Which Side Are You On? New Language for a New Political Reality
....For Republicans and Tea Partiers, the Constitution might as well be written in hieroglyphs. Except for the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, they decline to apply the Constitution to the denial of habeas corpus, warrantless surveillance of US citizens, torture, disregard for international treaties signed by the US, and other abuses that are clearly outlawed.
On the other hand, they enthusiastically defend the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which upheld 'corporate personhood' and exacerbated the widespread corruption of our election system, even though the Constitution grants no rights to corporations and the Founding Fathers warned against the excessive power of the monied interests. Corporate personhood was enshrined by a series of Supreme Court rulings, beginning with Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886, which extended the 14th Amendment's equal protect clause to cover corporations. The rulings coincided with the post-Reconstruction passage of the first Jim Crow laws in the South and the beginning of the Robber Baron Era. In effect, legal rights and protections were transferred from black people to corporations.
All of this gives us a clue about the real ideology motivating today's conservative (and many liberal) politicians, media pundits, and activists: corporate power, profit, and privilege.
All other principles are subservient to corporatism. The GOP isn't opposed to socialism when it satisfies corporate lobbies, as the Wall Street bailouts prove.
Consider Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, currently on a mission to overturn the Democrats' health care reform bill. Does Gov. Scott really oppose public spending for health care? In 1997, he was forced to resign as CEO of Columbia/HCA after the company pleaded guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to a $600-plus million fine in the largest fraud settlement in US history, for fraud involving Medicare and other public health programs. For bilking taxpayers out of hundreds of millions, Rick Scott was paid $9.88 million and allowed to keep 10 million shares of stock worth over $350 million.
Republican politicians might be gunning for Medicare and Medicaid, but they're not above making a killing from such programs, on behalf of themselves and the corporations they're connected with via the public service/private business revolving door. The same ideology informs the granting of no-bid contracts, tax breaks and loopholes, and other forms of subsidies to favored firms.
George Lakoff notes that "The wealthy have, to a large extent, amassed that wealth through indirect contributions to them by governments -- governments build roads corporations use, fund schools that train their workers, subsidize their energy costs, do research they capitalize on, subsidize their access to resources, promote trade for them, and on and on."
Dedication to corporate interests overwhelms all other concerns. It turns the conflict between free-market capitalism and socialism into a quaint relic from another century, rather like the conflict between the German princes and the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation. It makes the free market into a myth for the gullible who believe that locally owned Main Street shops can compete with WalMart or Old McDonald's family farm has a chance against Monsanto.
Conservatism means, or should mean, emphasis on entrepreneurialism (as opposed to corporate capitalism), self-reliant local economies (small businesses and farms, rather than big chain stores and agriconglomerates), economic security for Americans (freedom from destitution because of unemployment, old age, or the cost of medical emergencies), democratic sovereignty (rather than subordination to international trade cabals), observance of the US Constitution and international laws and treaties that the US has signed (Article VI), and deployment of the US armed forces solely for immediate self-defense.
Today's conservative leaders have abandoned these ideas and replaced them with a scheme to manipulate government for a radical redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top. For these politicians, government is only a threat to America when it benefits working people or the poor or public health or the environment. Big government for big business is perfectly acceptable.....