Politics - Why I am Active, and Why You Should Be Too

by C.W.Smoke

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I suppose that some of you are wondering why I have become politically active after 'retiring' from activism in the seventies to raise a family and run a business, and why I am primarily attacking Republican politicians at the federal level even though I voted for Ronald Reagan twice. Well, one day after I heard the same lie (using the same exact wording) by ten different Republicans, I just got sick and tired of being lied to. I don't like liars, Republican, Democrat, or anyone else. So I began paying attention and fact checking. The Democrats aren't saints about lying either, but lately every Republican "talking point" is a lie, and it is a lie because the Republican brand stinks. They can't sell their policies by telling the truth, so they lie. The more research I do, the more Republican lies that I discover. Think about it. If they can't sell their 'product' unless they lie about it, how crappy must their 'product' be?

Apparently telling lies is the Republican way of normally "doing business", and that makes me angry. The lies have become more pervasive since George W. Bush was appointed elected at the turn of the century in 2000, which is why some of my older relatives and friends need to wake up. If you examine their voting records, you will discover that the House and Senate Republicans do not vote for their constituents unless you count special interests and corporations as their constituents. When was the last time that Republicans sided with the voters who elected them against the corporations and special interests? Simple answer...seldom (unless shamed into it). Of course, to keep their religious, fundamentalist base voters happy, they throw them a bone and pass laws that attack women's reproductive choices, or make it difficult for minorities to vote, or take away some rights that liberals think are important (if you have been paying attention, you will notice that nearly every piece of Republican legislation is hell bent upon taking away rights, rather than extending them), but mostly the corporate Republicans try to keep their base ill informed and 'dumbed down' so their lies aren't noticed. Apparently I was under the mistaken impression that the people we elect are supposed to represent us. I am not happy with many of the Democrats either, who have been corrupted by special interest money, but at least they (as a group) don't blatantly lie as a matter of course, and more often than not most (progressive) Dems do vote for the interests of the voters who elected them.

I enjoy a vigorous debate between opposing ideologies, but facts are facts, and lately (at least since I have been paying attention) the Republican facts are based in an alternate reality where what they espouse yesterday is often the exact opposite of what they say today. Anyone with Google and an internet connection can (and should) check for themselves, but most people (me included before this century) don't even take the time to check because they don't really pay attention until election time (if then). If you require examples, I have literally hundreds from the past week alone and each and every previous week for the entire 21st century.

So, am I angry at being characterized as being so stupid that I won't be able to tell the difference when politicians say exactly the opposite today of what they stated yesterday? Yes, I am offended, and you should be too, particularly when our country is going to hell in a handbasket as the special interests loot and pillage right out in the open with the blessing and assistance of the politicians, right under our noses.

When I was growing up, thirty percent interest was usury, and there were laws against it. Now, banks routinely charge their credit card holders twenty-eight to thirty-five percent interest, and no one stops them. When I was growing up, you could pay an unexpected hospital bill out of pocket if you didn't have health insurance, because the bill wasn't exorbitant. Now if you don't have health insurance (or your insurance company wiggles out of paying because that's what they do), an extended hospital stay causes bankruptcy eighty percent of the time even when the patient initially has insurance. Back in the nineteen fifties President Eisenhower warned about how big and powerful the "military/industrial complex" was becoming. Now, nearly half of the Federal budget is spent on making war and selling weapons systems even though the Soviet Union has folded its tent, and the Cold War is over. We were at war in Iraq because people like Dick Cheney (KBR, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc) saw profit in war. When I was growing up, global warming was on the distant horizon. Now the fossil fuel industry routinely promotes projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline that pump obscene amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (tar sands oil is three to four times dirtier than regular crude), making global warming more difficult (if not impossible) to control while placing roadblocks in the path of developing renewable green energy. The fossil fuel industry pays science deniers to appear on mainstream media to dispute the evidence that our planet is even warming (diverting our attention from the real problem), even though ninety-seven percent of peer reviewed climatologists have said that anthropogenic (man made) climate change is real. When I was growing up, the mainstream news media kept us informed with competent broadcasters, who had integrity, like Edward R. Murrow, David Brinkley, and Walter Cronkite. Now, since the Reagan administration dumped The Media Fairness Doctrine, the doctrine that promoted facts, not lies, the mainstream media, like Rupert Murdoch's, "Fox News" and the rest of the corporate media (five corporations own ninety percent of the national media), make up propaganda and lies with impunity. So that people, who rely upon news outlets like Fox, are less informed than people who watch no news at all. When I was in the Navy, if you were religious or not, fine, no worries, mate. Now, airmen, marines, sailors, and soldiers are harassed by right wing Christian zealots who believe that everyone should believe as they do, and no one stops these Bible thumpers because many of them hold high rank. When I was growing up, it was illegal (for the government) to read your mail and listen to your phone calls without a warrant. Now thanks to Bush/Cheney/Rove and The Patriot Act the government can do whatever it pleases regarding our privacy, trampling our Constitutional rights in the mud. When I was growing up, Wall Street was regulated (Glass-Stegall act) to prevent the practices that caused The Great Depression. Now the Republicans (and some Democrats), the corporate politicians, have repealed those safeguards, nearly causing another Great Depression, and there is not enough support in Congress to put the safeguards back into place!

Another reason that I've become politically active is that there are people in the world like Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, and Pete Petersen, billionaires who are not simply content to be filthy rich, but who think that their money makes them better than everyone else, above the rules, and that they should use their money to buy our democracy and install their brand of corporate fascism to rule us all. Just like big game hunters clutter their walls with trophies of their hunts, so too do these people, keeping trophies of the politicians, judges, and lobbyists that they've bought and paid for, further corrupting our democratic process. And what do they want to do with all this money and power? They want it all. They want everything that they have plus everything that you have, too. They want to shrink government so small that they can drown it in a bathtub. They want to eliminate regulations, so their profits will increase even though their plans will pollute the entire planet, making it uninhabitable for eighty percent of the species currently living here. They want authoritarian rule, so normal (not filthy rich) people will be forced to do what they're told. We fought a World War to stop people like these, yet here they are, back again, pretending to be something that they're not, trying to impose their corrupt ideology upon us all. They have spent the last thirty plus years building an impressive 'information machine' to spread their false message. They own the national media and are increasing their holdings (The Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch are currently competing to buy the Tribune newspaper conglomerate). They have 'think tanks' like "The Heritage Foundation", "The American Enterprise Institute", and "The Cato Institute" to give phony intellectual backbone to their flawed ideology. They make contributions to colleges and universities to influence the curricula and hiring. They use their money to pack school boards with their people, so that the textbooks can be revised to reflect their warped view of history and religion. They have phony, astroturf organizations like "Freedom Works", "Americans for Prosperity", and "ALEC" to divide us. We've already been through this once before, where the 'haves' have almost everything, and the 'have nots' have next to nothing. It was called the "Gilded Age", where the super rich controlled our political process to the detriment of everyone else. 'We the people' rejected the Gilded Age, and 'we the people' replaced it with The New Deal, more rights and earned benefits for everyone, and we are not going back...

I've just cited a number of examples of how the American people are being used and abused (there are many more), and you wonder why I have become politically active? You should wonder instead why you are not!

It doesn't take much to get active; become informed, inform others, organize, and vote each and every time no matter what. The super rich with all the money are 'the few', and 'we the people' are 'the many'. I don't care what your political affiliation is. If you want a better life, get involved, speak truth to power, and help elect candidates who will further your agenda. That's what I'm doing because if not me and you, then (you know) who...