If "Good Government" Doesn't Make American Lives Better Soon, the Coup of 2024 is Inevitable

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You think things are bad in America now? Wait until hungry heads-of-households stop hoping for help and start stealing from stores or kicking in doors to get food for their kids. It's already starting to happen.

We're in an unacknowledged Second Republican Great Depression.

One in six families with children "lacked sufficient food in the past 7 days." A survey completed just two weeks ago found fully 46 percent of American children live in renter households that are behind on their rent or lack sufficient food or both.

Americans once pulled together, and government worked

America's seen hard times before. But those difficult times weren't compounded by a political movement arguing that government shouldn't do anything to help. Growing up in the 1950s, my parents told me about their childhoods' during what was then still called The Republican Great Depression.

My mom taught me how to squeeze the last little bit of toothpaste out of a tube by squeezing it in the hinge-side of a door, and how to ration toilet paper, two squares at a time. Dad impressed on me the importance of getting and keeping a good union job (he worked for 50 years in a tool-and-die shop), although I went off as an entrepreneur instead.

My earliest memories, when I was around five years old in 1956 - before dad got his good union job and was struggling, selling Rexair Vacuum Cleaners and World Book Encyclopedias door-to-door - was of going to what my younger brothers and I called "the cheese store."

It was the Department of Agriculture's surplus food shop in downtown Lansing, and we'd go there every weekend to pick up a 10-pound brick of American cheese, a 10 pound box of powdered milk, and a 25 pound bag of macaroni. I still have a love/hate relationship with macaroni and cheese, having eaten it for lunch and dinner for weeks at a time as a kid.

But nobody in the media or elected office was talking about tearing down the government in response to hard times. Instead, Americans looked to the government for help.

We trusted the government, because a generation earlier, in the 1930s, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt had pulled the nation together. He showed us that government could be a force for good, fulfilling the vision of the Constitution's Preamble that America was formed to "insure domestic Tranquility" and "promote the general Welfare."

He told the country that the millions of Americans out of work, the "hobos" riding the rails, the panhandlers as young as 8 and as old as 80, were good and decent people who'd fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. It was our obligation, FDR said, to pull together with our government to help lift American families back up.

There was no cynical discussion of "welfare queens" and "fraud and waste" being committed by families broken by the Depression; instead, it was "we're all in this together."

The late actor Dennis Weaver traveled as a child with his siblings and mother from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma all the way to the West Coast to pick strawberries to survive. I was honored to write the foreword to his autobiography, All The World's A Stage, one of the best narratives I've ever read (outside of Steinbeck) of life in America in the 1930s.

As Dennis often told me, "Everybody knew somebody in trouble and people helped each other out."

Reagan & his rich buddies set out to destroy government, and it's nearly worked

Today, however, following 40 years of Reaganism and the GOP's media arms' constantly repeating the mantra that "government is the cause of our problems," the Republican Great Depression of 2021 is playing out quite differently.

This crisis is far from over precisely because there's a huge disinformation industry cranking out anti-US-government propaganda daily across America's airwaves and on social media.

They're doing it intentionally and specifically to benefit themselves in ways that go well beyond Fox News' advertising revenues. There's a method to their madness.

There's only one force in the world powerful enough to constrain the behavior of rogue billionaires or rapacious corporations. You can't stop them from raping the Earth or ripping off workers and consumers. Neither can I. Only government can do that.

Which is why America's oligarchs began, in the 1980s with the Reagan Revolution, promoting the idea that government had gotten "too big" and was a "threat to liberty." It had gotten big enough to regulate their behavior, to limit their greed, to prevent them from creating another (very profitable for the uber-wealthy) Great Crash, and they wanted government out of their lives.

So the corporations and billionaires got together in the 1970s, following the plan laid out in 1971 by Lewis Powell in his infamous Memo, and started the process of taking down government, replacing civil servants with yes-men and toadies for the rightwing billionaire agenda. (I document the entire process in my new book, The Hidden History of American Oligarchy: Reclaiming Our Democracy from the Ruling Class.)

Forty years of billionaire-promoted Reaganism, in other words, set up today's crisis.

And today that same philosophy - that we should just let the "philanthropic" billionaires and "efficient" big corporations run everything, and "big government" shouldn't play a role for good in our lives - is actively working to cripple President Biden's efforts to bring this country out of our current crisis.

This is extraordinarily dangerous.

There's a joke (sorta) going around: "What do you call a failed coup attempt?"

The answer, it turns out, is: "A rehearsal."

The cancer of Reaganism and the boosters of that worldview are alive, well, and stronger than ever.

If Republicans succeed in preventing the Biden administration from proving that government can make Americans' lives better, buckle up: The coup of 2024, already in post-rehearsal planning, isn't going to fail like it did in 2021.


Originally posted at thomhartmann.medium.com.


napaeric's picture
napaeric 3 years 21 weeks ago

I am sad. We are losing the battle. I kept thinking we as humans would keep getting more intelligent. But recent historical discoveries show we have not evolved.

All you have to do for success is to appeal to the basis human emotions. This fits right in with the crowd that stormed the capital of the USA. If only they flung their poo. No they smeared it on the rugs, woodwork and everything they could think of. Not that they could think of much.

Again I am sad. Some will look at our human condition and try for better. Some will see it as an opportunity to advance themselves. Think about your great, great grandchildren and how they are going to be doing. It is not just about us now.

rostasi 3 years 21 weeks ago

A good education is crucial and, unfortunately, it may take at least a couple of generations to get to the point when intelligence will reside in the minds of the common folk, rather than having the lazy, couch-potato mindsets we have these days. There's always been a reason to actively dumb-down the population and we're seeing a lot of the results of that now. Anyone here remember "Civics" class?

alis volat's picture
alis volat 3 years 21 weeks ago

Stopping the Republican agenda and proving the worth of our government is something we will never be able to shelve. So stay calm and carry-on.

Whenever I hear conspiracy theories about an evil cabal getting rid of a good portion of humanity, I mention the cabal is currently not doing a very good job. It's 7.8 billion and counting. Sheer numbers and computing power are on our side. The poor are coming together like never before. Want proof? Look at Georgia and the 81,282,502 Biden/Harris votes.

Are we up against many folks who do not realize they are voting against their own interests? You bet we are, and we have to plug away teaching those willing to listen. What gives me hope about this Administration's success is a simple thing President Biden said; it was that there are enough of us to get this done.

President Obama from jump had a high-minded approach about there are no Red/Blue States. Perhaps President Biden's new message of unity is a little more practical. And, being real about all we need is "enough of us" makes me feel he is not going to waste his time on the hard-liners.

This piss-poor-coup these fools tried may not be a one-of. So be it. Every congressional member was well aware of Representative Gabby Giffords's experience on her home turf. Her husband Senator Mark Kelly was in the Senate that day. He Tweeted: "In America, we have fair elections and peaceful transfers of power; democracy prevails over chaos; and those who commit violent acts are held accountable. That won’t change today. This unpatriotic attempt to overturn our election — and silence the voices of Arizonans — will fail,".

Back to the practical side of that unity, President Biden's ability to bring out the best in the FBI and police across the nation is essential. Restoring the concept that respect must work both ways is do-able but not easy. You begin by setting the example. Have you seen the way they treat reporters now? That was a good place to start. We need the authorities and the media to expose and control these domestic terrorists. Once convicted, we will have plenty of empty prison cells, since some will become available as we try different solutions for the mentally ill and drug usuers.

Worn out door knobs's picture
Worn out door knobs 3 years 21 weeks ago

How does ruling by executive order = democracy?

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 21 weeks ago

Do you mean an adult Biden undoing the cruel, self-serving, and just plain stupid decrees of the dethroned boy-king, Trump the Orange Baboon, who couldn't battle his way out of a wet paper bag to make a deal with Congress or, like George Bush the Whelp, who thinks the Constitution is "just a goddamn piece of paper" that doesn't apply to him?

We are, by theory anyway, a constitutionally limited, representative, democratic republic. Executive orders are in the rules, just like pardons, the filibuster save-slavery loophole, inherently unfair representation in the Senate, House district gerrymandering, legal bribery on steroids in the form of PACs, the arcane Electoral College slave-era way of counting votes, a District of Columbia without statehood -- all those autocratic throwbacks Republicans love more than beer, guns, and God. So what's this "democracy" crap of which you speak?

In too many cases, even the basic concept of an "elected government by the people" has been co-opted and gradually reimagined as freewheeling capitalism at any cost, the worst of insidious fascism. "Dam the rivers, damn the people."

The harsh realities of hard-ass capitalism fall upon the unwashed masses. You know, "It's all part of God's plan or something, just the way it is, kid. Quit whining; you'll be rewarded in the hereafter."

But easy-peasy socialism for the rich in the here and now? "Oh, ahem, well, the math is hard, not to change the subject, but..."

So, one of the weirdest of the many ironies is that the main Armaggedon type of war to fight on the right, their loudest battle cry of all, seems to be against the utter horror of "oh-my-god... SOCIALISM !!! Grab yer guns and hide the old ladies and babies; it's those goddamn Satan-worshippin', baby-eatin' DemocRATS comin' atcha, this time with masks and needles full of tracking devices, mind-control drugs, or somethin' evil as hell, not sure what !!!"

Socialism in its many forms and connotations is an amorphous term that can mean almost anything, good or bad, mostly depending on whom it primarily favors or how it's perceived ideologically. A well-worn, flakey-paint park bench in Mudville USA is socialism but so is a gigantic, lucrative, sometimes no-bid government contract to drill for oil on public lands or to build up an arsenal of ridiculous proportions to kill everyone and everything on Earth several times over for no good reason -- a monumental example of bad socialism to comfort the comfortable and persecute the persecuted -- an idiotic and immoral waste of taxpayers' blood, sweat, and tears.

It's socialism at the top, generating billionaire fatcats -- today's incarnation of medieval monarchies -- at record rates. And naturally, these gilded heirs of fabulous treasures living the good life really, really hate paying their rightful taxes, consequently shifting the burden for maintaining civilized society onto the backs of the already overburdened citizen/consumer worker-drones at the bottom, raking horseshit out of the stables, living paycheck to paycheck, only one or two unforeseen life events away from financial ruin ...a pandemic perhaps.

In its purest sense, though, the very notion of government itself is socialism, by definition, by necessity. Humans, like ants, must cooperate with each other in some fashion, hopefully constructively, when they are living together for survival, developing cultural identity.

I mean, even the "modern ape" back in the day realized the obvious, took some time off between hunting, gathering, farming, caving, or whatever, and figured out how to get everybody to cooperate on those bigger projects that make for a better life and a safer village for all to enjoy. It's the harder stuff that the fewer and more uncooperative little monkeys just can't do by themselves, the stuff that "takes a village," just like that "radical far-left cackling shrew" Hillary said. (Do they mean, "radical" as in NOT storming the castle with pitchforks, torches, nooses, zip-ties, dressed in comical, ready-for-battle get-ups, like in the Gangs of New York?)

Oh yeah? Well, gather round the fire all you wide-eyed boys and girls in red furs and MAGA headdresses from Lie Lie Land; here's a real whopper to scare you stupid: "Ya see, way back then, right at the very beginning was when the "other" tribe from Blueland invaded the homeland and clubbed us over the head with all that damn guvmut soshulshitism -- stealin' our free-dumb and lip-erty" and makin' us pay our fair share of clamshells, for chrissake! All those goddamn goat-worshippin', baby-eatin', DemocRATic ape-men and their shrieking banshees are comin' to getcha !!!"

Evolution at a standstill.

Worn out door knobs's picture
Worn out door knobs 3 years 21 weeks ago

Deepspace took 751 words to not answer the question (thom must pay him/word). :))

Does anyone have an answer?

How does ruling by executive order = democracy?

cuz's picture
cuz 3 years 21 weeks ago

Easy answer, it doesn't.

I am sure he is a well meaning man but I believe he has little knowledge of what he is actually signing or the consequences of his actions. Undoubtedly these executive orders were written by special interest groups. ex. the Keystone pipeline and Warren Buffett's railroad.

I was worried about Hillary's capability, Joe Biden scares the crap out of me.

We truly have a puppet regime in the WH that will be totally be run by lobbyists. It should be a fun ride.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 3 years 21 weeks ago

Now there's a pair to draw to.

Your push-poll, leading question was dispatched in the first two paragraphs; the rest was gravy without you in mind. Don't be so self-centered.

But thanks for counting. Now, can you read, or is that a bridge too far?

rostasi 3 years 21 weeks ago

How does ruling by executive order = democracy?

It doesn't - anymore than playing music = mood.

Nobody is saying that it does. This was an idea created in your own mind.

Legend 3 years 20 weeks ago

10 of the Executive orders were Pandemic related. Emergency needs for a Pandemic that was ignored by the previous administration. Thus, why we are number 1 in Covid-19 in the world.

Let's see who he beats:

"According to the Federal Register, Trump signed 220 executive orders during his four years in office. Throughout their eight-year administrations, Obama signed 276 executive orders and George W. Bush signed 291.

Azitis's picture
Azitis 3 years 20 weeks ago

In the ancient Indian books of wisdom, our planet’s oldest and one of it’s still most relevant sources of knowledge, the various aspects of governance are described. In it the major role of government is listed as punishment. Government’s main function, they put forth, is to check and punish wrongdoing in all of its forms. The size of government will naturally vary proportionately along with the size of evil and corruption found in its jurisdiction. Small government, i.e., relaxed rules and regulations, greater personal latitude and freedoms, comes about only where the populous at large adheres to high personal standards of ethics and morality. However as the exploitation of citizens, of nature, of life in all of its forms increases, so must government as the protector of its charges. Human nature in its evolution or devolution will therefore determine the size of government. Unfortunately in our current situation leaders have been co-opted by the criminal forces they are meant to restrict resulting in immense suffering with the scales of justice turned upside down. Only extensive, powerful and honorable government can oppose these formidable forces. The problem arises that good and honest citizens will simultaneously be hampered by tightening regulations applied across the board to minimize increasing exploitation and will loudly oppose their perceived loss of “freedoms.”This will become an ongoing challenge in the times ahead.

rostasi 3 years 20 weeks ago

The purpose of government is to protect us from ourselves.

Steve S56's picture
Steve S56 3 years 20 weeks ago

@Worn out door knobs: EOs apply only to the executive branch of the federal government. They give direction to agencies about what to prioritize and what not to prioritize. EOs, however, cannot violate established law or the Constitution.

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