Have you got three minutes. Because that’s all you need to learn how to defeat the Republican Right. Just read through this handy guide and you’ll have everything you need to successfully debunk right-wing propaganda.
It’s really that simple. First, you have to beat their ideology, which really isn’t that difficult. At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of “haves” and “have nots” that I call “corporate feudalism”. They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a “respectable” sounding ideology. That ideology is pure hogwash, and you can prove it.
But you have to do more than defeat the ideology. You have to defeat the “drum beat”. You have to defeat the “propaganda machine”, that brainwashes people with their slogans and catch-phrases. You’ve heard those slogans.”Less government”, “personal responsibility” and lots of flag waving. They are “shorthand” for an entire worldview, and the right has been pounding their slogans out into the public domain for getting on forty years.
So you need a really good slogan – a “counter-slogan” really, to “deprogram” the brainwashed. You need a “magic bullet” that quickly and efficiently destroys the effectiveness of their “drum beat”. You need your own “drum beat” that sums up the right’s position. Only your “drum beat” exposes the ugly reality of right-wing philosophy – the reality their slogans are meant to hide. Our slogan contains the governing concept that explains the entire right-wing agenda. That’s why it works. You can see it in every policy, and virtually all of Republican rhetoric. And it’s so easy to remember, and captures the essence of the Republican Right so well, we can pin it on them like a “scarlet letter”.
Is there really a catch phrase – a “magic bullet” – that sums up the Republican Right in such a nice easy-to-grasp package. You better believe it, and it’s downright elegant in its simplicity.
You want to know what that “magic bullet” is, don’t you. Read on. You’ve still got two minutes.
Right-Wing Ideology in a Nutshell
When you cut right through it, right-wing ideology is just “dime-store economics” – intended to dress their ideology up and make it look respectable. You don’t really need to know much about economics to understand it. They certainly don’t. It all gets down to two simple words.
“Cheap labor”. That’s their whole philosophy in a nutshell – which gives you a short and pithy “catch phrase” that describes them perfectly. You’ve heard of “big-government liberals”. Well they’re “cheap-labor conservatives”.
“Cheap-labor conservative” is a moniker they will never shake, and never live down. Because it’s exactly what they are. You see, cheap-labor conservatives are defenders of corporate America – whose fortunes depend on labor. The larger the labor supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the cheaper you’ll work, and the more power those “corporate lords” have over you. If you are a wealthy elite – or a “wannabe” like most dittoheads – your wealth, power and privilege is enhanced by a labor pool, forced to work cheap.
Don’t believe me. Well, let’s apply this principle, and see how many right-wing positions become instantly understandable.
* Cheap-labor conservatives don’t like social spending or our “safety net”. Why. Because when you’re unemployed and desperate, corporations can pay you whatever they feel like – which is inevitably next to nothing. You see, they want you “over a barrel” and in a position to “work cheap or starve”.
* Cheap-labor conservatives don’t like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. Why. These reforms undo all of their efforts to keep you “over a barrel”.
* Cheap-labor conservatives like “free trade”, NAFTA, GATT, etc. Why. Because there is a huge supply of desperately poor people in the third world, who are “over a barrel”, and will work cheap.
* Cheap-labor conservatives oppose a woman’s right to choose. Why. Unwanted children are an economic burden that put poor women “over a barrel”, forcing them to work cheap.
* Cheap-labor conservatives don’t like unions. Why. Because when labor “sticks together”, wages go up. That’s why workers unionize. Seems workers don’t like being “over a barrel”.
* Cheap-labor conservatives constantly bray about “morality”, “virtue”, “respect for authority”, “hard work” and other “values”. Why. So they can blame your being “over a barrel” on your own “immorality”, lack of “values” and “poor choices”.
* Cheap-labor conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.
The Cheap-Labor Conservatives’ “Dirty Secret”: They Don’t Really Like Prosperity
Maybe you don’t believe that cheap-labor conservatives like unemployment, poverty and “cheap labor”. Consider these facts.
Unemployment was 23 percent when FDR took office in 1933. It dropped to 2.5 percent by time the next Republican was in the White House in 1953. It climbed back to 6.5 percent by the end of the Eisenhower administration. It dropped to 3.5 percent by the time LBJ left office. It climbed over 5 percent shortly after Nixon took office, and stayed there for 27 years, until Clinton brought it down to 4.5 percent early in his second term.
That same period – especially from the late forties into the early seventies – was the “golden age” of the United States. We sent men to the moon. We built our Interstate Highway system. We ended segregation in the South and established Medicare. In those days, a single wage earner could support an entire family on his wages. I grew up then, and I will tell you that life was good – at least for the many Americans insulated from the tragedy in Vietnam, as I was.
These facts provide a nice background to evaluate cheap-labor conservative claims like “liberals are destroying America.”In fact, cheap-labor conservatives have howled with outrage and indignation against New Deal liberalism from its inception in the 1930’s all the way to the present. You can go to “Free Republic” or Hannity’s forum right now, and find a cheap-labor conservative comparing New Deal Liberalism to “Stalinism”.
* Cheap-labor conservatives opposed virtually all of the New Deal, including every improvement in wages and working conditions.
* Cheap-labor conservatives have a long and sorry history of opposing virtually every advancement in this country’s development going right back to the American revolution
* Cheap-labor conservatives have hated Social Security and Medicare since their inception.
* Many cheap-labor conservatives are hostile to public education. They think it should be privatized. But why are we surprised. Cheap-labor conservatives opposed universal public education in its early days. School vouchers are just a backdoor method to “resegregate” the public schools.
* Cheap-labor conservatives hate the progressive income tax like the devil hates holy water.
* Cheap-labor conservatives like budget deficits and a huge national debt for two reasons. A bankrupt government has a harder time doing any “social spending” – which cheap-labor conservatives oppose, and . . .
* Wealthy cheap-labor conservatives like say, George W. Bush, buy the bonds and then earn tax free interest on the money they lend the government.[Check out Dubya’s financial disclosures. The son of a bitch is a big holder of the T-bills that finance the deficit he is helping to expand.] The deficit created by cheap-labor conservatives while they posture as being “fiscally conservative” – may count as the biggest con job in American history.
* “Free Trade”, globalization, NAFTA and especially GATT are intended to create a world-wide “corporate playground” where national governments serve the interests of corporations – which means “cheap labor”.
The ugly truth is that cheap-labor conservatives just don’t like working people. They don’t like “bottom up” prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. lords have a harder time kicking them around. Once you understand this about the cheap-labor conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labor conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits the guy – or more often the woman – who works for an hourly wage.
So there you have it, in one easy-to-remember phrase. See how easy it is to understand these cheap-labor conservatives. The more ignorant and destitute people there are – desperate for any job they can get – the cheaper the cheap-labor conservatives can get them to work.
Try it. Every time you respond to a cheap-labor conservative in letters to the editor, or an online discussion forum, look for the “cheap labor” angle. Trust me, you’ll find it. I can even show you the “cheap labor” angle in things like the “war on drugs”, and the absurd conservative opposition to alternative energy.
Next, make that moniker – cheap-labor conservatives – you’re “standard reference” to the other side. One of the last revisions I made to this article was to find every reference to “conservatives”, “Republicans”, “right-wingers”, and “righties”, and replace it with “cheap-labor conservatives”. In fact, if you’re a cheap-labor conservative reading this, you should be getting sick of that phrase right about now. Exxxxcellent.
If enough people will “get with the program”, it won’t be long before you can’t look at an editorial page, listen to the radio, turn on the TV, or log onto your favorite message board without seeing the phrase “cheap labor conservatives” – and have plenty of examples to reinforce the message. By election day of 2004, every politically sentient American should understand exactly what a “cheap labor conservative” is, and what he stands for.
Now if you stop right here, you will have enough ammunition to hold your own with a cheap-labor conservative, in any public debate. You have your catch phrase, and you have some of the facts and history to give that phrase meaning.
But if you really want to rip the heart out of cheap-labor conservative ideology, you may want to invest just a little bit more effort. It still isn’t all that complicated, though it is a bit more detailed than what we have covered so far.
To explore that detail, just click one of the links below.
“Less Government” and “Cheap Labor”.
The Public Sector and Private Fortunes.
“Personal Responsibility” and Wages.
For more detailed theoretical understanding, check out The Mythology of Wealth, or just browse through some of the articles in the sidebar.
Now go find some “cheap labor conservatives”, and pin that scarlet moniker on them.