Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bush is a Tyrant: Race, Power and Social Security

From grannyhelen

Definition: Tyr"ant, n. originally, an absolute sovereign, but afterwards, a severe or cruel ruler.

1. An absolute ruler; a sovereign unrestrained by law or constitution; a usurper of sovereignty.

Note: Free governments [in Greece] having superseded the old hereditary sovereignties (basilei^ai), all who obtained absolute power in a state were called tyrannoi, tyrants, or rather despots; -- for the term rather regards the irregular way in which the power was    gained, whether force or fraud, than the way in which it was exercised, being applied to the mild Pisistratus, but not to the despotic kings of Persia. However, the word soon came to imply reproach, and was then used like our tyrant. --Liddell & Scott.

---Webster's 1913 Dictionary


After reading the definition of "tyrant", I have to conclude: that moniker fits President Bush to a tee.

I don't have to reiterate for the liberal blogosphere the history of Bush the Younger, and the irregular way in which his power was gained, either through force or fraud. I don't have to remind folks here of the disdain our President has for the equal separation of powers, encapsulated in Justice Department lawyer John Yoo's memo arguing that, "there are effectively "no limits" on the president's authority to wage war", and "the President's broad constitutional power to use military force to defend the nation, recognized by the Joint Resolution itself, would allow the President to whatever actions he deems appropriate to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters."

We're all too familiar with the President that we have.

My point in writing tonight is to alert people to what I feel is an insidious attempt by the President to maintain his power: a policy of using race and sexual orientation to divide Americans against each other, so that the President's over-reaching foreign policy aspirations can be realized unchecked by public opinion.

Dividing the populace as a means of consolidating power is certainly nothing new to tyrants: indeed, it has been used very effectively since time immemorial as a means of keeping the populace occupied in fighting each other so that their outrage against the State is deflected against their neighbor.

Bush's strategy for achieving this end is two-fold: insert the issue of race into the social security debate, and maintain the drumbeat against gays and lesbians being accepted into our larger culture.

Let's start with his social security strategy. My understanding of what Bush is attempting to do in his privatization scheme is have pools of social security money allocated to racial category, and possibly by gender. What this means is, if more white people reach retirement age than African Americans, for instance, and the total pool of allocated monies are constant for each racial category, African Americans will receive a larger per capita amount of social security payments as there will be less of them accessing the allocated amount.

Why would a self-identified conservative do this? This thought process goes against the entire philosophy of Conservativism, as a good number of conservative commentators have pointed out. What is the ultimate goal of suddenly looking at the world through the lens of race in this one area?

First, what it does is send a message to poor, working and middle-class African Americans who would be receiving these increased payments that Bush likes them. This is important for Bush to do: African Americans as a whole have been his sharpest critics, and as any good tyrant knows, you can't leave a large vocal minority completely disenfranchised. That would start to erode your power base. So, what he's doing is throwing them some crumbs of government largess in a benevolent gesture that indicates, "Hey, I feel your pain". The goal here is to soften criticism of his policies by the African American community as a whole.

But doesn't that erode support among his poor, working and middle-class whites? Good question. The answer is: no. Bush is playing off of the long-standing racial tension between whites and African Americans, which gets increasingly exacerbated the further down the economic ladder you travel. This racial tension - again, thinking like a tyrant - will deflect the blame for the leader's racially favored policies away from him and back on the beneficiaries of these policies: African Americans. What Bush's race-based social security benefit disbursement will actually do is inflame racial tensions between whites and African Americans, so that whites will start blaming African Americans - and not Bush himself - for the relatively lower amount of money they would be receiving in social security payments. This racial hatred pushes white Americans further to the right of the political spectrum, and safely into Bush's political column.

Nice, huh?

Where to gays fit into this whole thing? Remember the phrase once uttered in the segregated South? I may be poor, but at least I'm not a N-----? Gays are the new N-----s in Bush's racial politics. His policies, highlighted recently by the Secretary of Education's request to get government money back from a WGBH children's show episode featuring a lesbian couple as normal parents, if carried through will have the chilling effect of pushing gays to the bottom of the social ladder, to be despised by everyone, especially those who lose biggest in his Brave New America.

Frame for the day: tolerance is good; intolerance is bad.  Tolerance defeats tyranny. Always.

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