in Kentucky. He and the Tea Party Movement want to return the government to the golden
years when the federal government was weak, states powerful, and corporations ruled with
unfettered authority. His rant plays on the uneasy feelings of Americans who believe our
country is in trouble, the future bleak, and our ascendancy over. Paul acts like his message
is new; but it's as old as the nation itself. Jefferson and Madison almost came to blows arguing
over a strong or limited federal government.
Paul should have lived during the early 1900's at a time called the "Gilded Age". It had
everything the Paul's and their tea baggers would love. The federal government was weak.
Business titans like Morgan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller strode over the land. The robber
barons...Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker...ruled without opposition. There was
no income tax, no unions, no Social Security, and no healthcare nor Medicare. There were no
inconvenient regulations of Wall Street, the environment, or food and drugs. People could
have a confession beaten out of them, no one was guaranteed a lawyer, and most workers
(especially women and children) were brutally exploited in unsafe factories.
It was an age of imperialism where America started wars to expand its borders, where
Jim Crow was alive and well in the South, and whole political parties rose up to vent their
anger at unwanted minorities (Micks, Waps, Pollacks, and Krauts) who were taking jobs away
from hard-working Americans. The gap between the rich and poor was dramatic with virtually
no middle class. No one talked about safety nets. There was only the cliff...and charity.
Paul's message isn't new. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, coined a term "new
federalism" to explain his Contract on America. Gingrich wanted power returned to the
states, a weaker federal government, less regulation, and more freedom for corporations
to do the whodoo/voodoo they do so well. Paul and the tea sackers are the latest in a long
line of Mr. Peabodys who want to get into the "wayback machine" and return to an era when
the average American was worse off, children were exploited, and virulent racism dominated
the land. Ah, yes, what would Paul call the "Golden Years"?
A recent Vanity Fair poll showed more Americans (29%) trust Fox News than the New
York Times (8%); and I think I know why. Americans are scared. They are worried about
their jobs, the economy, education, healthcare, terrorism, and immigration. They watch Fox
and those fears are validated. They read the New York Times and their fears are put into
context and they are told it could get worse. Fox is the "wayback machine" while the Times
is a mirror reflecting a situation which is troubling. Ironically, the Times is still towing the
corporate line and sugar-coating the message. If you read the alternative media...Mother
Jones, the Nation, ThinkProgress.org, the Progressive, CommonDreams.org...you discover
things are even worse; and it's the Pauls and Gingrichs, McConnells and Cantors, Boehners
and Liebermans who are leading the charge into the valley of death.
When Rand Paul screams to take the country back, the question to be asked is back to
what? A castrated Securities and Exchange Commission, a weak Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation, and a somnolent Federal Reserve looked the other way as Wall Street invented
and fired credit default swaps of mass destruction almost wrecking the economy. Or how
about an anemic Food and Drug Administration that allows medical device manufacturers
to test their own devices and drug makers to pay for their own quality assurance tests,
resulting in drugs which harm and devices which are found to be defective.
For years, the Transportation Department ignored complaints about Toyota; and now,
we are informed the Interior Department allowed BP to drill in the Gulf with no emergency
contingency plans. Safety devices were found to be faulty and permits to drill were based on
BP's solemn promise that accidents were not possible.
Currently, regulations are in place with the force of law. The same law that extracts a
pound of flesh from the everyday street criminal merely winks at the grand and destructive
schemes of highly placed politicians and corporations. Laws are in place to protect Americans,
but the political and corporate crooks aren't satisfied with their buddies doing the oversight
and enforcement; which in itself is shameful. In Rand Paul's world there would be no SEC,
FDIC, Federal Reserve, no FDA or Transportation Department, no Interior or Commerce or
Education Departments, and no Social Security or Medicare either. Is this really what
Americans want to go back to and embrace?
Americans want their Medicare and Social Security. They want to maintain a military
to police the world. They are outraged when a bridge collapses or an oil well leaks. They
want Wall Street to behave. They want their cars to be safe to drive and their food safe to eat.
Americans demand a lot but don't want to pay for it, in spite of paying the lowest Federal
Income Tax rate since 1951. The richest 1% have seen their taxes reduced over 50% since 1960.
Corporate taxes and capital gains taxes have been slashed. With less tax revenue and
Americans demanding more, the deficits which follow can't be a surprise.
My question is what do Paul and his tea cozies intend to take us back to? It's a nice
sounding slogan, but returning to the year 1900 is not an option. Our nation has progressed
dramatically over the last fifty years and government played a role in that progress. If you
look at the savings and loan debacle, Wall Street meltdown, Gulf oil spill, California energy
crisis, your cable TV bill, and the rise of Hanbaugh and the gang; it all came about due to
de-regulation and a weak federal government. Meanwhile, Mr. Paul and his fellow teatravelers
have nothing to say about a government which can tap your phone, read your email, and spy
on you online without a warrant. They are silent when it's announced our government can kill
American citizens without due process.
In a world where the Fourth Amendment is gutted and your privacy non-existent, the
Paul's are mute. The Paul's have nothing to suggest about reining in a government which tracks
your cell phone and now wants to be able to hold you in prison longer without letting you
appear in front of a judge to defend yourself. Your Miranda rights? Smoke and mirrors. Nada!
The next time you hear someone scream they want to "Take the Country Back"; why don't
you ask..."to what?". What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please
send them to firstname.lastname@example.org