BURT HALL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The right wing took over the Republican Party in the 90's and began to exile its moderates and exploit flaws in our system of government to gain power. The great Republican moderates who helped make our country exceptional have all but disappeared.
The right-wing controlled Republican Party has the money, but neither the votes nor the agenda to win elections. To compensate, it has undermined two presidencies, stolen two elections and is on its way to stealing a third. When in office it mismanaged government both times.
The right-wing 2012 nominees for President and Vice-President have made convention speeches and produced TV ads that are intellectually dishonest. They are charging the President for things which are untrue or were the direct responsibility of its own Party in prior administrations -- but, more about that later.
BACKGROUND OF THE THREAT
A right-wing attempted coup of government is now underway and involves corrupting our election financing system, suppressing democrat voting rights, attracting voters by slowing down economic recovery, and using a well-organized misinformation machine. The right wing has no limits on what it will do to win elections. The chain of events leading up to this threat to our democracy follows:
* A right-wing war on the Clinton presidency was followed by unethical, illegal and unconstitutional means to force him to resign and gain control of government in the next election.
* Barely winning control, the right wing administration immediately abandoned Clinton's top priorities of (1) balancing federal budgets and (2) responding to Bin Laden's recent attacks against the United States.
* A flagrant breach of national security soon followed and led to the catastrophic 9/11 failure. During the spring and summer of that year, a number of friendly countries and three heads of state (Russia's Putin, Britain's Blair and the King of Jordan) warned us of the upcoming 9/11 attacks and of al-Qaeda terrorists here in the United States learning to fly. Faced with overpowering evidence of an imminent attack, the CIA Director made an emergency visit to the White House in July to make a compelling case for military action at that very moment. None was taken, not even precautions to protect our commercial aircraft.
* Covering up its breach of national security, the White House lashed out against terrorism with two reckless wars. It occupied both countries on a fool's errand of using the U.S. military to force democracy on other people who were not ready for it. Both wars were unnecessary and wasted at least four trillion dollars of taxpayer money, without improving national security. All that was required was a surgical military operation to capture or kill Bin Laden and his network, as had been proposed during transition by the Clinton administration.
* The 9/11 Commission report omitted evidence clearly incriminating the White House. Two Commissioners and the former White House Chief of Counterterrorism have since acknowledged omission of conclusions in the 9/11 report on White House responsibility. This omission allowed a failed right-wing administration to serve a second term and repeat its incompetence when the Katrina hurricane disaster hit the Gulf States.
* The failed administration then added two more right-wing justices to the Supreme Court. The Court's new majority dramatically changed our election laws, permitting named and unnamed big money interests to influence elections anywhere in the United States, and, in particular, the presidency.
* A new right wing tax policy created income inequality and a shift of political power to the wealthy. Jobs then plummeted to their worst record in 50 years.
* At the end of eight years, the right wing handed over to the new president a doubling of our national debt, two unending wars, an economy losing millions of jobs, a housing market and financial system in crisis, a massive decline in tax revenues, dangers to our security of excessive reliance on Mideast oil, a crumbling infrastructure, a decaying education system, a stock market in free fall, and a decline in world leadership.
* The right wing owns much of increased federal debt incurred during this century. This is because previous commitments on wars and tax cuts, job losses in the millions and falling tax revenues continued beyond presidential transition and could not possibly be reversed in the near term. Federal tax collections were at their very lowest percentage of the economy in sixty years. The right-wing deficits were structured long-term; the new President's ones were temporary and done to avert a Great Depression.
* The real tragedy is that these serious setbacks could have been averted based on information known to the right wing at the time.
THE RIGHT-WING MENTALITY
The right wing is not to be underestimated. A lust for power blinds it to ethical, legal and constitutional requirements. Political terrorism is widespread in its ranks. When the current administration took power, the right wing immediately began to undermine the President, plotting his downfall on the very night of his inauguration, then portraying him as un-American, blocking his recovery agenda and debt reduction initiatives, and passing anti-voting laws to prevent his reelection.
In the words of retired Republican Senator George Voinovich, the right-wing attitude is "We are going to get what we want or the country can go to hell." As a moderate Republican, Voinovich saved Cleveland from default as Mayor, made Ohio number one in the nation as Governor, and served two terms as U.S. Senator. Other responsible Republicans have expressed similar views.
The right wing has severely damaged the United States and two other countries that we invaded and occupied. Besides monumental loss of life and injury on both sides, civilians were displaced in the millions. After the right wing left office, partisanship in Congress increased dramatically making it difficult for any new President to govern. In 2012, Congress had the lowest public approval rate in history.
Tea Party members of the Republican Party have rebelled against uncontrolled deficit spending, although the very President they put in office made this change in direction. Rather than doing the honorable thing and taking responsibility for making a bad choice of president, they are taking out their anger on his successor who inherited a national emergency.
In the upcoming 2012 election, the right wing controls much of the presidential campaigning and agendas of the Republican nominees, and if elected, the right wing will limit their options as they have done in previous administrations.
The Vice-President nominee, House leader Paul Ryan, supported the measures that took the country down the wrong road on wars, taxes and debt. He walked away from the presidential Simpson-Bowles plan which would have reduced the size of government and the federal debt simply because his drastic Medicare reform was not accepted. Now, he is playing the role of a Medicare's savior!
The Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is already talking about renewing the cold war, starting another Mideast war and expanding unwise tax cuts for the super rich. Both nominees are misleading the public with ads and speeches charging the President with responsibility for all the federal debt since he came into office, undermining Medicare, eliminating the welfare work requirement and wasting 800 billion dollars in Stimulus money. None of these allegations are true and represent acts of desperation showing a lack of confidence by the right wing in its nominees' ability to win the election.
For example, the nominees charge the President with nearly five trillion dollars of national debt. Actually, at least 80% of that increase is due to long-term commitments, such as difficult to end wars and ill advised tax cuts, and a national crisis -- all inherited from the prior right-wing administration. An aide recently said the Romney campaign will not be controlled by fact-checkers.
Former Governor Jeb Bush said in 2012 that neither President Reagan nor his father would qualify in today's Republican Party. Experience has shown that we can have right-wing control of the Republican Party or a working democracy - we cannot have both.
It's time for Republican moderates who put country first over party to return to leadership positions. The last half century had many and two Senate buildings were named after them. Not one Republican right-wing person serving today in Congress compares favorably to the moderates of the past in terms of statesmanship, care for country, working across the aisle and contributing to our nation's welfare.
The right wing is undoing our exceptionalism. It is out of step on matters of foreign policy, use of U.S. war power, a fair tax policy, energy independence, American science, health care, women's rights and required investments for infrastructure, education and research.
If the Republican Party is to remain viable, voters most return its power structure back to the days of the Reagan and Bush one eras. In those days the Party was healthy and robust whether you agreed with its agenda or not.
After early careers in aircraft electronics with Trans World Airlines and as a CPA, Burt Hall joined the U.S. Accountability Office where he served as Group Director on national security and other matters. He was loaned twice for two years, once to a bipartisan congressional commission and later to the Reagan White House. He is the author of The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy, www.renewingourdemocracy.com. The book contains thirty-three corrections to flaws in our system of government, along with thoughts on reconstituting a more effective Republican Party. He also coauthored Misuse of Power with Ed Asner and How the Experts Win at Bridge with his wife, Lynn Hall.