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Republicans lawmakers in U.S. Congress pose for a group photo. Assertions made by the contemporary GOP, writes Atcheson, "are bald-faced lies, knowingly told, and meant to hide the fact that they are paid servants of the oligarchy. And that's the real story here." (Photo: U.S. House)

How the Deranged Took Over America

And why they may be here to stay

John Atcheson

It’s not news to most people that the US is no longer a true Democracy.  Gilens and Page proved it in 2014, using hard data.  More recently, the Economist’s Democracy Index, dropped the US down to a “flawed democracy,” in 2016, and when the firmly neoliberal Economist thinks you have issues with freedom – you’ve got issues.

It’s one thing to lose our freedoms; it’s quite another to lose them to a collection of anti-science whack jobs straight out of the middle ages.

And of course, with Herr Trump doing his best to neutralize the already eviscerated press, scare the hell out of us, keep us distracted from real issues, and govern by tweets, things have only gotten worse. 

"It’s one thing to lose our freedoms; it’s quite another to lose them to a collection of anti-science whack jobs straight out of the middle ages."

What’s not as well understood is precisely how a right wing de facto coup caused the US to move from a democracy to an oligarchy, and how the inmates took over the revolt.

Trump, of course, has added a whole new dimension to the coup.  No longer are we simply living in an oligarchy, we’ve become a nation suffering from full on psychosis, and Trump is the logical endpoint of the coup’s reliance on fear, distraction, hate, anger and xenophobia. What makes it possible for an abomination like Trump to gain power is that the institutions we used to rely upon to confront the oligarchy have been taken over by it in the last four decades.  Two in particular have contributed to the tragedy that is Trump.

A press that fails to hold anyone accountable

Day-after-day, complete insanity is passed off as an “alternative viewpoint” by the mainstream media.  Case in point: the Republican’s claim that their tax “reform” is good for the middle class.  In reality, it’s simply another reincarnation of the same old tax-cuts-for-the-rich scheme they’ve been pushing since Reagan. And while the MSM quotes institutions like the Tax Policy Center to show that nearly 80 percent of the benefits go to the uber rich, and point out that these cuts are funded by gutting programs that benefit the middle class and working poor, most of the press still acts as if this were some debate between two legitimate perspectives.  It’s not. Their assertions about their budget and tax programs are bald-faced lies, knowingly told, and meant to hide the fact that they are paid servants of the oligarchy. And that’s the real story here. But you won’t hear that.

And now Trump. Sure, the entire Party has been lying for decades, but at least it followed a plan (laid out by James Powell in 1971) with a purpose—to serve the oligarchy that provides campaign funds.  But now, their leader —our President—is a pathological liar, who lies randomly and with no purpose.  Yet still, the press treats his inchoate ramblings as if they were  “another perspective.”  Not only are his rants not “another perspective” they are idiotic and dangerous and so obviously unhinged that his own people refer to him as a “fucking moron” and try to contain his tsunami of idiocy as the nation drifts into disaster on all fronts.

He has taken us closer to a nuclear confrontation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis. He has sabotaged the Affordable Care Act, raising health care costs and risking the health of millions.  He has taken us out of the Paris Climate Agreement at a time when redord-breaking fires and hurricanes are ripping across our continent and the world, and temperature records are falling like autumn leaves.  He has undermined scientific research and belief in the scientific method. He is scuttling the Iran agreement, risking the rise of yet another hostile nuclear power. He has botched the Puerto Rican rescue, leaving millions without power, water, and food. He has demonstrated that he knows nothing about how laws are made … or any other of the skills and knowledge required to run government. 

Finally, he has shown that he is emotionally, mentally and morally unfit for the office he holds, and he regularly feeds the worst among us with a steady diet of hate, fear, blame, and jingoism.

This is the news that everyone knows but no one talks about; certainly not the press.  But this man’s gross incompetence and moral bankruptcy are the most important reality facing the country if not the world. It should be news when a destructive, emotionally ill incompetent is allowed to take the reins of our government into his tiny hands and drive us toward oblivion. It should be reported as the dire reality it is, not as “an alternative viewpoint.”  Viewpoint? With his mercurial stances on every issue, there is no viewpoint.  Only today’s idiocy bubbling up from his id, and out into the nation’s rapidly deteriorating consciousness.

The press’s decades long devotion to balanced, as opposed to accurate reporting is why Trump’s assault on the press has been successful. Today, nearly half of all Americans believe the press makes up stories about him.

But “fair and balanced” reporting was enabled by the oligarch’s coup, and Reagan and Clinton eviscerated the Federal Communications Commission – the only authority capable of assuring accuracy and responsibility in the media.

In 2018 and 2020, if the press does not do its job, we can expect a fresh round of right wing whack jobs running and winning. But it won’t be just the fault of the media.

Democrats – partners in crime

The fact that a mere 26.1 percent of the eligible voters could put this ignoramus in office is directly a result of Democratic malfeasance. How?  Well, if you read Clinton’s latest book, or the misguided ramblings of neoliberals like Doug Schoen the neoliberal mafia that controls the Democratic Party still seems to have no clue that they enabled his victory by refusing to stand for the vast majority of Americans who are – and have been for some time now – getting screwed by decades long allegiance to the uber wealthy and elitist interests in lieu of the people’s interests.  Their cynical centrist-one-day, faux-left the next, center-right the next, while pandering to economic elites and corporate America has shrunk the base of the Party from 50 percent of Americans back in the late sixties to less than 30 percent today.   

This rudderless, amoral approach to governance is why just 37 percent believe the Democratic Party stands for something.  And what the neoliberals just don’t get, is that what Americans want are candidates who back a progressive agenda.  Oh, yes, the terms liberal and progressive have been smeared by the Oligarch’s skillful use of branding to make them unpopular terms, but on an issue-by-issue basis, Americans are overwhelmingly progressive.  The only reason the oligarch’s branding effort worked is because no one countered it.  In fact, the Clintonites’ neoliberal embrace of free markets, trade agreements, deregulation, and militarism reinforced the conservatives’ narrative.

With 2018 just a little over a year away, the Democratic Party is still engaged in a civil war in which the old guard—the one’s whose policies caused the Party to become a minority Party with little influence—refuse to let go of the reins.

That’s why “no-show” has been the biggest cohort in our elections for decades now.  While Democrats troll the “center” for a few more votes, they are hemorrhaging voters on the left. And that’s the other reason we have an idiot for President, and why he may win a second term.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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