Hey kids! Remember when your parents told you that wisdom comes with age? Mom and Pop told you a lie. Since you're the Online Generation, you know the acronym, "gigo," stands for "garbage in, garbage out." Wisdom is a long-term distillation of knowledge and experience; but when your experiences are limited and your knowledge comes from AM radio, paid shills for Rupert Murdoch and other right-wing groups, and chain emails, the only wisdom to be found there has to do with impacted teeth. Before the Bush re-election of 2004, an email went around from the GOP to conservatives that stated, "They think you're stupid," and liberals went crazy attempting to discuss issues of war and the economy instead of creationism and gay marriage. Well, the time has come to admit it. We really do think the far right-wingers are stupid, but more than that, we now think they're dangerous as well. And as George Bush proved over eight years, there's nothing more dangerous than an idiot convinced that he's right.
The discussion of health care reform has morphed into a carnival geek show with every pro-militia, automatic weapon-toting, Tim McVeigh wannabe out in public to show that nobody pushes them around. And since I live among them in the south, let's own up to the undercurrent of racial resentment that flows beneath these demonstrations of public anger. It's too simple to say, "Scratch a conservative and find a racist," because there are principled fiscal and social conservatives with much to add to the public debate. So although all conservatives are not racists, all racists are conservatives. Or else they use the "conservative" label to help dilute their 19th century worldview, and those who hold genuine conservative principles have allowed their movement to be distorted and corrupted by a group that could well be called the "New Dixiecrats." These propagandized "patriots" allow themselves to be used by corporate interests and show up at demonstrations howling "Facism, Communism, and Socialism," as if this was the new axis of evil threatening their lives. Where were these protesters when Dick Cheney came as close to establishing a totalitarian state since George Washington decided to be president instead of king?
I have a theory that's going to piss you off. I believe we're seeing the unintended consequences of private Christian education. First, let me say that I am a product of Christian education myself and I am all the better for it, because it helped me to understand religious faiths and viewpoints other than my own. So it is not the Christian part of the equation in which I find fault. In 1971, when the Supreme Court upheld busing to achieve integration in public schools, it threw the national educational system into chaos. It may have been a noble ideal, but many considered it "social engineering," and in retrospect, it was impractical policy. It was also the first conservative uprising since Nixon's "Silent Majority," and led to the complete desertion of public schools by white people, so that schools like East High went from being all-white to all-black in the course of a single year. This, in turn, led to the establishment of the private Christian academies and high schools and to the mammoth growth of churches in the following decades. Congregants found all their needs, from day care and exercise rooms to concert halls, met by the new church community. The unforeseen result was a new type of segregation, where like-minded people associated only with each other and suburban Christianity became a sort of exclusive club. These people have held sway for so long, that they now feel threatened by "socialistic" ideas, even when they are in their best interests.
And those that are screaming the loudest are the members of the so-called "Greatest Generation," who have been on the government teat since 1945. Returning soldiers from the big war were given the biggest slice of socialism this side of Sweden and they called it the GI Bill. Not only was a college education granted to every serviceman, but low-cost government loans were made available to purchase homes and start businesses, which fueled the economic boom of the fifties. Veterans from other wars did not receive such generosity. Now, old soldiers with white hair are hollering "Keep the government away from my Medicare" at town hall riots, or arguing over phantom rationing and forced euthanasia, while demagogic prophets tell them Obama is attempting to overturn the Judaeo-Christian ethic upon which this nation was founded. Which ethic was that; love thy neighbor, or an eye for an eye?
No social progress has ever been made with the help of the obstructionist conservatives. The only things the right-wingers have contributed is free-market Darwinism, prohibition, and term-limits after Roosevelt drove them crazy. I used to ask my Dad what it was like when FDR was president, and he said the GOP, the bankers, and industrialists hated his guts so thoroughly, they refused to refer to him by his name, only as "that man in the White House." Or they called him Rosenfeld and inferred that he was a secret Jew. Sound familiar? He was also known as the "poor man's friend," and called a Socialist and a Communist. Even Eisenhower was called a Communist by the right. When Ike expressed his approval for fluoride, a proven dental aid, to be added to public drinking water, the reactionaries claimed it was a Communist plot to rot the teeth of our children. But now, the factually challenged believe this president is a Kenyan Muslim, sent here by sinister forces to be a bi-racial Robin Hood ready to rob the white rich and distribute their earnings to crackheads and crooked ACORN employees. How did we get so damned dumb?
Any societal advances, from Social Security, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, women's economic and reproductive rights, Medicare or Medicaid, were advanced despite the resistance of the naysayers and defenders of the status quo. Some sort of major health care reform is going to pass this Congress, and in a year or so, it will look so seamless, we'll wonder how we ever allowed our rapacious current system to exist for so long. The Republican party, under the thumb of the Palin/Limbaugh wing, can't even bring themselves to admit there are no "death panels," in the bill, so why even consider them any further? They lost, so steamroll them and leave them in the wake of progress once again to sulk and lick their wounds. Better still, add the public, government-run option to compete against the carnivorous health insurance agencies, name the bill "Ted," and ram it through. Then, when our health care changes for the better, the repugnant, Hitler-referencing, functioning morons among us will have to focus their hatred elsewhere. It may well be true that the United States is the greatest country in the world; it's just the people that suck.