The Tea Party of the Left

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Until the passage of Prop 13, California used to have the best education system in the country and one of the best in the world.  Now it shares the shame of next-to-last place with Mississippi in the race to the bottom as the dumbing down of America continues unabated.  Not only did that reactionary legislation with its supermajority traps hamstring the predominantly Democratic state with minority Republican rule, it has led directly to the obscenity of a gold-plated prison industrial complex with the lobby for the prison guards union running Sacramento. 

While the owners of commercial property have made out like bandits, public education has been eviscerated and our schools impoverished.  But even worse, this malevolently misplaced priority perpetuates a cycle of social failure, as unschooled kids are fed into the prison system as ill-educated inmates only to return to the streets as skilled sociopaths.

Lately it has become increasingly clear to me that on a national level, right wing Republicans have an investment in destroying public education which they are doing by blaming teachers, promoting “Christian” privatization and deliberately cutting funding.  The less educated the voter, the more likely they are to vote for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. 

And while the Republican establishment is desperately trying to promote an intelligent and reasonable Jon Huntsman as their presidential candidate, the monster that Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have unleashed is likely to propel Palin through the primaries to victory.

But there is another Tea Party that I am unfortunately familiar with, and it is just as ignorant, inchoate and dangerous as the one on the right, and that is the Tea Party of the left.  And while the far fringes of the right and left merge with anti-government conspiracies of the likes of Alex Jones, what they share in common is a hostile rejection of the Republican Party by the right and the Democratic Party by the left.  However the difference is the right votes and the left doesn’t.

But that is not to say the Kochs, Karl Rove and Dick Army have not successfully co-opted the Tea Party by cleverly re-branding the Republican right wing and driving it to victory.  But its twin on the left, instead of propelling the Democratic Party from within to majority rule, is dragging it down into an apathetic minority.

A microcosm of this sad phenomenon is on display with the pending capture of the Pacifica radio network by a cultish, conspiratorial, uneducated pseudo-left that claims political activism while encouraging alienation and self-marginalization.  What was once the platform for dissent and political activism in the sixties and an incubator and outlet for some of our greatest dramatists, poets, novelists and singers, is now a pathetic perch for purveyors of political fiction and medical fraud.

Following a phony revolution in response to a mythical corporate takeover, the Pacific network saddled itself with an onerous Soviet-style “democratic” governance structure that punishes listeners and soaks up their money with endless elections that less than 10% of listeners participate in. 

This pseudo-democratic farce not only results in the election of disruptive fringe dwellers, it could easily be captured by stealth candidates from a cult or a front for a right wing or “Christian” organization out to grab some of the most valuable broadcast licenses in the land.  Short of that, these elections often end up in expensive lawsuits in addition to the millions that were paid out in the name of “freeing” Pacifica.   

Having driven away two thirds to three quarters of their audience over the past decade, in order to avert bankruptcy, Pacifica’s airwaves have lately been turned over to New Age quacks and peddlers of miracle cures, as well as right wing anti-government hucksters.  While proclaiming to be holier than NPR by not taking corporate money, Pacifica’s increasingly frequent and interminable fund drives have become free infomercials for corporate bottom feeders who promote their snake oil for profit while claiming the mantle of resistance, revolution and investigative journalism. 

Worse still, is the anti-science sales pitches that accompany these miracle cures, making the people’s radio on the left indistinguishable from the corporate-funded global warming deniers and creationists.  And morally reprehensible does not even begin to describe those who exploit dying cancer patients with the promise of a cure from a revolutionary natural elixir that Big Pharma is trying to suppress. 

If it wasn’t so pernicious it would be laughable, but without any moral, ethical or political compass, Pacifica’s pursuit of “health and spirituality” will likely lead to an FCC license challenge due to the flagrant misuse of the public’s money and airwaves for the private gain of a few patent medicine peddlers. 

If the only rationale for selling their soul to the lowest bidder is that it pays the bills, then why not promote pornography in fund drives?  People like it and there’s a lot of money to be made.  But in the end, maybe it comes down to the number of gullible hypochondriacs and political illiterates there are on the left in America.  Even though they are not really on the left.