A friend wrote that my piece on "Why the Right Will Win" overstated the strength of the Tea Partiers and the nativists. Arizona was not the rest of the country, dismissing Sarah Palin as an air head and the Tea Partiers as a passing fancy, punctuating his statement by saying that he tended to look at things through a more theoretical framework.
Based on my epistemological understanding, I could not disagree more. Past theories and accepted truths of the past cannot be applied to the period we are passing through. In the past the more intense forms of racist nativism subsided when economic times improved.
This is not the case today, times have changed.
If you haven't read Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado's "No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America's Social Agenda", you should. "No Mercy" documents how the New Right Conservatives have set the country's political agenda successfully targeting English Only, Immigration Reform, Race and Eugenics, the abolition of Affirmative Action, Welfare Reform, Tort Reform, and multiculturalism.
Since the Nixon years, the Right has consolidated its power through the funding of conservative think tanks and foundations and taken political power through buying elected officials and judges. Tax and inheritance laws have helped this accumulation of wealth and power even making their donations tax free. This year's Supreme Court ruling that held that campaign finance limits on corporation violated their free speech delivered the final blow.
Reminiscent of Supreme Court rulings after the Civil War that held the 14th Amendment applied to corporations, shielding them from state regulation by giving them standing as persons, the Court's 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission holds that limiting the amount that individuals and corporations can contribute to political campaigns violates their free speech. The consequence is that the rich are free vote their dollars. Witness, Rupert Murdoch just donated a million dollars to the Republican Governor's Association (RGA).
The August 30, 2010 issue of "The New Yorker" carried an article titled "Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama." The title is misleading since like with Richard Scaife Mellon, the stakes are much higher than the Obama or the Clinton presidencies.
"Covert Operations" is about the Charles and David H. Koch, who have a combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars, most of it in energy. They donate freely to the arts and right wing causes. They are not the ordinary billionaires, they own Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the country.
They liberally fund right wing causes. According to "The New Yorker" article, a Republican campaign consultant said, "The Koch brothers gave the money that founded ÔÇª[the Tea Party Movement]. It's like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud--and they're our candidates!" The Koch brothers are thus at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement, playing the same role Scaife Mellon did when he funded the anti-Clinton campaign.
Charles and David Koch are ideologues. Like their father before them they were members of the John Birch Society. They are members of the Libertarian Party, a precursor of the Tea Party Movement. Conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. called the LB movement "Anarcho-Totalitarianism."
"Public tax records show that between 1998 and 2008 the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than forty-eight million dollars" on political causes. The probability is that they gave a lot more. Much of the money is funneled through subsidiaries such as Americans for Prosperity which purportedly has controlling interest in the Tea Party.
The Koch brothers are in the energy business; they invest heavily in influencing energy policy--denying global warming. Through the organizations such as the Institute for Justice, they have funded suits opposing state and federal regulations.
Money buys considerable influence in the cash strapped Halls of Ivory where learned scholars sell their posteriors and write "position papers that are subsequently quoted by politicians and pundits." The Koch brothers launched the Cato Institute in the 1970s and regularly buy studies from the Heritage Foundation that argue that "scientific facts gathered in the past 10 years do not support the notion of catastrophic human-made warming."
According to the New Yorkers article, the jewel in the Kochs's arsenal is the highly influential Mercatus Center /at George Mason University. Fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a "hit list" were concocted by Mercatus scholars.
The Kochs' method is organized chaos. They and other chaos agents have disrupted the Obama Presidency. As soon as Obama was elected the Americans for Prosperity launched "Porkulus" rallies against Obama's stimulus-spending measures. They orchestrated a Greek Chorus of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Fox News and other conservative outlets. Arizona is the epitome of this organized chaos.
Americans for Prosperity has announced that it will spend an additional forty-five million dollars before the midterm elections. The objective is to slow down Obama's momentum and make him ineffective.
Chaos is very important in this time that late historian Tony Judt called an "age of forgetting." The agents of chaos are rewriting history, absolving George W. Bush, deregulation, praising the tax cuts, the wars and the bankers' role in the economic disaster are all mythicized. In this scenario British Petroleum, Halliburton and the Kochs are the champions of Main Street. They are not Robber Barons but "Captains of Industry."
The problem is much larger than Palin and the Tea Party. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that in 2009 the Robber Barons spent $3.47 billion lobbying government. This sum does not include what they can now legally contribute to political campaigns.
I don't need theory to inform me that I am being had. As a Californian it is repugnant that states such as Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota and a host of others can block legislation that will benefit the citizens of this state and favor special interests. I cannot forget that the U.S. Senators from states that have smaller populations than the San Fernando Valley receive ninety percent of their campaign financing from people like the Kochs.
I know enough about history to recognize Robber Barons. I know enough about history to know who my enemies are and know that I cannot compromise with them. I know enough about history to know that a silver bullet will not solve our problems. And I know that Palin and her ilk are part of the chorus and not the conductors.