- Will Rogers
This quote from the humorist Will Rogers neatly captures the Democratic Party that we are all familiar with. True to its name, the Democratic Party is a diverse collection of people engaged in a rollicking progressive form of democracy, one that sometimes appears totally disorganized. Despite the bewildering actions of the Tea Partiers, professionals in the Democratic Party understand that the Republican Party is a well-controlled machine, one that aggressively and consistently moves in a single direction,
So who are the insiders who control the Republican Party and how did they put together this well-organized machine that is wreaking havoc with the country? Let's just imagine how it may have been accomplished. We'll journey back to the year 1993 to a conference room in one of the sparkling lobbyist buildings on K Street in Washington, D.C.
Bulldog Connors starts out in his customary, no-nonsense fashion: "Gentlemen, let's get to work. Now we've known each other a long time, had some fun downing martinis and smoking cigars, but we haven't been organized worth a damn. We just let another Democrat, Clinton, into the White House. It's time for us to get smart. Sappy, fill the guys in on our objectives ..."
Sappy Thornton clears his throat and begins, "Thanks Boss. Now we have been analyzing business projections for the next several years. It is looking very promising for all of our industries, especially with the expansion of global trade. Our figures indicate that annual business growth will be approximately 4%. But emerging markets, especially in places like China, may see growth rates approaching 10%. This kind of growth is ..."
Bulldog interrupts him, "We know all this. Get to the point!"
Sappy looks apologetic, straightens his bow tie, and plunges in, "Well we have a big problem with the vast majority of Americans. Our financial projections clearly show that they will be hurt financially at the same time that we in this room are amassing great wealth. In particular, as we move factories to other countries with cheaper labor and less environmental regulation, blue-collar workers will lose their jobs in droves. We can anticipate that the country's manufacturing base will be decimated. I believe that the projected disparity between the One-Percenters and the masses is so bad that the American people can be expected to rebel and to vote in congressmen and measures that would hurt our businesses."
A buzz fills the room as the Roundtable members begin to grasp the magnitude of this problem.
Bulldog interjects, "I know how you feel. This would be nothing short of catastrophic. Go on Sappy... "
Sappy continues, "We have identified the Democratic Party as consisting of too many "do-gooders" who may be expected to follow the dictates of these voters. Therefore, our studies suggest that we must go all in with the Republican Party, and that we must structure the GOP platform to meet our needs ... in other words, lower taxes on the wealthy including capital gains, estate, income, and corporate taxes ... to zero if possible. Also, we need to enhance movement of tax dollars into our respective industries, corporate welfare if you will."
Sappy concludes, "These moves will be resisted by the majority of Americans, so we need to shift the voting population to a low-information group that can get our candidates into office. We need to attract people who will vote against their own financial interests. Quite a conundrum!"
Junkie Barton pipes in. "We also have to build up our business base. Now my people in the pharmaceutical industry have lots of products in the pipeline: medicines, antibiotics, vaccines, you name it. We need sick people to sell this stuff to. And we need to get top-dollar for our products. But, most of all, we need to get the Food and Drug Administration off our backs. Their product reviews take too damn long!"
The corpulent Big Mac Nuggets interjects. "I think I see some synergistic effects at play here. If we can grow our fast food industry, we might be able to create systemic food addictions ... I can see heavier and sicker people. More business for you and your medications!"
Oates Carlton adds. "And don't forget the Ag industry. We can help get cheaper and lower quality food to your restaurants. Our mass production of food is resulting in much higher yields of crops. Unfortunately, we are depleting the soil by no longer rotating crops ... and instead we are relying on commercial fertilizers. But with the lower nutrients and minerals in the food ... and the increased use of pesticides ... we should be creating even more sick people. More business for you Junkie ..."
The people around the table beam at this prospect. Industries helping each other ... money for everyone, at least everyone in the room.
The General stands up and thunders, "Well what about the war industry ... I mean the "defense" industry? How do we fit in your nice scheme?"
Bulldog is the only one in the room tough enough to stand up to the General. "Don't worry General, we have you covered. As a matter of fact, you are going to be the biggest recipient of government largesse of us all. All we have to do is keep up a drumbeat of war, war, war. All this terrorist stuff should come in real handy ... to ratchet up fear within the public."
Bulldog nods at the petrochemical representative. "We also have you covered Driller. We plan to fight any attempts to dismantle the extraction industries."
This doesn't appear to comfort Driller Harris. "Look, we're worried about the growing environmental movement and all this talk about global warming and alternative energy. We have to nip this in the bud before it starts damaging our business base. Our coal and oil companies are really up in arms about this. So we've decided to start funding scientific research to discredit the climate change folks. We figure it's probably happening, but we can't let it hurt our profits. And this stuff about preserving the planet for future generations is a total crock. Our grandkids can figure it out when they get in power. We won't be around anyway."
The One-Percenters nod in agreement.
Bulldog segues to the next topic. "Which brings up Cayman here. All of our ideas are just pipe dreams unless we have a well-oiled money machine. So what is the thinking on Wall Street?"
Cayman Smith is a member in good standing of the privileged East Coast aristocracy. Despite his best efforts, he has trouble concealing his condescension. "We are planning to create a revolving door with the SEC and the Treasury Department so that they do our bidding. We will award our people bonuses if they agree to spend a few years at lowly paid government jobs, and then bring them back into the fold on Wall Street. Recommend you do the same Mr. Barton ..."
Junkie beams, "We could move people into the FDA and undercut their review process. Maybe even do our own "objective" pharmaceutical studies. That's a great idea!"
Cayman Smith continues, "It is vital that we get the government to repeal Glass Steagall. Then our banks can start speculating again, and we can make some serious money, certainly hundreds of billions and maybe trillions ..."
Sappy looks worried, "But Mr. Smith, what if your speculation goes bad, as it inevitably must? Then what?"
Cayman Smith smiles, "Hardly a problem. Our revolving-door people will ensure that the taxpayers bail out our bankers." He smirks, "After all, if we aren't bailed out, there would be a devastating financial collapse."
Everyone laughs at this prospect. Bulldog gazes at Cayman Smith with admiration. "Man, you are one smart and cunning son of a bitch. Glad to have you on the team."
Sappy looks worried again. "How will we get enough people to vote for this? After all, the United States is a democracy ..."
Bulldog puts on a battle face worthy of his name. "I tell you how we're going to do it. We are going to sell them ... and if there's something the people around this table are good at ... it's selling people. Now Sappy, your group has looked at people and their motivations. I'm throwing this back at you. You tell me how to sell them."
Sappy takes a deep breath, "Well our research does show that many people buy products on a largely emotional response, even those products they can't afford or that they don't even need." This brings a knowing laugh from the people around the table. "Perhaps this kind of emotional response can be brought to the voting process."
Bulldog smiles. "There you go. So why the long face? We appeal to their emotional response. And we do it by controlling the communications media. That's why we have a big thinker in the room. Roger, take it from here ..."
Roger Ills has been patiently waiting for this opportunity. "Okay, as you know I've worked as a media consultant for Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. I've taken a good hard look at voter motivation and, sure enough, many of them are passionate and will vote these passions. I know because that's the kind of guy I am as well."
He continues, "Here's what I'm proposing. With some backing I would like to establish a television network to go up against CBS, NBC, and ABC. We will promote this as a news network in the ilk of CNN, but it will actually be the message center for our One-Percenters. Our mission will be to develop people to vote in our financial interests ... which means against their own financial interests. We will appeal primarily to the white male demographic, principally older but we'll try to capture young men as well. We will play on their fears of other races, both in the United States and overseas ... you know, blacks in urban centers, Mexican immigrants, Middle Easterners, and so on. We will also tackle other red meat issues including abortion, flag burning, gun rights, homosexuality, you name it. We will appeal to their patriotism, to their masculinity, their toughness, all that high school jock claptrap."
The One-Percenters in the room chuckle.
"This network will be the party organ for the new Republican Party as we restructure it. Of course, we'll never say that. We'll tell the rubes that that we are 'fair and balanced.' " Roger Ills spits out the last three words in obvious delight. It has its intended effect; to a man, everyone around the table starts roaring in laughter at the thought of people who would believe such nonsense.
"And, needless to say, we'll portray the Democrats as a bunch of wimps. We already have this kind of message coming out on talk radio. The superstar of the radio jocks is Rush, but there are others. We want to develop this kind of talent on our television network."
Roger Ills takes a sip of water. "The bottom line, gentlemen: we get people to vote their animal passions and against their financial interests. We do this by 24/7 broadcast of a few focused red-meat issues ... which our celebrities hammer home through constant repetition."
Bulldog steps in, "Thanks Roger. I told you all, Roger is a big thinker."
Bulldog turns to the One-Percenter Roundtable. "We have some really talented people in this room. Now I'm asking you to go back to your organizations and distill this strategic thinking into an actionable plan. In a few weeks I want to initiate action on this new television network ... and to move ahead on restructuring the Republican platform. One concept that appeals to me is a 'Contract with America.' Perhaps that can be the theme of the next congressional campaign."
Under his breath Cayman Smith quips, "More like a 'Contact on America.'
Sappy weakly chimes in, "Boss, I still don't understand something. If you succeed in getting enough people to vote against their own financial interests, then eventually they'll no longer be able to buy our products ... which will cause our industries to lose money. Remember the old Henry Ford strategy of paying his workers enough to buy his cars."
Bulldog's patience has come to an end. "Get with the program, Sappy! We'll be able to develop consumers throughout the world. So what if most Americans suffer a financial reverse? The government, what's left of it, will just have to make do as best it can. Meanwhile, we'll be selling to the Chinese and Indians and those kinds of countries."
And with that Bulldog Connors adjourns the One-Percenter Roundtable and sends them into battle.