Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Monday, March 28, 2011

From debate to destruction

As someone who has devoted a considerable part of my life to the study and teaching of history, recent events in Maine and Wisconsin have left me shaken. In Maine, a series of historically accurate murals, depicting moments in Maine's labor history, have been removed from the state's labor department by the governor. In Wisconsin, a distinguished history professor at Madison is being harassed by the state Republican party in retaliation for his careful, historical examination of their current agenda.

What is happening here? It seems that our corporate overlords are growing impatient with having to compete with other sources of information in their zeal to brainwash Americans. It was relatively easy to purge television of nearly all content that would help establish a well-informed citizenry. But now in Wisconsin, Maine, and other parts of America, newly elected radical Republicans are suddenly confronting the fact that the knowledge of history, inside and outside the academy, gives too many citizens a reason to oppose the power grab that is happening now. Frustrated, these tyrants remove historical art from the public square, and try to intimidate living historians.

Winston Smith, who worked for the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984, was a threat only because he could preserve a historical consciousness in his own memory. We must seize this moment, when many Americans do still preserve memories that challenge our corporate overlords' vision, to boldly contest the usurpation of American institutions by corporate shills from both parties.

The Republicans are certainly extreme. Yet we cannot oppose them just by blindly voting for Democrats. Democrats who want our votes, but are not willing to offend any big-money donors, are little better than Republicans. While GE pays no taxes, and Bill Gates pays little taxes, Democrats should feel obliged to correct that situation before they even start to talk about cutting back on programs that help the poor and middle class. Some Democrats seem to understand this, but many don't. I find it insulting to receive fund-raising appeals that decry Wisconsin's Governor Walker, without bothering to explain how the Democrats plan to stop doing the bidding of big-money interests and start representing their constituents. The GOP has shown that it will stop at nothing to advance the interests of the plutocrats. The Democrats must show they are willing to risk something to promote the people's cause. Just being the less racist, sexist, and homophobic corporate party isn't enough anymore. The unions won't keep working to turn out the vote for candidates who pal around with Wall St. People are paying attention, and they won't accept the status-quo for long.


milwaukeedave said...

Lack of strong support for labor needs to be a deal-breaker for candidates who seek grassroots support. If a Democrat panders to plutocrats, why should we work hard to elect them?

cassporter said...

I think we're moving towards a new dynamic, where neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will be able to take as many voters for granted. Labor, Green, and Independent candidates will have an opening to make their case.