For years now people have been skeptical of the American political system and have harbored a deep seeded feeling that something just doesn’t seem right. While many of us cannot physically see the “man behind the curtain”, we can however, feel the effects of a corrupt system and perceive with our senses that something is awry. In this post, I will attempt to do the impossible and provide you a breakdown and answer to the most pressing political question of our age – how did we get to where we are today and who is really controlling of our country? This post will not hit on everything, but it will provide you a better historical perspective. Let’s get started…
So to start, let’s come to grips with where we are right now as a country, or better yet, as a planet. The truth, which few want to discuss, is the fact that for the past decade we have been engaged in a battle of classes and we (the working-class) have been losing this battle big time! However, there is a group that has been winning this battle and at the same time pulling the levers of government in order to maintain their domination and control over the rest of us. Let’s take a look at a few key points of this conflict which prove this hypothesis correct.
Be it good or bad, right or wrong, one thing everyone can agree on about globalization is that it was responsible for lifting several poor countries out of poverty and creating emerging economies across the globe such as India, Brazil, and Nigeria. By opening up trade routes and reducing barriers to commerce, globalization has shifted the world dynamic over the past few decades and started the process of diminishing boarders and spreading world wealth. Before globalization world wealth was predominately in the hands of a few major world powers such as the United States and Europe. While we here in the United States may view globalization as a bad system, throughout the rest of the world globalization is viewed as a saving grace.
Now don’t get me wrong, the system of globalization is not perfect and has not always been supportive of the rights of the working-class and poor. However, I feel these are areas we need to improve instead of throwing the entire system out. Saying that, there has been a backlash to globalization over the past few years. It was this backlash which partly aided Trump in winning the presidential election. On one level, the rich and powerful nationalists of America and Europe are slowly losing their domination over the world economy and are being forced to share the worlds wealth with nations who have for too long been left to suffer and linger in poverty. On another level, certain classes in this country have felt the pinch of globalization as jobs which were once traditionally based here in America have gone to other countries. What both levels have in common is that the domination both groups once held over certain aspects of the economy are slowly slipping away as the world moves closer toward global unification i.e. global environmental standards, worker protections, minimum wage standards and redistribution of wealth. This is a threat to the establishment and a threat to those who have become accustom to “calling the shots” and plundering resources for their own enrichment and edification.
Collapse of 2008
During 2008 the country was on the verge of being plunged into another great depression. The stock market reported record losses day after day and the capital markets were frozen. Banks were failing one after another and lending, a central part of our economy, had stalled. Our nation’s economy literally lost trillions of dollars overnight. Many, at the time, were in search of the cause of this collapse and in true form Republicans rushed to blame the American people. Night after night Republicans would take to the airways touting the lie that the cause of the collapse was due to people buying homes they couldn’t afford. As always, the Republican party rallied to protect the wealthy elite who for years utilized Wall Street as their own personal casino and sucked the life out of our economy in order to enrich themselves. The truth about the economic collapse of 2008 is that banks and Wall Street millionaires years earlier devised a new system for buying and selling mortgages on the derivatives market through the use of Credit Default Swaps or CDS’s. These CDS’s lumped mortgages together and created a system where people could essentially bet (or invest) in the success of a mortgage package through the insuring of the debt (watch this video to learn more).
Long story short, this system started making billions of dollars which incentivized Wall Street to build more packages. The only way you could build more packages was by selling more homes. Investors were making millions, real estate companies were making millions, and Wall Street banks were making billions. Soon rating agencies who were responsible for rating these packages as good or bad just started to rate everything as good when in reality the packages were garbage. After a few years the bubble burst and the entire economy collapsed as a result.
This was basically fraud, yet no one ever went to prison. But you can clearly see how it is far more easier to just blame poor people than to explain in detail the confusing world of Wall Street. Part of the reason why this was allowed to take place was because of the deregulation which took place years prior. Brooksley Born, former head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission attempted to regulate the derivatives market in the 90’s but failed. Years later Born would witness the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was a regulation put in place after the great depression to prevent banks from acting as insurance companies and securing debt. If this law was still in place it would have prevented this casino like atmosphere on Wall Street.
Post Collapse – The New Hope
After the economic collapse of 2008, as segment of the country began to wake up and identify the real culprits behind the collapse. Occupy Wall Street was the first shot across the bow putting the wealthy elites on notice that the working-class in this country were paying attention and were no longer asleep. You saw people taking to the streets night after night demanding accountability and reform. Statistics at the time showed that the richest 1% in this country had more wealth than the bottom 90% combined. Stats also showed that the American middle-class was quickly shrinking and that the rich were getting richer while the lower-class was growing at a rapid rate. News stories began to brake about corporate profits and how some of the wealthiest corporations in this country, while reporting record profits, were paying nothing in federal taxes.
Companies like General Electric which made a profit of $14.2 billion in 2010, and yet paid zero in federal taxes. This continues to happen even today. In 2015 Level 3 Communications, General Motors, and United Air all paid zero in federal taxes. Finally, momentum was on our side. For years many of us on the left attempted to educate people on the horrendous policies of the Republican party and now we had our proof – their failed economy which produced wealth for them and nothing for the rest of us. This was during the time that my wife and I decided to relocate to Maryland where I could join the fight as a union political organizer.
Each day we hit the streets to spread the news about how the wealthy establishment in this country was consolidating more and more money while screwing the rest of us. We took on big banks like Wells Fargo and were successful in helping to encourage settlements of millions of dollars which went back into the communities which these banks helped to destroy. To add to our motivation a liberal candidate by the name of Barack Obama was elected President and announced plans to usher in reforms on Wall Street, to rein in corporate greed, to provide Americans universal health coverage through a public option, to invest in jobs programs, and to embark on a Roosevelt style national infrastructure project. It finally felt like we were making progress toward evening the economic playing field which for too long benefited the wealthy over the working-class. But the wealthy elites were ready for a fight and proved that they were not to be underestimated.
The “right” strikes back
If we thought for one minute that the ruling class of this country would simple abdicate power without a fight, we were sadly mistaken. The right-wing forces of the world became unified and fought back in a major way. But first, they had to take off the shackles which have been holding them back for decades. They had the money, they had the resources, but because of rules which created an even playing field, they could only do so much with their vast fortunes. That was until the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision. While the phrase “Citizens Untied” sounds lofty and respectable, the fact is that this group is nothing more than a front for the corporate elite who started this group, and many others like it, in order to maintain their power. The group sued the FEC in 2008 over issues of campaign spending and in 2010 a majority Republican Supreme Court ruled that money in politics basically amount to free speech. This ruling opened the flood gates and removed the shackles which kept the wealthy elite from spending unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. But that wasn’t all…the ruling also allows groups to spend money on public interest campaigns designed to influence public policy.
After that ruling the fight for the hearts and minds of the American people began. Hundreds of groups popped up overnight and the airways and social media were inundated with ads supporting special interests. This decision also made it easier for the wealthy to buy politicians. Now a wealthy individual could essentially start their own super PAC for the candidate of their choosing and spend millions of dollars running their own side campaign. So, the question became who was behind Citizens United?
Well to no surprise the group was funded by two very wealthy brothers, David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers are the owners of Koch Industries which was started by their father. The brothers are billionaires who not only funded Citizens United, but also were the founding fathers of the tea party movement in this country. While many claim the start of the tea party was spontaneous and stemmed from activist like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, records clearly show where the money came from. Americans for Prosperity, another Koch funded operation poured millions of dollars into the tea party movement and hired political operatives to travel the country and preach their gospel of deregulation, like what caused the economic collapse of 2008, and to advocate for limited government spending on programs like education, unemployment benefits, and social security. And the right didn’t stop there. They continued to push their right-wing agenda and battle for the hearts and minds of the American public. But in doing so, they knew the only way to conquer was to divide.
The Emergence of Right-Wing Hate
July of 2009 is a month that I will never forget. Globally there was a rise in hate groups across the planet, but little press coverage was devoted to this issue. In Greece, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party captured seats in the Greek parliament and continued to gain political support across the country. In the EU, far-right groups were sprouting up everywhere especially in France where the racist National Front party was emerging and showing signs of resurrection. Reports of hate crimes on a global scale were on the rise and here at home the Republican’s tea party gently dabbled in bigotry and flirted with divisive commentary – more commonly known as “dog whistle politics”. Glenn Beck, at the time the media darling of the Republican party, sat on live TV and proclaimed that President Obama had a deep seeded hatred of white people and white culture. This comment sent shockwaves through the political sphere and opened the door to hate and division on the right.
Week by week and month by month you could see the Republican party slipping deeper into a dark place where division would serve as their new political tool. Racist comments began to appear on blog posts, unprecedented disrespect of President Obama became commonplace, and signs at political rallies expressed racist viewpoints. But was all this coincidental? After all, what are the odds that racism would begin to sprout up across world all at the same time.
It was at this point that I remembered a line from John Singleton’s movie “Higher Learning”. During one scene, a young white college student was delivering a speech to a crowd of people during a unity rally. The student said, “for too many years people have profited from keeping us divided”. For a while I never understood what the line in the movie was trying to communicate. But as I grew older and more knowledgeable I began to understand it. It’s all about divide and conquer. If you can keep minority working-class people in urban areas fighting white working-class people in rural areas…. you win. No longer are you (the wealthy elite) the target of people’s frustration and anger. Instead, you give people something else to be angry about – people of other cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientation now become your enemy. From my vantage point, the uptick in bigotry we are currently witnessing across the globe is not coincidental, it’s a battle strategy!
The Emergence of Right-Wing Media
So how is all this hate and division being prorogated? Well, the wealthy elite knew they had to find a way to reach people. They needed a way steer people toward the dark side. One after another, new right-wing media outlets began to emerge. Clear Channel Corporation with its 58 50,000 watts AM radio stations dominate radio and produce shows such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and others. Right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch the owner of News Corp, the company that owns Fox News, literally turned this news network into his own personal political propaganda machine.
Instead of finding a talented news producer to run his channel, Murdoch hired Roger Ailes, a former Republican media strategist who worked for the infamous Richard Nixon. Ailes, who was recently fired from his position, for years slanted the news at Fox and created a network totally devoted to pushing a right-wing agenda. But mostly, Fox pushes fear. Fear of terrorism, fear of minorities, even fear of simple things like evil Obamacare!! But this was small potatoes. Throughout the 2000’s the wealthy elite dominated the airwave with right-wing propaganda, but soon realized the advantage of taking on social media and the internet. A slew of right-wing media outlets began to filling the internet.
The Blaze, Breirbart News, Drudge Report, Newsmax – in a matter of years these right-wing sources of information became commonplace for many Americans and would soon cause confusion as to what is real reliable news vs. propaganda and fake news. This, however, was their ultimate goal – to blur the line between fake news and real news all the while discrediting real news sources as “the liberal media”. It was an ingenuous strategy on their part. Promote your brand by building distrust of the other brand. And that’s what they did day in and day out. I can remember Republicans in the 90’s referring to the media as the “left-wing media”. This has been a 20 yearlong campaign against real media sources in this country in order to get people to believe their right-wing news over other credible sources.
The Great Deception
The wealthy elites have been pushing their agenda across the globe. Most notably in Great Britain where Theresa May’s government recently declared Great Britain’s break from the European Union. The EU, of course, represented globalization and pushed for open borders and more diversity in an area of the world where very little diversity exists. Immediately right-wing forces began to blame immigration for the economic problems and yet again diverted focus from the wealthy elite who were hording wealthy and rigging the system, to poor immigrants who were searching for a better life. Voters throughout England were frustrated and on election day voted for the conservative party and their plan to remove Great Britain from the EU.
Interestingly enough, days after the election Google announced that the most searched topic in Great Britain was “what is the EU”. The very topic that the citizens supposedly voted on days before, they were now trying to educate themselves on after the fact. This sounded suspicious. Also, before the election, polls in Great Britain showed that the Brexit vote would fail – much like the polls here in the United States showed that Donald Trump would lose his election bid – again, suspicious. Is this all coincidental or was there something which linked these two events?
Aside from the Koch brothers, there is another right-wing billionaire who pours money into politics in order to advance the right-wing’s agenda. Robert Mercer has donated more than $34 million to Republican causes over the years, but it’s his current jobs which has many people concerned. Mercer was one of Donald Trump’s first major supporters. He owns a company called Cambridge Analytics which played a critical role in the presidential election here in the United States. Recently another company, AggregateIQ, has been linked to Great Britain’s Brexit vote. AggregateIQ was paid millions of dollars by the LeaveCampaign (meaning leave the EU) and clearly played a critical role in the right-wing’s push to exit the EU. But what is AggregateIQ? Well, Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian News, in one of the best investigative stories I have read this year, reports that AggregateIQ is actually owned by Cambridge Analytics, Robert Mercer’s company.
Both Cambridge Analytics and AggregateIQ played pivotal roles in both the Brexit election and the American presidential election. A former employee of Cambridge described what the company does as “physiological warfare” or psyops as they refer to it in the military. The company has also been described as a central point in the right-wing’s propaganda machine. Cambridge played a critical role in the fake news and alternative fact phenomenon we witnessed during the last presidential election. And guess who happened to sit on the board of Cambridge Analytics?
Ready for this…Steven Bannon! Yes, the same Steve Bannon who works as Donald Trump’s chief strategist and the former Editor-in-Chief of the deceptive Breirbart News. Cambridge is heavily connected to British defense contracting and has recently, through its sister company SCL, begun to develop American national security contracts now that Trump is in office. Saying that, Cambridge employs several high ranking former military specialist who fully understand the utilization of psyops. Psyops strategies have been used for years as a weapon against foreign nations in order to influence political change in the country by persuading people with disinformation and propaganda.
The use of psyops is nothing new, but a private company owned by a right-wing Republican employing former military and using psyops tactics as a domestic political strategy…well that’s something new and something to be concerned about. As part of their political tactics Cambridge build data profiles on Democratic and Republican voters using social media outlets and other publicly available data sources. The company tracked voters likes and dislikes, their sexual preferences, personality traits, political persuasion, and issues which were important to them. Cambridge then used that information to build psychological profiles on the voters and inundate them with a barrage of information – in this case (as we all know) false or misleading information. For Democratic voters, Cambridge utilized data and information to suppress Democratic votes and persuade them to stay home on election day (I highly recommend this article).
The Return of The People
You can clearly see that our current political state is no coincidence and no accident. What we are witnessing on a daily basis is a political strategy at work. The wealthy elite are fighting back and they are using right-wing political parties around the world as their catalyst to launch their political revolution. They have proven that they are willing to use any weapon in their arsenal to disable the progressive movement, which over the past 15 years, has been growing throughout the world. These are people who are in fear of losing their power, their privilege, and their control over the political system. With the destruction of the middle-class and the growing rate of working poor in this country, this past presidential election was ripe for a progressive movement. The wealthy elite knew that the only way they could maintain their power was to create schisms among voters (i.e. Muslim ban, building the wall, etc.) and by propagating lies and disinformation (i.e. Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories, lies about Trumps platform, etc.) The scary part about all of this is the extent to which the elite went in order to maintain their power.
Now that Trump is in office and the elites were successful in promoting their agenda, this administration is preparing the largest transfer of wealth from the working-class to the upper-class that this country has ever witnessed. However, I believe the power of the people will return. Organizing, planning, and the dissemination of the truth has begun and people are slowly starting to wake up. The key is remembering that fighting back against this corrupt system is in all of our hands. We all have a role to play in cultivating the change that we want to see in our country. Staying silent is no longer an option.