The Cuban missile crisis dragged me into adulthood in 1962, the year I was married. I began to pay attention to world events. Soon after, our country shared the pain of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. This was during the time we were torn apart by the war in Viet Nam that took over 58,000 American lives.
Then, in 1968 we lost Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy to assassins’ bullets. I saw the Chicago Police Riots during the Democratic Convention in August of the same year. At the same time, political pundit William F. Buckley threatened Gore Vidal with violence over a difference of opinion on public TV. It was the opening volley of the media war between the right and the left. So, I asked myself, had we reached the bottom? No.
President Nixon got caught in a minor crime and resigned from office because of the urging of his own Republican party members to save the country from further turmoil. That was when legitimate conservatives put the country above party politics. Then President Reagan introduced neoliberal economics with the help of Milton Friedman, who convinced American corporations that “greed is good.” Reagan attacked the people’s rights to collective bargaining. At the same time, Associate Supreme Court Justice Louis Powell’s 40-page memo to the Chamber of Commerce initiated the most effective propaganda program since Edward Bernays introduced psychological manipulation into marketing. It convinced us that the “business of America is business.” All this added up to the belief that no one counts but the shareholders. Were we at the bottom yet? No.
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich attempted to impeach President Clinton for moral depravity while Gingrich himself was cheating on his wife in the hospital, dying of cancer. He later admitted he had cheated on two of his three wives. President Clinton gets caught lying under oath about his illicit affairs in the White House. Had we reached the bottom? No.
President George H. W. Bush took us to war in Iraq based on lies. It was the first time in our history we launched an unprovoked, first-strike attack on a sovereign nation. Indeed, this was the bottom. Not yet.
All these events over the last 60 years, and there’s more I can’t fit into this column, have eroded my trust in the politicians who run our government. I didn’t think it could get any worse. How foolish of me. I never anticipated a Trump presidency. Finally, the bottom? But no.
Presently, uncontrolled political campaign money allowed by SCOTUS amounts to an orchestrated attack by the uber-wealthy on the foundation of our democracy. Unfortunately, next week, millions of misled and confused Americans will vote for this attack to continue.
I’m speaking of the votes for MAGA Republicans, whose actions are right out of a dictator’s playbook. First, tell the big lie of a fraudulent election until enough people believe it, ala Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Next, attack the integrity of the media, the electoral process, government institutions, and the educational system. Then, use a Black Swan event, like the Covid Pandemic, to convince the populace the government doesn’t work. Next, use that event to create an enemy, i.e., science experts who could have saved thousands. Finally, solicit donations to “fight these enemies of the state.”
With distrust in the electoral process, take over the state-level governments. Prepare to decertify election results. Then, depending on the SCOTUS that you’ve loaded with politically active conservative justices, i.e., they’ll rule in your favor when the other party’s lawsuits come to their level. Have we finally reached the bottom? No.
When a single party can gain office and hold it unchallenged, fascism is close at hand. Unchallenged fascism is the forerunner to tyranny. As the English Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.” Are we about to find out if he was correct?