The Far-Right’s Culture Wars Are Just a Distraction So Oligarchs Can Keep Looting the Working Class

People like Marjorie Taylor Greene don't just emerge out of nothing: there's a hand above these puppets, feeding their bellies and pulling their strings.

By Thom Hartmann | 3 March 2023
Common Dreams

(Credit: Tyler Merbler / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0)

Marjorie Taylor Greene is calling for an American “divorce.”

She apparently sees herself as a modern-day John C. Calhoun, a demagogue who serves the interests of the white oligarch class and, in turn, receives their support, and the power and wealth that come with it.

She’s started a secession propaganda campaign much like Calhoun and his buddies did when he left the White House as VP in 1833, the same year England outlawed slavery on British-territory plantations and talk of abolition in the US kicked into high gear.

It took Calhoun and his fellow traitors about 25 years to convince enough people in the South to go to war against America and try to replace our democracy with a fascist, race-based oligarchy.

But today—with electronic media providing instant communication and AR15s being much more efficient killing machines than the Confederacy had available—the heirs to Calhoun’s sedition apparently think they can pull it off in a much shorter time.

Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie recently suggested the tipping point, the second American Civil War, will come when:

“[T]hirty to forty percent could agree that [the American government] was legitimate tyranny and it needed to be thrown off.”

He then openly argued that American fascists should be sufficiently well-armed to take on the US Marines. Finishing that sentence, Massey—who tweeted a Christmas picture of his family (including his young children) each cradling an assault weapon—added:

“They [those trying to bring down the American government] need to have sufficient [fire]power without asking for extra permission. It should be right there and completely available to them in their living room in order to effect the change [of our form of government].”

Make no mistake about it: this is sedition. It’s anti-American. It’s pro-fascist.

Yesterday on my radio/TV program, Congressman Mark Pocan said Greene’s comments were “almost treasonous.”I’d drop the “almost.”

Greene even said out loud the part Republicans have been trying to not get caught saying for several decades now: she doesn’t think Democrats should be allowed to vote if they live in Red states.

When a resolution came to the House floor last week condemning Putin’s ally, Syrian dictator Assad, the only two “no” votes came from Greene and Massey.

Dictatorship good, democracy bad.

It’s an old, old song for America that dates back to the 1840s.

Keep in mind that the Civil War wasn’t just about slavery: it was primarily about preserving the wealth of the Southern oligarchs. While slavery was the source of their wealth, morbidly rich planters had so overtaken the political system of the South that it ceased to be anything close to a democracy—even for white people—by the 1840s.

That decade of the 1840s, in fact, was a key turning point for the effort to end democracy altogether in America. In just the ten years from 1840 to 1850, over 800,000 enslaved people were brought into the deep South.

Poor whites suddenly found themselves without work and pay generally collapsed across the region, while the plantation owner class became fabulously rich. It led to an internal abolition movement in the South, as white workers who didn’t own slaves desperately tried to regain opportunities in the workplace.

As Southern abolitionist Hinton Helper wrote in his 1857 book The Impending Crisis of the South:

“The lords of the lash are not only absolute masters of the blacks, but they are also the oracle and arbiters of non-slaveholding whites, whose freedom is merely nominal, and whose unparalleled illiteracy and degradation is purposely and fiendishly perpetuated.”

The book became one of the biggest bestsellers in American history (even though you could go to prison for owning it in the South where it was banned), and sparked such a political crisis in 1860 that the House of Representatives was unable to elect a Speaker for almost two months. Sound familiar?

Abraham Lincoln didn’t even advocate ending slavery until well into the Civil War: he was too busy fighting against Southern oligarchs who were hell-bent on ending democracy in America and replacing it with a white supremacist oligarchy. Lincoln’s goal in responding militarily to Southern succession wasn’t to free enslaved African Americans, it was to keep the country together and try to restore some semblance of democracy to the South.

On Aug. 22, 1862 (the Emancipation Proclamation would come exactly one month later), after more than a year of war, Lincoln wrote a letter to the New York Tribune pointing this out:

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

Here we are again, and once more the issue that’s got working-class white people riled up is the intersection of economics end race.

Republicans pass laws against Critical Race Theory, teaching Black history, and complain about “woke”and “BLM,” but at its core it’s all about distracting white people from their being ripped off by a white oligarchic class that promotes racial hatred to deflect anger from themselves.

As Marjorie Taylor Greene is essentially pointing out, just like in 1860.

The genesis of today’s discontent began in the 1980s with the Reagan Revolution, as the Reagan/Bush administration opened America to “free trade” with the early stages of what became the World Trade Organization and negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which Bill Clinton signed on January 1, 1994.

Like the middle-class working white people in the South—who’d been about a third of that region’s population prior to the 1840s when all those slaves were imported—the four decades since Reaganism began here have also seen the collapse of white working-class income and wealth.

When Reagan came into office in 1980 about two-thirds of white Americans were solidly in the middle class: today that number is around 45 percent and it requires two people working full time to pull even that off.

Meanwhile, the rich have gotten fabulously richer. Several of America’s billionaires are today richer than any person has ever been in history. Richer than the pharaohs. Richer than the ancient kings of Europe. Rich enough to shoot themselves into outer space with their pocket change.

And where did that money come from? Just like the plantation owners in 1850, it came from rigging the system.

The past 42 years have seen over $50 trillion in wealth stolen from the homes and pockets of working-class people and deposited into the money bins of the morbidly rich through GOP tax-cut and union-busting policies.

In the past 42 years over 60,000 factories and 15 million well-paying union jobs have been shipped to Mexico and China, leaving working class whites (among others) literally out in the cold.

Just like in the 1850s, that’s an explosive transition. And just like in the 1850s, it has brought out oligarch-funded political demagogues to tell white working-class people that their problems are all caused by Black people and their “woke” allies, and therefore the nation must divide itself.

Greene, Massey, and the rest of the sedition caucus in Congress are playing with fire. The people they’re trying to crank up on behalf of America’s rightwing oligarchs have already tried to murder the Governor of Michigan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Vice President of the United States.

As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted this week:

“Over the past decade, 96 percent of incidents in which extremists killed someone were committed by people motivated by right-wing ideologies.”

The number of people murdered for political purposes over the past 25 years by SDS or Antifa or other anti-fascist or “left wing” ideologues? Zero.

And in promoting bloodshed in 2023 America, the seditionists among us aren’t even subtle. Last December 10th, Greene told a Young Republican group in New York:

“I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that [January 6th insurrection and effort to murder Vice President Pence], we would have won. Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.”

Pitting Americans against each other by race, geography, or even politics when simultaneously invoking bloodshed as a justified outcome is as anti-American as it gets.

It’s why the 14th Amendment says:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

If the seditionists within today’s Republican Party had any goal other than to tear America apart and create an apartheid state run by and for the oligarchs who fund their campaigns and lifestyles, they’d be telling us about it right now. But are they?

Do they have anything to offer the working class of America?

So far, all we’ve heard is that they want to turn Social Security over to the New York banks and Medicare over to the big insurance companies. They’re still fighting to keep the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour and deny union rights to workers.

Do they have anything to offer the women of America?

So far, all we’ve heard is that they want to send them to prison or administer lethal injection if they get an abortion.

How about climate change?

Republicans are still taking millions from the fossil fuel barons every year and denying climate change even exists, all while actively trying to sabotage any effort to move to a green economy.

Harmony between the races and the acceptance of our queer brothers and sisters?

Instead, they’re doing everything they can to encourage hate and intolerance, up to and including codifying hate into law.

Or our children?

While America is now the only country in the world—in the entire world—where the leading cause of children’s death is bullets, they instead want to “protect” our kids from books and drag queens. It would be funny if it didn’t mean a child’s body will be fatally torn apart by a bullet in America every 2 hours and 36 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for every day of this coming year.

The morbidly rich oligarchs who own the GOP—including their toadies on the Supreme Court—have no interest in doing anything about the crisis of the middle class, healthcare, climate change, women’s rights, civil rights, or saving our children.

They’re too busy making common cause with autocrats, oligarchs, and dictators around the world as they try to dismantle our democracy.

People like Greene and Massey don’t just emerge out of nothing: there’s a hand above these puppets, feeding their bellies and pulling their strings.

And as long as we ignore that hand and fight their phony “culture war” instead of raising taxes on billionaires and extending an absolute right to vote to all Americans, we’re just helping them stuff another trillion dollars taken from working people into their money bins.

‘This Is The Fight Of Our Lifetime’: Rep. Cicilline On Poll Showing Expectations Of Civil War

The billionaire class: a threat to democracy? | Business Beyond

Oxfam says world’s rich threaten democracy

The Dangerous New Movement In Right-Wing America | The Mehdi Hasan Show

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here