America’s billionaire class funds anti-democratic forces | Robert Reich

Decades ago, America’s financial interests funded a Republican establishment that believed in fiscal conservatism, anti-communism, and constitutional democracy.

Today’s billionaire class is pushing a radically anti-democratic agenda for America – backing Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, calling for restrictions on voting and even questioning the value of democracy.

Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech financier who is among those leading the charge, once written, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”

Thiel uses his fortune to stifle democracy. He donated $15 million to the success of JD Vance’s Republican Ohio senatorial primary campaign, which alleges the 2020 election was stolen and Biden’s immigration policy meant “more Democratic voters are flocking to this country.”

Thiel has donated at least $10 million to the Arizona Republican primary race of Blake Masters, who also claims Trump won the 2020 election and admire Lee Kuan Yew, the authoritative founder of modern Singapore.

The older generation of wealthy Conservatives backed candidates like Barry Goldwater, who wanted keep American establishments.

Thiel and his fellow billionaires in the anti-democratic movement don’t want much left over — at least nothing that happened after the 1920s, which includes Social Security, civil rights, and even women’s suffrage. Like Thiel wrote:

The 1920s were the last decade in American history in which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the sharp rise in welfare recipients and the extension of the franchise to women — two notoriously tough constituencies for libertarians — have turned the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

Waste. If “capitalist democracy” becomes an oxymoron, it is not because of public assistance or because women won the right to vote. It’s because billionaire capitalists like Thiel are drowning democracy in giant campaign donations to authoritarian candidates who repeat Trump’s big lie.

It was no coincidence that the 1920s marked the last gasp of the Golden Age, when wealthy Americans snatched the nation’s wealth so much that others had to go into deep debt both to maintain their standard of living and to maintain aggregate demand for goods and services. nationally produced services.

When that debt bubble burst in 1929, we had the Great Depression.

It was also the decade when Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler emerged to create the worst threats to freedom and democracy the modern world has ever seen.

If freedom is not compatible with democracy, what is it compatible with?

On Tuesday night, Doug Mastriano, a January 6 insurgent and Trump-backed conspiracy theorist, won the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania (the nation’s fourth-largest state and the largest state to swing from 2016 to 2020 ). Mastriano was directly involved in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election by sending an “alternative” list of pro-Trump voters to the Electoral College – despite Trump losing Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.

If Mastriano wins in November, he will nominate Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, who will oversee the results of the 2024 election in one of the nation’s most important battleground states.

Meanwhile, the big annual event of the Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) – America’s premier political right convening organization – was held last week. in Budapest.

It is not a coincidence. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling party, Fidesz, have become an important source of inspiration for the American anti-democratic movement. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, describes Orbán’s agenda as that of “Trump before Trump”.

Orbán has used his opposition to immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, and religions other than Christianity as cover for his move toward autocracy — rigging Hungary’s election laws to keep his party in power, capturing independent agencies, controlling the judicial system and muzzling the press.

He remains on good terms with Vladimir Putin and has refused to accept Europe’s proposed embargo on Russian oil.

Tucker Carlson – Fox News’ progenitor of white replacement theory – broadcast his show from Budapest. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was also scheduled to speak (though he declines to speak to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on US democracy).

If America and the world should have learned anything from the first golden age and fascism that began to develop like a cancer in the 1920s, it is that gross inequality in income and wealth fuels inequality. flagrant abuses of political power – which in turn lead to strongmen who destroy both democracy and freedom.

Peter Thiel may define freedom as the ability to amass extraordinary wealth without paying taxes, but most of us define it as living under the rule of law with rights against arbitrary authority and a voice in what is decided.

If we are to protect what is left of our freedom, we will have to face today’s anti-democratic movement boldly. pro-democratic movement that protects institutions of self-government from authoritarian strongmen like Trump and his aspirants, and big bucks like Peter Thiel.

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