By Any Other Name
Leaders like Lukashenko, Duterte, Erdoğan, Bolsonaro, Orbán, and Trump*; do they indeed represent a global move toward authoritarianism? Or, is there perhaps another explanation? Was there something specific that brought these once titular democracies to such a state of state; a common underlying reason for this lots rise to power? Did the world change, or, were each of these guys simply taking advantage of a local situation, at about the same time?
In common, the Philippines, Turkey, Belarus, Brazil, and Hungary have all long suffered from corruption. In nations suffering from corruption, getting rid of corruption has broad appeal. After five years in office, Duterte still campaigns on getting rid of corruption. Others in this lot of the corrupted also ran against corruption.
In common, these five countries all also had weak governments. Corruption does best in weak governments.
How about the US, is our government corrupt? The Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Fat Leonard scandals were strong indicators that America has become more corrupt over the past twenty-some years. The corruption in three of these, Katrina, Iraq, and Afghanistan, were in great part attributable to one man, Dick Cheney.
Cheney doesn’t explain how did the U.S. Navy’s Seventh-Fleet become corrupt?
—Was the concerted move toward privatization of government a factor?
—Was this increased level of corruption indicative of a weakened government?
—Was the election of Trump* itself an indication that our government has been weakened?
Probably yes, probably yes, and no doubt about it. Our government has been weakened with full intent, deliberative planning, significant expenditure, and no small amount of effort by a handful of protagonists.
Meet three of the more significant political protagonists in the weakening of our government in the order of their assuming a role:
He said that he believed that the government was the problem. It was given to him, this belief, by those that may or may not have believed it themselves but understood that it was in their best interests. That it was in their best interest that people believe that business could do a better job of running things. It wasn’t that they didn’t know that it was wrong. They knew all about the consequences of weak governments; had always been the first to take advantage of them. It was only natural that they look to Hollywood for their candidate. For two generations and more Hollywood had shown Americans how to act, what to think. He was a natural; their natural. Americans loved Hollywood actors. He had experience in telling Americans what to think.
Soon next came a credentialed sociopathic blowhard who didn’t believe in anything except perhaps his own egomania. But another in a never-ending stream of Machiavellis who would do anything to bring down the house of government; his objectives were to destroy this usurper in the Whitehouse, to neuter the knowledgeable, and to return the power of government to its rightful owners; the rich and their ignorant. Congress has yet to begin to, may never, recover from his wrought. To him, democracy was only tolerable when controlled by those entitled. Plus, the rich, they paid well.
The third, yet another white male politician to catch the wave of southern Dixiecrats becoming Conservative Republican, made his way from County Executive in a small state to the US Senate in a single bound. Then, just as had his political forebearers, he became an obstructionist to anything proposed by the ‘liberals’ and ‘blue states’. Some folks never change. War, tax cuts for the rich, pro-business legislation, and pandering to white conservative ‘values’ were good. Anything to the contrary was bad. Anything proposed by the opposition was bad. Even if it meant turning a blind eye to Russian interference in our elections. Even if it meant congressional gridlock. Democracy works best when your constituents can be led around by their cultures and your supporters throw wads of money at you. A natural in his own state and way. Bipartisanship meant his way.
Each in his own way, at times collaboratively, they set about to weaken the US Government. Each in his own way, and at times collaboratively, these three white males have succeeded. If they had cared to even look about they could have seen that a strong government is essential to a nation’s survival; that weak governments foster corruption, autocracy. In their own lifetimes, all three had witnessed American imperialism take advantage of weak governments. One of them was a former history professor. A strong government was not in their best interest. Their interests and the interests of their patrons came before those of the nation. Better a weak nation. Better to be a banana republic than progressive and strong.
These pathfinders paved the way for the likes of the Tea Party Republicans and the Freedom Caucus; two groups that set out to be, were, masters of tyranny by a minority; that used this tyranny to further weaken our government.
A strong government had denied ‘them’ the right to decide, had acted instead in the interests of the people. A weakened government permitted a return to the good old days, the good old ways. Allowed for regression. Back when, the Republican Party invited white southern Democrats into their tent. Only the guests emerged from the tent. The Republican Party had been swallowed whole by the invitees. In a short while, the southern Democrats became the Republican Party. Gone was the Party of Lincoln, of the Liberal Republican. Now, the Republican Party is a coalition of regressive interests; is in all reality the Regressive Party.
Since when, they were about getting rid of any and all progressive legislation. Back to a time before Old Age Pensions, welfare, Social Security; to a time before OSHA, the EPA, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Women’s Rights, and Gay Rights; and, maybe even to a time before then. This now Regressive Party still had the support of business, and of its lackey, the Chamber of Commerce. They, the pairing, found it in their interest. Cast about for partners enough to remain politically viable; often using culture as bait. More and more, the coalition came to be made up of groups each with their own agenda, each of these groups was willing to use one another for their own purposes. Meanwhile, the more traditional fiscal conservatives desperately looked about for a way to square their ideology with this new coalition.
Be it Federalism, States Rights, Conservatism, or Grover’s bathtub analogy, by any name or descriptor, any rhetoric; it is about regression with a purpose, regression that was in at least one of the group’s interest. Regressivism in and of itself is completely acceptable. Individuals and couples return to the land and farm with a team of horses, to another place and time. Notable religious sects are premised on a time past. These are individual choices. The now Regressive Party would, by hook or by crook, take the nation backward; take us with them.
Nothing new. Since the 1930s, we Americans had seen a concerted effort by certain groups to take the nation back to a time past. Often, this was an effort to undo popular legislation they considered to be contrary to their interest. States Rights was always a euphemism for white supremacy. Conservatism was always pro wealth and pro status quo. Both were always regressive. Grover with his bathtub analogy was there to lend the conservatives and the states rights folks a rhetorical hand with this weakening of the government. The sophistry of Federalists’ Society, too, was intended to lend a hand in this weakening of the government.
Since the 1950s, especially since 1965, we have seen various groups coalesce under the aegis of the Republican Party to form the now Regressive Party. The idea for the weakening of the central government as a way of attaining their regressive objectives arose from this coalescing. A weakened central government made it more likely that each of them could get their way. Their ability to control government depended on it being weak. Examples: If they could jigger the vote, they could achieve and hold congress, and win the presidency. If they could control the Senate, they could control the Judiciary.
*the Recently Disposed one
Low skill/intelligence people have developed full blown inferiority complexes, and are coping by rallying under the “Stupid people doing stupid things are awesome!” banner.
Idiocracy has become a historical farce.
Half the people in any population will, by necessity, be at or below median intelligence. Any moral and sustainable social system must be able to accommodate the needs, hopes and dreams of the at or below median population.
It is not useful for the winners of the genetic lottery to sneer at the losers. It is useful for those of higher intelligence to examine what those of lesser intelligence might desire.
Once upon a time, a high school grad of no particular talent could find respected, gainful employment in a number of blue collar fields. As long as one was responsible and showed up on the job and did an honest day’s work, they could be assured of a comfortable existence. As well as the chance of a better life for their offspring.
I am annoyed at this othering of the less gifted. They are of the human race and need to be respected. Also provided for. If not with government programs than the availability of gainful, well compensated employment.
but go ahead, keep on sneering. These people are not going to disappear. And if not given opportunity, they may be manipulated by opportunistic sociopaths.
You know, I lived in Michigan and wandered on several roads trips to other places until we finally ended up in Arizona. Toured and stayed in multiple small towns along the way and did similar with my youngest son going to the Little Big Horn and Cody.
What I found in Michigan is people will reject things to get back at others even if it causes them harm in the end. They vote against policies which will help them because it comes from others not of their beliefs. They will vote for gerrymandering districts to have make-believe power which in the end will reject unemployment, healthcare, rent subsidies, etc.
The road rage is horrendous out here in AZ, I drive 75 on a 65 MPH 5 lane highway and they fly by me putting their lives in danger as well as mine. Is 75 good enough in the 2nd lane for them to drive 2 car lengths behind me? I believe they are tying to read the USMC veteran’s emblem on my rear Michigan license plate. You do not need to have a large degree of intelligence to know tailgating and driving 85-90 MPH is safe when most everyone else is going far slower. Three lanes to the left of me and a modicum of intelligence is needed to understand the danger. Yet they will endanger themselves just to spite and deny others. Matter of control?
How long does one keep trying before you give up? Dad never finished grade school. Mom finished high school. I got smarter once out of the Corp.
Thanks. I try tosay this from time to time and all the well educated people just throw their used bananas at me. Abe Lincoln did not have a college degree. Neither did Michael Faraday Or Tom Paine.
Melvin destroys what might have been a useful essay on “weak government” by blaming it all on “white males.”
I would sugget that the “winners of the genetic lottery” might be surprised to discover that their meritocratic success is a function of the particular supply and demand environment of particular talents that are not as identical with “intelligence” as they suppose, and may not even qualify them for survival of the fittest when times change.
I never said people were smart. I spent a couple of summers in the Big Woods of upper peninsula. Most everyone I met was from somewhere else, so I couldn’t say about Michiganers in general, though I did hear one story about a family who disowned their daughter because she married a black man. I’d call that stupid, but not all that different from a former commenter here who thought scotch-irish invented cruelty.
Spent acouple of weeks in Phoenix, before there were jobs. I would never go back. But road rage or just driing too fast for conditions seems to be everywhere, in every class and condition.
I drive a lot slower than them (to be honest: than I used to). The ones who are not pretending to be Mario Andretti, are telling themselves they could be a doctor rushing to a patient in need. But they are all convinced that it is me who is the hazard…”driving slow causes (causes) other drivers to take dangerous chances.”
Or maybe they were called the North Woods. I could never get the bears to tell me.
All gone now.