Sunday, December 13, 2015

Divide and Conquer is the conservative mantra of politics

It is interesting to note the tone and intensity of the leading GOP candidate, Donald Trump. Trump would like to ban Muslims from the country and build a wall to keep them out. It is also interesting to note that numerous articles have noticed that the theme of the GOP campaign, across all candidates has been subtly crafted as divide and conquer. The Southern Strategy teaches the GOP to let go of the black vote in favor of unifying a white base, but that is only part of the story.

A case in point is the anti-union bias of the GOP. Since the Reagan administration, we've seen the labor landscape reshaped to hinder and weaken unions. The right to work laws are a well known example of conservative policy to keep unions under control or to eviscerate them completely. Limiting the power of unions is to keep workers divided and incoherent. While Republicans like to crow about the virtues of the free market, they don't like to discuss the fact that unions are a free market response to really shitty capitalists.

Then there is that 30 year trend in contract law which seeks to force consumers to surrender their right to sue as a group in court in class action lawsuits. Class action lawsuits are a union of people that are acting coherently. When a capitalist seeks to introduce charges on an invoice or statement in small amounts to millions of customers with little to zero prior consent, he can be subject to a lawsuit. Better to ensure that all those customers cannot band together to sue, else he's going to be facing high caliber legal talent in court. So the contract with the customer forces the customer to access binding arbitration. Diving the customers will only increase profits. 

Another example is found in the realm of community broadband legislation at the state and federal level. Community broadband is what you get when a small community, say a town or a city, get together to roll their own solution to recalcitrant internet service providers. Small towns simply don't have the attraction for a large national ISP like Comcast or ATT to build a fiber network. So, more than 450 communities and towns across this great nation have voted to roll their own. They sold bonds, built their own network and doffed the big national ISPs.

To head off this trend, the big ISPs have lobbied for laws that restrict this practice in more than 20 states. They are working hard with their conservative cohorts in Congress to prohibit the FCC from rolling back these onerous laws on the grounds of interstate commerce. There is a sizable conservative faction in Congress that seeks to limit or prohibit the power of the FCC to intervene, despite the fact that most community broadband networks are in conservative jurisdictions. in the last couple years, more than 50 jurisdictions in Colorado, a conservative state by any measure, voted to overcome their own state level law to assert local control.

The final example is a return to the Muslims as the subtext of that message is immigrants and immigration. For a time, it was the Mexicans and how we must keep them out. Then it was the terrorists and now the focus is on Muslims. Muslims make up 3 million of our population. Worldwide there are more than a billion of them. If they were to unite for one day just to get into this country, there would be little we could do to stop them from entering short of declaring war at our borders. Never mind that this country was founded by illegal immigrants. We're removing the ladder to ensure our supremacy.

In almost every realm and venue, the message is the same. Divide and conquer. Find an enemy, point your base at them, and get them to vote based on who they hate. There is simply no single unifying message from the GOP. It's not in their election campaign rhetoric and most certainly not in their public policy.

The liberal message is about unification, acknowledging that we are all in this together. Universal health care is to acknowledge that when we take care of our brother, we are all better for it. Tuition free public education is to acknowledge that when we teach our brother, we are better for it. Unions say that when we all get a fair slice of that productivity pie, we are all better off for it.

Where unification leads to multiplication of our efforts, division always leaves a remainder. Who gets the remainder? The middle class and below. That is the point of division between the GOP and everyone else.
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