Monday, October 14, 2013

New Deal Democracy vs. Tea Party Plutocracy

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

(Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Franklin Roosevelt stated: "We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."

(President Franklin Roosevelt, image courtesy of the National Park Service.) 

We would be wise to heed these warnings today, as Republican and Tea Party politicians are working hard to subvert our democracy, backed by big money. In their hatred of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")--a law that passed both houses of Congress, the President's pen, and Supreme Court review--Republican & Tea Party politicians have shut down our government. In other words, they've shut down "We the People."

Republican & Tea Party politicians tried to stop the Affordable Care Act over 40 times, but they couldn't get their efforts through our democratic and constitutional process. So, in anger, they shut down our government and even subtly changed a rule in the House of Representatives (shortly before they orchestrated the shutdown) so that only Republican leadership could bring a vote to end the shutdown. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) accurately said: "Democracy has been suspended" (see, "House Republicans Changed The Rules So A Majority Vote Couldn't Stop The Government Shutdown").

(The new Affordable Care Act--while certainly not a perfect law--is an attempt to make health care more affordable for lower-income groups through, for example, the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for lower-to-middle income Americans. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

Make no mistake about it, our democracy is under full-scale assault. And behind the Republican & Tea Party tactics to subvert of our democracy is big money. For example, Ted Cruz--the prime architect of the government shutdown--is backed by Goldman Sachs, one of the big financial institutions that doesn't want the government monitoring its financial dealings (see "Hypocrites! Corporate Leaders Bemoan the Default Crisis Created by Tea Partiers They Funded"). And, of course, the Koch brothers--in their endless mission to limit government oversight of their frequently questionable business activities--have given generously to the Tea Party.

(When big money manipulates who will be in Congress, and what policies Congress pursues, is that democracy or plutocracy? Especially when those policies end up favoring the the detriment of everyone else, e.g., the allowance of loan shark interest rates, lower taxation on investment income, and more harsh rules for personal bankruptcy. Image courtesy of

Republican & Tea Party plutocracy is driving income inequality to record levels, distracting us from white collar crime, and labeling lower income groups as the true cause of our economic problems; which is why Republicans & Tea Partiers are constantly attacking unemployment insurance, minimum wage increase proposals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and any other government program or policy designed to help non-rich Americans. To them, it is not insider trading, interest rate rigging, mortgage & securities fraud, accounting fraud, etc., that is causing our economic woes, it is the guy working at Walmart for $9 an hour, and utilizing SNAP to help feed his family who is the true cause of our problems.

(Unfortunately, many Republican & Tea Party politicians--and those who vote for them--blame the poor for our dismal economy. They say the poor are moochers and parasites, living a life of luxury on endless government handouts. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

It's true that big money has always helped both major political parties, but at least the big money that helped the Democrats during the New Deal went towards programs & policies for the common man. Harry Hopkins, in a reply to Herbert Hoover's criticism of the New Deal, asked: "Is it dictatorship to try to operate a government for all the people and not just a few? Is it dictatorship to guarantee the deposits of small depositors, and keep phony stocks and bonds off the market? Is it dictatorship to save millions of homes from foreclosure? Is it dictatorship to give a measure of protection to millions who are economically insecure and jobs to other millions who can't find work? Is it dictatorship to try to put a floor under wages and a ceiling over working hours?"

(Harry Hopkins, head of the WPA and champion of the unemployed. Photo courtesy of the Social Security Administration).

Brandeis's warning is worth repeating: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

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