We saw, supposedly, a budget cutting smack-down in the 2010 midterms. The talking heads and deficit hawks have said repeatedly that the heavy Democratic losses were a rejection of heavy spending, a repudiation of the Obama Administration’s “weak” job-creation, and a massive dose of humble pie. We were told that the biggest threats to our nation were government spending and government debt. The Tea Party, we were promised, had the solutions.
It was 234 years ago that the Jefferson-penned Declaration of Independence was signed by 57 men from the 13 crown colonies of North America. First and foremost, the signing was an act of treason against the Crown and, during the time of Manifest Destiny, and act of sacrilege. While Jefferson and the founders are often acknowledged for their bravery, it was the meticulous legal craftsmanship of the Declaration that proclaimed the credibility of a nation. This move was not a hectic power-grab, nor was it politics run amok. Thomas Jefferson took great care in explaining the case for separation from England.
Lexington, Concord, Patrick Henry, George Washington, and John Hancosk’s extra-large signature (so the King would be sure to read it); these are icons of our nation. Our heroes, including their actions and documents, are part of the shared treasure that is America’s heritage. And yet, in today’s politics, there is a movement that proposes to co-opt that history for its own purposes. From Glenn Beck mindlessly dressing up as Thomas Paine, to countless YouTube videos, to rallies dominated by muskets and tri-corner hats,to Rick Barber’s unhinged campaign ad, the Tea Party and its adherents are turning our history into a campaign slogan.
The pundits certainly are in overdrive, and proving every day that speed does in fact kill. The ultimate target of this theme, a theme being driven through financial reporters who got F’s in their ECON 101 courses, is the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. Never mind the brief use of Medicare as a tool for the right in its fight against health care reform. That was then, this is now. Privatizing the two pillars of the U.S. retirement system would drive $2 trillion or more annually, into the hands of Wall Street investment concerns.