This was a battle that was often lost for a time in the 60s and 70s by the upper classes. Enough was getting through to the public despite the built-in media biases that have always existed. Fifty years of increased corporate influence and mega-money individual oligarchic interests have gobbled up the overwhelming number of outlets and have exercised much better control over the information much of the public receives.
Oligarchy: a Symptom of a Poorly Regulated Economy
Elton Musk’s recent savaging of Twitter is but one example of how these corporate and oligarchy-level individual interests have been able to shape mass media biases. Without such dominance, we may not have seen the rise of the fascist movement, which is aided and abetted by the mass media’s biases and their refusal to identify the Republican Party’s descent into fascism and help warn the nation.
So, the Republican fascists get the cover of 24/7 access to media which is reported as if it is still part of the now defunct two party system which allegedly gets equal media access to differing points of view. This reality has had devastating consequences in the struggle against fascism. While the Democratic Party is able to some degree to get a different message out to the public during elections, the rest of the year media returns to their “normal” biases.
It is with this perspective that this year’s mid-term election results should be evaluated. Republican friendly biased media will soon return. Along with the fascist Republican message, which will be broadcast to many millions of Americans. I also think that we should not get too comfortable regarding the current levels of Democratic Party messaging abilities as well as also seeing the inherent weakness as well as strengths in the message itself.
Changing Both the Messaging System and the Message
The most important changes to improve Democratic messaging are twofold: 1 — The need for a national messaging system far beyond the current reach of MSNBC, which is fine for the more politically progressive among us, but just does not reach many of the people that need to be reached. Something you cannot rely on the national media to accomplish. Local media, as well as national should also be considered as far as changes and expansions of outreach are concerned, as well as radio. Local Republican hate radio has been reaching and persuading millions daily for years, something we don’t have much of on the progressive side.
This is about the time when some readers will exclaim, “It’s impossible to talk to the MAGAs anyway!” First of all, I have not found this to be true in many instances and that the current problems with MAGA vulnerabilities are the long-term result of having a non-existent national messaging system. This led to losing large segments of the white working class after the days of passing Civil Rights legislation and practically handing them over to the Republicans. That marked the beginning of faulty perceptions in the white working class that the Republicans were the party for whites and the Democratic Party the one for blacks. I’m not suggesting this was deliberate on the part of the latter, but absent an overall pro-working-class message that linked black and white progressive policies as complimentary, this was bound to happen given our racist history and current racial divisions.
There were also times that the Democratic Party itself justified endorsing cuts in social spending, anti-socialist rhetoric, and promoted Republic themes like Bill Clinton’s “ending welfare as we know it” pandering along with making poor people work for their paltry welfare benefits and trying to outdo the Republicans at being tough on crime.
2 — The current message itself does not focus on the actual causes of many of our woes, which is the very poorly regulated financial system itself. Take for example the billions if not trillions being pumped into controlling the media. Where does that money come from, including the mega-dollars which make oligarchs like Musk so powerful? The gradual shift of tax burdens has gone from 90% after WWII to 35% today for wealthy interests, which when all sorts of business allowances and deductions are taken, often winds up with some of the wealthiest enterprises paying little to no taxes.
A careful examination of the military budgets over this time also shows that the majority of it does not go to national defensive projects but to neo-imperial ones, the best example being the holy war against communism in Asia and Vietnam. Thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese died as a result of that war, and many on both sides still die today from cancers, drug addiction, PTSD, suicides, and mines still in the ground in Vietnam. With many companies getting rich by supplying the military hardware and chemical warfare materials used there. Rivaling the cost of the military industrial complex is the massive American Criminal Justice System which houses the world’s greatest number of prisoners, which can be tied directly to the concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands.
It must be remembered that what’s an operational goal in a capitalist system dominated by Wall Street values is its own maximized profitability, not social progress or a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth that labor, both white and blue collar, produces. Only class-based regulation can temper capitalism’s destructive tendencies.
Internal business practices are also poorly regulated and result in mammoth injustices and dishonesty. Congress itself has been gentrified over the years, and the unions greatly diminished by corporations relying on cheaper overseas materials sources and labor. Economic inequality based on race has been mostly untouched historically, and even that has not satisfied the Republicans, who are intent on further dividing Americans based on race anyway they can. All these problems, and I could mention many more, come from politics and policies promoted and financed by our badly regulated socially irresponsible capitalist system, which then institutionalizes their practices into the “accepted” political vocabulary, mostly favoring Republicans and the wealthy.
Recognizing Who is Financing Fascism and Why
Now I’m not naive enough to think that the Democratic Party can be changed into a socially committed reform party overnight. But the fact that the Republicans have morphed into a fascist party, declared war on the Democrats and largely scuttled the two-party arrangement changes the political equation dramatically. We cannot go back to the days of bipartisanship, which in any case only managed to cement the poorly regulated aspects of business and Wall Street further into law after the war. The Republicans have even managed to escape the labels that belong rightfully more to them and placed them upon the Democrats in the eyes of a significant number of Americans. That has not changed simply because the Democratic Party did relatively well in the mid-terms.
Does it make sense to blindly support the capitalist system as it currently exists and behaves? This is, after all, the source of most funding for the fascist movement. One which has arisen not for the reasons, for example, that it developed in places like Nazi Germany, but because the movement which birthed the labor struggles and victories of the 1930s in America has been badly weakened along with the concept of labor as a liberating power for the American labor force. The estimated numbers of unionized workers dropped from about 37% after WWII to as little as 15% today, most in industry and transportation.
Bottom line is that major economic trends have weakened both the new post-war working middle classes and sent millions of people of color back into the poverty after their more recent entries into the unionized work force. Visit cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York and many more and you will see the results and changes. De-industrialization/gentrification has been promoted as “progress”, but this is far from being true. This dramatic labor weakening has made the Republican fascists bold and reckless and to go for the jugular in terms of the workforce. Few MAGA supporters realize what their fate will be under fascism. Nor is there presently a way to inform them.
Millions of Americans face poverty and homelessness because of rapidly increasing rents, cost of living increases and the shortage of living wage jobs. That is the side of America in 2022 that few in politics want to talk about. It cries out for changes in the Democratic Party’s messaging and policy and mostly unconditional support for the present capitalist order.
Comments are welcome, including from those that disagree with me.