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Richardt Stormsgaard: False equivalencies syndrome

Other Voices
Richardt Stormsgaard

Regarding the May 28 opinion piece, “Why we hate each other” by Scottie Hart, I most certainly do not hate personal friends, acquaintances, or neighbors with right-wing beliefs.

This op-ed is an unfortunate example of the false equivalencies syndrome that has contributed strongly to the U.S. now being on the brink of a constitutional crisis. An American president is expanding his political power and subduing traditionally independent federal agencies to his will even after many dozens of his associates and collaborators have been convicted of various crimes.

Well-intentioned educated people like to present the two sides of a political issue, but the result sometimes creates a false narrative. The fact is that the Republican Party veered sharply to the right while Democrats still promote basically the same values they did half a century ago. It could have been Kennedy or Obama who spoke these words that Eisenhower used during his farewell address: “As we peer into society’s future, we — you, and I and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Eisenhower is remembered for his warnings about the military industrial complex, but had apparently no idea of what was to develop next within his Republican Party. He confidently declared: “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

It turned out that Eisenhower completely underestimated the power of these few Texas oil millionaires and few others that two decades later created a very successful campaign against big government, the social safety net, civil and voting rights and our democracy.

These interests funded among many others the Heritage Foundation in 1973 and the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress in 1974, both led by Paul Weyrich: “Now many of our Christians have what I call the “goo-goo” syndrome. Good government. They want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have since the beginning of our country, and they are not now: As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

A decade later in 1984 Weyrich states that the Republican Party no longer promotes traditional conservative values: “We are different from previous generations of conservatives. We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country.”

Steve Bannon was the strategist behind the Trump campaign and his first Secretary of State. As the founder of Breitbart News he said in 2013: “I am a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that is my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” He proclaimed at a later occasion: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with s—.”

Free speech was intended as a basic right to espouse unpopular opinions but it has now become the go-to political tactic of the American right-wing with a president that seems proud of his whopping 18,000 lies (according to center-right Forbes.com) since he took office. Trump blames so-called fake news media as they repeat his claims verbatim and on camera for all to see. The substance of his campaign is misinformation. You falsely accuse your opponent of the very misdeeds that you have committed, you lie about them, you threaten them, you demean them in order to create a mental fatigue in the minds of voters with so much conflicting information that they freeze like deer in the head lights of a speeding car.

Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that if everybody votes Republicans will never win. The goal is voter prevention and the means are massive misinformation to stifle voter turnout.

Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.


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