Race – excerpts

Updated 3/18/17      see also Culture Wars-Race

The Spirit That Drove Us to Civil War Is Back by Andy Schmookler, Huffington Post, 09/02/2014  Excerpt – …the force that drove us to Civil War more than a century and a half ago, and the force that has taken over the Republican Party in our times…In both cases, we see an elite insisting on their “liberty,” by which they mean the freedom to dominate… the use of the structures of American democracy was combined with a contempt for the democratic values that inspired our founders… the idea of compromise became a dirty word, as the inflamed insistence on getting everything one’s own way took hold of the inflamed side…the powerful elite in the grip of that destructive force refused to accept that in a democracy sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes you have to accept being governed by a duly-elected president you don’t like. Today’s Republicans have done everything they could to nullify the presidency of Barack Obama, whom the American people duly elected twice. Like no other opposition party in American history, they have refused to accept the temporary minority status to which American voters have consigned them. Blocking the president from performing the function for which the people hired him has been their top priority.

We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People  by Bill Moyers, TomDispatch, September 12, 2016 commondreams.orgExcerpt and highlighting by Phyllis Stenerson, curator of ProgressiveValues.org 9/23/16 Full text Excerpt – They [citizens] simply couldn’t see beyond their own prerogatives.  Fiercely loyal to their families, their clubs, their charities, and their congregations — fiercely loyal, that is, to their own kind — they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. … this is the oldest story in our country’s history: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a metaphysical reality — one nation, indivisible — or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others. There is a vast difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud, a democracy in name only.  I have no doubt about what the United States of America was meant to be.  It’s spelled out right there in the 52 most revolutionary words in our founding documents, the preamble to our Constitution, proclaiming the sovereignty of the people as the moral base of government:  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”What do those words mean, if not that we are all in the business of nation-building together?….And yet, despite the flaws and contradictions of human nature — or perhaps because of them — something took hold here. The American people forged a civilization: that thin veneer of civility stretched across the passions of the human heart. Because it can snap at any moment, or slowly weaken from abuse and neglect until it fades away, civilization requires a commitment to the notion…that we are all in this together. American democracy grew a soul, as it were…President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood the soul of democracy, too.  He expressed it politically, although his words often ring like poetry.  Paradoxically, to this scion of the American aristocracy, the soul of democracy meant political equality.  “Inside the polling booth,” he said, “every American man and woman stands as the equal of every other American man and woman. There they have no superiors. There they have no masters save their own minds and consciences.” God knows it took us a long time to get there.  Every claim of political equality in our history has been met by fierce resistance from those who relished for themselves what they would deny others. So it was, in the face of constant resistance, that many heroes — sung and unsung — sacrificed, suffered, and died so that all Americans could gain an equal footing inside that voting booth on a level playing field on the ground floor of democracy.  And yet today money has become the great unequalizer, the usurper of our democratic soul. No one saw this more clearly than that conservative icon Barry Goldwater, longtime Republican senator from Arizona and one-time Republican nominee for the presidency. Here are his words from almost 30 years ago: “The fact that liberty depended on honest elections was of the utmost importance to the patriots who founded our nation and wrote the Constitution.  They knew that corruption destroyed the prime requisite of constitutional liberty: an independent legislature free from any influence other than that of the people.  Applying these principles to modern times, we can make the following conclusions: To be successful, representative government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Electors must believe that their vote counts.  Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups that speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community.” Now, I recognize that we’ve never been a country of angels guided by a presidium of saints…And yet, despite the flaws and contradictions of human nature — or perhaps because of them — something took hold here. The American people forged a civilization: that thin veneer of civility stretched across the passions of the human heart. Because it can snap at any moment, or slowly weaken from abuse and neglect until it fades away, civilization requires a commitment to the notion (contrary to what those Marshall housewives believed) that we are all in this together…

The Real Origins of the Religious Right By RANDALL BALMER, Politico.com, http://www.thechristianleft.org/ May 27, 2014    They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation. Posted on Facebook by the Christian Left, 12-9-14 with commentary: We’ve been aware of this for some time but we were recently reminded of it. The “Christian” Right was originally brewed up to defend racism parading as “Religious Freedom.” When the founders realized they couldn’t flaunt racism in the open they threw up abortion instead. They would use whatever issue was handy, and they had tried most of them before. Abortion was their golden egg and they ran with it.

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, June 28, 2012 full text  Excerpt – It’s been said that the rich are different than you and me. What most Americans don’t know is that they’re also quite different from each other, and that which faction is currently running the show ultimately makes a vast difference in the kind of country we are.

Right now, a lot of our problems stem directly from the fact that the wrong sort has finally gotten the upper hand; a particularly brutal and anti-democratic strain of American aristocrat that the other elites have mostly managed to keep away from the levers of power since the Revolution. Worse: this bunch has set a very ugly tone that’s corrupted how people with power and money behave in every corner of our culture. Here’s what happened, and how it happened, and what it means for America now.

North versus South: Two Definitions of Liberty

Michael Lind first called out the existence of this conflict in his 2006 book, Made In Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics. He argued that much of American history has been characterized by a struggle between two historical factions among the American elite — and that the election of George W. Bush was a definitive sign that the wrong side was winning.

For most of our history, American economics, culture and politics have been dominated by a New England-based Yankee aristocracy that was rooted in Puritan communitarian values, educated at the Ivies and marinated in an ethic of noblesse oblige (the conviction that those who possess wealth and power are morally bound to use it for the betterment of society). While they’ve done their share of damage to the notion of democracy in the name of profit (as all financial elites inevitably do), this group has, for the most part, tempered its predatory instincts with a code that valued mass education and human rights; held up public service as both a duty and an honor; and imbued them with the belief that once you made your nut, you had a moral duty to do something positive with it for the betterment of mankind. Your own legacy depended on this.

Among the presidents, this strain gave us both Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Poppy Bush — nerdy, wonky intellectuals who, for all their faults, at least took the business of good government seriously. Among financial elites, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet still both partake strongly of this traditional view of wealth as power to be used for good. Even if we don’t like their specific choices, the core impulse to improve the world is a good one — and one that’s been conspicuously absent in other aristocratic cultures.

Which brings us to that other great historical American nobility — the plantation aristocracy of the lowland South, which has been notable throughout its 400-year history for its utter lack of civic interest, its hostility to the very ideas of democracy and human rights, its love of hierarchy, its fear of technology and progress, its reliance on brutality and violence to maintain “order,” and its outright celebration of inequality as an order divinely ordained by God…these elites have always feared and opposed universal literacy, public schools and libraries, and a free press…perhaps the most destructive piece of the Southern elites’ worldview is the extremely anti-democratic way it defined the very idea of liberty. In Yankee Puritan culture, both liberty and authority resided mostly with the community, and not so much with individuals. Communities had both the freedom and the duty to govern themselves as they wished (through town meetings and so on), to invest in their collective good, and to favor or punish individuals whose behavior enhanced or threatened the whole (historically, through community rewards such as elevation to positions of public authority and trust; or community punishments like shaming, shunning or banishing).

Individuals were expected to balance their personal needs and desires against the greater good of the collective — and, occasionally, to make sacrifices for the betterment of everyone. (This is why the Puritan wealthy tended to dutifully pay their taxes, tithe in their churches and donate generously to create hospitals, parks and universities.) In return, the community had a solemn and inescapable moral duty to care for its sick, educate its young and provide for its needy — the kind of support that maximizes each person’s liberty to live in dignity and achieve his or her potential. A Yankee community that failed to provide such support brought shame upon itself. To this day, our progressive politics are deeply informed by this Puritan view of ordered liberty.

In the old South, on the other hand, the degree of liberty you enjoyed was a direct function of your God-given place in the social hierarchy. When a Southern conservative talks about “losing his liberty,” the loss of this absolute domination over the people and property under his control — and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws that he was once exempt from — is what he’s really talking about. In this view, freedom is a zero-sum game. Anything that gives more freedom and rights to lower-status people can’t help but put serious limits on the freedom of the upper classes to use those people as they please. It cannot be any other way. So they find Yankee-style rights expansions absolutely intolerable, to the point where they’re willing to fight and die to preserve their divine right to rule.

Once we understand the two different definitions of “liberty” at work here, a lot of other things suddenly make much more sense. We can understand the traditional Southern antipathy to education, progress, public investment, unionization, equal opportunity, and civil rights

The Civil War was, at its core, a military battle between these two elites for the soul of the country. It pitted the more communalist, democratic and industrialized Northern vision of the American future against the hierarchical, aristocratic, agrarian Southern one. Though the Union won the war, the fundamental conflict at its root still hasn’t been resolved to this day. (The current conservative culture war is the Civil War still being re-fought by other means.)…

post-war Southerners and Westerners drew their power from the new wealth provided by the defense, energy, real estate, and other economic booms in their regions. They also had a profound evangelical conviction, brought with them out of the South, that God wanted them to take America back from the Yankee liberals — a conviction that expressed itself simultaneously in both the formation of the vast post-war evangelical churches (which were major disseminators of Southern culture around the country); and in their takeover of the GOP, starting with Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964 and culminating with Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980.

They countered Yankee hegemony by building their own universities, grooming their own leaders and creating their own media. By the 1990s, they were staging the RINO hunts that drove the last Republican moderates (almost all of them Yankees, by either geography or cultural background) and the meritocratic order they represented to total extinction within the GOP. A decade later, the Tea Party became the voice of the unleashed id of the old Southern order, bringing it forward into the 21st century with its full measure of selfishness, racism, superstition, and brutality intact.

…Buttressed by the arguments of Ayn Rand — who updated the ancient slaveholder ethic for the modern age… — it has been exported to every corner of the culture, infected most of our other elite communities and killed off all but the very last vestiges of noblesse oblige…

We are withdrawing government investments in public education, libraries, infrastructure, health care, and technological innovation — in many areas, to the point where we are falling behind the standards that prevail in every other developed country.

Elites who dare to argue for increased investment in the common good, and believe that we should lay the groundwork for a better future, are regarded as not just silly and soft-headed, but also inviting underclass revolt. The Yankees thought that government’s job was to better the lot of the lower classes. The Southern aristocrats know that its real purpose is to deprive them of all possible means of rising up against their betters.

The rich are different now because the elites who spent four centuries sucking the South dry and turning it into an economic and political backwater have now vanquished the more forward-thinking, democratic Northern elites. Their attitudes towards freedom, authority, community, government, and the social contract aren’t just confined to the country clubs of the Gulf Coast; they can now be found on the ground from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Wall Street. And because of that quiet coup, the entire US is now turning into the global equivalent of a Deep South state.

As long as America runs according to the rules of Southern politics, economics and culture, we’re no longer free citizens exercising our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we’ve always understood them. Instead, we’re being treated like serfs on Massa’s plantation — and increasingly, we’re being granted our liberties only at Massa’s pleasure. Welcome to Plantation America.

Guilty of Sedition? How the Right Is Undermining Our Government’s Authority and Capability to Run the Country by Sara Robinson

Campaign for America’s Future, April 6, 2010

 Excerpt
      Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction — Brittanica Concise Dictionary

…When the indictments against the Hutaree [militia] were unsealed last week, the S-word [sedition] was right there, front and center, in Count One. The Justice Department accused them of “seditious conspiracy,” charging that the defendants “did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown…to levy war against the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law.”

This is very serious stuff. But the Hutaree are getting nailed for sedition only because they crossed the line with inches to spare. They’re by no means the only ones. Advocating, encouraging, and sanctioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side…

a wake-up call for progressives…it’s time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of US government. When they’re in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they’re out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all — indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government’s authority and capability to run the country. And it’s been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater…

“sedition,” it’s essential that we understand the strict definition of the word — and use it carefully and precisely, lest it lose all meaning…

Here’s the defining line we need to hold on to. People who promote subversive ideas, no matter how dangerous those ideas might seem, are completely protected under the First Amendment. Even calling for the overthrow of the government is protected (though not benign, as we’ll see later, because it creates justification, permission, and incitement to seditious acts). That’s why the conservatives have been safe — so far.

It’s only when those people start actively planning and implementing a government rebellion that it turns into criminal sedition….

one of the cardinal signs these experts watch and listen for is a fundamental shift in rhetoric…in the latter stage, the talk turns overtly eliminationist, and the group starts expressing its clear desire and intention to eradicate specific enemies…they’ve officially crossed the line into sedition…

These narratives are coupled with a rising us-versus-them blaming of progressives for all the problems of the country…

This seditious intent is expressed even more directly in the increasingly overt firearms displays at right-wing events…The right to carry guns in public is now an essential symbol of how the the right defines freedom.

These escalating armed demonstrations…are a clear signal that these folks …have already decided that democracy is futile, and taking up arms is the only appropriate response to the threats we now face…

within the past year…the number of right-wing militias has more than doubled to over 500…What these folks are telling us is that they no longer recognize the government’s sole franchise on the use of force; and they’re actively organizing to seize at least some of that power for themselves.

Most alarming of all: these right-wing warriors have also advanced to actual target acquisition. This should worry us, because law enforcement and terrorism experts know that when groups like this get to where they’re settling on specific targets, they’re the final stages of gearing up for violent confrontation…

the first step in stopping sedition is making sure everybody knows exactly what it is when they see it…puts the short-term needs of the Republican party ahead of the long-term viability of the American democracy they’ve sworn to uphold… They need to choose whose side they’re on: America’s, or their own. 

Full text

It’s time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of US government. 
  
      Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction — Brittanica Concise Dictionary

Well, finally. It’s high time somebody had the guts to say the S-word — sedition — right out loud.

When the indictments against the Hutaree were unsealed last week, the S-word was right there, front and center, in Count One. The Justice Department accused them of “seditious conspiracy,” charging that the defendants “did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown…to levy war against the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law.”

This is very serious stuff. But the Hutaree are getting nailed for sedition only because they crossed the line with inches to spare. They’re by no means the only ones. Advocating, encouraging, and sanctioning sedition is the new norm on the conservative side.

We saw it again last Thursday, when the Guardians of the Free Republics — a Sovereign Citizen group that believes that the oath of office taken by state governors is invalid under their twisted Bizarroland interpretation of the Constitution — sent letters to most or all sitting state governors telling them to either a) take what they consider to be a legitimate oath of office; b) stand down; or c) or be removed “non-violently” within three days. The FBI, rightly, regards this as a potentially seditious threat against the governors.

These two events are a wake-up call for progressives. They’re telling us that it’s time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of US government. When they’re in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they’re out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all — indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government’s authority and capability to run the country. And it’s been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater.

This long assault has gone into overdrive since Obama’s inauguration, as the rhetoric has ratcheted up from overheated to perfervid. We’ve reached the point where you can’t go a week without hearing some prominent right wing leader calling for outright sedition — an immediate and defiant populist uprising against some legitimate form of government authority.

Moderates and liberals are responding to this rising threat with feckless calls for “a return to civility,” as all that’s needed to put things right again is a stern talking-to from Miss Manners. Though that couldn’t hurt, the sad fact is that we’re well past the point where it’s just a matter of conservatives behaving like tantrum-throwing spoiled brats (though they are). When a mob is surrounding your house with torches and telling you they intend to burn it down, “civility” really isn’t the issue any more.

At that point — and we’re there — criminal intent and action become the real issues. Progressives need to realize that the right began defiantly dancing back and forth over the legal line, daring us to do something about it, quite some time ago. And it’s high time we called it out — and, where appropriate, start prosecuting it — for exactly what it is.

What is Sedition?
Before we start throwing around inflammatory terms like “sedition,” it’s essential that we understand the strict definition of the word — and use it carefully and precisely, lest it lose all meaning.

(That’s what happened with the word “fascism,” which has been distorted into meaninglessness by hyperbolic overuse on the left and willful redefinition on the right. Once a word is abused to death this way, it’s very hard to recapture it and restore its original meaning. And that’s no small thing, because losing the word makes it functionally impossible to even discuss the political idea the word represents. Worse: as Orwell told us, when we no longer have the language to describe what we’re dealing with, we also lose our ability to deal effectively with fascism at all. That’s a real danger with loaded words — so, please, let’s be extremely careful about how we brandish this one.)

Here’s the defining line we need to hold on to. People who promote subversive ideas, no matter how dangerous those ideas might seem, are completely protected under the First Amendment. Even calling for the overthrow of the government is protected (though not benign, as we’ll see later, because it creates justification, permission, and incitement to seditious acts). That’s why the conservatives have been safe — so far.

It’s only when those people start actively planning and implementing a government rebellion that it turns into criminal sedition. In this case: the weird rantings on the Hutaree website — not seditious. The group’s allegedly operational plans to assassinate a police officer, ambush the resulting funeral, and thus bring on a national militia uprising — absolutely seditious, if the charges stick.

This bright-line distinction, which has been part of American sedition law for the past 50 years, parallels closely the line drawn by terrorism analysts in sussing out which groups are benign and which ones are headed for trouble. As I’ve noted before, one of the cardinal signs these experts watch and listen for is a fundamental shift in rhetoric. In the early stages of dissent, groups establish the lines of conflict by obsessively focusing on their enemies and loudly denouncing their essential evilness. You hear this kind of talk in politics all the time these days. It’s always ugly, but not inherently dangerous.

But in the latter stage, the talk turns overtly eliminationist, and the group starts expressing its clear desire and intention to eradicate specific enemies. When they shift to that second stage, it’s a sign that they have mentally committed themselves to violent action, and are more likely to be actively acquiring arms, selecting targets, and getting ready to act in the near future. When a group enters this planning stage in an attack on government offices or officials, they’ve officially crossed the line into sedition.

Sedition on The Right
Openly advocating acts of sedition has become the conservatives’ main political stock in trade over the past year. (The SPLC offers a strong summary here.) You hear it everywhere from Rush to Glenn to Michelle Malkin to Michelle Bachman. Everybody on the right is now roundly convinced that the fairly-elected President of the United States isn’t even a citizen. He’s a Muslim, and thus in treasonous league with terrorists. The main goal of his administration is to turn the country over to the One World Government. He’s a socialist. He’s a fascist. All of these are direct attacks on Obama’s fundamental legitimacy and authority to lead the country — and thus a deliberate incitement to revolt against his administration.

These narratives are coupled with a rising us-versus-them blaming of progressives for all the problems of the country. These days, the screeds typically sound like free-market fundamentalists freebasing Hitler: they’re clouded over with the typical eliminationist vitriol that reduces liberals to subhuman vermin that must be violently exterminated from the body politic in order to restore the virtue of the country. (For those who groove on that sort of thing, there’s even a slight dash of anti-Semitism in the mix.) This is dangerous stuff. And in the context of the conservatives’ longstanding effort to delegitimize the government, it’s also an open invitation to sedition.

This seditious intent is expressed even more directly in the increasingly overt firearms displays at right-wing events. The media took to their fainting couches, aghast, when a small handful of people showed up packing heat at last summer’s Tea Party disruptions. Now, we’ve advanced the point where not one, but two, 100% gun-toting marches on Washington, DC are planned for this coming April 19. Their organizers are hoping the marches will draw tens of thousands of armed protestors. Get used to seeing guns in the streets wherever the law allows — because the conservatives have told their base explicitly that they need to be “exercising their rights” on this front to the fullest extent. The right to carry guns in public is now an essential symbol of how the the right defines freedom.

These escalating armed demonstrations, accompanied by belligerent sloganeering, are a clear signal that these folks are done talking — and, worse, have already decided that democracy is futile, and taking up arms is the only appropriate response to the threats we now face. They’re carrying weapons to scare us weak-kneed girly libs into submission, and to show us they mean business. Growing up in gun country, I was taught at my daddy’s knee that when someone says they’re going to shoot you, it’s always a good idea to take them at their word and handle yourself accordingly. Right now, I think that’s good advice for anybody in America who considers themselves a member of the reality-based community.

But it’s not just armed individuals. They’re also forming more and more armed groups, which are gearing up for a fight. For the past five years, armed Minutemen have been usurping the job of the US Border Patrol. And within the past year, according to the SPLC, the number of right-wing militias has more than doubled to over 500, many of which present themselves as alternative law-enforcement posses that are adjunct to the ones staffed by the county sheriffs.

What these folks are telling us is that they no longer recognize the government’s sole franchise on the use of force; and they’re actively organizing to seize at least some of that power for themselves.

Most alarming of all: these right-wing warriors have also advanced to actual target acquisition. This should worry us, because law enforcement and terrorism experts know that when groups like this get to where they’re settling on specific targets, they’re the final stages of gearing up for violent confrontation.

When Bernard Goldberg wrote a book listing the “100 people who are destroying America” — which included some government officials — he was writing a target list with seditious intent. (And at least one guy took him up on it, in his own deranged way.)

When the “spiritual warriors” of the Transformations movement proudly announce that they’ve mapped every town in America — literally creating target maps of “demonic activity” that pinpoint government offices, non-Evangelical houses of worship, clinics, theaters, Indian mounds and sites; or even just households with Muslims, neo-pagans, Goth-baby teenagers, or Obama stickers on their cars — they’re putting us on notice that they’ve identified the specific people and places that need to be “cleansed” in order to purify their communities. According to researchers Rachel Tabachnik and Bruce Wilson, these “transformation” attempts have already become government-level issues in New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, and Hawaii.

At present, they claim that they’re only mapping their neighborhoods so they can pray over us all; and their attempts to take over local government are being done by purely democratic means. But, as has often happened before (yes, the Nazis started out just this way), the day may come when they’ll decide that mere prayer and organizing is not enough. Like any street gang, they’ve taken proprietary responsibility for a piece of turf; and they believe God is holding them accountable for everything that happens there. The resulting performance pressure is a perfect setup to justify more aggressive cleansing tactics if they can’t convert the town by peaceful means.

And some of these groups have already effectively crossed the line, in spirit if not in prosecutable fact. When the Christian dominionists train up “Joel’s Army” by sending their sons to the US armed services so they can get the combat experience they’ll need to set up a worldwide theocracy, that’s evidence of an active plan to effect an armed government takeover. When senior US military officers put their commitment to Jesus ahead of their commitment to uphold the Constitution and regard the military as God’s force in the world, we should be very afraid.

For years now, we’ve dismissed all of this as crazy talk, the rantings of a loony fringe that will never get enough traction to become a material threat to our democracy. But we’re well past the point where it’s no longer quaint and funny, or an embarrassing breach of democratic etiquette that polite people should just ignore.

It’s time to confront the sobering fact that the entire right wing — including the GOP establishment, which encourages, endorses, and echoes these sentiments almost every time its officials appear in public — is now issuing nearly constant invitations to criminal sedition. They’re creating a climate and using language that emboldens the handful of sociopaths in our midst who are always spoiling for a fight. They’ve given their newly-expanded corps of flying monkeys permission to brandish their guns in public, empowered their militias, promised them glory, and are now telling them explicitly which targets to hit.

We’d be idiots not to regard this as an overt threat. Especially when they keep telling us, very explicitly, that they mean it to be. When somebody says they’re going to shoot you, believe them.

We need to start talking about this for what it is, and calling it out whenever it happens. Leonard Zeskind points out that the feds have never been able to make a sedition charge stick against a right-wing group (if the Hutaree are convicted, it’ll be a first); but the first step in stopping sedition is making sure everybody knows exactly what it is when they see it. And that means calling out the S-word every time we see the conservatives defiantly flinging their hands and feet out over that line to score a few cheap political points.

The challenge I once threw down on the conservatives still stands. Do they want a civil war? Are they out to overthrow the US government?

If this is just political grandstanding to energize the base, they’re playing with fire, and they need to bring this incendiary campaign to a screeching halt. Right now. This Mickey Mouse pussyfooting around, play-acting at sedition is criminally dangerous chickenshit politics that puts the short-term needs of the Republican party ahead of the long-term viability of the American democracy they’ve sworn to uphold. In case the party leaders haven’t noticed, their base has taken them as seriously as a heart attack — and they’re genuinely making ready for armed revolt.

On the other hand, if seditious overthrow is what they intend, let them stand up, follow through, and face the charges. They’re either Americans, committed to working in good faith within the democratic process to create our common future; or else they’re seditionists in intention or fact — and thus enemies of the state, plain and simple.

For the good of the country, we cannot continue to let them have it both ways. They need to choose whose side they’re on: America’s, or their own.

Sara Robinson is a Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, and a consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a founding member of Group News Blog.

http://www.alternet.org/story/146322/guilty_of_sedition_how_the_right_is_undermining_our_government%27s_authority_and_capability_to_run_the_country

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Movements Without Leaders — What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet by Bill McKibben, Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com, 8/18/2013  

We Can’t Give in to the Culture of Fear and Apathy — Channel Your Discontent into Positive Action by Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, August 16, 2013

Get Apocalyptic — The Case for the New Radical By Robert Jensen, YES! Magazine, Alternet.org, May 28, 2013  - Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? … Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic. We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world… A deep grief over what we are losing—and have already lost, perhaps never to be recovered—is appropriate. Instead of repressing these emotions we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively, not only for our own mental health but to increase the effectiveness of our organizing for the social justice and ecological sustainability still within our grasp. Once we’ve sorted through those reactions, we can get apocalyptic and get down to our real work…The task for those with critical sensibilities is not just to resist oppressive social norms and illegitimate authority, but to speak a simple truth that almost no one wants to acknowledge: The high-energy/high-technology life of affluent societies is a dead end… to get apocalyptic means seeing clearly and recommitting to core values…we must affirm the value of our work for justice and sustainability…Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous…To adopt an apocalyptic worldview is not to abandon hope but to affirm life…By avoiding the stark reality of our moment in history we don’t make ourselves safe, we undermine the potential of struggles for justice and sustainability.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

Chris Hayes: Bring on the upper-middle-class revolution! By David Daley, Salon.com, Jun 25, 2013

The Obama Majority By Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, January 22, 2013…There is an Obama majority in American politics…whose existence is both the consequence of profound changes to our nation’s composition and values and the cause of changes yet to come. That majority…would not exist but for Americans’ struggles to expand our foundational belief in the equality of all men. The drive to expand equality, [President Obama] said in his speech’s most historically resonant line, “is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.” Our history, Obama argued, is one of adapting our ideals to a changing world. His speech…reclaimed U.S. history from the misrepresentations of both constitutional originalists and libertarian fantasists…the moral and practical arc of U.S. history bends toward equality..The president closed his speech by asking his supporters to join him to help “shape the debates of our time.”..The Obama Majority — its existence and mobilization — is what enabled the president to deliver so ideological an address. No such inaugural speech has been delivered since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, demanding the curtailment of government programs and secure in the knowledge that much of the white working class had shifted its allegiance away from the Democrats and supported his attack on the public sector and minority rights. On Monday, Obama, secure in the knowledge that the nation’s minorities had joined with other liberal constituencies to form a new governing coalition, voiced their demands to ensure equality and to preserve and expand the government’s efforts to meet the nation’s challenges

Overview of the Occupy Movement

Our Progressive Populism by Robert Kuttner, Prospect.org, September 2, 2010   Populism comes in two varieties — progressive and reactionary…distressed voters who are seduced by the right on social issues must be mobilized by progressives on economic ones…
This is a kind of class politics, but not one of facile slogans or easy scapegoats. It is hardly demagoguery to point out that concentrated wealth has too much political power. There is a class war, billionaire Warren Buffett once quipped, and my class is winning…
Populism, however, comes in two varieties, progressive and reactionary. Right-wing populism is an ugly brew of know-nothing resentments — of government, bankers, cosmopolitans, minorities and immigrants — that nonetheless taps into genuine economic anxiety. Without effective progressive populism, the reactionary variety gains ground…
good populism rallies economically distressed voters to elect progressives who legislate structural reforms…
With the right taking no prisoners, how do we restore civility? …How do we use politics to rebuild competent government?…
Paul Krugman…concluded, “What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite?” The answer, surely, is a politics that rallies regular people against the stranglehold of economic royalists — a progressive populism.

A Checkerboard Strategy for Regaining the Progressive Initiative 

Group Challenges Corporate Power, Government Secrecy With Crowd-Funded Transparency 

Introduction to Community Organizing: Choosing an Issue 

New Year, New Era for Progressives and Obama 

The Massive New Liberal Plan to Remake American Politics 

The Obama Majority   

A Global Convergence of Social Movements?

A Liberal Moment

Liberalism’s Glass Jaw

Power Shift: How the Youth Climate Movement is Changing the Game by Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine, posted on Alternet.org, April 27, 2011

Where The 99 Percent Get Their Power – Why is this protest spreading when others have fizzled? by Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine, Oct 07, 2011

Power and the Progressive Movement by Mike Lux, OpenLeft.com, April 13, 2010

Whatever Happened to the American Left? By Michael Kazin

A Politics for the 99 Percent by Katrina vanden Heuvel and Robert L. Borosage, The Nation – posted June 6, 2012

6 People You Need to Start a Revolution By Sara Robinson AlterNet, April 12, 2012

New Rules for Radicals: 10 Ways To Spark Change in a Post-Occupy World By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, February 1, 2012

Progressivism Goes Mainstream by John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira, The Prospect, April 20, 2009