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Letter to the Editor (The Chronicle)

March 7, 2010

Right-wing populism has a long history in the United States.  At the same time we had FDR, we had Father Coughlin and Huey Long.  Right-wing populism usually plays on the fears of people.  They posit this mythical society that we once had filled with rugged individuals – usually white males – who through hard work and determination were justly rewarded at the end of the day.  But the problems now are happening because we have been betrayed by the Jews, or black or brown immigrants, or some other non- white male who has demanded a share that they don’t deserve.

They claim liberals control the media and don’t tell the truth about how we – meaning they – have been betrayed.  We can expect black and brown people to live in poverty and on the fringes but it shouldn’t be happening to God-fearing white Christians.  Current right-wing populists such as the Birthers, the Aryan-nation Minutemen, the Tea-baggers, or the clerical fundamentalists like Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson want to return to a world that has only existed in their mythology.

Since, in fact it is the right-wing corporatists and not the liberals who control the media in this country, it is difficult for the average person to educate themselves.  The Big Lies are not about health care, tax cuts or diminishing Family Values.  The Big Lies are in fact unspoken and unquestioned for the most part.

Why does America have 761 military bases around the world?  Why does the U.S. spend more on  our military than all the other nations on earth combined?  If our health care delivery system is so great, why is the child mortality of American newborns 37th in the world?  When did God say that we should impose our “values” on the world?  Why don’t we care about the thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians, including children, that we are killing every day?  Why does the U.S. Government use its power to inhibit working people from joining together in unions?  Why don’t we care that a third of the American population are functionally illiterate?  Why don’t we care that half of all bankruptcies in this country are because people can’t pay their medical bills?

All of these problems are not a result of a betrayal of the American Dream by some dark and mysterious force.  All of these problems and many more are a result of the fact that democracy itself has been betrayed.  The true American Dream was a country in which power rested solely with the people.  What we currently have is a country in which power rests with the corporations and their pursuit of profit at the expense of the people.  The courts over the past 100 years have promoted the legal myth that corporations are persons with all the rights of ordinary people.  Instead of being fooled into reclaiming a myth that never existed, the right-wing needs to join with those progressives who are trying to reclaim democracy for our country.

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