By Vern Turner
My wife and I attended the March for our Lives rally in Denver on 24 March. Tens of thousands of people attended the peaceful demonstration and march through the canyons of downtown Denver, Colorado, a “purple” state. It wasn’t just the “…purple mountain majesty…” of the Rockies, but heartfelt blue of the people of Colorado who wanted to end the gun violence in our schools, our streets, our theaters and our churches. The speakers were either survivors of violent acts caused by guns, or were closely associated with victims and their families who were. The wife of the Columbine school teacher who took rounds to protect his students had everyone in tears or silent in memorium. To say we were moved is a gross understatement.
Just outside the main crowd was the small and peaceful counter-demonstration conducted by the gun rights people who have little or no idea what they are defending or advocating. Their Gadsden flag is more a symbol of revolution than it is protest, for starters. One of the speakers read pertinent paragraphs from Federalist Paper #29 that defined the intent of the Second Amendment. The stated intent of Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, et. al., was to avoid having a standing army, but preserving the rights of the states to defend themselves, and, if necessary, coming to the aid of the nation should it be attacked. Furthermore, the paper didn’t advocate for individual rights to own an arsenal, it had no idea whatsoever about automatic weapons (they would not appear for another century) and it allowed the states to arm themselves against slave uprisings. So, as with most right-wing “arguments”, this “defense” of the Second Amendment is wrong-headed and politically motivated.
The mantra of fear, hate, bigotry and racism has become the main starting point for Republican politicians and Republican politics. Once these primitive elements have been sown in the minds of the fearful, the hateful and the bigots, Republicans move on to using these acolytes to institute the political agenda of de-regulation, destruction of public schools, elimination of social services and labor unions, and reducing taxes for the wealthiest among us. The latter agenda items are, of course, payback to the donors who support Republican politicians and Republican politics. That is a brief summary of what Republican politics has become; something I call Republicanism.
Since the Reagan administration embraced the anti-working man philosophy of Supply-Side economics, Republicanism has evolved into this draconian, vicious and unruly disgrace it is today. It is no longer a system of conservatism, but rather one of mindless adherence to doctrine dictated by the capitalists of America. The voice of the people is being thwarted at every turn by Republicanism. Voter ID laws, voter registration purges and gerrymandering of districts have all created a rolling, dark cloud of democracy-defeating pogroms against the American people. The super rich, who have been permitted to purchase government, are doing what all capitalists are compelled to do and all corporatists must do to keep their jobs.
Republicanism is now the advocate of Karl Marx’s most dangerous prediction in Das Kapital, and George Orwell’s most unsettling warning, 1984. Heeding those warnings is “inconvenient” for the capitalists enslaved by the stockholders and the quarterly report. The point is that this situation was inevitable as long as humans gave in to their most basic instincts of greed, hoarding and tribalism. Together, capitalists call this “competitiveness”. But competition without rules, controls and ethics is a formula for disaster – as Marx said it would be. If you’ve been reading the business pages and journals for the last twenty years, or so, you’d notice the constant drumbeat from the capitalists that regulations should be stripped, banking should be de-regulated and labor unions should be eliminated. These are the things that intelligent, thinking economists KNOW must be in place to preserve capitalism from eating itself alive. Franklin Roosevelt saw this as he became President at the depth of the Great Depression. He saw that “free market enterprise” without regulations and strict rules would direct capitalism to the abyss of financial collapse. It’s more than ironic that the capitalists hated FDR even though he was their savior. Most of those capitalists were Republicans. “Modern” Republicans still despise FDR and the necessary controls his administrations imposed.
So, how does this connect with the March for our Lives events? Well, we wouldn’t have to have these demonstrations if it weren’t for the unbridled attacks on our citizens with weapons of war available to us all. If it weren’t for the gun makers lobbying our governments at all levels to allow the unrestricted purchase of firearms designed for wars, the disasters via automatic and semi-automatic guns, aka killing devices, would not be on our front pages. In another irony, the election of Donald Trump caused these weapons sales to plummet, even driving a major gun maker to file for bankruptcy. Trump can help them there as he’s so much experience.
It is the continuous-growth economic model that drives this situation: We will peddle instruments of death to our own citizens in order to increase profits and satisfy our stockholders. Republicanism has embraced the National Rifle Association as its spokesperson for the gun lobby to ensure that no restrictive legislation will impede the profits of the gun makers. When intellectual dwarfs like Wayne LaPierre (N.R.A. Spokesman) are allowed to dictate government policy by way of political bullying, democracy is headed toward fascism. But Republicans love this guy because he also represents the donors who eagerly bribe them to vote against any gun-control legislation at any level.
The good news is that our children have finally had enough of this nonsense and are rebelling against the status quo everywhere. They have come to realize that the “adults” have screwed the pooch with their continued racism, greed, hate and bigotry, all traits of Republicanism. Listening to the survivors of the Parkland shooting causes the songs of righteousness to be heard across the land. “ENOUGH!” “NEVER AGAIN!”, and perhaps most telling: “VOTE THEM OUT!” This is the new mantra brought to us by our children, aka targets for lunatics with AR-15s. I, for one, am thrilled to see this phenomenon happening before our eyes. I can’t help but think that the combination of the absurdity and misrepresentation of the American people by Donald Trump, and the continuing gun disasters in our schools, churches and elsewhere have pushed our children to lead us to the democratic revolution that we so desperately need.
Perhaps without really knowing it, the children have ripped the clothes off of the Republicanism monster to show how truly ugly and evil it is. They will be the voters who will begin the dissembling of Republicanism in November, 2018, and keep going until they are the ones elected to office. They will know that the roots of their leadership lie in the blood spilled by their classmates and will reject being corrupted by the siren song of un-earned and un-mitigated wealth. My desire is, of course, to see the parents of these children also rise to their example and do the right thing by voting out Republicans at every level of government. Republicanism has proven to be anti-democratic, dogmatic, corrupt and not fit to govern anything. Republicanism must be excised from the American body politic like the malignancy it is.