When America Became a Banana Republic

Eight out of ten of our poorest states are former states of the Confederacy. Less than a handful of the original Confederate states have been able to begin to rise. The ‘again’ was always impossible. Because, in the antebellum South, one percent of the population had all the wealth; most whites were little, if any, better off than slaves. —, politically unstable, economy dependent on the export of one or two products such as agricultural products, social classes divided by wealth that include a large, poor working class and a small ruling class (elite) made up of businessmen, planters, politicians, and the military that controls and exploits the country’s economy, — The antebellum South, the Dixie of song, had all the characteristics of what today is known as a banana republic.

Not much has changed. Today, these eight of the poorest are still undemocratic, still run by wealthy whites for the benefit of themselves at the expense of poor whites and blacks. As then, this social dominance is abetted, given license, by the US Constitution, the US Supreme Court, and religion. By a Constitution that was always wrong about states’ rights and democracy. By a Supreme Court that almost always looks to this past, seldom forward. By religion that has all too often been a handmaiden to power, to corruption. In these states, democracy is rarely, if ever, discussed in meaningful ways amongst the ruling whites; is often virtually precluded by gerrymandering.

For example, Today, 70% of Tennesseans want gun control, an issue the extremely gerrymandered state legislature refuses to address. A woman’s right to choose is another. The gerrymandering is much attributable to the fact that we have an unrepresentative US Supreme Court packed with conservative justices. This because Leonard Leo, Mitch McConnell, and the Federalist Society do not like democracy. Consequent this Supreme Court, many of these State Supreme Courts are gerrymanderingly unrepresentative; it is a veritable merry-go-round.

These characteristics of governance were long provincial the South. Not anymore. In the mid-1960s, white Southern Democrats, in power postbellum in the former Confederate states, feeling threatened, with good reason, by the Civil Rights Legislation of the mid-1960s, were looking for a new home. Around this same time, the Republican Party, facing extinction, was desperate for new blood (voters). White voters in the former Confederate states were theirs for the picking. Republicans called it their southern strategy.

The Party’s southern strategy, reeking of racism and desperation, turned out to be a complete sellout. By the 1980s, the two were one. Today, the former white Southern Democrats of the former Confederate states, with a few like-minded others in a few other states, have taken over the Republican Party. This takeover, they insist, gives them the right to pull the rest of us down into their world. Rather than them coming up, they insist that we come down.

Any doubts about our nation’s new status as a banana republic were erased by the 2016 election of Donald Trump. An election in which the original eight of the ten lowest played a significant role.

In the 1970s and 80s, while the Republican Party was busy morphing into its present stage, both parties were missing an extremely important inflection point. One of the most significant transitions ever was underway. To wit, the industrial age was ending, the digital beginning. All of the signs and all of the signals of this during these years were missed by our political leadership. This missing was one of the worst political failures, the greatest failure of leadership, in modern times. Instead of leading us forward, politicians pandered to the past and led the nation backward, downward toward the lowest common denominator.

It wasn’t so much that they missed the signal; it was why they did. They missed it because they weren’t even looking; couldn’t have cared less. They were only interested in getting (re)elected. In this time of great change, clueless politicians denigrated intellectuals, government, and change itself. Rather than provide leadership, the clueless politicians told the people that they, the people, knew best. From the Republican Party’s sell-out to the 2016 election of Donald Trump was a direct progression. One running directly through the Republican Party.

As a consequence of the sellout, those who had never known, never liked democracy would take over one of our two major political parties and; from this position, wreak havoc on the Nation’s democracy. In this most crucial time, rather than going forward, the Nation went backward. In 1994, Newt Gingrich launched the Contract with America. We went from ‘The idiots are coming’ to ‘Don’t bother they here’ in one generation. In 1995, with their invitation from Newt in hand, they came in droves to the 104th Congress. A disproportionate number of these new members were cultural warriors (bible thumpers, gun nuts, rednecks, etc.) with no interest in governance. They were all about the same cultural issues as those responsible for their states being banana republics. The Nation has not been itself since. Thanks, Newt. Thanks, Ronnie.

The racist, nihilist Tea Party movement of 2009 didn’t come out of nowhere. It was the result of the 2008 election of Barack Obama. Its members came from the banana republic states and their like. So, the House Freedom Caucus. Tyranny by minority had come to the House of Representatives.

On 3 October 2023, when asked about his vote against Kevin McCarthy for speaker, Representative Tim Burchett, (TN-02) said that he asked god to tell him what to do. Before god and everyone, the man admitted that he has no mind of his own, and doesn’t believe in thinking, in reason. What the hell is this man doing in Congress? Tim Burchett has no business in any elected office, anywhere. Boebert, Taylor-Greene, Gaetz, Comer, Massie, ….; there are dozens more Republicans like him in Congress.

On 18 October 2023, a group representing, at best: 10 percent of House Republicans, 5 percent of the total House, and 5 percent of the total populace came too close to getting Jim Jordan elected Speaker of the House. We came this close to a takeover of one branch of government by a very small, very radical group. It was an attempted coup by a minority that has been tyrannizing the United States since 2009. If they had been successful, as their first order of business, they would set about expunging Trump’s impeachments.

PS: Please, please stop sending cultural warriors to Congress. They’re killing us. We need people who can think; want to solve problems, to make government work.