By Roger Linnett
It’s a fact that voter turnout for midterm elections is dismal at best. The conservatives are counting on this to win next month. The country, especially their base, has been getting fed a steady diet of fear, propaganda, half truths and opinion masquerading as fact, to the point where many a steamrolled citizen can no longer tell what’s in their own best interest.
They are being told “we need to take back our country,” the implication being that, Democratic election victories were somehow a coup, and not the wholesale rejection of the policies that left us in the worst mess since the Republican-initiated Great Depression.
If you follow the news, you’re probably aware that the Republican Party has been usurped by hard-right conservatives, abetted by well-meaning, but misinformed, flocks of Tea Baggers. The 24/7 propagandizing of right-wing radio and the Fox infotainment network are prophesying a landslide to sweep them back into power on November 2.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case (Beachhead, February ‘10), humongous sums of money have been raised by an assortment of pro-big business organizations to throw at the 2010 midterm elections. And thanks to the Republican Senate killing a bill that would have made disclosure of the names of the contributors of these vast sums public knowledge, they are free to conduct their election purchasing in smug anonymity. These billionaire-funded juggernauts intend to deliver enough right-wing candidates to the next Congress to shift control back to even more conservative Republican Party.
As of August, it is believed that some $400 million, more than what was spent on the entire 2008 election, was held by these organizations and has been unleashed, primarily for media buys. If you thought TV and radio were saturated with political ads during the primary season, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
The main thrust of the ads are wedge issues, abortion, same sex marriage, etc., while rebuilding the economy and helping people struggling to survive are rarely mentioned. Plus, personal negative attacks now can, and will, be aired right up until Election Day, which will give the targets of these smears no time to refute or counter them. And as this tsunami of cash inundates the media, it may swallow up most, if not all, the available commercial air time there is in some markets, effectively drowning out any opposition.
Although the corporately-controlled media is overwhelmingly trumpeting right-wing candidates, the last election showed that a sizable majority of the country is more center-left, accounting for President Obama’s victory and the Democrats retaking control of the House. But the Obama Administration is their fall guy for all our woes, while the ruinous Bush years have disappeared down the memory hole.
The recent primary victories of Tea Party-supported Senate candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada, along within several other less-celebrated contests have energized the conservatives to get out the vote this November. They are mainly targeting what are called Blue Dog, or conservative Democrats, and even moderate Republicans in seats that have large Republicans constituencies.
Furthermore, the Republicans aren’t interested in regaining power to take on the major problems facing the country. In fact, they have stated that they intend to try to re-establish the disastrous policies of the last decade that put us in such dire straits to begin with. The so-called Pledge to America, that the Republicans announced last week, is simply a repetition of the same ideas proposed in the 1994 Republican’s Contract with America, which failed utterly; the only portion that passed was welfare reform, and that was hardly a rousing success.
After handing over the running of the country to their corporate masters, this presumptive new Congressional majority intends on using its authority to investigate every nook and cranny of the Obama Administration, just as they did during the Clinton years.
In Southern California, Democrats hold the majority of congressional seats, which are not likely to be affected by right-wing propagandists. Unfortunately, there are many more candidates in our area, neither Democrat nor Republican, who get little media exposure to begin with, and the aggressive media campaigns of the dominant parties will surely diminish their voices even more.
Although we are only directly involved in our own district elections, we can still, and should, act to rally voters across the country to turn out at the polls like they did in 2008. We all have friends and relatives spread across the country, many probably live in the very districts where the right-wing, flag-wrapped fascists are concentrating their efforts. Because most areas of the country are inundated by conservative, corporate media outlets, our friends may be among those who, while not part of the fundamentalist, kool-aid drinking contingent, may have not been getting any positive information about our government or our recovery from near economic disaster.
Here are a couple of things you can discuss with your friends to remind them what is at stake. Just last week the president signed a $30 billion bill funding loans for small businesses through the Small Business Administration. The SBA has a backlog of 1,400 approved loans awaiting funding. And only because two Republican Senators, who are retiring and need no longer kowtow to the Republican leadership, voted with the Democrats to end the filibuster and pass the legislation did this much-needed boost to the national economy come to be. How many jobs do you think that money will create? And how much in new tax revenues?
The Republican had been blocking this bill for some time, all the while decrying that it would increase the deficit. Funny, not paying for the tax cuts originally, which raised the deficit by over $1 trillion over the past decade, didn’t seem to bother them.
And now the Republicans are holding the whole country hostage over renewing the Bush tax cuts because the president wants to exclude the upper 2 percent of all taxpayers, those making over $250,000 a year, from continuing at the present rates. If we cave in to their economic terrorist tactics, and no new tax bill is passed, then everyone’s taxes will return to the 2000 tax rates. Oh, and by the way, that 2 percent still get a tax cut on that first $250,000, and a 4.6 percent increase on anything over that, which would decrease the deficit by an additional $700 billion.
A phone call, a letter, an e-mail or some other personal communication reminding them that things are getting better, albeit slowly thanks to Republican obstructionism, could be the key to getting those who normally sit on the sidelines during the midterms to get out and vote. There is so much at stake. We must not allow the resumption of the catastrophe that was the Republican-controlled Congress. Winning at the polls, retaining a Democratically-led Congress is the only way we will be able to return our nation to its former vigor and prosperity. So, tell a friend. And don’t forget to vote, yourself. b