Step 1: Citizens United, in which the Supreme Court found that the original intent of the Founders was to define Corporations as Persons for purposes of the Free Speech protections of the First Amendment, they just forgot to insert the word. [I had American history in the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades, and never learned that the Founders intended that, but then we did not use history textbooks written for schools in Texas].
Without limitations on corporate spending, and without disclosure of the source (so that those who objected could vote with their feet by not purchasing a company’s products), paid advertising overwhelms unpaid speech.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to plutocracy. The internet.
So long as we are still able, we can organize, debunk lies and slanderous claims, and disseminate widely and–here is what sticks in their craw–equally. All messaging is treated equal.
Hence, with the first step achieved, the number one item on the “Kochs and comrades” January agenda must be to destroy the last bastion of equality and democracy, the last threat to their power.
This article is a little too breathless in parts, but the basic message is sound. Anyone who pays even casual attention to Congress knows that as difficult as it is to pass progressive legislation it is even more difficult to undo regressive legislation. At that point progressives would be the Sisyphus movement, forever pushing a boulder up hill. I and most of you will probably be old and gray or dead before the damage from the conservative SCOTUS’s ruling that corporations have the same free speech rights as persons in Citizens United. I tend to think we’re most of the way to being a plutocracy. Many low to middle- income Americans tend to think we’re not for a variety of reasons. Mostly it is that one likes to admit they are in a situation where they are powerless or part of a system where they as an individual are near powerless. It’s like announcing your impotent to a crowd at the mall. I waver depending on the day, but it does seem like the net has prevented us from crossing that last line. Occasionally someone like Talking Points Memo, Digby or Glenn Greenwald will write something or break news that creates enough buzz to be a game changer. Choking off traffic to progressives, liberaltarians and those annoying moderates might be the last stop on the way to a Koch brothers dystopia.
Roosevelt and Wilson had plenty of differences, but in the long view of history their affinities loom large. For Roosevelt, presidential activism meant cracking down on the railroads, regulating food and drugs, breaking up trusts, protecting lands from exploitation, and arbitrating labor disputes. For Wilson, it involved regulating finance and the money supply, limiting the corporations’ demands on their laborers, aiding farmers, preventing monopolistic practices, and making the new federal income tax a graduated one. Just three months ago, I wrote in Slate that over the last century, almost no one has questioned these achievements; clearly, I hadn’t been watching enough Fox. Nonetheless, it’s telling that these Progressive Era reforms have enjoyed such an enduring and uncontroversial place in our sense of what government should do. Their long-reigning acceptance shows better than anything else just how deeply reactionary Beck and company are. ( he is referring to Teddy Roosevelt)
As this historian notes Wilson was ahead of his time in many ways, but had some policies which today’s post-JFK liberals find disappointing having some parallels in the G.W. Bush presidency – Wilson and was an interventionist (though he was far from being a neocon). Teddy Roosevelt doesn’t get quite the same treatment by modern Right as Wilson because Teddy was technically a Republican – there was a progressive wing of the Republican party at the time. Though Glenn beck has included Theodore Roosevelt among the terrible wrong turns the United States made in the alleged series of wrong turns away from the Founders original intent – Confounding Fathers
Part of Beck’s allure is the promise that he will reveal secret information. In one segment last year, he produced a drawing of fasces—which he described, anachronistically, as “the Roman symbol of Fascism”—and then a picture of an old Mercury dime, with fasces on the reverse side. “Who brought this dime in? It happened in 1916—Woodrow Wilson was the President,” he said. “We’ve been on the road to Fascism for a while.” Benito Mussolini, of course, didn’t adopt the ancient symbol of authority as the Fascist emblem until the nineteen-twenties; the designer of the coin, the sculptor Adolph A. Weinman, intended it to signify the nation’s military preparedness, and paired it with an olive branch to illustrate the desire for peace.
Beck’s readings of Progressive-era politics are nearly as bizarre. Whatever can be said about Theodore Roosevelt, he was not a crypto-radical. It was Roosevelt who coined the term “lunatic fringe” to describe the extreme leftists of his day, and his concept of New Nationalism—in which an activist government built a vibrant capitalism, partly by regulating big business—looked back to Alexander Hamilton, not Karl Marx. Nor was Wilson a Bolshevik; in fact, in 1917 he sent American troops to Russia to support the anti-Bolshevik White Army. At home, his reforms sought to break up monopolies in order to restore competition among small companies. “If America is not to have free enterprise,” Wilson declared, “then she can have no freedom of any sort whatever.”
Teddy made this speech in 1912. One can see why Beck, who combines bits of conservatism with right-wing libertarianism, would not be a fan
Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.