(by Mark McCutchan)
If you were a general preparing to attack another country, what would be some general guidelines?
The Preparation -
1) Soldiers – make sure you have plenty of soldiers, well-trained in defense and offense
2) Resources – maximize your access to materiel and money
3) Timing – attack when you have the maximum advantage
The Attack -
1) Soldiers – remove as many enemy soldiers from the battlefield as quickly as possible
2) Resources – drain the enemy of their resources
3) Morale – demoralize and distract the enemy from defending themselves
4) Damage – destroy their infrastructure vital to production
This metaphor exactly describes the actions of the Republican Party recently, particularly since they gained the political advantage on Election Day 2010.
1) Soldiers – The Republican Party has been maximizing their appeal through the establishment of conservative think tanks, foundations, and installation of conservatives in every branch of government, funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers, and other pro-corporate, conservative and libertarian entities. These groups provide the conservative “echo chamber” for the tactics and script provided by political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz.
2) Resources – The Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case was very important to conservatives and their corporate donors, because winning it would open the floodgates of corporate money and manipulation to American elections. During the hearings, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association supported Citizens United.
3) Timing – Barack Obama was elected in 2008, among other reasons, because of disgust with eight years of egregious behavior by the Bush administration and fear of the economic meltdown caused by Wall Street. Once it became clear that President Obama would not be able to quickly turn the economy around, it became advantageous for the GOP to blame him for the recession during the 2010 campaign. The misguided support of the Tea Partiers and corporate money allowed by the Citizens United decision ensured that Republicans did very well last November 2nd.
1) Remove Enemy Soldiers – Now that Republicans are in the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, governors’ mansions, and state capitols, they can attack many of the traditional sources of Democratic “soldiers”, including unions, minorities, and college students.
- Unions – the attacks on public employee unions has been well publicized over the last month here at Winning Progressive and by other media sources. The GOP’s view is that reducing the number of unionized public employees reduces their organizational and financial support of the Democratic Party.
- Minorities and Poorer Voters – Republicans have been pushing for stricter photo-ID voter requirements in at least 32 states, even though in-person voter fraud is exceedingly rare. The reason for their fervor? A quarter of African Americans and 15 percent of low-income voters don’t carry ID, and they tend to vote Democratic.
- College Students – New Hampshire’s State House Speaker William O’Brien’s attitude and actions towards college students are prevalent among Republicans, “They’re “foolish,” he said, “voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do.” New Hampshire Republicans’ bills to restrict students’ right to vote where they attend college and to end Election Day registration are among dozens of bills prioritized by Republican office-holders across the nation.
- Other Citizens – The GOP is pushing disenfranchisement laws for felons who have already served their time. These laws serve no civic purpose – no one ever said, “Gee, if I rob this bank and get caught, I might lose my right to vote – I better stop now!” The most likely GOP target is again minorities; one quarter of those disenfranchised by Florida’s new laws, for example, are African-American.
2) Resources – The Tea Partiers and their conservative sympathizers say their first priority upon taking office is to reduce the federal deficit, not job creation. “Starving the beast” is their phrase for reducing the size of the federal government and its ability to protect citizens from abuse by the rich and powerful. Democrats have built America’s social safety net, and attacking its budget will encourage progressives to redirect resources to protecting it, to the detriment of electoral efforts. American families are also being drained of resources, as banksters and other corporations work in concert with the GOP cronies to maximize their profits and drain personal savings, leading to increasing bankruptcies and foreclosures.
3) Morale – The GOP focus on deficit reduction plays into their strong suit, again. It misdirects the busy U.S. citizen into blaming the federal government for all of our economic problems, instead of holding the corporations (and “investment” banks in particular) accountable for not building robust and sustainable businesses that would fuel job creation in America. Republicans have also been very busy stoking the anti-Muslim fever to misdirect the public’s anger away from America’s real problems – from the Ground Zero mosque hoax whipped up by Fox News, to the alleged Koran-burning minister, to Representative King’s Muslim radicalization hearings. The successful hit jobs conducted by Project Veritas on neighborhood organizer ACORN and National Public Radio were meant to demoralize and defund two publicly funded organizations important to progressives.
4) Destroy their infrastructure – Part of starving the beast involves cutting budgets to such a degree that a modern infrastructure cannot be supported. President Obama’s call for a $50 billion investment in America’s roads, railways and runways last Labor Day was met with resistance by Republicans. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Obama has proposed the initiative as a way to create more jobs, but Republicans have opposed further infrastructure spending at a time of tight state and federal budgets.”
The other way to destroy the infrastructure is to take out the enemy’s manufacturing capability. Why use bombs, when free trade agreements and a corporate strategy of off-shoring factories has been so effective at decimating America’s ability to make the very things we need and demand as consumers? Winning Progressive has detailed the destruction here.
In summary, progressives has been increasingly under attack for the past few years; we progressives have to realize that, and design a campaign to overcome those who would tear down what we and our ancestors have taken decades to build.
There are many things we can do to fight back:
1) Write a letters to the editor of your local newspaper on any of the above topics, to inform and encourage your neighbors to take a stand in the war on America. Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
2) Contact your congressional representatives on any of the above topics, to let them know how their constituents stand.
3) Share your thoughts on this column at the Winning Progressive Facebook page and your own Facebook page if you have one.
4) Get involved in defense of public employees, either by attending rallies, joining Working America, (a new group formed for non-union members to support the AFL-CIO), or otherwise working to defeat anti-public union legislation being pushed through GOP-led state legislatures.
5) Move your money to a local bank to deprive “Too Big to Fail” banks of the lobbying cash they need to influence your politicians.
6) Help efforts to recall the Republican 8, Wisconsin’s eight GOP senators who voted for Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union bill and qualify for recall.
7) Watch the Story of Stuff’s “Citizen United vs. FEC” video, and get involved with the move to amend the U.S. Constitution, so that corporations no longer have the same rights as real people.
8) Support public financing of elections, as discussed in this Winning Progressive column.
9) Support National Public Radio and their member stations with a donation; they are in danger of being defunded, and are a valuable source of unbiased information.