Thursday, May 31, 2012

Now THAT'S "Class Warfare"

If you follow politics you are no doubt familiar with the term ‘Class Warfare.”  This is a slogan that conservatives like to attach to the liberal call for increasing taxes on the top 1% wage earners.  Republicans and conservatives say that Democrats and liberals are engaging in a divisive campaign to demonize the rich by blaming them for all the country’s economic problems.  They believe that Democrats are unfairly repudiating the success of the rich and singling them out for the corrective action needed to right the economy…”Class Warfare.” 
Democrats argue that they are not singling out the rich but rather making the point that in a failing economy it is unfair to allow tax breaks and subsidies for the rich while slashing social programs that are critical to the poor and the middle class.
Is this ideological argument over how to fix the economy really “Class Warfare” or just a catchy phrase to make a political point? We’ll let you decide.
There is in fact a form of class warfare going on in this country that has been ongoing since 2010.  It doesn’t involve taxing the rich.  But it is political.  It is insidious.  And it is wrong.  It follows two very clear and defined paths designed to converge in November 2012.
The first path starts at the top of the food chain with the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  In essence the Court ruled that individuals and corporations could anonymously give unlimited amounts of money in support of the candidate of their choice.  As a result, Super Pacs were formed that allowed billionaires, millionaires and corporations to donate enormous sums of money to influence elections in a way that were favorable to their own individual interests without fear of incrimination or recrimination.   
As a result, the 2012 elections will be funded by the largest amount of campaign contributions in our history.  It is expected that in the neighborhood of $3.4 billion dollars will be spent in an effort to influence the electorate.
The Republican Party and their followers are taking full advantage of this change in the law.  They announced yesterday that they plan to spend an incredible $1.8 billion on advertising and community outreach efforts to promote their candidates.  The billionaire Koch bothers will donate $400 million.  The Koch brothers Super Pac: Restore Our Future will spend $150 million.  Karl Rove’s Super Pac: American Crossroads $300 million.  The US Chamber of Commerce $150 million; the list goes on and on.  And that doesn’t include the $800 million that the Republican National Committee will spend in support of their candidates.  By comparison, in 2008 the McCain Campaign spent a paltry $300 in its failed attempt to win the White House.  The onslaught on negative campaign ads that will swarm our airwaves over the next five months will be unlike anything we have ever witnessed before.  All made possible by a court decision which allows the wealthiest among us to use their wealth to buy political favor.
The second path runs through the bottom of the food chain.  There is an ongoing organized effort across the country to reduce voter turnout this coming November.  Since the beginning of last year 180 bills have been passed in state legislatures designed to restrict voting rights.  14 of the states that have passed voter restriction laws represent 70% of the electoral votes needed to win the presidency.  These restrictions take many forms.  Some require identification documents never before required and unavailable to a large portion of the electorate.  Some restrict early and absentee voting favored by voters whose jobs or physical condition make it difficult to get to the polls.  Others add layers of paperwork to voter registration which voters find cumbersome, oppressive and unnecessary.  Florida Governor Rick Scott has instructed his staff to initiate an organized purge of the registration rolls removing those deemed, for whatever reason, to be improperly documented.
So why are they doing this? To “eliminate voter fraud” they say.  That’s good…right?  If that was in fact their real purpose we would honor their patriotism.  But unfortunately every bi-partisan analysis of the activity conducted by these state legislatures points to a very different motive.
Here are the facts. 
1.)    Voter fraud in this country is virtually non-existent; less than 0.010%.  And in those cases where fraud does occur it is in the counting of the votes not in individuals trying to vote more than once or illegal immigrants trying to cast a ballot.
2.)    The activities designed to restrict voter turnout are occurring in those states governed by Republican led legislatures.
3.)    Analysis shows that these voter restriction laws disproportionately target students, Hispanics and the elderly; groups that vote overwhelmingly for the Democrat candidate.
So while the wealthiest Americans are anonymously contributing billions in support of Republican candidates; Republican led state legislatures are passing restrictive voting laws that target the poor, the middle class and minorities; groups that typically support Democrat candidates. 

Is it just us or is there a pattern here?

Now THAT’s class warfare!




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