On the Path Forward, Part 4 of 5
So there is, if you are sharp, more reasons for getting to know your local legislators than just being able to ultimately make an impact on them, and possibly even get them to vote against damaging proposals.
In the past, I have taken flak from religious people for not being willing to hear their concerns. Like most people, I have often reacted negatively — defensively, to such accusations. One of the things that happens when you get defensive like that most commonly is that you think “oh hell no!” and then you look for a reasons why you aren’t whatever you are accused of.
Following that most common of thinking is the most common of responses: “well, no, and here’s an example of why — I have friends like Kathy Baldock and Lance Jayden who are deeply religious people.”
Seriously, if you don’t know who Kathy Baldock or Peterson Toscano are, you should go and find out.
But understand something else — it is really fuckin horrible when someone does shit like pull out the “Friend” card. Because there is no logic, no honesty, no value in doing so. You do it to evade and avoid, to shield and to obscure, to distract and to ward away the actual problem, which is not listening to the accusation about you.
And worse — defensiveness hits only when you don’t really want to face something about yourself you already know to be true, but don’t like.
Now, knowing that, and recalling that earlier I said “in the past”, understand that I haven’t done such when it comes to religion in a very long time. I can say that I don’t need to do so, in no small part because unlike a lot of folks, I recognize the value that religion has in our lives, personal and collective.
I do listen. Closely. My being outspoken like I am is not a new thing, but, really, while I have long had strong opinions, my willingness to express them have not always been as strong as they have been the last decade or so.
More common for me is a willingness to help other people express their opinions, and crafting things around those opinions to support them. I enjoy the task of thinking things through.
These days the accusations are more likely to center around race (in my case, that I am not sensitive to the needs of white people by folks who have obviously never looked at my family, lol, let alone where I live or what I have done most of my life), and partisan politics.
I liked the fact that Bernie Sanders entered the Democratic party primary. Yes, I will note that his particular brand of populist politics is “#whitepolitics”, and I will note that people of color overwhelmingly opposed him.
But that doesn’t change that I liked what he did. He moved the discussions in the party to the left and kept them from moving more right than they already had moved. History is almost certain to record him favorably for that task — and others, such as Warren and even Booker, will likely be remembered as well in that vein.
I spent 21 years as a member of the Republican Party. The ideals I celebrated, I enjoyed, I embraced, that I was raised on, were why I was in that party. The very ideals I often speak to now.
Chief among them was human rights, which almost certainly is worth a good belly laugh, because we know now that for much of the last 60 years, the Republican party has done its best to dismantle such.
But, really, is it the Republican party? No, no, I get it – they are the enemy. Tea Party and Religious right and all that. But for several thousand years, when you have an enemy, one of the first things a smart mother fucker does, something known from the boardrooms of business and the gilded chambers of the rich down to the local street thug peddlin safety to skinny kids is “know your enemy”.
In the novels Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Katniss Everdeen is told more than a few times to “remember who the enemy is” — and we, carried along in this journey with her, buffeted by people and circumstance when all she wants to do is keep Pris and her Mom and Gale and Peeta safe, feel the same emotional reaction to that statement: the enemy is Snow.
Just like we have been told the enemy is the Republican party.
But that isn’t really true, is it?
It is a general statement, and has value there, but, really, now, bear with me, and let’s look at something important here.
When I was in the Party, my particular section of it was called Rockefeller or Goldwater Republicans. I grew up, both in the world at large and in terms of my political growth, surrounded with that. It meant a distrust of globalization, but it meant a reverence for human rights, a strong favoring of intelligent thinking. And with it, truly, came a deep and abiding mistrust of the extremism of the Religious right that came to dominate all the politics of the eras. Especially after Carter.
OMG< after Carter — the most openly religious President in ages. The guy who gave away the Panama Canal. Who opened the door for the repatriation of Hong Kong. He actually offended the Religious right so much they did the very same things that the Tea Party did decades later. And they never stopped doing it. This is part of why there is so much overlap there.
An interesting thing about that — the core of the Religious right, the real fire and brimstone folks who pushed this stuff through, who drank the Rushdooney flavored pisswater, they *chose* the Republican Party. And it was a big deal, because most of them had been Democrats. These were the people whose parents had been saved by the New Deal. They had supported it, benefited from it, and they had survived the Dust Bowl and the Depression and a World War and they were fucking pissed like you cannot imagine at Truman for integrating Blacks into the Armed Forces.
And they lived, primarily, in South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, and Arizona.
The Religious Right. That is their core region. We even have a name for it: The Bible Belt.
These days we can add Utah to that list.
Now, for an even more interesting thing for you to think on.
The Religious Right began to dominate Republican Politics beginning in Carter’s term. They claimed massive local victories in the mid term elections in 78. They did it on the backs of the victories involving those damned gay teachers and with the support of the Catholic Church and the Baptist Churches. The closed down Johns Hopkins gender center through the appointment of their pet Good Christian who went in saying that was what he was going to do before he even got the job.
They had help from the oppressed groups they hated in the process, by leveraging the internal fight that was going on among them to divide — a division which is still not fully healed today.
They did that. They claimed the moral high ground and then they got pretty drunk with power. They shut down the ERA, they took Nixon’s strategy nd ran with it — Law and Order means keep those poor crazy people in line and DOnt forget Twinkies and now we have trickle down economics and holy doodoo and pass the ammo.
Then came Cable.
In the mid 90’s, they owned Politics. Then a guy from Alabama — one of those states that is their stronghold — grabbed the Presidency, and they grabbed Congress. The rise of Gingrich was not accidental, it was entirely part of the goal there.
They essentially declared war on everything that FDR was about. Truman was the real villain, remember, but he wasn’t talked about as much as the three time President with the decidedly not a role model wife and the Intellectual, effete disdain for religion that so offended them.
He was a Northerner, after all. Dismantle those things, they said, the Churches should do those things. Government was a business, should be run like one, and look at how God fearing folks had succeeded doing it and look how they are good white people.
They didn’t say “white people”. That’s just all they showed. And it got worse when a Black family was top of the TV ratings. Meaning Popular.
The Government is a business deal was not new — it had been pioneered in those states mentioned earlier at the local level. In one case, as a push to recognize a holiday for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr reached a cresendo, one Governor they had supported (a used car salesman by trade) refused — outright refused — to do so.
The state was damaged tremendously. Internally, it led to s shakeup where Dems kinda regained control for a while, but they had to be moderate.
There was a rebirth of Dems under that Alabama boy, though, at the local level, and that in turn triggered a shift in those folks in those states.
The Religious RIght began to lose power, because their message wasn’t doing what others wanted. Others wanted Power, for its own sake. They wanted wealth. They wanted no taxes, and no government, and they loved the ideas of people like the billionaire Ross Perot about how people need to be fuckin standing on their own two feet, not weighed down by governmental regulation and not by the people who had been in power for freaking ever, and BY GOD when you say no new taxes, there had damn well better not be any new taxes.
They bitched. They moaned. They got their Randian savior to run. And, again, and this is key, they had their core power base situated around South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, but also Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Utah, and Arizona.
This group, too, *chose* the Republican party. Their rise to power, especially in its early stages, drove the last of the Moderate Republicans out. Killed the Goldwater/Rockefeller Republicans. Gerald Ford was such. Only time one ever really occupied office. Not too memorable except for his pardoning Nixon and being shown by Chevy Chase as a bumbler.
Sounds like history to most, but really, all of this is sociology. All of this is the stuff that goes on when a Structure is being attacked by the very people that it exists to Oppress, and this is what people who benefit from that Structure do.
Did you notice anything there?
This new group became the nucleus of the Tea Party — they were not many, and if you want a nice concise idea of how they did what they did to the Republican Party, read Indivisible.
A long while ago, when this site was crammed full of posts going back a decade before my bad times hit and it went offline, I wrote about a gathering together across the nation in small groups and hammering out ideas and then working, separately, across the country, and sending representatives to a single big meeting to hammer out details of a really cool thing and the response to that post was “eh, not really possible” despite it happening over and over again not only every two years, but around 240 years ago in a bunch of places while the people doing so were declared seditious and traitors.
That’s what the Tea Party did.
That’s what the Religious Right did — only they had the meetings every sunday.
But I want you to really note that these groups are only republicans by default. These days, they essentially control the party bottom to top, and there is no one currently in office except for a handful of Northerners whose small states are more libertarian in nature anyway who is not beholden to one or both of those groups.
Including the so called Maverick who started out a Goldwater disciple and then sold out after he tried to interfere with a federal investigation of a savings and loan magnate.
Power for Power’s sake.
This is why I call the Republican Party by a different name these days. I call them the Regressive Party.
The goals of the groups in power there are to roll everything back. Newt Gingrich recently noted that killing the ACA and them Medicare are the first steps in rolling back the New Deal.
Now we have the remaining malcontents who have, once more, as their power base, those states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Utah, and Arizona.
One difference — and it is an important one. This group has been active online, and been radicalizing online, and their message is contemptuous, embracing the very heart of what should be obvious to anyone who has made it through this post to this point.
They oppose human rights openly. They mock those who do support the idea. They operate in bands, in groups, in mobs that use social media as a lynching ground to intimidate and terrorize those who openly dare defy them.
They are the most extremist of all the rises, and they have catapulted their allies because, really, their allies did all of that stuff they did for the same reasons, but weren’t interested in being open about it.
Barack Obama. President.
Which, when their brains translate it, reads “A Black Man as President.”.
There is no greater threat to structure, to Power for Power’s sake, than when the very people who that Power is supposed to harm rise to the top of that power’s system.
Now, I am pointedly not saying that Racism is the basis behind all of this. It is not. It is part of the excuse for this, it is the emotional basis for a lot of it, but it is not the basis.
Oppression: the combination of social power with aversion, anxiety, and/or animus, singly or in any combination.
The source of this oppression is an ongoing failure to deal with the understanding that South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, Utah, and Arizona were all states where the rights of some human beings were ignored, and the basis of this refusal to permit them to have human rights was that they were less than, of less value, less capable, less deserving, less useful, and generally good only as property.
So we ask ourselves, now, who is the enemy.
Perhaps it would be better to ask what is the enemy.
Because the enemy isn’t a Party — they are merely the convenient scapegoats. A way to attack a large and while not particularly diverse group of people, still people. It is a great generalization tool, but there is a risk that comes of such a use.
The enemy really isn’t that. They are the tools of that enemy. They are acting, mostly, without understanding in a truly conscious and aware way of what it is they are defending, and they are defensive about it when confronted with it.
But they are only the tools of it.
The enemy is the Structure itself. The ideas, the systems, the policies and the laws and the basis by which they argue — and it is not wise nor smart to forget that the very document which was created to fix the problems of a government that failed to govern itself incorporates that lesser existence and continues to provide validation.
Remember the Revolutionary War ended in 1783. George Washington was not named President until 1789.
It took six years to create a nation founded on the principles of Human Rights.
Six years after a war against Oppression to create a nation founded on it with a document that itself propelled Oppression.
Another war was fought over Oppression. Some like to argue that it was about money. White folks, who have ties to those states listed above, really. Who see nothing wrong with flying the flag of betrayal and of a desire to perpetuate Oppression.
It was the bloodiest war in the nation’s history.
Then we did it again, having finally reached a point where we were able to compete on a global stage, as the Oppression of Empire was challenged and the process of breaking them up began. Wasn’t happening fast enough, and some folks didn’t get the message (some folks never do — important to remember here, since we just talked about a bunch of them), so we had to do it again, and in both cases, those wars we bigger than us, and in both cases we did our damnedest to stay out of them.
We aren’t perfect. As a nation.
And a part of the problem is that we like to fight over whether or not we should do something about oppression, instead of actually doing something about it.
Even on the Left.
Over the next two years, we are going to watch what Structure does when the Agency of the Oppressed becomes too strong. This is, truly, the fight of our lives.
This is the fight before we become a force so overwhelming that the electorate is changed forever.
They know it is coming, those who favor Oppression. They know it, and it scares the fuck out of them, so they shift the conversation to money, knowing that money can insulate you from such things.
Money can protect you from oppression, from seeing it, from feeling it, from having to deal with it. This is why the wealthy are “above” all this, and why they so often make mistakes when trying to speak to it.
It cannot protect you from stigma, but stigma is only a manifestation of part of Oppression.
When you get to know your local legislators and city councilmen and even your congressmen, you personalize their acts of oppression. You embody it.
But, more importantly, when you do so without being defensive about it — and there is never a need to be defensive about Human rights and opposing oppression (although we often have a need to do such and be such when it comes to racism, or transphobia, or homophobia, or misogyny and sexism, or ableism) — you open something that you don’t always realize you have the ability to open.
A way forward that promises that America is the Land of the Free (those who are not oppressed) and the Home of the Brave (those who oppose oppression).
The last part will come tomorrow. The history lessons and asides are done.
All of this will be available as a single download at the end of the next part.