When the history of the American Experiment is written, one dire scenario is the demise of the American way of life in the early twenty-first century. If that happens, it will be due to an unholy alliance of two seemingly diametrically opposed groups. In all probability, neither of these groups would succeed on their own, but the synergies between them could result in a very scary outcome.
Of course, the first of the two groups that would like to destroy America is Al Qaida and other Middle East-based groups of terrorists whose weapons of choice involve asymmetric warfare – that is, clever use of limited resources against a much larger military power. If you define terrorism in this context as the instillation of fear and the erosion of the American way of life, then the terrorists are on a winning streak. George W Bush played right into their hands by subverting the Constitution, and his Tea Party née Republican co-conspirators have leveraged the fear instilled by 9/11 at the expense of Muslims, Latinos, the poor, and other groups who don’t fit their image of the American ideal. The election of an African-American president just exacerbated their frenzy. And terrorism begets terrorism, as evidenced by the recent arson at a mosque in Tennessee. Whenever there’s an atmosphere of fear, demagogues crop up – whether they be Joseph McCarthy who took advantage of the “red menace” or Glenn Beck taking advantage of the Bush recession to promote his financial self-interest.
The other threat to the American way of life comes from within. The imbalance between the power of corporations at the expense of the power of the voter is usurping the American electoral system which is a lynchpin to an effective democracy. We already know about the evisceration of anti-trust laws with the forming of “too big to fail” behemoths – not only in the financial industry, but in airlines, energy, and media. Net neutrality is being slowly eroded, so in the coming years, these same behemoths will exert control on what you will be able to readily access on the internet. Now, another nefarious activity is slowly coming to light. As first reported by Rachel Maddow several months ago, and excruciatingly documented in Jane Mayer’s New Yorker exposé, two mega-wealthy oil barons, the Koch brothers, are spending billions of dollars on activities, cleverly disguised as grass-roots initiatives, to promote their agenda of environmental deregulation, dismantling of the Federal government, and elimination of health care for millions of Americans. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1964 that everyone’s votes must be counted equally, the same court ruled in 2009 that corporations such as Koch Industries could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections. Placing the power of the government in the hands of the wealthy few instead of the hands of the many is antithetical to the tenets of a democratic society.
I’m sure the Koch brothers don’t think of themselves as unpatriotic. They are just using their vast wealth (eclipsed only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet) to promote their own political agenda. But the playing field is vastly uneven. Under the Koch plan, the rich get richer and the middle class disappears.
The American Dream becomes limited to a few fortunate people, with the corporate-controlled media serving as willing enablers.
So we have two forces at work. How do they relate? One (Al Qaida) unequivocally wants to destroy the American way of life. The other (Koch and their corporate allies) is manipulating the American voter and putting corporate interests ahead of those of the people. One is instilling fear. The other is institutionalizing disenfranchisement. The common thread is that both are playing into the agenda of right-wing militants and secessionists and encouraging them to take action. The governor of Texas actively talks about secession. Militias usurp the legitimate police powers of the government at our southern borders. Guns are prevalent at public events – creating a tinderbox ready to explode. Not since the Civil War has the threat from within been so prevalent.