“…since 2010 we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful – who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.” How? “The plan is to inundate America with a few big lies, told over and over: The debt is Obama’s fault, and it’s out of control; corporations and the very rich are the ‘job creators’ that must get tax cuts to generate more jobs; government spending is wasteful unless it’s on the military; regulations are strangling the private sector; unionized workers are being paid too much; and so on…” Robert Reich
C-3PO: “I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2. Let the Wookee win.”
If you find yourself anywhere on the left side of the political spectrum, you’re probably dismayed by the continuing rightward tilt of this country. Surprisingly, according to surveys, the United States is the most politically conservative, strongly religious, gun-toting country in the Western world. And preventing further rightward erosion seems to be more and more of an uphill battle with each passing week. We have a Democratic President and the Democrats are in control of the Senate; yet it seems like the Republicans are running the country.
What is one to do in such circumstances? Fight harder? Perhaps. Or maybe…just maybe…we could try a new strategy. Let the conservatives win. Allow conservatives free rein to do what they want…without no restraints or opposition. If the left has been wrong all this time, the country will wind up a better place. If not, things may get so ugly that the middle of the country, the part that is not strongly committed to either side, will at last wake up and realize what is at stake.
Yes, it’s a risky strategy. And probably a misguided one. We had eight years of George W. Bush and there was no collective waking up. Thanks largely to Wall Street run amok, we had the financial meltdown of 2008; yet the drive for smaller government and less regulation has only gotten stronger. These are not promising precedents. And even if the the strategy ultimately succeeds, it may be too late to undo the damage.
Yes, it’s a risky strategy. But I’m getting desperate. I’m not sure what else there is left to try. Still, let’s be a bit cautious before actually going “all in.” Let’s begin with a “thought experiment.” Let’s imagine the conservatives have already won. What would our legal, social, and political landscape look like?
In this new national landscape, if a women is seeking an abortion, she can forget it. There will be absolutely no abortions, not even in the case of rape, incest or to protect her life.
And, in case you were hoping to avoid the need for abortions by allowing ready access to birth control, you can pretty much forget that as well. The sale of birth control pills will be strictly prohibited. In addition, there will be no way to get health insurance to pay for any sort of birth control.
If you’re gay, don’t expect to be getting married — ever. Marriage among same sex couples will be outlawed — thanks to a constitutional amendment.
Schools and Science
The teaching of evolution in biology classes in K-12 schools will be banned. Instead, in both public and private schools, students will be required to learn about intelligent design and creationism. This will be the case, despite repeated court rulings declaring that such practice amounts to the teaching of religion. The reach of creationism will spread beyond the schools; expect to see Museums of Natural History dioramas showing humans side-by-side with dinosaurs.
More generally, regarding education, parents will be given vouchers to spend on whatever school they wish, public or private. Tax support for public schools will be largely eliminated. The result will be that private schools flourish while public schools vanish from the landscape. With virtually no government oversight of the quality of private schools, don’t expect the average competence of our graduates to increase.
With public schools in decline, teachers unions will be greatly weakened. Whatever small amount of power they retain will be gutted by laws that ban any collective bargaining and eliminate any sort of job security.
At the university level, schools will have to demonstrate that their faculty do not have a “liberal bias.” If any such bias is detected, they will be required to hire conservative professors until a balance is achieved.
Human-caused global warming will be officially declared a myth. All efforts to create a greener environment will be scrapped. It will be the end of solar power initiatives and of the push for more fuel efficient cars.
As for obtaining oil, the mantra of the day will be “Drill, baby, drill.”
The situation with teachers unions is just the beginning. Eventually, all unions will be entirely dismantled. The only place left where people will be able to learn about unions will be in history books, assuming that the topic is not banned from them.
With a nationwide expansion of Alabama’s “self-deportation” law, undocumented immigrants will be forced out of the country. For good measure, there will be no form of “amnesty” for any immigrants, no matter how long they have been in this country or what their standing in the community might be.
Racial profiling by police will be condoned. If anyone seems suspicious, even if it’s just due to their ethnic appearance, it will be okay to stop their cars and check them out.
“Shoot first and ask questions later” will be the accepted norm for all citizens. From those on a neighborhood watch to those in a local pub, but there will be no limit to one’s “right to bear arms.” Gun control laws will be gutted to the point that assault rifles and grenade launchers will be available at Walmart. With a legal right to carry a concealed weapon anywhere, incidents of gun violence will go up — even beyond their already too-high levels. At the same time, due to laws protecting those who can make even a half-baked claim of self-defense, arrests and convictions will decline.
Regardless of what the Supreme Court may rule later this month, any remnant of “Obamacare” will be gone. We’ll return to the prior insurance-company-controlled system. As a result, health care costs will continue to spiral out-of-control. People will lose coverage when they get laid off from a job and will be unable to get coverage at all if they have a “pre-existing condition.” Somehow, this will be explained as fairer and more financially sane than any sort of universal health care.
Taxes and financial regulations
The wealth of richest 1% of the country will continue its upward spiral while the incomes and net worths of the rest of the country continues its decline. We will accelerate the deregulation of banks, corporations and any other institutions with sufficient money to successfully lobby Congress — allowing them to take completely unsound risks without almost no fear of any consequences if they lose.
Political contributions from corporations and their wealthy top executives will continue to buy election outcomes because, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and the resulting Super-PACs, these entities will be able to outspend the collective contributions of the entire rest of the country.
We will continue to cut taxes to the point that almost no local government services can be adequately supported. We will witness the decline of police departments, fire departments, social services, public transportation and other public institutions. At the national level, programs like Social Security will be privatized.
The ability of the minority party to obstruct any legislation from passing will continue — at least when the Republicans are in the minority. The filibuster and similar measures will ensure that Congress remains dysfunctional.
The Supreme Court will continue its own deterioration from a neutral protector of Constitutional law into a partisan conservative institution.
If you are cheering at the prospect of all of these developments, then you are hoping for a country very different from the one I would like to see. If, on the other hand, you are dismayed that this could be the future of the U.S., then you have a choice. Do nothing and let this thought experiment become reality — as it is already well on its way to doing. Or decide that “let the conservatives win” may not be the best strategy after all — and stand up and try to do something to prevent it.