Is US Changing from the Land of Promise to a Country of Special Interests ?


    By Kaleem Kawaja

    With the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the improved Immigration Act in mid 1960s in the US Congress, a new and egalitatrian era dawned in US.  Along with its prestigious post-World War II super-power status, US did become a veritable giant in science & technology, a hub of creative economics and a land where regardless of your ethnic origin and the color of your skin you had an opportunity to improve yourselves.  As the misguided Viet Nam war ended in mid 1970s the average Americans heaved a sigh of relief that it could now stop the wastage and devote itself to progress and prosperiety.  For a few decades it worked that way.

    But with the dawn of the 21st century excluvist conservatism in the garb of the right-wing transformation of the Republican party- the party of Abraham Lincoln-  is an increasingly disturbing phenomenon. The right winger Americans want to purge US of real equal all rights for colored folks and immigrants; want to bring back the century old gun-wielding coercive culture; want US to be like the warrior 19th century colonist European nations that attacked countries in Asia and Africa.  To add fuel to the fire the insane Al-Qaeda terrorists launched murderous terrorist attacks on American people and installations everywhere in the name of Islam, culminating with the horrendous 9/11 carnage in New York and Washington DC.  That came as a windfall to the sleeper rednecks in US who although dressed in three piece suits and flaunting degrees from Harvard and Yale, were itching to get back to the erstwhile plantation and frontier culture of America.

    George W Bush who campaigned for US Presidency in 2000 and won on Republican party ticket under the banner of “compassionate conservatism”, soon helped eject the word “compassionate” from the vocabulary of the Republican party.  For eight years with his encouragement the core of the Republican party – the party of Abraham Lincoln – veered to the right to such an extent that the very talk of compassion became anathema.  The vocabulary that replaced it talks about giving more special priveleges to the wealthy Americans; reducing the taxes they pay; decreasing basic facilities to the working class and lower middleclasses like health care, public housing, government programs to support the poor; openly supports a continual American war machine that shreds all pretense of following international laws, UN objectives and fair treatment of small third world nations.

    The election of Barack Obama, an African-American as US President in 2008 who promised a basic change in the direction of aggressive US policies away from eight years of the Bush era kindled much hope for those who were apalled at the extreme right wing thinking in the Republican party.  The Nobel Peace Prize Cmmittee even gave its 2009 Noble Prize to Obama with the hope that he may fulfill his pledges.

    However about a year into the Presidency Obama realized the pressure not only from the newly changed Republican party but also from its influence on his own Democratic party.  Under that pressure Obama chose to switch rather than resist the pressure.  In the next two years Obama accepted and legitimized many of the one-sided Bush era policies both in the domestic arena and the foreign policy arena.  His Administration increased the military pressure on Muslim countries and groups. Being the first Black president of US Obama carries much acceptability and hope from all colored Americans and all third world people.  But Obama wants to be a two term President not a champion for equal rights and justice for all.  Thus he has moved so far to the right that most of his liberal supporters from 2008 do not even recognize him as the same man they saw four years ago.

    As the year 2012, the election year, has dawned in US, the Republican party continues to move more to an aggressive posture that favours special intetest groups of the wealthy and powerful, both individuals and nations.  It is mind bogglong to see the contenders for the Republican party nomination for the Presidential contest  talk more and more aggressively about enforcing chauvinistic policies.  It is shocking to hear some supporters of these candidates saying that they want a candidate who can act more mean and less gentle in the contest.

    The extreme right wing Tea Party that is a party of White excluvists is openly applauding some of the most chauvinistic policies and is forcing the chauvinistic politicians to the front.  In this year’s election Mitt Romney, a polished and sophisticated Republican candidate appeals to most Republicans and Americans as a middle of the road leader.  But recent Republican primary elections have thrown up grossly combative and pugnacious candidates like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum who are openly advocating a return of America to the special interest groups, strengthening and foisting America’s war machine on third world countries, being hard on recent immigrants and reducing government welfare benefits in essential areas of healthcare and public housing.

    Despite severe economic problems and the much widened gap between the rich and poor in US created by the Wall Street bankers who enriched themselves at the cost of ordinary citizens these right winger Republicans want to continue these policies.  Twentyfive years ago the big attraction about US was its widespread middleclass and its propensity to help the havenot third world nations.  Today under the pressure of right winger Republicans the political center of America is veering to the right.

    The succeses of the right wing Republican candidates in recent Republican party primaries are bound to not only make the Republican party politicians veer more to the right, it may also make the Democratic party adopt some right wing policies.  The end result may very well be a more right wing US that is maneuvred by special interest groups rather than the interests of the broad swath of US society. .