable healthcare was a generally recognized need, but it was not the immediate mandate. By taking no drastic action to hold those responsible for the real estate debacle to account and failing to tie bank bailouts to commitments to refinance toxic loans and provide loans to small business fighting to stay afloat in the wake of the disaster, the Obama Administration left the public with the sense that people with money are above the law and the working man was just the means to an end for rich people and the government. That left much of the American population vulnerable and wide open to the idea that even if you don’t have a lot of money, you should at least be able to depend on your white privilege to get by.
That things happened the way they did was surprising to me because Obama seemed to recognize all of this early on. When asked what previous administration his presidency would likely be compared to, his answer was Franklin Roosevelt. I fully expected him to be giving the equivalent of fireside chats every night to the public in which, for example, he explained the difference between a recession and a depression, the difference being the former is when your assets lose value and the latter being when you loss your assets all together, as an explanation of why the bank bailouts were necessary. I expected to see the presidents of AIG and Bank of America being marched out of their executive suites in handcuffs. Not only did that not happen but also he appointed some of the very people responsible for the breakdown to his cabinet and allowed many of the culprits to be rewarded with huge bonuses while the victims of their treachery were being evicted from their homes. If necessary, he should have compelled by presidential decree for the banks to refinance mortgages and issue small business loans as a condition for their bailouts. Whether all that would have worked, no one can say. But failing to at least try is what has left the Democratic Party with almost no credibility, especially among many middle class whites and is the reason the Democrats are always on the defensive in an election against republicans, regardless of how weak their opponent’s positions and arguments are.
The recent elections clearly indicate that the majority of Americans have had enough of Trump, but by not giving Biden a clear majority in the House and Senate, they are also saying they are still not ready to trust Democrats and Democratic policies to improve their lot in life, thereby giving Trump license to continue to reek havoc on our democracy long after his defeat. The senate runoff election in Georgia will be the true test of whether the country wants to give Biden a fighting chance of turning things around or if they’re are just satisfied to be relieved of Trump but with no interest in forwarding Biden’s agenda. Unfortunately, unless Biden can operate from a position of strength, there can be little hope of bipartisan governmental policies and we will continue to drift towards a feudalistic system of government in which the super rich own all the property and capital and the rest of us live of the leftover scraps they happen to throw our way. That’s just the way Mr. Koch wants it.
I understand almost half the population’s reluctance to trust democrats with their future. But if you are white, the worst thing that can happen after four years is things won’t have changed very much from the way they are now. You have everything to gain and nothing to loose by giving Biden a chance to make good on his promises by giving him control of the Senate. Democracy has taken some serious body blows the past four years and is on the ropes. Please; give it a fighting chance to recover.