The next millenium doesn’t have to begin in darkness. However, recent articles in alternative media sources like The Nation suggest that a highly reactionary era in U.S. politics could be just around the corner. This is seen by examining policies of the only three candidates for President the mainstream media is covering, Bill Bradley (D), Al Gore (D), and George Bush, Jr. (R).
Stephen Gillers (The Nation, 7/26-8/2, 1999) tells us that the early forecast makes Republicans look like winners both in capturing the White House in 2000 and in maintaining control over Congress. If this weren’t bad enough, it is likely that the next President will choose three Supreme Court Justices. William Rehnquist (77), John Paul Stevens (81) and Sandra Day O’Connor (71) are each thought to be near retirement.
That means the Republicans have a great opportunity to control the three branches of our government shortly. A reversal of Roe vs. Wade will be high on such a new Supreme Court’s hit list. Other laws, such as those that guarantee the rights of workers to organize and the mandated 40-hour workweek could be attacked as well. Laws that forbid single corporate entities from owning too many media outlets (e.g., radio stations, TV stations, etc.) in a given area will probably also be weakened and removed, which will likely make the electorate even less informed.
New laws will come that will ensure that the U.S. continues to incarcerate more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. The number of people who are executed each year will accelerate. The growing (and badly needed) movement for some kind of sane gun control in this country could be stopped dead in its tracks. (Bush supports legislative efforts at limiting the rights of public citizens to sue gun manufacturers.) The GOP will also feel free to enact vicious legislation to increase economic inequality, already at a dangerous level.
Bush and Gore each favor radical changes to our public education system. (Bradley is keeping mute on the topic.)
Bush supports allowing prayer in school, “charitable choice,” and school vouchers. These are each positions advocated by the Christian Coalition.
Gore supports charitable choice as well. (Charitable choice is where religious institutions are given public money to provide services for people in need.
Critics note that it is unnecessary to remove the government and install religious institutions into that role.
Vouchers are the system where money is presumably given to every parent to spend on the school of their choice. Progressives believe that in practice such a system would quickly evolve to where the schools and not the parents decide which school children can attend. This will likely make them more ethnically segregated and unequal in terms of spending per pupil.)
In short, Bush and Gore both want to gut the First Amendment, a key part of which supports the idea that government should neither help nor hinder religion. Bush is a maniac on the subject, but Gore is not much better.
In addition, by supporting “state’s rights,” the Supreme Court will also likely pursue a new strategy critics say curtails the rights of U.S. citizens. In recent decisions the Court has ruled in favor of civil rights being administered at the state and not federal level. Progressive critics fear that if this path is followed to its logical conclusion, it will be up to the individual states to affirm whether the Bill of Rights is applicable to its citizenry. For example, Kansas may decide that free speech is not guaranteed to its temporary residents.
Almost certainly, the next President will continue the string of wanton, military cruelty that Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton have supported.
Our current and every living ex-President have shed substantial blood. As I mentioned last month in an article for MediaWise that appeared on the Net, Clinton killed 2,000 civilians in his bombing “war” over Serbia before accepting a peace deal he could have had prior to NATO’s first dropped bomb.
He also has continued severe, punitive economic sanctions that his positively mad predecessor imposed on the civilians of Iraq, with about a million dead there so far from starvation. Clinton also committed state-sponsored terrorism when he attacked Sudan and Afghanistan. Finally, he attacked Iraq many times, with the last major strike on the pretext that they were not complying with UNSCOM.
A recent article in Extra! (March/ April 1999) discussed how a Washington Post writer admitted that the Post had knowledge prior to the bombing that UNSCOM was spying on Iraq, exactly as Saddam Hussein was claiming, but they delayed publication of it so as not to interfere with the military action.
Despite all this, honest historians largely consider Clinton to be the least violent of the living group of presidents mentioned above.
There is no reason to believe that George Junior won’t be as unbelievably cruel with the U.S. military as his father was.
Bill Bradley never says anything publicly regarding whether he supports military excursions. He had no opinions about Clinton’s bombing campaign, just as he had no opinions about Vietnam decades earlier.
Gore is a well-known military hawk who actually fought in Vietnam. At the first sign of a drop in polls President Gore will certainly find some country to drop bombs over before diplomacy can be conducting as his three predecessors have done.
With three potential Presidents willing to lay down and bark for the Pentagon we will likely see a substantial increase in military spending.
Presently we spend about a shade or two below $300 billion a year. Every essential service our government provides will likely be under attack so that the Sacred Cow gets more funding.
In conclusion, I believe we should all try to become better informed and vocal in opposing the complete take-over of our government to the forces of reaction. There cannot be too much difference in mentality between the Republicans poised to take over our government and the Romans who were in charge when their Empire fell.