Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: America..Life Imitates The Bourne Identity. 20 September '11

It was just a matter of time until the Tea Party began consuming its own.

Here was David Lewis - a self-proclaimed Tea Partier who is challenging Speaker of the House John Boehner for Ohio’s 8th Congressional district - on Fox so-called News yesterday:

Neil, I am the tea party candidate. John Boehner is a socialist. I’m not calling him names.

Yeah, John Boehner - who embraced the Tea Party and rode its coattails to power in last year’s election - is now being targeted by the Tea Party.

I guess getting 98% of what he wanted in the debt limit deal last month - wasn’t quite good enough.

But the interesting thing about this - is that David Lewis is only 26-years-old - and he - along with others in his generation who’ve bought into the Tea Party and flock to Ron Paul - have a lot in common with Robert Ludlum's fictional character Jason Bourne.

There’s a whole segment of young people just now coming of age to vote - who have no idea where they came from - where they are - and seem to just barely remember their own names - just like Jason Bourne.

The only difference is - these "wet behind the ears" Tea Partiers - aren’t trained in lethal hand-to-hand combat - and aren’t on some noble revenge mission - even though some might think they are.

Here’s how Lewis defended his "John Boehner is a socialist" remark later in the same interview:

Here is someone that refuses to phase out Social Security. What I would do as a U.S. House member is work to phase out Social Security totally. 100 percent. That includes Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. These are socialist policies.

Surprisingly - he didn’t tack on to that list laws against child labor, the vote for women, and the minimum wage - maybe if he had more time.

But David Lewis’s candidacy and ideology reflect something very wrong with our nation today.

To borrow a phrase from Daniel Quinn - David Lewis is the poster child for a “Great Forgetting” in America.

At such a young age - he feels invincible - as most young people do - and he thinks he’ll never need those government programs that he deems "socialist" - like food stamps and Medicaid.

In the past, at least young voters still believed in the positive role of government to help their grandparents - and help those who were poor - but today’s brainwashed young people want to scrap the entire system.

They are the products of 30 years of re-education in our schools that have forced FDR's New Deal and the history of labor off the pages of our history books.

They are the products of a broken down news media - that no longer gives people the facts needed to make a well-informed vote.

They are the product of hundreds of right-wing think tanks that spew lies as if they were facts - saying Social Security is a Ponzi scheme - that welfare recipients are usually drug addicts - and that tax cuts for the rich create economic growth. And just on and on it goes.

And they are the product of Ayn Rand’s arguably sociopathic philosophy of selfishness as the highest ideal. This philosophy, by the way, is now enjoying a well-funded resurgence in America thanks to millionaires and billionaires who’ve dusted off her old message from the 50's, knowing that if they can get enough people to buy into it - then they can rise to power and create a United States for the super-rich - or as Ayn Rand called them - the "producers" - or as Frank Luntz calls them the "job creators".

Ironically in Ayn Rand's book, "Atlas Shrugged", they were the people who inherited their money. But that's a whole other discussion.

And, in their world, to hell with the rest of us.

Just like Jason Bourne doesn't remember his earlier life - David Lewis doesn't remember America's earlier life at all, apparently. Under the New Deal years of the 1940s, the fifties, the sixties, the seventies, even the early eighties - when the middle class thrived - and our social safety nets allowed more and more Americans to pursue the American Dream.

Without that memory - Lewis believes in a fantasy - a fantasy about the power of this magical thing called the "free-market" - a fantasy that societies can function just fine without a government - as if you could have a football game without rules, without goalposts, without referees. A fantasy that if we all act selfishly - grab all you can, get everything you can - then we'll all prosper.

Actually in biology, when one part of the body or one part of an organism decides that it is going to be super selfish, take everything, the body doesn't prosper - it's called cancer.

The whole idea that it's possible to run an economy or a nation this way is a fantasy, because it's never, ever worked in the history of the world anywhere it's ever been tried...just look at the Libertarian paradise of Somalia.

You know, in the movies - Jason Bourne slowly recovered his lost memory - and it helped him discover where he came from - and where he needs to go.

But we can't just wait and hope that people like David Lewis suddenly recover from the "Great Forgetting".

Especially while the Kochs and other billionaires are funding right-wing think tanks like the CATO Institute and the Reason Foundation.

This isn't a movie - the fate of the United States is at stake - if people like David Lewis are given a chance to lead we could be in serious trouble.

That's why we need to start teaching real history to our young people, our young Americans.

We need to show up at townhall meetings - speak to your neighbors and friends - write op-eds in your local newspaper - run for the local school board - and share some real histories of this nation.

Because, as a country, we must remember what we once knew - and that's how to create and sustain a middle class and keep a democracy healthy, even when it's under assault from giant transnational corporations and cranky billionaires.

We've been through this before. We made it through the Gilded Age and the crash of 1893 it caused; we made it through the Roaring 20s and the crash and Republican Great Depression that was caused by the Roaring 20s.

If we can just learn from history - and teach it to our young people - then we'll make it through the damage done to this country by 30 years of Reaganomics, bubbles, and so-called Free Trade.

As Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young sang, "Teach your children well"....

That's The Big Picture.

What Do Democrats Really Want?

Thom plus logo Thomas Friedman, the confused billionaire, told us decades ago that "free trade" is what made the Lexus a successful product when, in fact, it was decades of Japanese government subsidies and explicit tariffs that did so.

Latest Headlines

Who rejected United States-North Korea peace talks?

There were conflicting reports on Sunday regarding a recent proposal for United States-North Korea peace talks which was allegedly made before North Korea"s recent nuclear test

U.K. Pound Falls As Markets Get Brexit Jitters

Bloomberg said on Monday the pound had sustained its biggest fall against the dollar in 11 months

Clinton: I'll defend Israel but push for 'two-state solution

Hillary Clinton believes both Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz "missed the mark" with their approach to the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Hartmann combines a remarkable piece of historical research with a brilliant literary style to tell the grand story of corporate corruption and its consequences for society with the force and readability of a great novel."
David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and Agenda for A New Economy
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth