The first thing to understand about the Big Lie is the way that it is perpetuated. An interview that Fox News did on inauguration day with Karl Rove is a perfect case in point. The goal of Fox News is to promote an alternate reality to its viewers, and after President Biden’s inauguration speech one of the anchors on the network expressed his disappointment at the way the president had accurately assessed the dire situation in our country. “Why do you think they’re talking everything down?” This is an absolutely ludicrous question to ask because things in this country are objectively bad; they are empirically bad; they are demonstrably bad. And the reason they are bad is due entirely to the abject failure of the previous president and his administration to do anything to stop it from becoming that way. The previous president did absolutely nothing to address the pandemic and the attendant economic collapse that resulted from his own inaction. The reason President Biden was “talking everything down,” was because it is down, and it was the failure of the previous president that made it that way. That’s why the citizens voted him out of office. Karl Rove’s response?
Well, part of it is to lower expectations. The economy is really bad, Covid’s all screwed up, it’s all
bungled, you know. It’s gonna be really hard to get these things fixed. And then as people get their
vaccinations and the economy begins to rebound as a result of it being opened up, they can say,
“Look at us. Didn’t we do a great job?”
Uh . . . yeah, they can. And yes, they will have deserved every bit of that recognition because of the economic and pestilential wasteland the previous president turned the country into. If President Biden can manage to reverse the disaster wrought by the most blatant criminal ever to occupy the White House, he will deserve all of that praise and much, much more.
What Rove seems to be doing here is trying to shift the blame to the Biden administration for the disaster that the previous administration created—the very same thing the right did after Obama took over during the cratered economy of the Great Recession that had been brought about by the Bush administration, one that Rove himself participated in—implying that Biden shouldn’t be able to take credit for his success because somehow he must have been responsible for it in the first place. But Rove doesn’t dwell on that talking point because, were anyone to even think about it for a second they would realize he actually has no point. His comment simply sounds negative, and conveys the connotation that something is not quite right with the new administration if they claim success for cleaning up the mess that the country is in, when in fact it was the previous administration that was responsible for setting the height of those “expectations” by kicking them to the ground. Though Rove’s clear implication here is that President Biden and his administration for some reason should not deserve that praise, he can’t dwell on the point because the idea is demonstrably false.
From there Rove moves over immediately to the Big Lie, the falsehood that has been undermining the success of this country for hundreds of years. And I’m not talking about the success of the rich. I’m talking about the promise of this country that has never been realized, ever, in its two hundred and forty four year history, and that is the commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL of its citizens. This is Rove’s next comment:
I thought it was a good speech. It wasn’t a great speech but it was a good speech, and it was the
right speech for the moment. But there was a point in there where he said we’re divided as a country
between the people in the country who believe in the American ideal, and [the people who believe in]
racism, nativism, and fear. No, no, no. We’re divided as a country politically over questions of policy
and direction and respect.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the Big Lie. That is the lie that has kept ninety-nine percent of us in bondage to wage slavery for hundreds of years, and distracts us from understanding what is truly going on in our government because those who perpetuation the Big Lie don’t want us to know.
When Rove says that this country is divided politically, he is lying. What the citizens of this country have yet to figure out is that politics is not an end in itself. It is not a self-contained, closed system. Politics in a republic, especially a representative democracy, is all about constituency. It is about the people who are represented by politicians, not the politicians themselves. Politics as it is practiced in America has absolutely nothing to do with “policy and direction and respect.” It is about the needs of constituents, pure and simple, and how the politicians elected by those constituents can best deliver to their supporters the things they desire to meet their needs. In order to understand politics in the United States it is imperative that people look beyond the politicians to see who they actually represent.
The problem for most of us is that we can’t seem to do that. Just one example of this phenomenon can be seen in an interview with a pop music star from the mid nineteen sixties, well before he scared the skirt off of J. Edgar Hoover when he became radicalized in the seventies. John Lennon had begun to grasp the primary elements of the Big Lie when he spoke to journalist Ray Coleman way back in 1966.
The trouble with government as it is that it doesn’t represent the people. It controls them. All they
seem to want to do—the people who run the country—is keep themselves in power and stop us
knowing what’s going on. The motto seems to be: “Keep the people happy with a few (cigarettes)
and beer and they won't ask any questions.” . . . It would be good if more people started realizing
the difference between political propaganda and the truth . . .
So far, so good. Lennon has identified that the government doesn’t represent the people but instead controls them. They do this through a coordinated campaign of distraction—cigarettes and beer in his day, entertainment and social media today. But then he hits an intellectual wall, as most people do when attempting to discern the real forces at work:
We’re being conned into thinking everything’s okay, but all these bloody politicians seem the same
to me. All they can talk about is the economy and that. What about people, and freedom? These
things that matter more don’t seem to worry them.
That’s because the politicians aren’t the real problem. Lennon comes incredibly close to understanding the truth, but then mistakenly winds up blaming it on the politicians themselves. “From what you hear, none of the politicians has any intention of giving ordinary people complete freedom. Just keep them down—that’s all they really want.” And as a result, he’s forced to admit that, “I’m not suggesting I know what the answer is—I just know there’s something wrong with the present way of governing the country.” The reason he doesn’t know the answer is that he’s looking for it in the wrong place.
So, what is the answer to combating the Big Lie? The first step is to understand exactly who the constituents of our politicians really are. They are the wealthy elite, a corporate oligarchy that donates heavily to both Republican and Democratic political campaigns in order that those politicians will secure their interests in Congress. Then, to ensure compliance with their agenda, they hire lobbyists to make direct payments—as indirectly as possible to avoid overtly breaking the law—to these politicians in order to make sure they are working for the interests of the oligarchy. Those payments don’t have to be money, and they don’t have to be paid immediately. One of the most lucrative bribes that politicians frequently accept is the assurance of a job as a lobbyist themselves once they are out of office. This is precisely what happened to the Democrat that New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated in 2018, Joe Crowley, a 10-term congressman and the Democratic Caucus Chair. A year after his ignominious defeat he went right to work for the largest lobbying firm in Washington, and in doing so exchanged his paltry $174,000 salary as a politician for a salary that is potentially worth millions. The true enemies of the state are those who want to use the mechanism of the state to make themselves ever richer by denying opportunity and security to those on whose backs their wealth is created. The brutal truth of the way the government of the United States is run is that politicians are employees, and Americans are never going to get anywhere until they stop yelling at the employees and start asking to see the owner.
What makes this task so difficult is the massive—and quite effective—campaign of misdirection funded by the corporate oligarchy. Their primary tool in this regard is the media, right wing and left wing alike. Watch any corporate-owned media outlet when they attempt to report on the workings of the government and you will see that they focus almost exclusively on politics. For the right-wing organizations like Fox, this is all they report. Left-wing sources like MSNBC will sometimes report on the regularity of former Congressional politicians who take jobs as lobbyists, or the travesty of judicial rulings like Citizens United, or the influence of big money on politics. But the infrequency of that kind of reporting only serves to emphasize the importance of the relatively unimportant majority of the reporting that focuses on political struggles within the House and Senate, and between the Congress and the White House. The biggest obstruction in the Congress to democratic reform is not Mitch McConnell . . . it’s the Koch brothers. But watching mainstream media, that’s not readily apparent. McConnell—and Cruz, and Hawley, and Tuberville, and the rest of the fascist Gilligan’s Island castaways who attempted to block the counting of electoral votes even after the armed insurrection of the Capitol by Maga-ites (pronounced “maggots”)—is an employee of the corporate oligarchy and, like the soldiers of the SS, he’s just following orders.
Corporate controlled right wing propaganda has effectively neutralized a vast swath of the electorate who have been brainwashed into believing that government is bad, that taxes are bad, that programs from which they themselves benefit—like Medicare and Social Security—are bad, and that Democrats are evil socialists who want to destroy our capitalist way of life—even though only a small percentage of Republican voters even make enough money to benefit from austerity politics. But voters on the left are not immune to the lure of political struggle as entertainment that misdirects their attention away from the corporate oligarchy to meaningless political battles by combatants who are all essentially on the same side. One of the most idiotic statements made last summer in the midst of the peaceful protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder and others, came from Joe Rogan. When he learned that protesters in Seattle were demonstrating in front of the house—or one of them, at any rate—of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, he mused aloud as to why they would be doing that. What does Amazon have to do with anything? This is the problem for many on the left, a completely different kind of brainwashing. Systemic racism does not exist in a vacuum—hence the adjective “systemic.” That is why protests in Portland have continued even after the Biden inauguration, because politics is not the problem, the corporate oligarchy is.
The most recent example of this truth is the phony moratorium on political donations in the wake of the Capitol insurrection. After January 6th many corporations announced that they were going to temporarily postpone political donations, not just to the supporters of the insurrection like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, but to politicians in both parties. The reason for this nakedly disingenuous move is clear. By halting donations only to those actually responsible for aiding and abetting the insurrection, Senate and Congressional Republicans, it would necessitate that some action be taken to hold those politicians accountable for their reprehensible actions before the resumption of donations could begin again. But by halting donations to both parties, it allows those corporations to make a token expression of disapproval, and then at some later date resume donations to both parties without requiring any consequences be administered to those traitorous Republicans who continue to shamelessly remain in office. This should not be a surprise to anyone. It is those very politicians that have prompted this faux outrage on the part of corporations who are the employees of the corporate oligarchy, and who have enacted the very legislation that facilitated—as well as obstructing legislation that might hinder—their employer’s ability to increase their net wealth by $931 billion during the Covid-19 pandemic at the same time that more than ten million Americans have lost their jobs.
The right loves to parrot phrases from civics class to the effect that politicians work for the people, that they act at the behest of the citizens who voted for them, that they are only carrying out the will of their base of supporters. This is a lie. Federal politicians, both Democrat and Republican, work for their employers, the donor class that funds their campaigns, that lines their pockets, and that rewards their loyal service with golden parachutes once the actual citizens have finally had enough of their lies and shameless greed. That is what finally happened in the Georgia senatorial runoff, and while it is a hopeful sign of things to come it may only wind up being an isolated instance because of the inability of the electorate to stay focused on the real enemy. Again, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are merely employees, working at the behest of their corporate donors, but it only muddies the waters to focus on the fact that they are also wealthy. They, just as other rich politicians like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, all benefit from the tax breaks and deregulations they sponsor, granted, but they are not doing this work for themselves alone. They work for other, much wealthier employers, their real constituents.
The Big Lie is that politics has anything to do with this. In the coming months and years the Biden administration will do battle with the Republicans in the Senate. Little will actually be accomplished, though the vaccination rollout will no doubt continue to be administered by the desperately overburdened states. As a result, the Republicans may win back the Senate in 2022 and continue to aid the oligarchy in obstructing any legislation that could help working class voters in both parties. They may even win back the White House in 2024. And then the whole thing will start all over again as the political pendulum continues to swing back and forth. But none of this will have anything to do with who is pulling the strings, who is actually manipulating the way the issues are framed. Politics is a symptom, not the cause. This country is not divided of its own accord. It has been divided purposely, a rift manufactured by a wealthy elite intent on exploiting that artificial division as a way of keeping the citizens of this country fighting against each other rather than the real criminals in our midst. We have not simply become a country of haves and have nots, devolving into economic divide that we cannot control or understand, helpless victims of the hand of fate. No, we have been played—and are still being played—by those who have only increased their wealth during this most recent economic downturn, because they have actively created the very system that allows them to do so. And until we really begin to fully grasp the true nature of the problem we will continue to be duped by the Big Lie.