The Children's Crusade 

Versus that 'Establishment'

There are a couple of new books out, and they couldn't have come at a better time. One is Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (by Jane Mayer) and the other is Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—from Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond (by E.J. Dionne Jr.). The urgency of both is not only do they shine a bright light on those plutocratic backroom dealers—particularly the brothers Koch—skulking about behind a screen of the pressure-group snake-pits, but they put it into recent historical context, when a handful of wealthy and angry malcontents decided they'd had enough of democracy and set forth to connive and plot the United States into submission.

So what?!... gasp the politically worldly. We already know about the Koch brothers. We already know their father Fred was a libertarian loon who deeply loathed any organized labor, government regulation, justice for minority Americans, academic freedom or anti-war sentiments. We already know he had no qualms about taking industrial-strength money from both Adolf Hitler and Joe Stalin, that he co-founded the John Birch Society to resist the civil rights movement, that he was himself a racist, elitist douche. We already know he infected his sons and many others in the privileged class with his diseased ideology, and we already know the sons have, for almost 50 years, been erecting a network of fifth-column infiltration units, dedicated to undoing every progressive achievement in American history, from public schools to voting rights. So what's new?

Nothing. The privileged class has been using its wealth to protect and expand its wealth since long before Fred Koch came along. Kings, emperors, rajahs, tsars and shoguns have since time immemorial used subterfuge, clout and worse to ensure nobody could upset their golden apple cart with unreasonable demands for human rights, dignity, justice and a modest share in the bounties of the earth.

However, over the centuries, those persistent bastards in the un-privileged classes have devised ways to get around the monarchs, the oligarchs and the plutocrats to snatch—albeit in incremental chunks—pieces of what was theirs in the first place, i.e. rights, dignity, justice and the fruits of their own labors. The ancient Greeks provided a template, and over the millennia, bit by bit, the progressive impulse has been expanded to the point where, in much of the world if not most, the commoners have as much to say about their destinies as the privileged.

Again... nothing new. Only today, within one faction of the progressive impulse, there has grown a culture of disdain for the very trudging pragmatism that has empowered them to express such disdain in the first place. In a modern American context, I'm speaking of the Clinton camp as the trudging pragmatists, with the disdainers being those impatient souls who rally around Bernie Sanders as their champion to get more solutions, more fast.

Yes, children. There is an "establishment." In proper fact, there are two establishments and there has been since the seeds of democracy were first sown. In many ways, they may appear to function in the same manner, but one is the establishment that has brought you (among many other travesties) "Citizens United," continuing LGBT suppression and the most devastating cascade of wealth to the wealthy in six generations. The other has brought you (among many other blessings) the Affordable Care Act, continuing LGBT liberation and the only viable counterpoint to the undue influence of the privileged class.

Simply knowing that one establishment is so much more progressive than the other doesn't satisfy those who threaten to reject party affiliation and party loyalty if they don't get what they want. They might even feel superior to those of us who remain in the fold, believing themselves to be more independent in thought and more pure in purpose.

Horseshit! If they don't know that there's not a damn thing new about insider politics, influence trading, back-door finagling and the art of compromise, it's not the establishment's fault—it is theirs, for either not learning history or not understanding it. If the only lesson to be learned from that history was the devastation dealt us by the other establishment—the one Fred Koch would approve of heartily and to which his sons pull the strings—we would all agree with them.

But thank the gods of politics and parties there is an establishment that speaks for the rest of us, and at least since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, it has spoken under the banner that reads "Democratic Party." If that banner feels too restrictive to you—too slow or too contaminated, fine. But as you curse the establishment that got you here, do allow your more refined sensibilities just a partial recap of what we wouldn't have had it not been around for the last century: Social Security, child labor laws, minimum wages, workman's comp, food safety oversight, environmental protection, voting rights, Medicare, women's suffrage, workplace safety, public broadcasting, public lands... and the undisputable truth of how totally f***ed we would be had it not been there to represent our interests against that other establishment.

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