Reinvigorated by the idealism and fighting spirit on display right now in America’s heartland, the movement for “hope and change” has a rare, second chance. It can renew itself and become again a national force with which to be reckoned.
— Van Jones
I caught the last half hour of Meet the Press yesterday, a segment that featured Southern Democrat and white supremacist Haley Barbour. NBC gave Barbour a nice boost, a moment of respect that legitimizes him. I think most young people have no idea of the enormous burden of shame that Barbour and many of his fellow Southern Democrats carry. The migration of white supremacists and racists from the Southern wing of the Democratic Party to the Republican Party following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a kind of wholesale political laundering that shifted national political power from the Democratic Party to the Republicans and laid the foundation for Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.”
Something similar is happening today. Billionaires, oligarchs, and corporatists are exploiting the deep discontent felt by most middle class Americans and playing on fears that they have nurtured for the last eight or ten years in order to influence the middle class to vote against our own best interests.
In Wisconsin, the outcome of this corporate influence, the millions of dollars of slick advertisements, was to stick us with a Governor that only an out-of-state billionaire could love. How embarrassing for us all.
As it happens Wisconsin’s Governor Walker was the opening act on the Meet the Press show that Haley Barbour closed. I didn’t get up early enough to see Walker, but here’s what he had to say…
In the above presentation Walker lies and over-simplifies. The State of Wisconsin is NOT facing a 3.6 billion dollar deficit unless the Governor grants every request his own cabinet agencies have made for funds. Normally, the budget process is a matter of give and take, almost a poker game where agencies ask for more than they expect to get in order to be sure that what they really need won’t be cut. Also, Walker is sweating a fiscal deadline for refinancing the State’s debt. A prudent man would have addressed the refinancing as a matter separate from public employee collective bargaining issues in order not to miss the deadline. If we miss that deadline and lose $165 million in interest, the governor will have only himself to blame for his artless handling of the situation. The taxpayers, of course, will be stuck holding the teabag.
Walker is a teabagger, plain and simple. At River Falls, Wisconsin this weekend, Walker and Minneapolis teabagger Representative Michelle Bachmann were turned away from a rally. The pressure is on. They are now shamed and shunned most places they go. Tomorrow, Walker will finally deliver his budget speech and he will enter the Capitol through a steam tunnel in order to avoid the people he governs. In our two party system, Walker and his fellow teabaggers, unlike the morally bankrupt Southern Democrats of forty years ago, have nowhere to go as we the people return from that awful decade of fear and loathing, incivility and mistrust, back to our own moral center.