In any society there are as many movements as there are special interest groups or widely-held opinions about nearly any subject imaginable. Because of free speech, instantaneous communications, and a multi-cultural society, America has hundreds of movements jockeying for attention and influence in government and only a select few are well-funded organizations that seriously impact legislation, the public, or leading politicians. It is a fairly good indicator that the Occupy Movement is having an impact on politicians and, in a larger sense, the Republican Party when GOP leaders come out against the populist uprising. It was telling, then, that a leading Republican presidential candidate called on President Obama to repudiate the Occupy Movement.
At a speech in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich, the Republican leader-of-the-moment, said “I repudiate, and I call on the President to repudiate, the concept of the 99 and the 1. It is un-American, it is divisive, it is historically false.” There are problems with Gingrich’s comments and as much truth as there are blatant lies. One thing is for certain; the Occupy Movement and their message of representing the 99% is having a profound impact on Republicans who created the class war Gingrich repudiates. Gingrich plagiarized the President when he said, “When I am president, I will be president of all the American people.” Those are endearing words from a man who belongs to the party that represents the 1% and has bestowed favors, advantages, and special tax breaks at the expense of 99% of Americans.
Gingrich was correct when he said the concept of the 99 and the 1 is un-American, and yet Republicans created the “reality” that government works primarily for one percent; it is no longer a concept when 1% holds most of the wealth while 99% of Americans are struggling to survive in an economy Republicans produced through deregulation of the financial sector and inequitable tax cuts for the wealthy. He was also correct when he claims the concept-turned-reality is divisive but, when 99% of the people are held in contempt by Republicans who seek myriad ways to keep them poor, voiceless, unemployed, and little hope of ever achieving more than sustenance existence, it is more than divisive; it is plutocracy. The fallacy in Gingrich’s statement is that the ‘concept’ of 99 and the 1 is that it is historically false. The wealthy have always received unfair advantages working Americans never realize, but since the neo-conservative movement gained power during the Bush administration, the 1% have ascended as royalty in the Republican mindset making them worthy of protection, taxpayer dollars, and unlimited prosperity.
Republicans use the tired canard of class warfare every time President Obama and Democrats have sought tax increases on the wealthy, and repudiating the Occupy movement fits into their narrative that it is un-American to oppose favoring the rich over the rest of the population. The American people are becoming more politically and economically savvy to Republican policies that favor wealthy Americans, and as the Occupy movement grows and gains support from the middle and lower classes, Republicans will face more opposition in the class war they started.
Republicans escalated the class war against the 99% with enthusiasm during the Bush years and they show no signs of backing down from their policies that are destroying 99% of the population. During the lead up to the 2010 elections, House minority leader Eric Cantor said that his party had “screwed up and learned their lesson” and would work for all the American people creating jobs. However, as soon as the 112th Congress began, Republicans embarked on a slash and burn campaign aimed at cutting programs that benefit 99% of the population. They have killed consumer protections, jobs, social safety nets, and aid to the poor and elderly to make room for more tax breaks for the wealthy.
There is little doubt Republicans created and are protecting the one percent at the expense of the rest of the population and the American people are aware of who caused the income inequality. A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported that “60% of Americans strongly agree that the economic imbalance comes from policies that favor the rich over the rest of the country,” and “55% said income inequality is a significant problem in the country.” If more Americans paid attention to what Republicans have done and intend to do, most of the 99% would agree the GOP favors the one percent to the detriment of the rest of the country. Republicans are so strongly entrenched with the richest Americans that they have ignored the will of the people who overwhelmingly favor raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for job creation. A Democratic pollster said, “From the perspective of policy, there is a huge gap between what the public wants the government to do and the positions of the Republican Party on those issues. The public has a clear understanding that, at a time when the rich are doing well and everyone else is struggling, the Republicans have aligned themselves squarely with those at the very top.”
Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of “designing legislation to fail in the hopes of trying to frame up next year’s election,” and that,” the House has been busy all year passing bipartisan jobs bills that we could rally around in a sign of unity and common concern for the millions of Americans who are looking for jobs.” McConnell is a liar because Republican job creation plans are more tax cuts for the richest 1% and eliminating environmental and financial regulations that protect the 99%. There is a real, divisive, Republican-induced class war and it is the richest 1% against the entire population and not a concept as Gingrich claims.
If Newt Gingrich or any Republican thinks repudiating the reality of the 99% and the 1% will make it go away, they are dreaming. The Occupy movement did not invent the 99% versus the 1%, but their protests have made the public aware of the class war that has been underway for decades. The problem for Republicans now is that the 99% are finally speaking up because as long as they were voiceless, Republicans never decried class warfare and quietly gave advantages and entitlements to the rich and their corporations. All Americans do not have the same opportunities as the wealthy elite and no amount of repudiation by Newt Gingrich will convince the 99% who have lost wealth, jobs, homes, and their voice in government will change what he calls a “concept of 99 and the one.”
Republicans acknowledge their special relationship with the richest 1% of Americans with every attempt at cutting their taxes and they show no signs of feeling public pressure to change. They also show their abhorrence and contempt for 99% of Americans with every round of spending cuts aimed at the poor, children, retirees, and the middle class. If Gingrich or any Republican wants to end the class war they started, they have ample time to step up and follow the will of the people instead of repudiating a conflict they started.
For Gingrich to call on President Obama to join him and his Republican cohorts in repudiating a real, divisive, historically factual, American populist movement opposed to the GOP’s war on the 99% is tantamount to asking him to repudiate the sun. Unlike Republicans, President Obama understands the Occupy movement and 99% of Americans they represent have been under assault from Republicans and has fought for the people since his first day in office. Gingrich may pretend he is unaware of the class war, and he can renounce it daily, but his policies, rhetoric, and actions as a legislator and candidate show he is squarely on the side of the 1%. Subsequently, he and his Republican friends will pay a steep price for perpetuating the war and trying to convince 99% of Americans who are struggling to survive that their losses are a concept. The Occupy movement will continue frightening Republicans and no amount of denial or repudiation will stop it from growing to haunt them in the next election.