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Monday, October 7, 2013

The real goal of the current crisis: Destroy Obama

by John MacBeath Watkins

I'm breaking silence on the budget/debt ceiling crisis, because few people seem to see the real goal and the real motivations behind it.

I haven't written about the government shutdown or the likelihood that it will segue into a default crisis because so much has been written by others, and most things about it are blindingly obvious.

For example, it's pretty obvious that the Republicans never had a problem with raising the debt ceiling under Reagan or either Bush, and they had no problem with deficits under Reagan or Bush the Lesser. Bush the Greater did not get reelected in large part because he thought doing something about the deficit was important, and alienated Republican voters by doing something about it.

So what is this really about? It's not about health care reform, which was based on ideas put forward by the conservative Heritage Foundation and implemented at the state level by the Republicans' last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. The deficit has been falling rapidly under President Obama, so it's not concern for the financial well-being of the country. It's not about improving the economy, because the Republicans seem ready to destroy the economy to reach their goal.

It's about destroying Barack Obama.

I don't think there will be a default. I think there will be a constitutional crisis, and it will turn out that the debt ceiling violates the 14th amendment.

John Boehner had been assuring big donors in the business community that he would not allow a default. Word leaked out, and he got some backlash from the Tea Party, so he's taking a hard line now. If it goes to the wire, does he have the guts to put a clean debt limit up for a vote? He's the weakest Speaker of the House in history, so I wouldn't bank on it.

I think Boehner will get boxed into forcing Obama to act, declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional and asking for a Supreme Court ruling. I think this could lead to another impeachment, which has been talked up since a couple weeks after Obama took office. Since the Republican Party became the party of the South, they have not believed any Democratic president could be legitimate. It's 1860 all over again, the parties have just switched places.

 I don't believe it's entirely about Obama's race, although that clearly has a role in it. I think it's about the fact that since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the South and other areas culturally like the South have seen the Democratic Party as representing the interests of non-whites.

This is clear from the voting patterns, which match up pretty nearly with the boundaries of the states and territories that allowed slavery prior to the Civil War. It is clear from the racist signs the appeared at so many Tea Party gatherings. It is clear from the strategy that Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater executed in the 1960s and 1970s. Pat Buchanan, then an aid to Nixon, even called for distributing bumper stickers advocating nomination of a black Democrat for president and doing " what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two, at least at the Democratic National Convention.” Such gambits, he added, could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.”

Here are Atwater's own words, and I ask that you pardon my reproduction of his language, but it makes things very clear: 

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Nor is it just about blacks. Nativist sentiment always increases during periods when there's a lot of immigration. There is a sort of ethnic panic here, where people are worried about what it means to be an American. This toxic mix of racial and nativist sentiment has fueled the Republican Party increasingly since 1968, and since its rhetoric is built around an effort to conceal that fact, the party has difficulty explaining itself in terms of coherent policies to govern the country.

Unfortunately, that incoherence has become official policy for what has become an increasingly destructive party. The kind of Republicans I used to vote for have largely been hunted down as "RINO," Republican in Name Only. Much of this has been done by organizations like the deceptively-named Club for Growth, which now advocates destroying the economy in order to destroy its enemies.

What does it mean to be a Republican in more than name?
"Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
But whites get hurt too, so why would they do that? Lyndon Johnson, faced with racist protest against his Great Society ideas, had a pretty shrewd idea about that. Here's how Bill Moyers recalled their conversation:
We were in Tennessee. During a motorcade, the President spotted some ugly racial epithets scrawled on signs by a few plain, he called them homely, white women on the edge of the crowd. Late that night in the hotel, long past midnight, he was still going on about how poor whites and poor blacks had been kept apart so that they could separately be fleeced-. ''I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it," he said. "If you can convince the lowest white man that he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll even empty his pockets for you."
And it's still going on. A friend has come to see the Republican Party as a coalition of the greedy and the stupid. I would say, the greedy and the racist. It is financed by the greedy, one percenters like the Koch brothers, who found that Atwater's "we want to cut this" could be used to lower their taxes, but the votes come from the people Johnson was talking about. And right now, in a conflict between business interests who don't want the economy crashed and people who are motivated by racial and nativist sentiment, the bigots are winning control.

The current crisis brings up one of the constitutional provisions put in place because of worries the South, once re-admitted to the Union, would try to destroy it with the power of the purse. From Fortune Magazine:
Though triggered by specific threats the country faced in the aftermath of the Civil War, Section 4 of the 14th Amendment remains relevant to our world. Yale's Balkin explained on his Balkinization blog in June 2011: "Section 4 targets the worry that, once fully readmitted to the Union, senators and representatives from Southern states ... would deliberately refuse to repay debts incurred in suppressing the confederate rebellion." Still, he continued, the provision "was stated in broad terms in order to prevent future majorities in Congress from repudiating the federal debt to gain political advantage, to seek political revenge, or to try to disavow previous financial obligations because of changed policy priorities."
And that provision is President Obama's last-ditch hope for defending the nation from default.
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/170841/exclusive-lee-atwaters-infamous-1981-interview-southern-strategy#sthash.IHDfuKgR.dpuf
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/170841/exclusive-lee-atwaters-infamous-1981-interview-southern-strategy#sthash.IHDfuKgR.dpuf
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/170841/exclusive-lee-atwaters-infamous-1981-interview-southern-strategy#sthash.IHDfuKgR.dpuf
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.” - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/170841/exclusive-lee-atwaters-infamous-1981-interview-southern-strategy#sthash.IHDfuKgR.dpuf

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