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Aging Hippies
Unite! The GOP says you have nothing to lose but your brains

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
March 28, 2011

I went looking today to see how the recall campaign against Wisconsin Republicans following the fascist power grab was coming along. The news is that organizers are now claiming that they have adequate signatures in at least three of the eight GOP districts, and expect to have adequate voter signatures in all eight by the end of the 60 day period in late April.

They need only recall three of the Walker supporters—and elect Democrats in their place—to overthrow the Walker regime and render him toothless. He can be recalled in January of 2012 if the voters so choose.

The greater GOP is finally noticing that just because Walker elected to simply ignore the law and “win” the battle by simply declaring legislative rules and court rulings null and void, that didn't mean the battle was over.

I read, with considerable amusement, a column on the right-leaning “Real Clear Politics” website that originated on the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Trib. The author, a big-haired Republican sort named Salena Zito, made her stance clear from the start, describing the striking teachers, cops, and other union workers as “aging hippies” who “trashed the state Capitol”. And Walker didn't just blow off the law, according to her; he “outfoxed” the Dems. In other words, the column had the levels of honesty and fairness you would expect from a Richard Scaife publication.

She did, however, admit that the recall situation in Wisconsin needed to be taken seriously by the GOP. Blaming Japan and Libya, she announced, “Perhaps we all looked away too quickly.”

The GOP, and the mainstream media, did look away, but they did so on purpose. They assumed that if they simply ignored the recall effort, it would cease to be a news story, fade quickly from public consciousness, and the recall effort would die on the vine. Only it isn't dying on the vine. If anything, it's picking up steam as it becomes evident that the recall is going to take place.

It has to be frustrating for the fascists. They believe their own propaganda, and probably just figured the aging hippies would just have another bong hit and forget all about the union protests. The Republicans have an entire approach built on the assumption that American voters are inattentive and have the attention span of a kitten on crack. And here all these really huge stories came along that should have helped: Egypt, Charlie Sheen, the Japan earthquake and tsunami, Charlie Sheen, the Fukushima nuclear plant explosions, Charlie Sheen, Libya, Charlie Sheen, kill teams in Afghanistan, and of course, Charlie Sheen. By now the voting public, helped by propaganda from Faux News and complicit silence from the corporate media, should have nothing remaining beyond a vague memory of a brave governor in Wisconsin taking steps to prevent a student uprising or something, and by the next summer, the GOP could have been touting Walker as a vice-presidential candidate.

Part of the trouble is that in trying to end the controversy with an at-all-costs win, Walker went far too far, first by the patently illegal vote held to “pass” the bill, and then by trying to claim that courts did not have jurisdiction over the validity of legislation. The last politician to say that out loud was Adolf Hitler, whose first move was to end the independence of the courts in Germany. That frightened voters who weren't in the union, weren't Democratic, and who might have gone along with Walker's union-busting stance as long as it had a patina of legality to it.

The propaganda keeps misfiring, too. They keep talking about “union strongarm thugs” and “aging hippies,” and the “thugs and hippies” that showed up on television were teachers, police, firefighters and students. A lot of them are conservatives—the police and firefighters unions actually endorsed Walker in the 2010 election. Lurid statementsthat teachers had insanely high salaries (one claim was that they got “as much as” $140K a year was rapidly dropped when it came to light that only school administrators—who are non-union—were paid that) and “Cadillac” fringe benefits – retirement, sick pay, health care, the stuff most civilized countries have for workers, put teachers above the hoi polloi.

That hoi polloi, tired of being warred upon by the GOP and thoroughly disgusted by the fact that billionaires were spending millions to try and convince them that they made too much money and had it too easy, only started talking about a general worker's union that would look out for the rights of ALL workers, and started talking about what they could do to smash the power of the billionaires and the corporations.

This wasn't what the GOP had in mind. Not at all.

Part of the problem iss that the fascists severely underestimate the deep mistrust of working-class Americans, that group that few newspapers in the country and no cable news station ever dare to mention. They've watched corporate profits soar, even as the economy nearly collapses, and they've seen the GOP response, which is to subsidize the rich whilst taking away the few remaining things the workers had—such as unions.

Faux News ran a poll two weeks ago that probably had some disappointing news for them. They asked registered voters, "In general, do you think unions are still necessary to protect workers or are unions unnecessary these days?" Sixty percent of voters felt they were necessary, and only 36% felt they weren't. Faux did have the support of Republican voters, but by a much smaller margin than they are used to: 41% of Republicans felt unions were necessary, and 55% thought they weren't. Outside the GOP, union support ran 3-1.

When it came to public worker unions and collective bargaining, the results were even more unambiguous: 69% solidly supported the rights of unions to collectively bargain on behalf of public employees, That one wasn't broken down by party affiliation, but it's not hard to guess at the overall picture: GOP against the rest of the country, and deep divides within the GOP.

Finally, an ABC poll from early March showed 81% of Americans supported the right of workers to unionize and collectively bargain.

That comes after years of escalating anti-union propaganda and hysteria. Remember the video of the strapping young guy supposedly put in a wheelchair by a “union thug” who was 69, walked with a cane, and was knocked down by somebody, perhaps his “victim”?

The GOP depends far too much on propaganda over substance – and since the substance usually works against the best interests of the average voter, that's somewhat understandable. But what is a bit less easy to explain is how the GOP came to believe that propaganda. The propaganda was designed to persuade morons, and when it persuades party leaders instead, what does that say about the intelligence of those leaders?

The GOP persuaded themselves that it was a good idea to attack unions. They subsequently found themselves attacking cops, firefighters and teachers. It takes sublime stupidity and profound dishonesty to pretend these people are “aging hippies” or that they are a rich elite sneering at society.

In attacking the teachers, they attack the schools, and a lot of voters are parents. Most of them help their kids with homework, are aware of the course work, and can pretty much figure out for themselves if their kids are getting a decent education or not. And they don't like the assumption that the schools are turning their kids into morons. Not when the “morons” are up until 10 at night coping with the homework load.

In fact, an AP poll from December (December 14: AP-Stanford University Education Poll at http://surveys.ap.org/ showed that by a fairly large percentage of voters thought well, not only of the teachers, but the schools in general. A large percentage (68) felt that parents were more responsible for school performance than teachers, and in a breakdown that has to be particularly disturbing to the GOP, the percentage of conservatives who felt that way was even higher – 73%. A majority expressed frustration that it wasn't easier to get rid of bad teachers, but didn't feel that there were significant problems in the number of bad teachers.

So the recall will proceed, the GOP will fall in Wisconsin, and the media will try to pretend it's a one-off, except for Faux, who will claim ACORN stole the election. They will try to prove that Charlie Sheen is secretly funding ACORN, and the GOP will roll along, having no idea why they are doing so poorly in the polls, or why voters don't trust them.

They still believe their own propaganda, you see. And you know that that makes them.

Posted: April 2, 2011

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