In monarchy, dictatorship or theocracy, there is no accountability to the people. What about democracy in America?
Currently, America is a paradise for the political parties: power with irresponsibility, including fiscal irresponsibility. Where else can one find it? Not in Great Britain, Germany or France. How did this come about? Until 1970’s, the South voted democrat. When Democrats began to champion Civil Rights (Lyndon Johnson) including the rights of blacks, the white South revolted. One hundred years after Lincoln’s death, the nation was still against racial integration. To win the wavering South, The Republican strategists, helped by wealthy conservatives, formed a new, radical religion with the gospel of ‘no tax’ and ‘no regulations.’ Privatization became a biblical word. Conservative Christians fell for this new radical doctrine; Bible was turned into a great vehicle for spearheading the cult of unbridled capitalism. In 1973, with generous funding from Joseph Coors, the beer baron, and Richard Mellon Scaife, a newspaper magnate, the Heritage Foundation was created to oppose prevailing views on taxes and business regulations. By 1978, Paul Weyrich’s Political Action Committee (PAC) had swept into Congress a new, radical breed of populist conservatives. Rev. Jerry Falwell, the leader of the Moral Majority, was invited to “turn this (country) into a Christian nation.” The Republican Party took a firm stand against abortion on its 1980 Party platform, to split the strong Catholic voting bloc within the Democratic Party. The 1980 election laid the foundation of GOP’s strategy: divide the country to win elections. Terry Dolan, a Republican strategist, developed the secret of fund-raising: “make them angry and stir up hostilities. The shriller you are, the easier it is to raise funds. That’s the nature of the beast.”
For the rich–like Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Texas oil billionaire, Joseph Coors, the beer baron, J. Peter Grace, the shipping magnate, the Koch brothers of Koch Industries (one of the largest oil company group), and Richard Mellon-Scaife, the newspaper magnate–the opportunity of controlling the Republican political party to get what they want was too good to pass. They wanted to pay little or no taxes; they did not want business regulations. The Republican Party made a deal with Mephistopheles. All these men went to work for their candidate—Ronald Reagan. And succeeded.
With their man in the White House, the Heritage Foundation (which was out to destroy America’s heritage of egalitarian society), guided the Reagan administration. The Administration adopted fully two-thirds of the recommendations of Heritage’s Mandate for Leadership: rollback of minority programs, increases in military spending, and drastically cutting taxes of the rich. In 1984, Heritage published “Mandate for Leadership II” for Reagan’s second term: privatization of Social Security and denial of special educational funding for the handicapped. Reagan commenced an era of reckless deficits to “defund” the democratic social programs—Social Security and Medicare, and public education—in order to strengthen the Religious Right and cripple the Democrat voter base.
Also, after Reagan’s victory, the Council for National Policy (CNP) was formed (See Chapter Six of the Decline) in 1981 as a one stop policy and funding resource for the Religious Right. It brought leading conservative religious and political leaders, financiers and activists together under one roof. While Heritage developed and sold the Religious Right ideology in the cloak of ‘public policy’ to legislators, CNP’s role was to strategize, and fund cash-generated “grassroots” movements, controversies, create a conservative judiciary, and develop issues that would promote the Religious Right and keep Republicans in power.
THE RISE OF AN AGGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE/RELIGIOUS RIGHT
There were at least 80 million evangelical Christians in the United States attending more than 200,000 evangelical churches. This caught Rev. Pat Robertson’s (monetizing) eye. He founded Christian Coalition in 1989 as a tax-exempt (non-profit) religious organization. Christian Coalition’s “Family Values Non-Partisan Voter Guides” were quietly distributed to thousands of participating churches that brazenly endorsed Republican candidates. Church telephone directories were used for “get-out-the-vote” telephone banks. As a result of this underground activity, the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years; it was also called the “Newt Gingrich Revolution.” The victory reaffirmed the Republican’s belief that their party’s only chance for regaining political hegemony was by demonizing the opposition and by converting the political arena into a battleground between “godly Republicans” and “secular, anti-religious” “liberal” Democrats.
In 2000, 75 million voter guides were sent out to support George Bush. Eighty-four percent of evangelicals voted for Bush, providing nearly one-third of his total votes. What had looked like a dream to the evangelicals and to the rich puppeteers behind the show, had become a reality. Christian Coalition changed the course of American politics–though in the wrong direction.
Because it had flagrantly violated the tax rules for tax-exempt religious organizations, the Christian Coalition was sued by the Election Commission for its partisan activities in support of Republican candidates in 1990, 1992 and 1994. It lost its tax-exempt status in 1999 and Robertson left it in 2001. But the candidates elected by the Coalition’s illegal activities and fraud continued as legislators.
In 1997, Christian Broadcast Network (CBN), Robertson’s ministry, took in $164m in donations plus an additional $34m in other income. The tidal wave of tax-deductible cash generated by this daily dose of ‘holiness’ paid for the cable channel which was sold in 1997 to Rupert Murdoch (Fox News), for a cool $1.82 billion. Christian writers such as Cal Thomas had blasted Robertson over his race horses and gambling. Robertson’s book, The New World Order, preached the message that Jesus came to make Christians wealthy; the masses found the message so attractive that it turned the book into a bestseller in 1991.
When former Senator John Danforth (R-MO), also an Episcopal priest, wrote an OP-ED to the New York Times, March 30, 2005, criticizing the Religious Right, Weyrich’s response was telling:
Without the “values voters,” the Republicans couldn’t get elected dogcatcher, he said, then added: Do you want to return to the way it was before the religious right became part of the GOP coalition? If that happens, the Republican Party will be dead. Its majorities in both the House and Senate soon would evaporate and the party would be unable to elect a President.
The evidence of Right’s success is everywhere. The so called “liberal” press has been squashed by Fox News and Sun Myung Moon’s conservative right newspaper Washington Times; its talk show hosts spew political venom from coast to coast. It is estimated fewer than 100 U.S. commercial radio stations carry liberal talk programs, compared to around 600 stations for Rush Limbaugh, and 500 for Sean Hannity. Gay marriage and abortion are touted as “moral issues” and “family values” to attract the “values voters” and win elections. For them, destroying the economy and the environment at home, and denying healthcare to millions of Americans are not “moral” issues. Morality has been turned on its head.
To stop Obama’s access to legislature, the Religious Right (with the help of the rich) funded the Tea Party movement in early 2110. Bolstered by legions of Tea Party activists (installed by the rich) who exploited fears over unemployment rate and a shaky economic outlook, conservatives swept to victory in November 2010 elections. De-funding Planned Parenthood was revived by the Tea Party as a deficit-cutting measure. Majority of Tea Party members followed the Religious Right agenda.
The Religious Right organizations collectively raise nearly $1 billion every year, and are now a permanent fixture on the American political scene. How did it happen so fast? Religious Right took full advantage of the Reagan and GW Bush years because both men owed their victory to Religious Right and had no spine. One was a failed film actor, the other an alcoholic until in his early forties. They proceeded to decimate America’s financial strength (Raegan by Star War expenditures and GW Bush by Iraq war and to top it, gave big tax cuts to the rich) so Democrat programs like Social Security and public education were faced with reduced funding. The cuts to those social programs will destroy the voter-base of Democrat Party and allow the Republican Party to increase its grip on power. The anti-people, anti-education, anti-healthcare strategy has worked as it has been effectively disguised. When the Democrats are in power, they are warned about ‘deficits’ and told to ‘balance’ the budget; when the Republicans come to power, they recklessly give tax breaks to the rich and spend trillions on war and war-preparations. The public votes Republican because Republicans tout themselves as morally conservative and fiscally responsible–but only when Democrats come to power. Americans have short term memories and taken in by the talk of religious values. The Republican Party uses every device to misinform, deceive, intimidate, lie and deny, to win votes. And it has a superb organization–backed by the rich–to pull it all together. America successfully eradicated the mafia, but not this political menace.
Surprisingly, Republicans regained the White House in 2016—even if their candidate was Donald Trump. The Christian Right is alive and well. The Republican propaganda machine is in tact. It is strange that a Party that has treated opposition as its enemy and has raided the funds for public education, healthcare, infrastructure, and destroyed the financial base of America has continued to dominate the legislature, and now the White House. What is more ominous, it has shredded the principle of “compromise” on which the US Constitution was built. It has cynically exploited religion (Marx called it “opium of the masses”) in its quest for power. The question is: how long will it take the public to wake up? If history is our guide, the show may go on a lot longer but not for ever.