Americans’ Independence “Seems to Vanish in the Haze” of Fascism

It is a mystery why Americans make such a gargantuan deal out of the Fourth of July when very few of them understand why the Founders declared their independence from England. It wasn’t to blow off fireworks, wave flags or drink to excess. No, it was to escape a tyrannical monarchy, an overbearing religion, and taxation without representation; exactly what Americans find themselves facing today, 241 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson’s immortal document for the young nation was likely the impetus for Abraham Lincoln’s “borrowed statement” that America is “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people; something he said would never perish.

Abraham Lincoln, like Thomas Jefferson, probably never imagined Americans would cede their government, their democracy, and their independence to a tyrannical dictator and his equally tyrannical political party. But that is precisely what occurred last November when the tyrant who lost the people’s vote by a wide margin was installed in the White House by a hostile foreign government, vote suppressing Republicans, and emoprogs still crying for their pie-in-the-sky commie-loving con man (not Trump). Now all Americans are watching their democracy, and their independence “vanish in the haze” of fascism by Republican rule – not governance.

Every action of government is the people’s business. Every penny spent by government is the people’s money. From the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House, government belongs to the governed and not the governing.

Those statements, courtesy of Jim Zachary, are an introduction to an opinion piece explaining why a free press is crucial to democracy. Anyone with a functioning brain comprehends that democracy is part and parcel of independence from tyranny, and it has never been more prescient  a concept to grasp than today.

One of the reasons the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers included freedom of the press in the First Amendment was their knowledge that “independent checks and balances are critical to our independence.” And those “independent checks and balances” are the purview of the Fourth Estate (the press, media etc), not any part of the government.

By now it should be glaringly apparent that the white trash in the White House, and Republicans as a movement, despise democracy as much as they hate Americans’ independence. If that were not the case congressional Republicans would not be pushing widely unpopular policies, religious dictates by government fiat, and terrible Trump would not be attacking the press as surrogates for Americans’ democracy and independence.

As Professor Robert Reich noted yesterday, when Trump put out a video of him knocking out CNN as surrogate for all independent media, he was attacking democracy, and Americans’ independence he intends on destroying. It’s what every tyrannical dictator does as a matter of course and dirty Don is, if nothing else, aspiring to be a tyrannical dictator.

Every student of American history should be aware that Founding Father and Constitution Framer Thomas Jefferson was not always a fan of a free press; no politician is for obvious reasons. However, Jefferson knew it was absolutely crucial to democracy and the people’s independence. In fact, in a 1787 letter to Edward Carrington, the young nation’s third President wrote about the importance of a free press.

And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Obviously, Donald Trump believes otherwise on more than one account. Trump does not want every American to be able to read, or think critically, or he would not have appointed an education secretary more devoted to using public schools to “advance god’s kingdom” than actually educating the next generation. And instead of at least accepting the Constitution’s guarantee of a free press, Trump has declared it, as a surrogate for democracy and independence “the enemy of the people.” Robert Reich could not have called it more accurately when he said that a fake video of white trash Trump “knocking out CNN” represented him “knocking out democracy,” and Americans’ independence.

Some may ask: how have Trump and Republicans acted to restrict Americans’ constitutionally-guaranteed independence? Of course there are too many examples to cite, but just a few are Republican attacks on Americans’ right to privacy, their right to protest, their right to determine when and how they start a family, right to free and fair elections, their right to freedom from religion, their basic human right to clean water and air, and their right to direct “their” government in how it spends “their” money. Republicans and Trump vehemently oppose each and every one of those rights which is partially why Trump said he does not like the U.S. Constitution any more that he likes that other critical aspect of democracy; an independent judiciary.

As many pundits, sociologists, and historians have noted, America is in jeopardy of becoming a fascist dictatorship and the people without a voice or even a semblance of independence. Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are just as guilty of destroying democracy as Trump is, and likely more so. However, while Republicans are working behind Trump’s distractions, he is putting out “increasingly incendiary messages that constitute an overt assault on freedom of the press; the cornerstone of America’s democracy and the people’s independence.

Hopefully today while Americans are waving flags, over-indulging in alcohol,  overeating and enjoying firework displays, they will take a moment to relish their independence like the dying commodity it really is. Because it, like their democracy, has never been as endangered as it is with Republicans and Trump dismantling their democracy and eliminating their independence.

Happy Independence Day!

SCOTUS Aids Theocratic Coup d’état

 

As America nears another anniversary of its Declaration of Independence from an empire heavily influenced by a powerful theocracy, advocates for America under a theocratic government celebrated a major step towards their goal; a nation of the bible, for the evangelicals, and governed by the Christian religion. There is little doubt that the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers would be appalled that the deliberately secular government they created inched closer to officially compelling Americans to support a religion. Indeed, it was the Declaration of Independence’s author, Founding Father, Constitution Framer, and  3rd President Thomas Jefferson who said that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

Republicans and their evangelical masters believe Thomas Jefferson was an abomination to theocrats everywhere. They also fiercely believe that despite the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment, and well over two-thirds of state Constitutions’ blunt prohibitions on “spending any public money on any church, sect, or denomination of religion,” that Americans must be compelled by force of law to provide “support for religious worship, places, and ministries.

One of those states with prohibitions against using public money to support churches, sects and any denomination of religion is Missouri. Missouri’s Constitution, according to evangelicals, was abhorrent; especially after a few federal courts upheld the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition on using taxpayer money to support religion. So the aspiring theocrats appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Thomas Jefferson, the Constitution, and thirty-six state constitutions are unfair to religious organizations because they cannot compel taxpayers to support places of worship.

It is noteworthy that although greed is a mortal sin in the Christian religion, the churches are not satisfied taking well over $82.5 billion annually (2013) on top of the over $28 billion in “faith-based initiatives” from taxpayers “compelled” to support religion. They demand that taxpayers pay for private religious schools and want more of their dollars.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court added to those horrific dollar amounts in what appears to be a small way, but they also opened the door for ungodly amounts of taxpayer money to be stolen from public eduction to fund private religious schools. The High Court ruled that it was unfair, and one seriously nasty form of religious persecution, for Missouri’s Constitution to forbid a religious school from taking taxpayer money to improve its playground. It may seem like a small thing, compelling taxpayers to fund improvements for a religious organization’s property, but it was the opening evangelical school choice advocates, and evangelical Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, demanded to compel public schools to “promote god’s kingdom” by government fiat and with taxpayer money.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos celebrated the Trinity decision as a victory for the taxpayer-funded religious school choice movement, which has gained momentum and stands to expand under the Trump administration.

Trump’s budget features a $1.4 billion religious school choice package that includes millions of taxpayer dollars for evangelical families to send their children to private, for profit religious schools.

DeVos is a staunch and lifelong advocate for compelling  taxpayers to fund private, for-profit religious schools. She is also a notorious evangelical and public education enemy who attended and sent her children to private religious schools; likely because they met her requirement that schools exist to “promote god’s kingdom.”

DeVos said the High Court decision affirmed her belief that  “religious discrimination in any form cannot be tolerated in a society that values the First Amendment;” unless of course religion drives discrimination against people of color and the LGBTQ community, then DeVos tolerates “religious discrimination.” She said after the Trinity ruling was announced:

We should all celebrate the fact that [bible-based] programs designed to help students will no longer be discriminated against by the government based solely on religious affiliation.”

DeVos wasn’t the only evangelical celebrating a ruling that opened the door for compelling Americans to support a religion, place, or ministry. The senior attorney for the Institute for Justice who represents evangelicals who couldn’t convince authorities in Colorado to compel taxpayers  to pay for religious school tuition through scholarship grants, Michael Bindas said:

This is a tremendous development for [religious] school choice. It shows the court takes the principle of neutrality toward religion in public benefits programs very seriously. We’re very confident that the Colorado Supreme Court may come to the correct decision.”

Evangelicals claimed that Colorado’s Constitution, and its Supreme Court’s judgement that the state’s Choice Scholarship Program’s  prohibited public funding to “ support or sustain any school that is controlled by any church or sectarian denomination” was patently unfair to evangelicals. The Colorado evangelicals are demanding the Colorado Supreme Court correct their error and start compelling all Colorado taxpayers to “financially support a religion, place of worship, and ministry.

It is always a mystery why so-called Constitutional advocates in the Republican movement are intent on compelling Americans to pay for religious instruction with money appropriated for public schools. This week Kentucky governor and evangelical malcontent Matt Bevin signed a bill into law legalizing bible-courses disguised as social studies in the state’s public school system. Bevin said at a signing ceremony:

The idea that we would not want this to be an option for people in school, that would be crazy. I don’t know why every state would not embrace this, why we as a nation would not embrace this.”

To answer Bevin’s question; every state and the nation is not embracing compelling taxpayers to pay for “religious instruction, places of worship, or bible classes” because it is patently unconstitutional, and not all Americans are religious welfare queens. The Kentucky religious imposition bill demands that religious classes “must discuss all aspects of the Christian bible because they are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”

The evangelical zealots in Kentucky’s Republican legislature and governor’s office claim that teaching the Christian bible is the only way for students “to get a better insight on the structure of the country.” One Republican advocate for compelling taxpayers to  support “a ministrysaid the law will “help educate our kids on the background of how they came up with our founding documents.” Founding documents, by the way, that make absolutely no mention of the Christian bible, the Christian religion, or how religion was used in developing the “structure the country” because they did not.

The SCOTUS ruling this week, although seemingly harmless, is being touted as probably the most important High Court ruling all year and that is no exaggeration. It gave evangelicals the opening they have lusted after to tear down the wall of separation the Founders installed in the Constitution to protect the population from a theocracy. The immediate celebratory comments by DeVos and evangelicals intent on “compelling Americans to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever” informs that not only was the SCOTUS ruling significant, it was a dangerous step towards a government ruled by an evangelical theocracy.