For months, I had been struggling to adequately articulate my hypothesis that the unprecedented insidiousness thrust upon us by the extremist elements of the Republican Party transcends even the popular narrative of it’s “hijacking” by the menacing Tea Party.
There is plenty of content across the Intertubes about the Tea Party. ‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party”, and, Study: Tea Party Organizations Have Ties To Tobacco Industry Dating Back To 1980s, were of particular interest to me. I had been under the impression that the movement spontaneously grew out of opposition to the bailout of the U.S. financial system and automakers at the close of the Bush presidency, subjugated early in President Obama’s first term by corporate astroturfing.
I was surprised to learn that it’s origins actually date to tobacco industry opposition to government controls back in the 1980’s. To further their pro-tobacco political agenda, the industry teamed with the conservative political group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, to assist the mobilization. Less of a surprise was that CSE was founded in 1984 by none other than David and Charles Koch.
Bankrolled by the tobacco companies, particularly Phillip Morris, and other industries including oil, chemical, pharmaceutical and telecommunications, CSE worked through it’s roughly two decade lifespan ennobling it’s corporate backers in the name of free-enterprise. In 2002, appealing to the sensitivities of “Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated”, CSE kicked off it’s US Tea Party project with it’s now archived website, www.usteaparty.com. And then, in 2004, CSE split into the organizations known today as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.
The privileged few like the Koch brothers and their “brother from another mother”, Art Pope (from my neck of the woods) are not the philanthropic, “Rich Uncle Pennybags” caricatures their self-aggrandizement and media coverage purports them to be. Their motives extend well beyond the reprehensible greed and arrogance most typical of the 1 percent. Spending fortunes under the cover of cleverly arrayed 501(c)s and PACs, they use the public faces of their so-called think-tanks, Tea Party and media sympathizers to proliferate their strategy to supplant our democracy with their egocentrically driven goal of a fascist state.
Their appeal and ideological sway over the right-wing is indisputable. Skillfully choreographed to perpetuate the subterfuge, the intrinsic fears and moral sensibilities of those most amenable to the snake oil being sold are exploited by time worn tactics characterized best by It’s the Corporate State, Stupid and its referenced article, Fascism Anyone?, by Laurence W. Britt, outlining the 14 defining characteristics of fascism.
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism.
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.