19 March, 2015

Counterfeit Patriots


The originator of the scurrilous letter signed by 47 faithless Neoconfederate senators is Tom Cotton. He is a war-monger of long standing, but unlike so many of his ilk, he has faced hostile fire.  Combat experience does not make his incendiary letter correct or proper. It merely reflects how little he learned from even the crucible of combat.

Mr. Cotton is not as woefully uneducated as this egregious letter makes him appear. He went to Harvard and graduated from its law school. Whatever he learned, however, he did not learn of the separation of powers, the history of the Senate, or the more than two centuries of U S foreign policy.  The problem with Cotton and his ilk, however, goes far deeper than a simple lack of knowledge or understanding. What he and his collaborators do not know pales in comparison to what they know that is fundamentally untrue.  The infamous letter is a toxic brew of ignorance, arrogance, and treachery that has been steeping in the feverish depths of Republican brains for almost 50 years.

Republicans’ claims of patriotism are not the sheer fabrications it is easy to conclude they are. Republicans are patriotic; in fact, Republicans are chauvinistic. Their patriotism is fatally flawed nonetheless because it pertains to the Confederate States of America.   When one considers, the frequent chants and demands regarding the drive to Take our country back" the misdirection of the patriotism is obvious.  The unspoken truth is that they want to take America back to the nineteenth century, circa 1857, or perhaps, prior to 1787.  Those who call themselves conservatives today are the latest in a long line of pseudo-patriots who would more accurately labeled: Confederates.

In the origins of the country, thirteen independent states – nations – formed an alliance to fight a war against the British Empire. They were separate and not united and beyond this military alliance they fundamentally remained independent.  “The purpose of the Articles of Confederation was to create a confederation of states whereby each state retained "its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right . . . not expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled." In effect, what passed as the “national government” was more similar to the United Nations Security Council of our time than any recognizable national government. The main difference was the each of the thirteen states could veto any amendment to the Articles and nine out of thirteen states had to agree to pass any law whatsoever.

The advantage of this arrangement is hard to discern if one is seeking to implement effective governance. When one recognizes that the intent of the Articles was to preserve the rule of the dominant factions in the respective states, however, the utility of the Articles become apparent. The authors of the Federalist Papers warned us all about the dangers of faction as did President Washington.

In Federalist #10, James Madison argues that faction forming is natural behavior for people. Whether the faction is a majority or minority, however, the goals they pursue may be detrimental to the good of other factions or society as a whole. Differences in political ideology and religious views can break people into factions, but for Madison suggests the most common cause of faction formation is, the uneven accumulation of property. The Father of the Constitution seems especially prescient when one considers the uneven distribution of wealth in 21st century America.

As Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont relates: “At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, the Republicans apparently believe that the richest people in America need to be made even richer. It is apparently not good enough that 99 percent of all new income today is going to the top 1 percent. That’s apparently not enough. It is not good enough that the top one-tenth of one percent today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” If as Madison truly said, “uneven accumulation of property” stimulates the formation of factions, this utter derangement of the United States economy turbo-charges the factionalization of American politics in the 21st century.  Lest any contends that Senator Sanders description of the House budget is inaccurate. Consider the New York Times: “Overall, at least two-thirds of the $5 trillion in cuts over 10 years would come from programs that focus on low- and modest-income Americans, even though such programs account for less than one-fourth of all federal program costs.” The explicit intent of this budget is to deprive ordinary Americans of any beneficial government programs in order to enrich those few who are already exorbitantly wealthy. Plundering the many to enrich the few is the essence of factional depredations in oligarchic form.

We do not need to rely solely on Madison to conclude that factions are dangerous because the Father of our Country also warned all Americans.  “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” The frightful despotism Washington decries is the desideratum for Neoconfederates who believe the true freedom requires the oppression of others they deem unworthy.

Furthermore, both Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln denounced the lust to rule and the corrupting power of inequality. Jefferson believed differences of political sentiment give rise to different political parties. These parties resolve themselves into two basic types: an authoritarian (or monarchist, tory, etc.) party that favors ruling and seeks to dominate and control the people. And a representative (or republican, liberal, etc.) party that favors governance controlled by and for the people. The electorate of any nation ultimately chooses a path that carved out by one or the other of these parties. In a letter to John Dickenson, Jefferson declared: "The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one people.” Thus, Jefferson too recognized the detrimental effect of factionalism and the efforts of some to rule rather than govern.

Lincoln rejected what he called the mudsill theory and proposed: “that labor is prior to and independent of, capital; that, in fact, capital is the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed–that labor can exist without capital, but that capital could never have existed without labor. Hence, they hold that labor is the superior–greatly the superior of capital.” On this basis, he was an opponent of ingrained and rigid inequality. As to those who believe their freedom is only real if they can oppress others, Lincoln was succinct:  “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.”

The demonstrated factional nature of American politics extends beyond budgetary matters. It is this spillover that propelled the treachery led by Senator Cotton and forty-six other Neoconfederate Senators. From the Neoconfederate perspective, ordinary citizens exist to fight wars for resources and labor at subsistence wages in the enterprises of the Robber Barons. Thus, diplomacy and the possible peaceful resolution of international issues is anathema to Neoconfederates. They need looming threats to incite fear and smooth the way for wasteful spending on weaponry. They want enemies to present as bogeymen to stifle dissent and inflame jingoistic hostility toward the threat du jour.

The fact that the Neoconfederate treachery ignored two centuries of precedent and threatened the ability of every future American President to negotiate with other nations, just confirms their complete factionalism. They recklessly placed the interests of their faction above the good of the general citizenry and the Constitutional Republic they are sworn to defend, serve, and advance.
Decades ago partisan politics i. e. factionalism was said to “stop at the water’s edge.” In theory, the United States had a unified foreign policy that was American and neither Republican nor Democratic. This precept like all others which stitched the social fabric together has been rent asunder by Neoconfederate factional fanaticism.

The treachery also exposed the deceptive nature of the talismanic reference to the Constitution by these false patriots. Under the Constitution, which all Congress Members swear an oath of “true faith and allegiance. The president or his designated representative, such as the Secretary of State has the exclusive authority to communicate with other nations, recognize foreign governments, receive ambassadors, and make executive agreements. Over the two and one-quarter centuries of the American Republic, the other branches of the national government have routinely deferred to the Executive branch and the President in the conduct of foreign relations. The purpose of this difference is largely to enable a single person to represent and speak for the nation in dealings with other nations on the world stage.

Vice-President Biden characterized the treacherous action of the forty-seven Neoconfederates best when he said: "I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country -- much less a longtime foreign adversary -- that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them. This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments -- a message that is as false as it is dangerous."

The CAP Action War Room continued in a similar vein by observing: “Senate Republicans’ letter attempting to sabotage the Obama administration’s sensitive negotiations with Iran is a triumph of partisanship over patriotism. America’s influence depends on America’s ability to honor its commitments. Attempting to derail these commitments for political ends is not only an embarrassment, it is a strategy to weaken America’s leading role in the international community.”

While largely accurate, this statement misses the truly seditious nature of the 21st century Republican Party. They are faux patriots at best as far as the American constitution goes. They are the latest rendition of the internal enemy that has haunted American politics since its inception. In the earliest days, these enemies of the state were called anti-federalists, but they are as mentioned earlier actually Confederates. They are as old as the country they have relentlessly sought to undermine. The only variation has been in the blatancy of their efforts. Now, they are feeling increasing confidence, and they are becoming increasingly brazen. For the sake of all true patriots hold dear, these treacherous scoundrels must be painted with indelible hues and hounded from positions of authority at the national, state, and local levels of governance.

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