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Guest Thinkers

Is America Flirting With Fascism?

To watch from afar as the drama of the US mid term elections unfolded as a Brit who has lived in America, likes America and likes Americans, is deeply frustrating. At one level there is puzzlement, at another there is deep concern and still at another there is a feeling that to comment is to intrude on family business, and I am not of the family. I recall a British newspaper, The Guardian, clumsily intervening some years ago, urging Americans to vote for Democrats in swing Congressional districts that the paper’s pointy heads had decided would call the election. Not surprisingly, this was exploited to the hilt by the Republicans – and that was before the Tea Party. After all, who wants a bunch of Brits sticking their oars in two centuries on since the Red Coats were marched into the sea?

That said the perversity on show in recent weeks begs a whole series of questions. Questions that are being asked by many of America’s friends in the World, who are now fearful that the country harbours a form of raucous corporate fascism that is feeding from the resentment of a section of middle America that is losing its sense of identity and purpose. These questions – and they are asked in a genuine spirit of inquiry so as to attempt to understand what is happening in America – may seem starkly obvious to some. The answers could provide ammunition for those who really do hold to the mission of the founding fathers;

*How is it that the US Supreme Court ruled to allow donors to political parties and campaigns complete anonymity? Millions of dollars have been poured into attack ads, most of which are utterly unhinged and bathed in a ferocious negativity. These ads were invariably attributed to all sorts of innocuous, patriotic sounding organisations, that most Americans have probably never heard of. Is anything being done to reverse that Supreme Court ruling? Is it possible? Who funds these ads and why?

*Candidates spent millions trying to be elected. The defeated Republican candidate in California spent $160 million in her failed campaign. Let me write that again $160 million! What on earth is going on? Are there no restrictions at all on what can be spent? Why haven’t legislators tried to break this pork barrel funding and spending scam? Or are they all in it together?

*Glenn Beck is a lachrymose Fox TV host. He has also made $35 million hawking his wares around for the Tea Party, where he also stands in for Sarah Palin as demagogue in chief. How is it possible for a TV anchor to be able and allowed to behave in this fashion? Are there any notions of objectivity at all?  Or does Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation have unfettered power without responsibility? Free to enable proto fascists to whip people into hysteria, and bugger the consequences?

*What is it with all of this nonsense about ‘Big Government’? Anyone watching as the mid terms unfolded would be forgiven to think they had landed on Mars. As I see it, the ‘new politics’ operates like this; Large corporations who feel threatened by very basic health care social security funnel huge sums of cash into K Street lobbyists, who then farm it out to TV companies, who run endless attack ads, that would be regarded as hugely libellous in most other countries. The point of this exercise is to scare and exploit people who have very little, into believing that a Washington and east coast liberal elite are a bunch of Socialists, presided over by an ‘un American President’. Candidates, largely running under the Tea Party and Republican banner, whose well oiled machines are funded by corporate power, then pretend that they hate Washington and don’t even know where it is. They position themselves as ‘outsiders’ even though once inside they will do their level best to cavil to big business.

This much seems pretty obvious to an outsider looking in. The problem seems to be that those they attack with such fierce, burning irrational hate seem quite incapable of striking back.


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