Defying the Broken Clock Rule
Defying the Broken Clock Rule
By David Glenn Cox
One would think that either through accident or caprice Republicans, over the better part of century, could be on the correct side of issues or history at least once. However history is the greatest enemy of Republicanism and it must be assassinated and its corpse disposed of before every election cycle.
This election cycle the Republicans began by playing up Hillary Clinton, and the same media that once clung to the Clinton’s flanks like a rabid pit bull now called her moderate and reasonable. Now John McCain’s camp has started using Clinton’s primary attacks against Barack Obama. You see, according to the Republicans, Obama is not fit to be President just as John Kerry was not fit to be President. Time after time they insist that this election is all about Barack Obama, as the dust and dirt flies by the shovelful.
Ignore history, bury it! Ignore the reality of two incomplete wars of dubious repute. Ignore millions of Americans losing their homes. Ignore the declining standard of living and the growing separation between rich and poor. Ignore a budget deficit and a monetary crisis. If they can avoid reality with sand and fury they can get their elderly gentleman elected to focus on the issues Republicans see as important. Tax cuts for the wealthy, tax cuts for industry, cutting services to the populace to balance an ever larger military budget and with a call to fiscal responsibility when it comes time to reward those who provide their military service.
In 1919 it was the Republicans in Congress who fought vehemently against The League of Nations. Though flawed as it was, the failure of the United States to sign on to the League doomed it from the start and helped to free up fascism in Europe from which the next world war sprang. Churchill and FDR agreed as early as 1943 that a world body was essential to prevent another world war. Again, Republicans denounce the United Nations as internationalism and champion instead American unilateralism.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, President Hoover had already issued sell orders to his broker and escaped relatively unscathed from the market's collapse. As he read in the newspapers and internal government reports about food riots and crop failure, he filled his days with meals of fresh fruit and games on the White House lawn. Hoover resisted the Federal government giving any direct relief aid to the hungry. He chose instead to offer loans to industry to recapitalize, clueless as to how people were going to buy those products. Unemployment in Toledo was 90%, in Detroit 80%, with similar numbers across the nation. For the farmers the Red Cross offered garden seeds. Yes, you could feed your family with garden seeds, provided that you weren’t hungry today, and that the drought that had caused your crops to fail in the first place would ever ease up. Hoover promised, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” America soon found itself without a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.
Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932 and became beloved, not because he was a genius who had all the answers, but as a man who proclaimed, “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.
“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”
The moneychangers had fled all right, but only to regroup and to plan their strategy. In 1934 Republican business interests, seeing their power eroded under “The New Deal,” created front organizations such as the American Liberty League and the Committee for Sound Currency and approached General Smedley D. Butler about participating in a fascist plot to overthrow the administration. Butler exposed the plotters, and then as now, the media machine was turned against him. It wasn’t the veracity of his charges but his character that was important to the media. ``Someone at a party had suggested the idea to the ex-marine as a joke.'' But congressional investigators had in their possession letters and bank records proving the plan was far from a joke.
Republicans and their Wall Street allies really kind of liked the idea of fascism, the concept of business and government cooperating separately from the will of the people. In 1940, with clouds of war growing, groups such as the America First Committee, funded in large part by a few Republican millionaires, sought to subvert American foreign policy by advocating avoiding European issues. Just let them fight it out without us, pumped the Chicago Tribune publisher Robert McCormick and his cousin Joseph Patterson, the publisher of The New York Daily News. The AFC claimed to have almost 800,000 members, primarily in Illinois and New York.
Their shining star, and the man who many Republicans saw as their answer to Roosevelt, was the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Lindbergh was a featured speaker at many AFC rallies, but as the crowds grew larger and Lindbergh became more comfortable speaking with them, his true sentiments began to leak out around the seams of the message.
“Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way, for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastation. A few farsighted Jewish people realize this and stand opposed to intervention. But the majority still do not. Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government.”
But it wasn’t just the AFC or Lindbergh’s remarks that doomed him as a Republican candidate. He had gone to Germany and praised their advances, touring Reich airfields with Hermann Goering and then there was the Bund. The German American Bund was ostensibly an organization to promote German-American friendship. In 1936 an investigation showed that the Bund was financed and led by German nationals and members of the NSDAP. At Hitler’s personal orders, an American, Fritz Kuhn, was placed in charge.
Kuhn, in his speeches, called FDR “Frank D. Rosenfeld” and the New Deal the "Jew Deal". Kuhn railed against the Federal Reserve and the gold standard, all the same issues the Liberty League found so important. Post-war records show most of the funding for the Bund came directly from NSDAP and that they dispersed campaign contributions to Republican members of Congress who sometimes spoke or wrote favorably of the Bund.
The groups again fell back after December 7, 1941, but re-emerged as The John Birch Society in 1957, with the same messages, only modified to fit the times. The Birchers were against income taxes, the New Deal and civil rights legislation. They were founded just a few months after Eisenhower enforced the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court. They saw communists under every chair and behind every tree, accusing Harry Truman and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles of being communist tools. Even President Eisenhower’s brother Milton was accused of being a commie sympathizer.
The Brown decision is the initial claim by the right of the court legislating from the bench. You see, in the Bircher's vision for America, segregation was the will of the majority of the people, therefore it was wrong for the court to overrule it. Likewise with non-Christians, aka Jews and Catholics, they should be allowed to be excluded from public venues. Oh, they won’t say that directly today, they will speak only of judicial restraint and strict constructionists. But if you scratch under the veneer it’s still there.
From the right wing blog, 'The John Birch Society -- Exposed!' come complaints that the Birch Society itself has been subverted from its original goal. By? You guessed it, Jews! "The Rockefeller family is genetically Jewish, tho their religious affiliation is Baptist, and has had an intimate financial relationship with the world's most powerful Jewish family -- the Rothschilds-- since the 19th century."
Throughout the decade of the 1960’s, Martin Luther King was called a communist. The entire Southern tier of the United States switched allegiance from Democratic to Republican practically overnight solely over the issue of civil rights. When the Republicans gained control of Congress again in 1946 it passed the Taft-Hartley legislation, Harry Truman said it would "conflict with important principles of our democratic society." Labor leaders called it the "slave-labor bill," limiting the power of organized labor. It was just as the Liberty League, the Birchers and the NSDAP called for, the control of labor by government and industry.
Nixon’s emergence as presidential timber was due in large part to America’s repudiation of the John Birchers like Barry Goldwater in 1964. But what Nixon lacked in John Birch rhetoric he more than made up for in right wing paranoia. Nixon, like our own John McCain, never really felt like the party fully supported him. So as the Watergate scandal unfolded, Nixon saw the disloyalty as coming more from his own party; they were out to get him because he was to them a moderate. He had gone to Communist China, he had turned his back on Vietnam. Nixon took what Republicans call a centrist approach towards civil rights. "I am convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong, forced integration of housing or education is just as wrong." But to the right wingers and Birchers, Nixon had gone soft.
Ronald Reagan picked up Nixon’s mantle. Nixon had managed to get elected by pleading to the “Silent Majority;” the people themselves were at fault. The silent majority was everyone else; the paranoid fringe was convincing Americans of a new boogeyman under their beds. It was the government that was out to get you. Big government was the enemy of the people, just like the Liberty League had warned oh, so many years ago. The Reagan administration sought contention with the PATCO union who went on strike not for more money but over safety concerns. Just like in 1946, the first thing the Republicans do when they get in office is to go after the working people.
Reagan argued during an economic downturn that unemployed people should just move away, stating it wasn’t the Federal government’s job to help local municipalities. Thus exacerbating urban decline and trapping those without the means to move away into economic dead zones. From then on the government's job became helping industry and if people were left behind it was their own fault, much the same message Little George would give to Katrina survivors a quarter century later.
Little George’s reign has become such a fiasco that even calling it the worst administration in American history is an understatement, akin to saying General Custer had a bad day. Just as before, the media tell us about the character of the candidates and not the issues. Smedly Butler was swift boated just as John Kerry was to be a generation later. John McCain applying for a marriage license while still legally married to another woman is ignored. Just as Nancy Davis becoming pregnant while Ronald Reagan was still married to Jane Wyman is ignored. Yet we are always reminded of the peccadillos of President Clinton.
John McCain was supposedly in a cone of silence but he made one statement that should have silenced us all. It was a frightening statement, as frightening as any ever made by the Liberty League or the John Birchers or even the Bund. When asked which Supreme Court justice he would replace if he could, he answered without any hesitation, "With all due respect, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Souter, and Justice Stephens." Is that the statement of a moderate? To replace all that would oppose his personal view? That is the voice of the fanaticism of the Liberty league and the John Birchers and the Bund.
The same voices that opposed the New Deal, racial integration, the Equal Rights Amendment, The Clean Air Act. The same voices that backed big tobacco, the same voices that said global warming was a hoax and NAFTA was going to be good for us. The voices that claim drilling for more oil and building more nuclear plants are the answers of the future. More coal, more oil and more tax cuts for the wealthy! Are you surprised? While I find myself never completely embracing all Democratic party positions, I always find myself in complete opposition to the Republican positions, because I know who these people really are, not just who they say they are. I know the difference between a Republican and a broken clock.