Two Election Comments — Bear With Me
Some years back, a peace-minded friend of ours wanted to bring some Truth In Recruiting materials to the main public high school in her western North Carolina County — where military recruiters had free run of the place. Local officials fought her every inch of the way. So she finally turned to the ACLU.
The NC ACLU staff lawyer then was a very smart, genial, friendly, but “git ‘er done” pro, and after genially threatening a court fight, she negotiated a deal which got our friend and Sgt. Abe into the school there.
The deal made it into the local paper, and I looked up the article online. In a long comments section under it, the invective aimed at the ACLU seemed endless. “Communists,” “perverts,” and “the criminal’s best friend” were the milder epithets, in endless variations. I admit, I was taken aback at the depth of the hostility. But I’m not from around here.
I understand a little better now: the ACLU has been demonized by the right, religious and secular, ever since the prayer-in-schools case, back in1962; that’s now 54 years of propaganda conditioning to make the name political poison. And this hatred goes to the heart of that constituency.
For instance, in 2005 an entire book, The ACLU vs. America was published, to great acclaim on the right. Its lead author was one Alan Sears.
Brother Sears is no mere conservative scribbler, shoveling oppo research between covers. Oh no; in fact, he’s the boss of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a pillar of the religious right, and its answer to the ACLU. Parallels between ADF’s operation and the ACLU modus operandi are many (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, etc.), and won’t detain us. But ADF concerns us here because it is the brains and legal muscle behind that pillar of Carolina conservative lawmaking, the notorious Bathroom Bill HB2.
Now, here in Carolina we currently have a redhot race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Richard Burr, a faceless Republican known mostly for saying little, collecting big bucks from coal companies, and being the best friend & defender of torture in the U.S. Senate.
Burr’s challenger is former state Senator Deborah Ross. A year ago, when she announced, few gave the little-known Ross much of a chance against Burr.
But that was before Donald Trump turned the state into a purple battleground, and before the federal courts threw out most of the vote suppression tools the right-wing legislature had enacted to hold down Democratic voting. Now the polls are very close, and Burr’s attack ads are getting down & dirty.
How down & dirty? Just a couple days ago, the senator unveiled a saturation attack ad against Ross that uses three magic, time-tested, silver bullet Democrat-destroying elements: “pro-sex offenders” and — wait for it — “ACLU.”
But there’s more: in the background, an ominous dark-skinned male visage.
For the GOP & further right base in NC, any of these is a killer; the combo adds up to a go-for-broke, multi-pronged assault. And the ACLU thing, at least, is true, Ross did work there, from the mid-’90s til 2002 when she ran for the legislature.
That’s fine with me — hey, I’m a proud ACLU contributor/member, wanna make something of it? But this is still North Carolina . . . .
Yet Ross was ready, hitting back hours later with an ad featuring the retired state senator who wrote the sex offender bill. Ross’s ad calls Burr a liar, insists she supported and voted repeatedly for the sex offender registry.
So Burr’s ad is full of lies But let’s be real: if a politician is even in the same room with the phrase “sex offenders,” unless it’s to make life even harder for them, they’re losing ground.
Sex, racism, rape and the ACLU. Can Deborah Ross’s campaign withstand such an all-out assault? I won’t kid you: these are the kind of ads that elected the late legendary bigot Jesse Helms to the Senate here five times.
Have things changed much since then? Well, Barack Obama carried the state in 2008; but by 2012 the state was under solidly rightwing Republican control. So your guess is as good as mine.
I don’t know who’s going to be the new president come November 9. But I do know who’s going to win that election.
Who is that?
It’s war. WAR is going to win the election.
How do I know that? Because war always wins. At least in my political lifetime. (That began, by the way, with my hearing a presidential candidate tell the nation that he was not about to send American “boys” across the ocean to do in Vietnam what the Vietnamese should do for themselves. That was in the fall of 1964, and I shouted, “Hell, yeah!” and cast my first vote, alongside a landslide’s worth of others, for that same candidate. He took office, and a year later — well, if you don’t remember, look it up.)
Consider this statement by President Obama: The particular new wars we’ll be dragged into after this year’s vote could vary between the two major candidates. One seems like more of a loose cannon, who may end up “bombing the hell out of” and invading some country before he even knew where to find it on the map. But he has also insisted clearly enough that he’d lead a huge new military buildup.
The other candidate seems more organized, but is hand in glove with the hawkish “national security establishment” which is very attached to the notion of “global responsibilities that demand our leadership,” as Obama put it, and which has brought us permanent wars across much of the world, wars that are largely ignored by a compliant mass media, and even more by a distracted, oblivious public.
This is not to mention that a whole gaggle of the Neo-cons who brought us the Iraq debacle (and torture) have been scurrying into her outer offices, jockeying to find places in that new regime. And they too have lots of new wars up their well-tailored, typically chickenhawk sleeves.
There are many important differences between these two major candidates, and I know my overall preference. But when it comes to the war machine, what president Eisenhower called the “Military Industrial Complex” but which has ballooned into more of a Military-Industrial-Political-Academic-Religious-Scientific-Think-Tank-Mass-Media-Entertainment Complex, I admit: I’m flummoxed. Considering the race from the angle of war, one candidate leaves me lying awake at night, while the other gives me insomnia.
(The MIPARSTTMMEC ? It’s more accurate, but I’m sticking with MIC, or my head will explode.)
Further, whichever one moves into the White House next January, I have no idea what their warmaking will be met with beyond a distracted public compliance.
While there are still “peace groups” here and there, doing their work at the margins, what used to be called the “peace movement,” which filled the streets with hundreds of thousands, adding the momentum of people power to others’ work, disappeared — not with a bang but a whimper — almost ten years ago. Is it now a quaint social antique, like the Blackberry or granny glasses?
See? Like I said, I know who’s going to win this election. In fact, the beast is essentially running unchallenged.
But if there’s a sure winner, there will also likely be a whole lot of losers, including thee, me, and our descendants.
Have a nice day. And pass it on.