Across the Pond, I’ve been watching with interest the events in Wisconsin. At last, the Democratic Party seems to have remembered that it once spoke out vociferously for the unions and the people who belonged to them – basically the working class and, notwithstanding, the working poor. Prior to 1970, unions, their members, the proletariat and the Democratic Party existed in pretty happy, if somewhat discordant, harmony. The Democratic Party was a big tent, after all.
But for the past forty years, that part of the Democratic Party which featured the ueber-educated, ueber-cultured, ueber-intellectual found inhabiting the geographical extremes of the Lower 48, seemed to be the dominant guiding force in Democratic politics and policy. They were not poor people. They were stretched even to be working class. They accepted whatever working class and working poor people who happened to still be hanging around the netherlands of the party, they paid lip service to their plight, but they viewed them with disdain. Many still do, but then, as recent events have shown, these people are neither real Democrats nor real Progressives.
As for the unions, both public and private sector, they were useful for financial contributions ever four years when it became expedient to get a Democrat in the big chair of the Oval Office.
In 2010, according to our new House Speaker, John Boehner, “the American people” had spoken via the ballot box and roundly rejected the agenda put forward by the President and the majority Democratic Party. Depending on what they read and to whom they listened, “the American people” had determined to reject these policies which were at once and variously socialist, communist, Muslim and unAmerican. “The American people” had suddenly become synomymous (or so it seemed) with the Tea Party, and even that was suspect.
I suspected it from its inception and found it incongruous that a CNBC financial analyst/reporter could launch a sustained and rehearsed rant at an early hour one morning, calling for “a little tea party” action, and within a fortnight, tea parties – actual organised Saul Alinsky-styled demonstrations – emerged, literally, across the land. Almost immediately, Fox News and their various personalities – in particular, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck – had picked up the mantra, as various Republican politicians fell into the tea party sheeple fold.
That the so-called liberal media added credence to this movement was only a boon to their credentials as well. We endured a long, hot summer of disrupted Congressional town hall meetings where Tea Party members showed up with guns, three-cornered hats and out-of-context Jeffersonian quotations, in order to make their presence known in opposition to the proposed healthcare bill.
We’ve known birthers, Tenthers and Ayn Rand fanatics, and now a lot of them are sitting in Congress determining what they hope will be legislation under which we all will have to live. These people pushed their effective PR big lie so well that they’ve ridden a wave which virtually turned much of the US Republican red in November.
Now, they’ve masked their true intentions behind deficit fear and frenzy. (Gotta keep the hoi polloi frightened in the extreme; after all, nothing’s so easily controlled as scared children). This has led to the Republicans in the House cutting Federal aid to Planned Parenthood, an organisation which was vitally instrumental in providing health cover for lower income women. Of course the ultimate aim in that respect was eventually to make abortion a criminal act again. Make no mistake: Abortion is the guiding star along the Republicans’ route to dominance. If you can link abortion to anything, you’ve got the working class and working poor of the rural Midwest and the South by the short and curlies.
With all the kerfuffle about the de-funding of Planned Parenthood and the 24/7 coverage of the peoples’ revolutions against dictatorships in the Middle East, a freshman governor of a Midwestern state attempted a coup of his own. This was how Scott Walker wanted to bury the news of his real efforts to strip public sector union members of their right to collective bargaining, as a means of ensuring that there would be no comeback from that quarter, both now and in the future, when the State of Wisconsin decides to cut their pensions or health benefits or even their salaries.
All in the interest of the State’s deficit, you understand – brought about by the Governor’s desperate need to effect tax cuts for the wealthier element and for business interests in the state.
Scott Walker is the son of a preacher man, but the only way he has of moving people is to effect a mass movement of labour forces against him. That’s good, in that it forces the Democratic Party to remember its origins and its real base, but it might be too late, considering the extent to which the unions, themselves, have been weakened in the past thirty years.
Scott Walker is also the only one of a plethora of Republican governors elected in November 201o, who actually doesn’t possess a university degree. He’s a college drop-out, not for financial reasons, but in order for him to devote more time to his pro-Life perambulations. He’s intransigent, he’s inflexible, he’s stubborn and he lacks total compassion.
Let’s add to all of that: He’s puerile.
This week Walker took a phonecall from someone he thought was David Koch. Interesting, because there had been complaints abounding from various and sundry Wisconsin Democrats that Walker was refusing to speak to them. He simply wouldn’t accept calls.
But he leapt at the opportunity when an aide told him that “David Koch” wanted to speak with him – ne’mind the fact that said aide should have smelled a rat, when “David Koch” revealed that it was impossible for the Governor to call him back, owing to the fact that his maid had thrown his cellphone in the washing machine, a deed for which “Koch” threatened to “send her back.”
“Koch”, in fact, was Ian Murphy, the editor of the online newspaper, The Buffalo Beast, originally founded by Matt Taibbi. The twenty-minute conversation that followed showed Walker as an abject sycophant, hanging on “Koch’s” praises, intimating to “Koch” that he’d actually thought about planting Republican troublemakers amongst the strikers (blatant ratfucking in the truest Rovian sense of the word) and actually detailing a plan he’d devised to trick the recalcitrant Democratic state politicians back to Madison during the recess period, only to declare a quorum whilst they were on recess and force the bill de-legitimising collective bargaining through the state senate via Republican votes alone.
When “Koch” suggested Walker use a baseball bat on the strikers, Walker eagerly revealed he kept one in his office, a personalised baseball bat, in fact. And in a chillingly repugnant segment of the conversation, Walker talked about one Democratic colleague, with whom he’d worked in the state legislature in the past on various projects, but he cautioned “Koch” not to contact this man … “because he isn’t one of us.”
If ever there were any evidence needed that the Right were wantonly demonising the Left, it lay like a portent in those five words: He isn’t one of us.
Precisely the message Walker’s ilk, financed by David Koch and his brother, have been pushing since January 21, 2009. The President isn’t one of us. He’s not like us. He’s different. His name is stranger than the strangest immigrant name. He doesn’t look like us. He may not even believe in the same God we’re all supposed to worship, according to the Republicans. (Which begs the question: If in the small-minded, little Republican universe, we’re all supposed to be Christian – the way they perceive our nation to have been founded – how do they justify that their House Majority Leader in Congress simply isn’t a Christian? Perhaps they’ve made Eric Cantor an honorary one.)
At the end of a marathon twenty-minute conversation, “Koch” suggested that Walker “come out to Cali” when this ordeal was resolved and he’d show him a good time. Walker could barely contain his delight.
He’d arrived. He’d joined the club as a freshman. And yet, he’d done something more.
He’d shown the world, when that taped conversation went viral, that the Koch Brothers and their involvement in mainstream Republican party politics, wasn’t the stuff of grisly-minded Leftwing imaginings. There was no conspiracy theory there; even Andrew Breitbart’s involvement and financing on the part of the Kochs was acknowledged.
Scott Walker’s naive posturing in a conversation to “Big Daddy Koch” placed the Koch machine front and centre of all the ugly, detrimental and ruthless connivings of the past two years. It put a seal on the fact that most every freshman Congressman, Senator and Governor who rose from the Republican ranks last November, did so riding the magic carpet of Koch money. Goodness knows how many incumbents are on the payroll, but I’d say Jim DeMint was a dead cert.
Scott Walker managed to bring the Kochroaches out of the woodwork. Now it’s time for everyone in protest to stand strong, and insure that Scott Walker, himself, retreats to the nether regions of that selfsame woodwork … with his friends. Where he belongs.