“Content Free Propaganda”: “We The People” And Other Things That Aren’t True
According to a recent study by the University of California, 93% of income growth since the economic collapse of 2008 has gone to the wealthiest 1% of American households. Just 20 years ago, the amount of national income growth earned by the top 1% was less than half that.
So, if you are a right wing movement and not even you can justify concentrated economic and political power like that, what do you do? Well, you produce a video that celebrates “freedom” and shakes its fists at “tyranny” and you hope that the gullible will think the plutocratic takeover of our country is as American as apple pie.
The video is called “We the People” and it looks like it’s gone viral on the Right, collecting more than six million hits. I saw it because a friend of my wife’s thought it was just great and was sure we would too. Guess she didn’t get the memo!
The video is organized like an open letter to President Obama and its tone is a perfect replication of the gauzy, abstract vernacular of Fox News.
As the narrator informs President Obama, We The People “have stated resolutely we reject your vision for our country.” We The People “have assembled across America resisting your efforts to subvert our constitution and undermine our liberty.”
The video is filled with the sort of Americana that appeals to Sarah Palin’s right wing “real Americans.” As the Battle Hymn of the Republic plays in the background, scenes of Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, a saluting Marine, an Apache attack helicopter, the Preamble to the Constitution, American flags, American flags, American flags and more American flags fill the screen. Even a Bald Eagle makes a guest appearance.
The video claims to speak for We the People but its voice is boilerplate Tea Party Republican: “Our greatest treasure is freedom;” “We believe in the power of the individual;” “Freedom is the capacity of self-determination.”
There are also the Thomas Jefferson-like “long train of abuses” hurled at the President: “you have expanded government, violated our Constitution, confounded laws, seized private industry, destroyed jobs, perverted our economy, curtailed free speech, corrupted our currency, weakened our national security, and endangered our sovereignty.”
And this is why, the video’s producers say, “we” are assembling all across this land, so that “we” can deliver “our” message that: “We will not accept tyranny under any guise;” that the redistribution of “the fruits of our labor is Statism and will not be tolerated;” that “We The People will defend our liberty;” and that “we will protect our beloved country and America’s exceptionalism will prevail.”
At first I thought “We the People” was the kind of parody Saturday Night Live might do as a spoof of right wing propaganda. Even its title was laughhable – “We the People” – as if the 70% of We the People don’t exist who think Democrats are right and Republicans are wrong when it comes to such key questions as whether to tax the rich more, to eliminate subsidies for oil companies or to preserve America’s endangered safety net.
But, at the end of the day, it is also disheartening to see how easy it is for the hard work of raising the level of understanding and debate in this country to all go to waste as vacuous, dishonest, manipulative and utterly content-free propaganda like this is produced to bamboozle even very smart people like those who sent us this insulting piece of reactionary performance art.
Then again, given recent experience, why should we be surprised that so many seem impervious to facts and reason or who now see politics as nothing more than brute force and war — a take-no-prisoners, law of the jungle scramble for survival of the fittest?
But I did like the Bald Eagles.
By: Ted Frier, Open Salon, March 31, 2012
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