The Quiet Plot to Steal America, and What to Do About It
June 15, 2005
By Andrew M. Gracy
America is under attack. It's time to
pull our collective heads out of the sand and realize the nature of
the political battle that rational, constitutionally-minded
Americans now face. We are, to borrow a phrase from Bill Moyers, in
the fight for our lives. From the decades-long efforts to eliminate
the press as the fourth estate of government to the onslaught on
Social Security, from the attack on academic freedom in our colleges
and universities to the attempts to stock our judicial system with
conservative judges, the Right has garnered the financial and
political resources in recent decades to reshape the social
landscape of America.
And now it's time to take it back, come hell or high water. It's
time to put away the liberal tool box - the principles of rational
adjudication and fair play, the respect for the diversity of ideas
and the pursuit of truth. There is simply too much at stake. It's
time to bring the fight to them, and it's time to fight to win. The
future of our country depends on it, and there are real, human lives
So, what does a high-minded, moral, socially-conscious person do
in such circumstances? Political activism is where the rubber meets
the road, and what we need is schooling in the art of political
warfare, a mandate for action, and a road map to manage the terrain.
We need practical guidelines, not theoretical banter. My objective
here is to offer these tools, but the first order of business is to
map out the terrain. And that begins by reflecting on some
uncomfortable truths, truths that the majority of Americans, even
informed Americans, have not yet grasped.
1. The American media have been lost to the Right.
There is no liberal bias, even in the traditional bulwarks of
liberalism, PBS and NPR. Rather, there is a conservative ruse to
propagandize Americans into believing liberal bias exists
to divert attention from the real issues. The loss of the media as
the fourth estate is a function of consolidation, i.e. corporate
control over the media, and the favor-trading that goes on between
corporate America and government. The lesson? Don't look to the
media to help turn back the political clock. They are part of the
problem, not the solution.
2. The electoral system in the U.S. has quietly been
privatized in recent years by the use of electronic voting
machines, and the control of elections has thereby been placed in
the hands of corporations with deep political and financial ties
to the Republican Party.
The truth is, the 2004 presidential election was almost
certainly fraudulent (as were many of the Congressional races),
and George W. Bush was ushered into office by subterfuge and
against the will of the voting majority. There is too much
evidence to support this hypothesis to be ignored - from exit
polls to statistical studies of voting patterns in a number of
states - but it is not a story that could break into the corporate
media. The lesson? You've already been disenfranchised, and
conventional methods of political activism will likely prove
ineffective against the power establishment. But there is a darker
lesson here as well: in a true democracy, one has a moral mandate
to adhere the will of the people, even if one is part of the
minority; in a totalitarian state, one has a moral mandate to make
government beholden to the people - a mandate to resist the
illegitimate imposition of power by the ruling class. Without fair
elections, we live in a de facto totalitarian state.
3. The opposition is well-financed, well-versed in the
politics of persuasion, and has a pathological interest in seeing
'liberal' programs, ideology, and persons wiped off the face of
One has only to look at the vitriolic rhetoric that spews forth
from conservative organizations like the Project for the New
American Century and the Heritage Foundation, or the political
diatribes that fill the pages of conservative publications like
the American Spectator, to get a sense of how deep the
hatred of liberalism runs. The lesson? Don't waste your time
reasoning with the opposition, because the facts don't matter.
4. The strategy that seeks to refine the message and
revitalize the liberalism of the past is nothing but a Ghost
Traditional liberalism is dead. You can balk, you can insist
that universal truths never die, that compassion and dignity
always have a seat at the table. And in principle you are right.
But it's precisely this attitude that has led us to this point, to
the brink of theocracy, and to the end of democracy in America.
You may be a hit at the Chancellor's annual holiday party, but you
are living in utter ignorance of the political realities we face.
Simply put, the Republican noise machine has managed to demonize
liberalism to an extent that it can no longer be resuscitated as a
political concept. The lesson? Swallow your pride and prepare
yourself for the thoroughly banal world of political warfare. If
you believe in truth and dignity, you have to be prepared to fight
for it (just fight for it under the banner "Progressive" rather
The collective paralysis gripping the liberal majority at the
moment is, I would argue, the result of rejecting one or more of the
four points presented above. If you believe the press is liberal,
you will downplay the threat of the right considerably; if you
assume elections are fair, you will hang your hopes for change on
the good sense of the American people; if you view the Religious
Right as a disorganized or poorly-funded group of fanatics, the
current political climate will appear an anomaly, a mere blip on the
radar. And, of course, if you believe that liberals are in their
current situation because of an inability to refine their message,
then you will devote your energies to the thoroughly ineffectual
task of redefining liberalism and trying to convince your opponents
it has some merit. These positions are not only contrary to fact,
they are dangerous. Jousting with windmills diverts attention and
resources from the real fight.
What is the real fight? Who is the real enemy? There are two
forces driving the attack on democracy in America today, one
ideological and one economic. The ideological engine is the
Religious Right and its desire to establish a theological foundation
for government. This group is highly motivated as a result of a
widespread feeling by its members that religious interests have been
trampled in recent decades, and by the sense that it is now in a
position to fulfill its mandate. The second engine is the modern
trans-national corporation, an entity that sees liberalism as a
threat to the accumulation of capital and the free market atmosphere
that allows it to pursue its objectives untrammeled. There are other
factors, to be sure – ideologues and power brokers who support the
attack on liberalism out of self-interest or megalomania. But in
general, these are the primary forces at work.
In recent decades, these forces have formed an unholy alliance in
the interest of undermining democracy. Ideologues on the Right have
recognized that they must harness the economic power of corporate
America to undermine the political and economic power of the left,
and corporate America has realized that establishing the conditions
that work in its favor requires selling the American people on a
world view that justifies privatization on a massive scale. It is
this union that has ushered in an era of overworked, overweight
consumers who believe that the American way of life is the Blessed
Way of Life and spend their time watching reality TV and gorging
themselves on fast food. It is a union that hides the dysfunction of
American society behind the rhetoric of family values and patriotic
slogans, an era that reverberates with contradictions like "fighting
for peace" and "vote Catholic, not Kerry." It is also, and
unquestionably, a union that has allowed Republicans to outmaneuver
their opponents, and has led to a new political orthodoxy that will
soon eclipse more enlightened ideas almost entirely.
If the people are to turn the tide and restore democracy, they
must be willing to fight a new kind of war. When faced with
overwhelming force, it is suicide to mount a frontal assault; the
only workable strategy is subversion - a guerilla war that exploits
the weaknesses in the opposing force and redirects the resources of
the enemy inward, against itself. It is time for Americans to mount
such an offensive, an offensive forged with words and carefully
orchestrated political action, an offensive that exploits the
inherent tension between the Religious Right and corporate America
to undermine the conservative movement. Without the 'liberal threat'
to unite them, corporate America and the Religious Right are like
oil and water: the moral interests of the Right are incompatible
with the pathological pursuit of wealth and power that continues to
drive corporate expansion. What we need is a carefully placed wedge
to divide the opposition, and that wedge comes in the form of a
campaign to exploit the growing fear that corporate America is a
threat to family values and the viability of our communities.
More specifically, activists need to form community-based
organizations that function as independent groups, united by a
common ideology and common purpose, but autonomous in function.
These groups should make their presence felt both locally and
nationally, utilizing the Internet as a medium for getting their
message out and coordinating their activities with other,
like-minded organizations. They should be structured as political
action committees or non-profits, they should engage in their own
fundraising and community service projects, and they should build
support for their cause through the adoption of hard-hitting
political strategies that strike at the heart of the conservative
True, many such organizations already exist, but they exist in a
form that makes it easy for conservatives to identify and dismiss
them as part of the 'liberal threat.' What makes this strategy
different is that the proposed organizations will adopt a platform
that sounds as moralistic and self-righteous as the Christian
Coalition. That's right, these groups should don the garb of the
Religious Right, should invoke scripture, and wrap themselves in the
Stars and Stripes at every turn. Concerns about the moral fabric of
America and the threat of corporate power simply will not be heard
if they emanate from the mouth of the 'dreaded liberal.' We need to
sound the alarm from within the conservative camp in the
interest of harnessing their considerable resources in our favor.
After all, the same corporations fueling America's imperialistic
policies in Iraq are promoting violence on television and exposing
Janet Jackson's breast, and while most people don't give a thought
to the tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, they will
challenge corporate power over the marketing of tobacco to children
or the fat content of a Happy Meal.
Although I am reluctant to admit it, the best weapons we have are
half-truths and misinformation (i.e. marketing). As progressives, we
are unable to fight the conservative establishment, but as
pseudo-conservatives we may well be able to awaken many Americans to
the threat corporations represent to family values. So it's time to
back away from the argument that the environment should be preserved
for its natural splendor, and tell the conservative establishment
that Bush's environmental policies threaten the lives of unborn
children by exposing expectant mothers to toxic levels of mercury.
Don't talk about the rights of the poor or the rights of the worker,
promote progressive economic ideas by noting that the rate of
abortions in America is on the rise because of Bush's economic
policies ("If we raise the living wage, we protect the unborn!"). If
you think this is a pointless strategy, or distasteful, it is
perhaps worth remembering that Al Capone was put away for tax
evasion rather than smuggling, racketeering, and murder.
In short, it is time to stop talking like a liberal and start
fighting like a conservative; it's time to fight for the moral fiber
of America, but in a way that exposes the conflict between corporate
power and Mom's apple pie. To win our country back we will have to
be wily and resourceful (characteristics that are part of the
business ethos, but often lacking in the academy). In this
spirit, I offer the following strategies:
1. Seek or establish alternative outlets for your ideas.
The corporate ownership of the major media makes it highly
unlikely that political battles will be fought out in the
limelight. Start your own newsletters, webzines, and websites.
Consider using direct mailings as a strategy for reaching the
voting public, and mail out provocative literature that incites
animosity toward corporate power (and toward those in office who
cater to that power). If you are mailing material to Republicans,
put the return address of your local Republican party on the
envelope to encourage recipients to look at the material.
2. Target local and state politicians for extended
Each independent group will be tuned to the particular local
issues that drive the voting behavior of the community. Identify
representatives who will suffer from 'ethical scrutiny,' research
their backgrounds and voting histories, personal affiliations and
financial ties, and start a public campaign to discredit them long
before their reelection campaign (there is a lot of information
about individuals available for sale on the web). Get people to
write letters to the editor of the local paper, stock public
hearings with citizens who can make forceful and credible
challenges to the candidate's integrity on the spot, place fliers
on car windshields at grocery stores, and mail pamphlets to local
residents. Be relentless, ruthless, and thorough, and make sure
you create an image of the offending representatives as selfish
promoters of corporate malfeasance.
3. Infiltrate the Republican Party.
Recruit disgruntled Republicans to provide information about
their political strategies, funding sources, candidate support
structure, etc. Or, register as a Republican and start attending
party meetings. Once you have someone inside the local party, you
can sow the seeds of unrest by leaking information to others who
can use it strategically, documenting misdeeds and unethical
behavior, or disrupting meetings by focusing on irrelevancies,
spreading misinformation, and engaging in bureaucratic behavior
that slows down progress.
4. Start a misinformation campaign.
What ten years of siege could not accomplish, a single Trojan
horse could. Conservative groups and government agencies monitor
liberal Internet sites and keep track of blogging activity. Use
this to your advantage. Post "Trojan horse" articles on the web
that direct attention and resources in the wrong direction.
Present false strategies, identify individuals in the conservative
establishment who might be plausible defectors and insinuate that
they have already transitioned to your side. Create suspicion
among conservatives about the commitments and activities of
Republican supporters, and use the web liberally to accomplish
5. Put your money where your mouth is.
It's time to ante-up and donate to organizations fighting the
right kind of fight. Whether you give to MoveOn, Watchcorp, or
DemocracyNow!, you must be committed to financing the new
generation of freedom fighters. If you're starting your own
organization and are tapped for resources, you can support other
groups by linking to their websites or writing favorable reviews
of their activities. However you choose to do it, it is time to
step up to the plate.
6. Utilize the enemy's resources.
Corporate America has invested a lot of energy into figuring
out how to shape the American mindset through various marketing
strategies, and these strategies are available in the advertising
literature. Use this information. If you think spreading the
political message through viral marketing will work in the
demographic you're interested in reaching, use it. If you have to
sell political action as a counterculture, as sexy, or as
revolutionary, do it. Capitalize on the psychology of youth, the
elderly, or the politically disenfranchised to shape your message
and manipulate the mind set. Conservatives have long known that
their plan to steal America depends on generating the right
perceptions, and it is high time liberals adopted a comparable
7. Frame the issues.
This is the most difficult thing to do, to know how to tap in
to the conservative mindset and present your position in a way
that resonates with the moral and political concerns of the Right.
First, you must know your enemy: read material on the web that
gives you an idea of their interests, logic (if you can call it
that), and their rhetoric. Read George Lakoff's book, Moral
Politics, and other literature that deconstructs the
conservative world view, then work on addressing the threat of
corporate America from within that framework. Take Social Security
as an example:
The way we see it: A social safety net to stave off
poverty and help the disenfranchised.
The way they see it: An unjustified handout to those
with moral failings.
How to frame the issue: "I'm a believer in personal
responsibility and self-reliance, but corporate America is going
to have control over my money if Social Security is privatized.
The people in charge of Wall Street are a bunch of corporate
crooks – look what happened at Enron and Worldcom – and they're
gonna take advantage of this situation by stealing my money."
8. Bring back the boycott.
Boycotting works if it is well organized, and the internet
allows for the wide dissemination of information about individual
corporations that can fuel a boycott (go to www.corpwatch.org, for
example). Be creative and select companies that are central to an
issue, particularly vulnerable, or both. Consider selective
boycotting where appropriate: We still need gas for our cars, but
if Americans select BP for a boycott, the financial pinch will
reverberate throughout the oil industry.
These suggestions are meant to provide a general framework for
ideological warfare, but they should not be seen as excluding the
more conventional and public methods for imposing the will of the
people. Let us fight alongside those who still want to work within
the Democratic Party, and those who don't have the stomach for the
strategy I am describing. But let us also be clear that traditional
tactics will fail without the support of a new kind of activism, one
that is capable of bloodying the political noses of those like Tom
Delay using methods they are sure to understand.
There is too much at stake not to engage in this kind of fight.
To hang your hopes on the idea that truth and justice will
inevitably reemerge is idle sentimentality. Focus your anger. Focus
your outrage. And then get to work turning the Religious Right
against its historical ally, corporate America.
Andrew M. Gracy is a retired school teacher. He lives in
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Martin County Democratic Executive Committee has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Martin County Democratic Executive Committee endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
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