Friday, May 27, 2016

Anti-Federalism and the 1992 Presidential Election

Anti-Federalism and the 1992 Presidential Election
P. Schultz

            Some of the Anti-Federalists imagined that government could be likened to a mechanical screw that, set above the people, from the outset starts to turn, moving ever downward onto the people and becoming, over time, more and more repressive until it becomes oppressive. Periodically, the people resist and the screw stops. However, this screw cannot be made to unwind and, so, when the people eventually become tired and relax, it begins its downward movement once again. Which is to say, as we know today, government is constantly screwing us, proving that when JFK asked, “What can you do for your country?”, he asked the wrong question. The right question was and is: What is your country/government doing to you? Or, in Anti-Federalist lingo: How is your country/government screwing you?

            A key event in the current screwing we are getting occurred in and after the 1992 presidential election, and this for two reasons. First, George Bush I lost, perhaps willingly, which (a) allowed him to pardon Caspar Weinberger and other Reagan/Bush personnel, some of whom had already been convicted, without political penalty thereby (b) laying to rest any further investigation, which was ongoing, of what was billed, inaccurately, as “the Iran-Contra scandal” just as it was leading toward exposing how those Reagan people, including George Bush and other former CIA people, had sabotaged the Carter presidency including his re-election chances by successfully undermining any resolution of the “hostage crisis” until Reagan was elected. This is what Ollie North was referring to, among other things, when he said that the Iran-Contra investigation was so confined that it missed other, far more troubling stuff than that which it investigated. And the new president, Bill Clinton, said soon after his election that his administration would not pursue that investigation because, among other things, Lawrence Walsh had been too “extreme” in his pursuit of the truth in these matters.

            And this brings me to the second reason that the 1992 presidential election was a crucial part of our current screwing. Clinton, a “New Democrat,” was elected, thereby helping to put to rest any chance that a genuinely liberal Democrat would or could rise to the top of “the New Democratic Party.” It might have been coincidence that the Republican right went after Clinton with a passion but even if it was, these attacks helped disguise the fact that Clinton was no liberal. These attacks culminated in an impeachment trial never meant to be successful but which made Clinton look like a victim of vindictive right-wingers, giving the impression that therefore he couldn’t be one too or have anything in common with them. These attacks allowed Clinton to establish “the New” in the Democratic Party as not being conservative even though his policies were about as conservative as the Republican Party’s mainstream members. That the Clintons are, even today, beloved by so many liberals illustrates the success of this strategy, as does the almost Bush-like character of Obama’s eight years. Obama is just another “New Democrat,” which explains why it is so difficult to distinguish his administration from Shrub’s administration. And, as Bill Clinton did with respect to Reagan and his administration – and even with respect to Richard Nixon – not an ill word has been or is to be spoken by Obama about Bush II. Of course, given the overlap between Obama’s presidency and that of Bush II, this makes perfect sense.

            So, 1992 was a key year in our recent political history and lends credence to the Anti-Federalist imaginings of government as a mechanical screw that slowly but surely represses the people. Because it was a year when the corruption of our then -  and current - regime was disguised and then dismissed, it was a year when our government and its caretakers seemed to be redeemed even while our screwing was ongoing. The current screw job even has a name to make it seem legitimate, “neoliberalism,” which has been embraced by the “New Democratic Party” who, really, are just Republicans pretending to care about LGBT people, universal health care, and protecting abortion and voting rights. However, Trump’s and Sanders’ popularity show that under this regime of collusion between our “two” parties, it is “We the People” who are getting screwed. And it also explains why both Trump and Sanders have been the targets of our ruling class.

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