I am not paranoid, nor do I subscribe to any of the “conspiracy” theories surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy or other momentous events which lend themselves to such explanation, but in the case of the US political right wing, I do often suspect that there must be an evil wizard behind a curtain pulling the handles and throwing the switches. It really does seem at times that someone, somewhere, is orchestrating everything, calling the shots and issuing the marching orders – making sure that Republican legislatures and governors act in concert, making sure that all the right wing talk shows sing in the same key, making sure that right wing pundits write with the same pen, and making sure all Tea Partiers sing from the same hymnal.
Look at what’s happening all over the country with apparent lock-step order and precision. It’s as if the person or power calling the shots has presented the following playbook and insisted that all follow it without exception:
- Reduce voting rights by claiming “voter fraud” and instituting requirements that reduce the franchise for the poor and minorities by requiring a picture ID, reducing poll times, limiting early or weekend voting and making registration more complex.
- Reduce or abolish all business regulations by calling them “job killers” and a “drag on the economy” or “driving jobs overseas”, and in doing so, abolish or significantly weaken OSHA, and other agencies and laws whose role it is to protect workers.
- Oppose the Affordable Care Act, refuse to accept the Medicaid expansion part of the law (but don’t come up with a better way to insure everyone).
- Attack, weaken and ultimately abolish labor unions and workers’ rights through changing labor laws, calling them unfair to business and a hindrance to job growth.
- Attack, weaken and ultimately abolish safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare, claiming they are close to insolvent and responsible for the budget deficit.
- Reduce taxes on corporations and individuals, claiming that they are too high and inhibit growth and stifle initiative (even when the US is now the lowest-taxed of all developed countries)
- Deny climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence, oppose all efforts to slow it like capping emissions or imposing a carbon tax and instead support the entire fossil fuel industry from coal to fracking.
- Attack public schools despite their being an egalitarian cornerstone of democracy and support privatization of education through vouchers and charter schools.
- Support corporations and business against the consumer, the environment and government regulation.
- Attack any and all gun legislation aimed at registration or background checks or other measures to keep us safer, support all legislative aims of the NRA.
- Oppose choice for women, support “pro-life” politicians and laws, put abortion clinics out of business.
- Oppose any kind of meaningful immigration reform, especially if such proposed legislation provides a path to full citizenship for illegal immigrants.
- Proclaim the “budget deficit” the source of all of our economic problems and reduce it not by cutting a bloated defense budget or agricultural budget or by increasing taxes, but by cutting programs that help people, like food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security.
- Protect the “free market” at all costs, despite its obvious failings. Claim that the “free market” will take care of the poor, provide opportunity for all, and repair our crumbling infrastructure.
- Oppose absolutely anything proposed or supported by our first black president, President Obama, without any regard for merit, common sense or popular support.
One day or a few hours of Fox News will contain mention of most if not all of the above as will a couple of broadcasts of Rush Limbaugh, a speech or two by Ted Cruz or another incoherent ramble by queen wingnut Sarah Palin.
So who is calling the shots? Is a to-do list or marching orders concocted at the very private and secretive semi-annual Koch brothers confab, this year held in late March at a luxury resort in Palm Springs and attended by dozens of billionaires (complete list of attendees obtained by Mother Jones)? Or are these concocted by think tanks like American Enterprise Institute and disseminated to all Republican congressmen and conservative pundits? Maybe it’s the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that has operated behind the scenes for so long and has presented laundry lists of pre-written legislation to Republican legislatures and governors across the country.
Perhaps there is no single power behind this list, or wizard behind the curtain, but the uniformity of conservative support for the above makes me wish for similar uniformity of purpose and support from Progressive forces in our country. But unfortunately, I am reminded of the famous Will Rogers quote, “I am not a member of any organized political party – I’m a Democrat”. Despite this unfortunate fact – Democrats and progressives are really all over the place – I am proud to be a Democrat, a Progressive, a Liberal and an Independent – and confidently and deliberately embrace the opposite position on every single item on the list.