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Huffpo’s Bill Lucey: A Nation Divided

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Bill Lucey has a Huffpo essay about why the U.S. seems so divided these days. This is an important question, if one assumes that division does in fact exist among Americans right now. Lucey’s attempt to answer this question is a worthy effort, but ultimately fails because the author feels compelled to hold everyone equally accountable, which is another way of saying no one is responsible.

He partially blames congressional district gerrymandering, which I regard as more of a symptom than a cause. He also appears to think that partisan media is partly to blame. Darn that Fox News and MSNBC anyway.

Maybe the nation has always been divided. When the U.S. was born it was part slave and part free. At one point it engaged in a great civil war and slavery was abolished, but for a century afterward the slave owners and white supremacists used violence to keep their power and status. Unfortunately, Lincoln may have lost the Civil War by winning it. Conquering the Confederacy meant that the Union would remain riddled with racist former slave owners and their overseers. The Confederacy stood for the noble proposition that some people are superior to others, modern American Conservatism in a nutshell.

After Lincoln, workers and bosses were divided and sometimes came to blows. The capitalists of the Gilded Age and those whose labor created their fortunes were often in conflict. Then the elites gave us the Great Depression and Roosevelt had to step in and save the wealthy from a fate like that of Marie Antoinette.

Through the Depression years, World War II and the Cold War, divisions were stifled. In the sixties, the pot boiled over, and conflict came with the civil rights and anti war movements, as well as other large, cultural changes.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater said that”Extremism in he defense of Liberty is no vice.” He lost, but sixteen years later the conservative reaction achieved its greatest victory by making Ronald Reagan President of the United States.

We are still suffering from the damage done by Reagan and the Bushes in massively transferring wealth from the middle class to the wealthy (which continues, mitigated only slightly by Obama’s policies). That was Reagan’s assignment from the powerful interests he represented: Bury the New Deal once and for all. Ensure that wealth and power remain where they belong, at the top. Of course, elected Republicans and too many Democrats also serve the rich and not their constituents.

Now, with the American economy in tatters, the Right (meaning the wealthy elite) fights back with everything it can muster. They have a lot of weapons too, one of them being Fox News and it connection to angry middle and lower middle class white people. They also have a lock on talk radio and make sure that 90% of the talkers are right wing hysterics.

Let us not forget the role of apocalyptic religion and its influence on many of the “patriot” militias now maneuvers in the woods of Michigan and other states. Also in Huffpo, here’s a well informed piece by Frank Schaeffer on that very topic. Scaeffer’s conclusion:

The truth is that the “crazies” in Michigan are just acting on what millions of evangelicals say they believe and I don’t only mean about the so called End Times. I also mean that these days the Tea Party movement is spouting a rhetoric of doom and extremism that holds that the American government and even the nation is no longer legitimate. Add in the theology and you have a self-fulfilling “prophecy” of Armageddon. Sadly we have not seen the last of such actions.

In short, if the U.S. is divided it is because the wealthy want it that way. Division is how they continue to rule and is the tool they use to advance toward the goal of absolute power over the economy and society.

You won’t hear talk like this on the radio or cable news channels – not even on MSNBC, still owned by GE. Maddow comes pretty close, though.

Written by slothropia

April 1st, 2010 at 8:55 pm