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(Note: this was written in Jan./2011. As of 9/11, plutocracy still worsening.)


Sleepwalking Toward Plutocracy

By Marshall C. Whitfield


"Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln [1]


This grim vision caused Lincoln to "tremble for the safety of my country," as he wrote on Nov. 21, 1864.  It foretold of Plutocracy (rule by the wealthy) in America.

Today, we watch his vision coming true: the richest 1 percent of Americans now take home 24 percent of U.S. income, up from 9 percent in 1976. [2]  America's wealth is "aggregating in a few hands" right before our eyes, in plain view.

And we stare uncomprehendingly, like deer in the headlights.

Perhaps our inertness is understandable.  For nearly 150 years since Lincoln's awful premonition, who has worried about Plutocracy?  The last time greedy corporations threatened our country, President Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting broke up their monopolies quite handily.

Since then, Plutocracy disappeared from America's headlines.  Until recently.  We are now slowly waking up to the tsunami of money drowning democracy.  But we're a bit late.  We've slept through an epochal shift in American politics: the Plutocrats (huge corporations, Wall Street, and billionaire oligarchs) have been quietly busy, hijacking the Republican party.


The Hijacking

Let me be clear.  We are not talking here about mere corruption -- the random bribery by which businesses and wealthy individuals have always tried to influence government officials in all societies.  Plutocracy means governance by the wealthy.  This is the story of how modern Plutocrats have converted the power of money into the control of government.

They did it by gradually hijacking the Republican party -- its ideology, political agenda, and legislation.  Their payoff is already in the trillions of dollars.

Does this sound like an exaggeration?  It is as undeniable as a pregnancy.  Let's start with the evidence:

  1. The Bribe: Why do the Plutocrats spend tens of billions on conservative think tanks, Republican campaigns, and GOP lobbyists' salaries?  (Sure, they try to buy Democrats as well, to control both parties, but -- see next two questions -- which party has been bought?)

  2. Republican Acceptance: Since Reagan's time, the Republican agenda has slavishly matched the Plutocrats' demands: lower taxes and less government regulation.

  3. Democratic Rejection: Despite shameful bribe-taking by "Blue Dogs" and other individual Democrats on specific legislation, the Democratic party as a whole opposes tax cuts for the wealthy and is responsible for almost all environmental, safety and financial regulations (such as the financial regulatory overhaul in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act).

  4. The Payoff: Here's what our government (Republican since 1980 except for Clinton's eight years) has delivered to the Plutocrats: from 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent. [2]  Presently, despite staggering deficits and the distress of 14.8 million unemployed, the top 1 percent of Americans enjoy tax rates a third lower than in 1970. [3]

If Republicans are not governing on behalf of their rich patrons, what else explains this massive upward redistribution of American wealth?

"Wait!" You might protest.  "Perhaps the rich are getting richer for other reasons, like -- ahem -- smart people coping better with globalization than average people."  "Or, um, coincidence?"

No dice.  If there was ever any argument for innocence of intent or accidental outcome in the Plutocrats' ongoing payoff, it vanished during December of 2010, when Republicans threatened to block extension of unemployment insurance unless tax cuts for America's richest 2% were extended.

It was a revealing moment.  Prosperity and huge bonuses had returned to the Wall Street firms which caused the recession and to the corporations which had shipped jobs overseas, yet the millions of workers they had left jobless were suffering terribly.  Fairness demanded the insurance extension, and so did 66% of the American public. [4]

By holding unemployment insurance extension hostage in exchange for billionaire tax cuts, Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner defied both public opinion and fairness -- and added $900 billion to our ballooning deficit.  Showing neither shame nor remorse, they stood naked for all to see as extortionists for their Plutocrat patrons.


The Hijacking's Threat to our Democracy

The problem with the hijacked Republican party goes deeper than the gluttonous enrichment of the Plutocrats in control.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in a 1816 letter to George Logan: I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. [5] 

Then came Lincoln's worrisome vision, cited above, of how Plutocrats -- "the money power of the country" -- could destroy our republic.

Unfortunately, our Supreme Court judges have lacked the wisdom and foresight of Jefferson and Lincoln.  In the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision, the Supreme Court recognized corporations as persons for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. [6] 

The 1886 decision was a key stepping-stone toward the devastating 2010 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision by the Roberts Supreme Court, which opened the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns. [7]

These decisions make it perfectly legal for corporations to buy control of American democracy, to replace our government "of, by and for" the people with a government "by and for" big corporations.

The difference is as profound as it is obvious: People have everyday human concerns about jobs, security, and the welfare of their kids and grandkids.  And they possess normal human feelings such as patriotism and fairness.

Corporations, in contrast, have no grandchildren, no morality, no patriotism.  With corporations in control of government, government exists only to increase corporate profits and rich people's wealth -- at any cost to America's environment and the lives and welfare of its citizens.

To corporations, taxes are anathema, even for schools and infrastructure, because they reduce profits.  It's that simple.  "America really needs infrastructure?  Well, don't expect me to pay for it.  Go borrow some more from China and pay it back later."

Also, because environmental and safety regulations cost money, they are ignored and flagrantly broken by the Plutocrats.  Think of BP's monstrous -- and avoidable -- spill, or Massey Energy's 29 miners negligently killed in April, 2010. [8]

In short, the laws and government services which make our society livable are merely an onerous burden to the Plutocrats.  Their objective is stated candidly in the famous Grover Norquist quote: "Our goal is to shrink the government to the size where you can drown it in a bathtub."  A reckless, almost suicidal goal, for weak governments invite anarchy.

And how are the Plutocrats doing in their dangerous quest?  They're winning, and their wins beget more wins.  Example: in 2001, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court helped Bush gain the Presidency.  That enabled Bush to appoint Alito and Roberts to the Court, which decided the 2010 Citizens United case (cited above) in favor of the Plutocrats, which will allow unlimited funding for future Republican election campaigns.

The nightmare premonitions of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln have materialized before us in the hijacked Republican party.  No longer "of, by and for the people," it's "by and for General Dynamics, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, BP, News Corp (etc.)."  Please pause and reflect on that: one of our two major parties has been captured by Plutocrats -- half of American democracy has already been lost.

Like Lincoln, we should all "tremble for the safety of our country."


How The Hell Did This Happen?

In the period following WWII, while corporations and wealthy individuals were still making business-as-usual donations to Republican politicians, a new element -- policy institutes -- became a factor in the game.  These "think tanks" offered the Plutocrats an opportunity to influence conservative ideology at its very source.

Naturally, the think tanks which best advocated small government and lower taxes were rewarded with the most donations.  Over time, the think tanks became dependent on a lavish flow of dollars, and the Plutocrats attained effective control over Republican ideology.

One of the more zealous true believers in this ideology was Ronald Reagan.  In 1981, Reagan became President promising lower taxes and proclaiming that "government is not the solution to our problems; government IS the problem."  That was the pivotal capitulation.  At that point, the Republican party quietly and willingly became a de facto subsidiary of the Plutocrats.

It's worth noting that, in this process, no conspiracy or collusion was necessary between the various Plutocrats.  They were and are united by sharing a common enemy: government regulations and taxes.  They all bribe in pitch-perfect unison without even needing to talk to one another.

Money -- for the right-thinking think tanks, the loyal candidates, and the can-do Beltway lobbyists -- has always been their carrot, but the Plutocrats now have a stick.  Tea Party candidates have become the Plutocrats' enforcers.  As we all saw in the 2010 mid-term elections, if any Republican isn't prepared to drink the Plutocratic Kool-Aid, they can count on being opposed by a massively-financed Tea Party candidate in their next primary.

Thus the Plutocrats' control over the Republican party has closed like a vise.  Respected moderates like Mike Castle were eliminated in the 2010 GOP primaries by Tea Party candidates.  Remaining moderates like Olympia Snow are an endangered species.  There is little hope that even a universally-admired Republican like Colin Powell could rise up to wrest control from the Plutocrats.

...little hope, but two remaining, puzzling questions: Many of the surviving Congressional Republicans are people of principle; how were they seduced into adopting the Plutocrats' agenda?  Next, how did these hijacked Republican standard-bearers then persuade millions of lower-income Americans to vote for the Plutocrats's agenda and against their own interests?

It required a kind of alchemy.  If that sounds medieval, it's apt.  The alchemy in this case is Libertarianism, a somewhat obscure but persistent political philosophy.  Like the classic alchemist's dream of turning lead into gold, it has never proven workable but has always attracted passionate believers.


The Hijacking's Alchemy

Without Libertarianism as a philosophy, the hijacking could never have happened.  It's the rarely acknowledged but indispensable swiss army knife of right-wing ideology.  Its fiercely anti-Government, anti-tax doctrine gives Republicans a rationale for prostituting themselves to the Plutocrats.  It provides an excuse for their shameful unwillingness to pay for wars and government services.

Libertarian worship of "free market capitalism" has proved tailor-made to justify the Plutocrats' demands for deregulation (the root cause of the Wall Street crash, the BP oil spill, and countless other disasters).

Any coherent understanding of American politics today requires some knowledge of Libertarianism -- a knowledge most Americans lack.  Here's a quick overview.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, a Libertarian "is one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state."

"... maximizing individual rights" refers to civil liberties, which sounds good to most Americans.  That's what makes Libertarianism so seductive, especially to young people.  What makes it dangerous is how "maximizing individual rights" is coupled with "minimizing the role of the state," as if the state was the enemy of individual rights rather than the guarantor.

This upside-down view of reality was popularized in the 1950s by Ayn Rand, charismatic author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."  She portrayed the real producers in society as independent, wealthy and talented heroes, burdened and oppressed by government.  Her biographer Jennifer Burns called her a "gateway drug to life on the right."

By 1972, Rand's extremist anti-government philosophy merged with older Libertarian thinking and free-market ideology into the American Libertarian Party, which has fielded a presidential candidate every election year since 1972.  Twice this candidate has been Ron Paul, whose mild-mannered country doctor charm has put a friendly, almost reasonable face on Libertarianism.  By 2006, polls showed that 15 percent of American voters identified themselves as Libertarian.

All these people either fail to grasp, or are in denial about, Libertarianism's fatal flaws:

  1. It sells a cruel mirage by flattering Americans as rugged individualists, self-sufficient and contemptuous of Medicare, Social Security, etc.  Sadly, that arrogant self-image dissolves in the face of sickness, disability, and old age.  I've never met a Libertarian who wasn't either wealthy or young and healthy.
  2. It rejects the long human struggle to develop civilized societies with empathy for those who need help.  It defies Judeo-Christian traditions about being our brother's keeper, and scorns Mahatma Gandhi's belief that "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."
  3. Its outrage over government growth ignores society's obvious need to protect the planet and cope with the world's growing complexities.  Environmental regulations never entered our forefathers' thoughts when we were four million people in a mostly unexplored wilderness; now, with 311 million creating garbage, controls are desperately needed.  We didn't need the FAA until our skies got crowded; now we do.
  4. It cites wasteful spending as a prime evil of government, as if bureaucracy and waste were not universal in all human endeavors.  Even well-run small businesses have human problems and make mistakes.  So the FDA is not perfectly efficient?  Instead of trying to fix it, Libertarians would dismantle it, trusting the capitalist profit motive to somehow keep our food safe.
  5. Its blind belief in a free-market economy is a triumph of theory over real-world experience.  If we learned nothing else from the Bush years, when runaway U.S. banks almost destroyed the world's economy, we should have learned that capitalism simply can't be trusted to regulate itself.

Libertarianism has never worked in any country because it denies basic human needs and is far too simplistic to provide practical governance.  In the words of one bright young Republican, Meghan McCain, "Libertarianism is logical in the classroom and not necessarily applicable in real life."

Nevertheless, in its contempt for government and celebration of individual self-sufficiency, Libertarianism is absolute catnip for Americans who yearn for the simpler times of our pioneer ancestors.  These are the zealous True Believers.  How can you distinguish them from those who cynically claim Libertarian beliefs merely to mask their greed and lack of social conscience?  It doesn't really matter; they're both equally dangerous.

This is the cornerstone ideology of the hijacking.  Now let's look at how the Plutocratic Republican machinery works.


The Hijacked Republicans' Propaganda Machine

The Plutocratic Republican political strategy is breathtakingly brazen: to manipulate ill-informed working Americans into voting directly against their own interests -- i.e., to allow more water and air pollution, and to give tax breaks to billionaires.

This manipulation strategy is implemented with a well-organized propaganda factory.  At its upstream end, several dozen conservative think tanks churn out papers on current events, foreign relations, etc.  All of these articles and opines are based on carefully selected actual facts, cleverly woven together with simplistic elements of Libertarianism, jingoistic patriotism and everyone's aversion to taxes.

Downstream, this professionally-prepared propaganda is fed to Republican politicians, who wrap themselves in flags, guns and religion and promise to "restore the constitution," reduce taxes for everyone, and "get government off your back".

Democrats are portrayed as socialists trying to steal Americans' liberty and freedom, as enemies of free enterprise, as wastrels in favor of a welfare state, as godless secularists attacking Christian family values, and as traitors who somehow put a black man in the White House. 

In response to these threats, Republicans must "take back our government," and doing so may require our "Second Amendment rights."  With this, the Plutocratic Republican rhetoric flirts with insurrection -- recklessly dangerous in an already-gun-crazed nation.

There's nothing new, of course, about political propaganda.  But what is new is the recent evolution of media outlets.  Before 1980, nothing like Fox News or right wing talk radio existed, and the Internet was in its infancy.  Now, with talk radio and the Internet, any political message can reach most of the population.

This wider array of media offers synergy to the Republican machine's highly disciplined propaganda.  Because their messages all conform to the master party line, these various media outlets form a self-reinforcing, self-verifying echo chamber.  The messages can be quite disconnected from reality, but they are convincing in their consistency, and the echo chamber becomes a familiar comfort zone.  Unless you force yourself to step outside, it becomes your own confirmed truth.

Of these outlets, the least understood by liberals is right-wing talk radio.  If your car radio should happen to stop on such a channel, you'll hear some guy haranguing you about how Obama is a secret muslim, how his Stimulus didn't create a single job, how the START treaty proves he wants to unilaterally disarm the U.S., or how Pelosi is really "Mussolini in a skirt," -- on and on.  It's annoying, crazy talk, so you turn the dial.

By doing so, you miss the power of talk radio.  Its effect takes time and repetition, like Chinese water torture.  To grasp its insidious potency, imagine yourself as Joe Sixpack, a typical guy with money worries and family distractions, someone who "keeps up on things" by watching a hour or so of Fox News each evening.

Imagine that you have a two-hour commute -- one hour each way to work and back.  The car radio brings you Dennis Prager in the morning and Michael Medved going home.  These guys are very, very good at what they do.  They give you the inside scoop on Obama's endless misdeeds, his traitorous "Marxist regime," and grave foreign threats being ignored.  You hear this two hours a day, five days a week, year after year.  And what you hear is "confirmed" on Fox News.

This is classic brainwashing.  Over time, it works on virtually anyone, regardless of IQ or education.  As Joe Sixpack sits in traffic, the lies he hears over and over provide an answer for why his life isn't better, and slowly, they become his worldview.  Which, per a 2010 poll of Republicans, includes the following: [9]

  • 31 percent believe Obama is a racist who hates white people, and
  • 23 percent want their state to secede from the U.S.

The Republican propaganda machine has succeeded in brainwashing millions of American voters, leaving them not only primed to vote Republican, but paranoid, angry about government, cynical about democracy, and ready to reach for their guns.  Which is fine with the Plutocrats.  The last thing they want is a contented populace with minds clear to reflect on what exactly the Republican party really offers them.

These brainwashed millions add to the science-deniers, states-righters, and Christians awaiting Rapture, creating a huge block of our electorate which is susceptible to the vote-against-your-interest manipulation that is critical to the Plutocrats' strategy.

So that's the hijacking, how it happened, its ideology, and how it works.  It's the key to understanding American politics today.  Once you get your head around the fact that conservative ideology and the Republican party are controlled by Plutocrats, our biggest political and economic problems snap into place and are readily understandable.


The Hijacking and the Deficit

For example, take the deficit (approaching $14 trillion in late 2010), falsely attributed by Republicans to "tax and spend Democrats."  The truth is that all Presidents prior to Reagan patriotically contributed to paying down our WWII debt. [10]

Then came the hijacking, and from Reagan through G.W. Bush, Republican administrations increased our national debt by roughly $9 trillion (Clinton actually ran a small surplus). [10]  Most of that $9 trillion was, quite simply, a Republican payoff to the Plutocrats in the form of irresponsibly low taxes.  (An interesting micro-example: the Bush tax cuts continue to put an extra $187,000 in George W.'s personal pocket each year. [11])

But turning America into a debtor country wasn't bad enough.  The hijacking also brought a profound shift in our population's thinking about debt.  Reagan came into office preaching "Voodoo Economics" (so named by George H. W. Bush), severing the link to depression-era realities learned by our grandparents.

Suddenly, after years of relative fiscal conservatism, U.S. citizens heard the President himself -- a lovable and believable father figure -- telling us we didn't have to "pay as we go" after all.  This permissiveness marks the start of the great American consumer borrowing binge, which brought us to the 2008 housing bubble and crash.

The final connection between the Republican hijacking and the deficit is a masterpiece of devious subtlety.  Remember, for the Plutocrats, the whole point of the hijacking was to reduce government regulations and taxes -- and nothing accomplishes those objectives better than shrinking government.

And how do you scare the American public into supporting smaller government?  With huge deficits.  Huge, scary deficits that "will have to be paid off by your children and grandchildren."  With that image filling voters' minds, Republicans have neatly framed the entire deficit issue as a matter of cutting Social Security, Medicare and other programs to avoid impoverishing our grandchildren.  No one mentions the other solution to the deficit problem: paying for what we spend.

No one mentions that in WWII, the top tax rate was 94% (starting at today's equivalent of $2.4 million).  If today's top tax rate of 34.5% was raised to far less than that, in order to responsibly fund two wars and recovery from the Bush recession, our deficit would steadily come under control.  But Republicans (with rare exceptions like Senator Dick Lugar) are in the iron grip of the Plutocrats and will never let that happen.  Yachts for billionaires now trump patriotism.

Sadly, we have all become seduced to some degree by Reagan's Voodoo Economics, spoiled by paying insufficient taxes.  And alarmingly, even non-Republicans are starting to believe the Plutocrats' propaganda that U.S. corporate tax rates are already "uncompetitive."  Which is patently false if you take into account all the Plutocrat-designed loopholes and exclusions in our tax code -- but how many people dig through our tax code to find that out?

Then there's the big threat: "If we raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy job-creators, they'll leave the U.S."  Such bullshit! Big corporations have already outsourced most labor-intensive work -- because of wage, not tax, differentials -- and the "wealthy job-creators" (the Murdochs and Koch brothers, our version of Russian oligarchs) aren't going anywhere.  They know that the U.S. is the best place in the world to live and bring up a family.


The Hijacking and Washington's Dysfunctionality

The hijacking also explains the maddening stalemate in Washington.  For nearly two years, Republicans like SC Senator Jim DeMint have openly described their intent to "break" Obama, to seek his "Waterloo."  In October of 2010, Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, announced "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

This obstructionism reveals the core strategy of the Plutocrats.  A non-functioning government can't enforce existing environmental and safety regulations, let alone add new ones.  If obstructionism brings government to a standstill, so much the better for the Plutocrats.

This is a policy of national sabotage, in effect if not by design.  The cost to our country of blocked or crippled legislation, blocked judicial appointments, and unenforced regulation is incalculable.

And the damage is accelerating, compounding.  For example, as Republicans pursue "smaller government," funding for public education shrinks, and we fall even further behind other countries (we're now down to #22 in Science [12]).  Which suits the Plutocrats just fine: a less-educated electorate is more susceptible to the brainwashing of the Republican propaganda machine -- and Republicans gain a further advantage in subsequent elections.


Who's To Blame?

So who's really responsible for this crippling of America?  Some pundits, finally waking up to the hijacking, are blaming "Corporate Greed."  They are apparently unaware that corporations are intended to be "greedy."

Follow the bouncing dollar sign here: every investor has a natural, legitimate desire to make money on his/her investment.  This holds true not just for Wall Street hedge funds, but also for millions of small investors all across America.  If you've ever bought a few shares of stock, ask yourself "how much profit is enough?" I'll bet that visions of Microsoft or Google flash across your mind, and your honest answer is "Well, as much as I can get.  Why not?"

The Plutocrats' top executives are hired hands, paid to deliver that profit.  No matter how outrageously they're paid and how powerful they appear, they can be locked out of their offices in less than 24 hours if they fail to perform.  And no level of profitability is ever "enough."

Shareholders and the stock market always want more from them.  The pressure for profits is unrelenting and implacable, driving corporations to do anything -- anything -- within the law to deliver.  Morality?  Patriotism?  Sorry.  Not even in the corporate dictionary.

Despite the enormous damage the Plutocrats have done to our country, we cannot call them evil.  It was not their deliberate plan to hollow out industrial America by shipping jobs overseas.  Nor is it their personal intent to impoverish working Americans and destroy the environment.  They are simply doing their job: producing profits for themselves and return on investment for us shareholders. 

Toward that goal, and with the same brilliance and ruthlessness that made them global leaders, they found a legal way to control their government environment and maximize their profits: the hijacking.

To sum up, the core problem of the hijacking is not in the legitimacy of corporate profits.  Nor does it lie in the legality of the hijacking's methods; massive political contributions are, sadly, within the law.  It's the cold, inhuman amorality of corporations.  That's what makes them unsuitable to be in control of any human society -- especially American democracy.  That's what made Lincoln "tremble for the safety of my country."


What To Do

First, we must recognize that the hijacked Republican party is poised to become irreversibly entrenched in power -- through additional Supreme Court appointments and reactionary legislation.  By gaining control of the Senate and winning the Presidency in 2012, they may become unstoppable.

The Plutocratic Republican juggernaut cannot be stopped in the courts (thanks again to the Roberts Supreme Court Citizens United decision).  Nor with utopian ideas or protests.  It can only be done at the ballot box, and certainly not with some Ralph Nader-like third party.  It will require the massive efforts of an existing political entity which already has money, momentum and infrastructure.  That means the Democratic party, with all of its flaws.  It's our only real-world alternative to Plutocracy.

For now, our traditional progressive/conservative arguments must be considered secondary.  A national emergency confronts us: the Plutocratic Republican party vs. patriots of all political stripes, in a battle to save American democracy.

With the Plutocrats currently winning, American patriots need to wake up, get motivated and get in shape for the battle.  We've become fat (literally and figuratively) and spoiled (living on borrowed money).  We're all too selfish.  Our country's in a hole financially, and we all need to sacrifice a little to work our way out.

For example, everyone knows that the real cost of gasoline is far more than we're paying, but we throw a national tantrum if anyone proposes an increase in gas taxes.  I'm old enough to remember WWII, when our response to a national crisis was totally different: we all toiled in "Victory Gardens" growing our own vegetables, limited our driving because of gas rationing, and no one complained.  We need to find that American spirit again -- if we still have it.

And what if we have to work a couple of years longer before Social Security kicks in?  Instead of going into knee-jerk protest mode, maybe we should be thankful for the greater longevity that medical advances have given us.

If you're a Democrat, forget progressive purity for now and pull your boots on.  Quit pouting in the corner, badmouthing Obama because the Public Option didn't make it into his health care reform.  Or because he and Bernanke and Geithner weren't tough enough on Wall Street.  Hey, they were rushed.  They had a global economy to save.

And how about acknowledging that Obama's "majority in congress" was always a fiction, because the Blue Dog Democrats were really Republicans?  How about applauding him for achieving so much progress in two years despite the Blue Dogs, the great Bush recession, and historically unprecedented obstructionism?  In this emergency, we are fortunate to have a calm, clear-headed, pragmatic President.

To lead this battle as Democrats, let's get our priorities straight and be more inviting to independents and moderate Republicans.  We need to create solidarity with every potential voter who recognizes the threat of Plutocracy. 

Most important, don't wait to get active.  It will take all of two years for truth about the hijacking to overcome Republican brainwashing.  Start today and support Democrats with your money, your time, your heart, and your vote.

If you're an Independent, here's my challenge to you: if you disagree with me about the hijacking, I respectfully invite you to offer an alternate explanation which matches and accounts for the facts cited above -- especially the massive shift of wealth from ordinary Americans to rich Americans.

If you're a Republican and have no answer to this challenge, perhaps you will at least consider the awful possibility that the hijacking is a fact -- that your party is no longer "of, by and for" American citizens, but "by and for" oligarchs and global corporations which don't deserve your loyalty -- and that any vote in any election which strengthens the Republican party is a vote for Plutocracy.

American democracy needs YOU.  Let your conscience be your guide.  Make Honest Abe proud of you.


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(1) Anup Shah, The Rise of Corporations, Global Issues, Updated: December 05, 2002
(2) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/opinion/07kristof.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha211 (Income distribution)
(3) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/opinion/14rich.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a212 (Tax rates)
(4) http://www.gallup.com/poll/145109/americans-support-major-elements-tax-compromise.aspx (Tax cuts & unemployment extension)
(5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood (Thomas Jefferson 1816 letter to George Logan)
(6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern_Pacific_Railroad (1886 Supreme Court decision)
(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission (2010 Supreme Court decision)
(8) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/opinion/11sat3.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a211 (Coal miner deaths)
(9) http://www.aolnews.com/the-point/article/daily-kos-poll-of-Republicans-met-with-shock-skepticism/19343356
(10) http://zfacts.com/p/480.html (Debt by President)
(11) http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/grayson-bashes-bush-on-tax-cuts/?partner=rss&emc=rss (Bush tax cut take-home)
(12) http://www.geographic.org/country_ranks/educational_score_performance_country_ranks_2009_oecd.html (Science scores)

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This essay was also published on Truthout/BuzzFlash on February 15, 2011



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