It’s beginning to look like the Republican Party, including its extremist conservatives, or “cons” for short, will be gaining ground in the mid-term elections coming up this November and may even reclaim control of the House. Should all this come to pass, a turn to the right end of the political spectrum in Congress could mean, but not necessarily so, a wrong turn for America.
This is not to say that the Democratic Party is capable of reversing America’s downward slide socio-economically. Both parties are owned by powerful corporate interests. The two political parties are the subservient members of the “devil’s marriage” that produced America’s corpocracy in the early 70s.
The Devil’s Marriage and the Cons
It wasn’t a shotgun wedding. Both political parties lusted for it. Each got their own unending dowries. Corporations get favorable legislation, favorable regulations and deregulations, privatization rights, favorable judicial verdicts, welfare handouts, impunity from lawlessness, military help in global exploitation, and laissez-faire capitalism. The other side gets much less, but it’s more than enough. The Capital Hill bunch (aka “Corporate Hill”) gets well-paying, usually lifetime jobs. The Oval Office puppets get brief prestige and mostly military power. And the robed bench sitters guaranteed for life get to pontificate and then rule in favor of the corporate interests that helped to get them appointed.
While the marriage is clearly one-sided, neither side can afford a divorce. They will stick together through thick and thin, especially the cons. While they rail against the government partner, they are diehard supporters of the corporate partner.
The aim of this piece is to examine the cons’ allegiance to the corporate part of the marriage, to show how that allegiance has shredded their tie to the Constitution, a set of principles and law to which they give lip service, and how a turn to the right would accelerate America’s deterioration unless the cons, if ever in control, surprisingly decide otherwise.
The Cons’ Allegiance to Corporate Interests
Why is it that the cons have sold their soul to the company store? In his book, Cracking the Code, Thom Hartmann explains that conservatives distrust government’s ability to control the darker, immoral side of human nature and so trust the amoral nature of powerful corporate interests to keep society civilized. If his explanation is correct, it shows that the cons, besides ignoring corporate abuse of power, totally misunderstand Adam Smith, the putative founder of capitalism. Smith was a moral philosopher who believed morality was manifested in a person’s sympathy for others. He would have recoiled at the very idea of the corpocracy and its capitalism, for he thought the emerging corporations of his time posed threats emanating from the freedom given them to operate as they saw fit.
Giving American corporations the freedom to do what they see fit is precisely what our laissez-faire government has been doing for many decades, and the consequences have been extremely costly to America. I’ll return to this point momentarily.
Hartmann’s explanation of the conservative’s bondage to the corporate state doesn’t really delve into the cons’ personality, which is absolutely necessary to understand why they are so hateful toward government, especially in its efforts to ameliorate the deplorable conditions of the downtrodden. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman said in one of his columns that “the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.”
His characterization may tickle a liberal but obviously doesn’t come close to capturing the cons’’ personality. To do this I searched the literature looking for the cons’ psychological makeup (PMU) and found it in a big study of many smaller studies spanning 50 years and several countries that was reported in the journal, Psychological Bulletin a few years ago. Cons, the findings suggest, resist change, are fearful, are aggressive, are tolerant of inequality to the extent of even endorsing it, are dogmatic, are intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, are hostile to outsiders, and are more comfortable with simplicity than with complexity. If this PMU is really true and comes to dominate Congress, even my young grandsons could probably understand what could be next for America.
The Cons’ and the U.S. Constitution
It’s so ironic that the cons bleat about reclaiming the U.S. Constitution while simultaneously repudiating it through their ideology and policies. Hartmann reminds us that nearly all of our nation’s founders were liberal “children of the Enlightenment” and that of the purposes stated in the Constitution’s preamble. Only one had to do with defense; the others were about promoting the general welfare. Moreover, and what is really astonishing, the corporatized U.S. Supreme Court’s recent fallacious ruling aside, neither the word nor idea of corporation is mentioned in the Constitution. Its framers weren’t about to turn their new America into another corpocracy like the one ruled over by the King and his chartered corporations that had so plundered and oppressed the colonists.
The Cons and Our Corporate Welfare State
Try telling the cons what ‘promote the general welfare’ means and that corporations really have no constitutional rights. The cons are all for welfare, their own, for corporate welfare, and for Constitutional rights for corporations. They perpetuate the myth that people on the dole want to be on the dole and like staying there. They apparently want public services that benefit only them tangibly and want to be barely taxed for them. They regard any government efforts to improve our general welfare as totalitarianism or socialism. They ignore – or don’t know – that corporate welfare in all its varieties absolutely dwarfs social welfare. The cons’ rants against taxation (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization”) might be muzzled or muted if someone told them convincingly that their taxes would be less if corporate welfare were eliminated. And they ignore the fact that corporations consistently abuse their constitutional rights at the expense of the common good.
The Cons and U.S. Militarism
The most costly part of corporate welfare is warfare welfare. I don’t know of very many cons who will acknowledge that. They usually are the most hawkish of all Americans save perhaps the Christian right, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
The U.S. has been the most warring nation since WWII. Why? As best as I can determine the answer is that the corpocracy’s militarism fattens the defense industry, including beefing up its sale of arms (the U.S. is the world’s top arms seller); opens up, protects, and expands corporations’ foreign markets and exploitation of natural resources (oil and minerals) and cheap labor; gives the military something to do; keeps politicians in office; and distracts the American public from growing socio-economic deterioration at home. In his book, “Regime Change Begins at Home”, Charles Derber contends that to survive a corpocracy one “must practice a foreign policy of bad faith, [namely, that of] ‘marry-your-enemy.’”
By my calculations corporate warfare welfare since 1948 has cost the American taxpayer, including the cons, roughly 20 trillion dollars. If we define warfare welfare as any military expenditure not necessary to defend ourselves against foreign invasions, then again by my calculations, 10 trillion dollars and thousands of lives went down a sinkhole. That amounts to a huge cost in lost opportunities, not to mention lost lives. Opportunities lost to trim taxes while at the same time making America healthier, more educated and employable, and certainly more at peace with the world.
After visiting America in the early 1800s the French political thinker and historian, Alexis De Tocqueville, concluded that “The nation ceased to exist.” He was referring to the nation of Native Americans. But will the same be said about America as a nation some day in the future? I’m convinced that if America continues her course of endless, winless, homicidal wars, America will not stay endless.
An Appeal to the Con’s
The cons started out just like the rest of us as innocent babies. The biggest difference was in the upbringing and circumstances. But our ideologies and our personalities aren’t cemented. Every one of us is malleable, whether we ourselves or someone else wields the mallet.
The cons might be able to make all the difference in the world, and for the better, if they vented their anger and aimed their strategies at curbing corporate welfare in all of its varieties. If they should take control and turn Congress into the House of the Cons, they would have an opportunity handed to them through the ballot box to start turning America upward instead of downward. Their mantra, “starve the beast” could become a policy that starts with starving corporations of their welfare handouts from government.
We should say to the cons, “Tell the rest of us the PMU findings are hogwash and then go on to prove it.”