174 Comments

Thank you Robert for clarifying why I'm so far left. Full disclosure, I'm your age, my progressive/left beliefs haven't changed, ever. I was a history major, taught holocaust sturdies to high school students so I have no illusion at what I see happening in the US now and I am terrified. Handing "W" the presidency from the Supreme Court, Mitch McConnell shepherding in Citizens United for the Koch Bros, Scotus knocking down voting rights, etc, and now criminalizing abortion. (The Nazi's did that in the 1930's silencing doctors and information.) A legal analyst stated last night that the government is going to go after gay marriage next. Republican led states clearly behaving like authoritarian governments literally imposing outrageous laws on Covid that will kill their constituents and shutting down free and fair elections, run by the state, decided by the state. (Omg) Petrify people and you control them. I left the Democratic Party years ago because I hold them complicit for where the country is now. Like a previous writer here I want to leave the US and am planning my emigration. I truly believe now, and it's taken me a long time to to say this out loud, the future is dark and hopeless here. Our institutions have been methodically hollowed out, Americans are profoundly ignorant for many reasons. As long as right-wing hate speech and conspiracy theories are the megaphone to society with nothing to dismantle it, surly nothing can change.

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One more thing to add: They killed the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987. And yet another one: We granted US citizenship to Rupert Murdoch so he could own own broadcast licenses here.

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founding

yes, so important.

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thank you Claire. your comments are succinct and on the money...I almost said right-on...yes, there are TOO many republican / right-wing efforts that are hauntingly similar to the 1930s Nazi Germany...I had thought about emigrating somewhere years ago but have not pulled the trigger...but again we can look forward to thoughts and prayers for the kids in Michigan

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The USA is becoming a third-world nation. Every day, it resembles more and more, Iran. Here comes China to take the lead.

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50 years from now, we may not exist as a country. Certainly not the country we are familiar with. The tyranny of the minority will be the rule of the day, and the majority will be permanently and completely excluded from our so-called "democracy". Unless we drastically change our electoral system (e. g., dissolve the electoral college, have strong term limits for all top US Government offices including judicial), things will only get worse. The question is only how quickly this will happen. It has already accelerated beyond our wildest nightmares. I hope you can convince me that I am wrong.

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author

Yes, dissolve the electoral college, establish term limits for all top government officials, abolish the filibuster, and establish national minimum voting rights standards. These four are necessary ... now. They are within our grasp, now. In a few years, it will be too late.

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What about gerrymandering? I also think elections should be made a federally controlled matter, NOT a state-by-state tragicomedy.

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Federal elections should be controlled, for sure.

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Doesn't dissolving the electoral college require a constitutional amendment? Is that possible in today's environment?

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founding

check the National Fair Elections initiative - we could do it if states with more than 270 electoral college votes total join this pledge to give all electoral college votes to winner of National vote (rather than state vote). there is an initiative to put this on the ballot in Michigan in fall 2022. almost 20 states have signed.

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The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact only needs another state of at least 5 electoral votes to sign and then the EC is effectively toast. Michigan is not a signatory and has 15 EVs; Virginia has 13 EVs and hasn't signed on, either.

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Thanks for the info! Since this removes the Republican advantage in Presidential elections, they will sue, and it will end up in the Supreme Court. Not sure how the Court would decide.

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Tim, Though I could be wrong, I don’t believe the Court could mount credible opposition in defiance of an interstate compact that amounted to 270+ electoral votes. My assertion is based on my understanding that the most strident textualist could not find any Constitutional provision upon which to mount such opposition. I wish I were as confident about Roe, whose passage was based on one’s right to privacy, a provision its opponents could show is not rooted in the Constitution.

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We could start impeaching them when their rulings go against Democracy and the Constitution.

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Let's hope we have that much time!

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Eugene, I have the same fear concerning our existence. I have always been a left-leaning centrist, but have found my beliefs demonized as “socialist” as if wanting a fair society was a bad thing! My beliefs have not changed, but the “right” has become extreme in almost every way. I fear for the future of the generations ahead.

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Regrettably, unlike our European counterparts who can differentiate between Democratic Socialism, that merely calls for a more equitable distribution of a nation’s wealth, and Socialism, that advocates for government control and ownership of the means of production, Americans largely are susceptible to Republican’s conflation of the two to serve their own interests. I find myself continually reverting to the prescient James Madison, who foresaw that “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”

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I don't think we have to wait 50 years for that. It is here right now. Everyone says what will happen when. Well, it is happening in the here and now, right now we are losing our Democracy. Not tomorrow.

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On the "bright side," think of what they'll inherit after 50 years of climate change! ];-)>

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sadly that time frame includes my grandsons...7 years of age and their new brother-6 months...what will they have to call home?

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Make sure they're prepared to face what they must face. That's all you can do.

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That's a good point. Also, studies suggest that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. So much to look forward to. (sarcasm). Heck, that's why the "I got mine" crowd, is doing space launches now. They want to bail after they trash the place.

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Well said!

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This graph was me in a nutshell as well. Through the years I too have found myself further to the left as republican policies became further to the right. If we stay on this course there will no longer be a "center" at all, it will either be democracy or fascism. The choice is ours.

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author

Sad to say, I think you're right, Susan. The real political divide is no longer liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. It's becoming democracy or fascism.

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There is no center remaining in American politics. There is only good and evil. Right and wrong. Truth and lies.

I left America to live as an ex-pat overseas, because I could no longer live in a country where half the people are evil, believe in lies and reject reality, and are sad to say just plain stupid.

The GOP is a death cult. The USA cannot survive in such a divided and demented environment.

This is a fight to the death. At 73 I won’t see how this story ends, but either America splits up or there is going to be a bloody civil war with domestic terrorism coming from the Anerican Taliban.

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Here's the cherry on top: the victor will get to disambiguate the distinction between good & evil, right & wrong, as well as truth & lies. I like your death cult observation. In my humble opinion, any organized religion promoting the notion of an afterlife is inherently a death cult. You shouldn't need to spend much thoughtful time to recognize the kernel of truth in that.

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Hell! What the devil do you think a cross is ‽

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Our government has become permeated with corruption and self-dealing and selfishness. That is what the right is all about. Trump as president was a perfect manifestation of this. Those of us who believe government should work to improve people's lives need to be consistently active and vociferous. To quote former President Obama, Democracy is not a spectator sport.

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A close friend, a Dane, and I exchange emails about once a week. He is even more pessimistic than I about the future of my country. He once took me to a memorial, three wooden stakes in a simple park. This is where Nazi occupiers tied up and shot resisters, he said. What is unthinkable here today seems more possible to a Dane.

The United States is on a path to fascism, but there is remarkably little resistance or even awareness here. I keep this reminder on my home page: "The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought."

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I want to hear more about how to resist the coming disaster rather than more about how bad it will be. We are not going to change the minds of Trump crazies so what do we do. We vote them out. As many of them as there are there are more of us (us being people who don't want a dictator). We just have to find a way to mobilize everyone. It means doing something that dems have never been good at - agreeing that the alternative (dictator) is bad and acting together to defeat the plan by voting every republican out of office.

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I am not optimistic. I see a lack of urgency, organization, will in the amorphous mass of citizens whose only shared motivation is that they don't like Trump or the Republicans. You win wars when you fight FOR something you believe in, not by fighting AGAINST something you don't like. Another problem: leadership. I love Joe Biden and Merrick Garland. They are effective and competent. But these times call for more vigorous leaders like JFK and Bobby Kennedy.

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founding

I wonder though. Aren’t Republicans just opposers? What do they actually stand for? Whatever hurts Democrats, as far as I can see. If Biden suddenly turned around and started sounding like Reagan they would try to stop him. It’s all about power, not ideology.

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It's deceit at a fundamental level. As long as they're attacking Democrats, they're not betraying the monstrous policies they have in mind to inflict on us all. As a bonus, they're not promising anything, so they can't even be accused of breaking promises. The only promise they have to offer is to replace Democrats if elected. If you're head's spinning with all that, you must get used to assessing psychopathic logic.

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Voting rights are key which reminds me that it's time to send another message to Joe about shifting a little more of his attention to voting rights, and that it's finally time for him to get serious about it and the filibuster standing in its way; plus maybe a message to Senator Feinstein who like Joe is a traditionalist and hasn't spoken out about either issue yet as far I can tell.

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Here's a hint. Under no circumstance make any such plans >anywhere near< the internet! Just sayin'.

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Huh. Fancy that. The post I responded to seems to have been removed.

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founding

we all see it coming but don't know how to prevent it

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I totally agree with comments from Audrey F, Carolyn H., and, most of all DZK. I have always contended that the most highly paid jobs in a society reflect what that society values the most. In our country, it is "entertainment" that is valued the highest, mostly sports or music. I feel that a country doctor, a teacher or a plumber contribute more to societal well being than a pop singer or a boxer. Yet here we are....

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compare Gretas # of followers to Kylie J's - courtesy Bill Mahr

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Let us not forget the outsized incomes of the handlers of money aka Wall Street.

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You're right about one thing. With the exception of my vague reference to Jesse Ventura, I short-shrifted jock darlings and pop music stars. That gargantuan intellect of the Senate, Tommy Tuberville, comes to mind. I also forgot about Republican Congressman Sonny Bono. The Republicans seem to really like rich entertainers. They seem to attract 'em like flies, to their dung heap.

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Glad my words weren't wasted on "deaf ears." Thank you for "hearing" them.

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founding

You rock, DZK. I always look forward to your posts.

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Yes! I agree and I’ll tell you why.

I was once a Republican a little right of center. I am also an evangelical Christian. Well, what that meant in past terms. While still a Bible believing Christian, I do not identify AT ALL with the body that now claims that moniker. Not one iota! I now stand WITH the progressive left.

I can not understand how those that claim to love Jesus can stand against a living wage, healthcare, childcare and basic human rights. I just don’t get it. This country can well afford it. The priority though isn’t people but corporations and the military.

It’s plain that the right WORSHIPS the military and firearms.

The supporters of the former president don’t even know what fascism is and what it means. Not only is that a shame, it’s deeply embarrassing.

During the previous presidents tenure, I stood in Zeppelin Fields, the German tour guide spoke about Hitler and referred to Trump in the same sentence! During that trip I visited about 8 countries and the people I encountered along the way always seemed to ask, “what is going on in your country?” And also asked if I voted for that person.

Robert, What can we do to make sure we don’t end up with a dictator? I can’t believe I’m even saying this. The checks and balances seem to be broken. I think we need an amendment to the constitution putting into place some basic qualifications to run for office and need to pass a US history test and psych evaluation.

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About the "what is going on in your country?" questions, it's always interesting to me in what people in other countries actually think of us and our government. Having lived in Europe in the seventies, I know firsthand that Americans were not universally liked. We always claim we're the greatest nation on earth, but are we really? We're certainly not behaving that way recently, and probably for a while now. I believe President Biden is trying to change our relationships around the world to one of diplomacy, but how can he be successful when we're still so divided internally? I assume that's when Biden claims that America is back, other world leaders keep asking him, "Are you really back?".

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BBC, Deutche Welle, Eruo News, and - to a bit lesser extent - Al Jazeera should be good council for you. Unlike RTE, and whatever the English language Chinese press is, AJ is pretty good, as long as you keep in mind it's orientation - who it generally speaks to/for about what. The Russians & Chinese are occasionally good to get an idea of what they're preachin' 'bout the US.

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Joe is the captain of the Titanic.

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lol

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Where will today’s center be 25 years from now? Canada.

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Maybe sooner than that!

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If we still exist!?

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founding

The loss of the fairness doctrine in 1987 cannot be overemphasized, as someone just commented. How can we get it back???

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I don’t know the answer. But if Regan could banish fairness, Biden can re-institute it, right?

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Cable and internet media are big players now and would not be covered by simply reinstating the fairness doctrine.

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At the current direction and pace, the United States won’t exist in 25 years. Maybe not in 15. Democrats need to hold the GOP and insurrectionists accountable, but their slow sluggish lackluster approach has only empowered the would be fascists even more.

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Are you not describing the Weimar Republic?

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I think the rise of "big entertainment" is and will continue to be a major force in molding whatever the future holds. That's new in world history. Prior to "The Great War, part II," the industry was as sophisticated as the biplane at the onset of that great war's part I. Even privative radio at that time was instrumental in the rise of The Third Reich. After The Great War, part II came television, which has been shown to have played a crucial role in JFK's election, where the tipping point of the election involved JFK's strong and energetic TV image vs Nixon's weak and rumpled TV image. TV & radio provided it's own peculiar brand of entertainment, but the news had not yet been subsumed as a form of entertainment, although had proven itself as overwhelmingly effective in the proliferation of political propaganda. The rise of the internet ushered in the advent of the "24 hour news cycle" that evolved into the info-tainment we now think of as the daily news.

Of course, the film industry had been around since prior to the 20th Century, and Hollywood was becoming increasingly sophisticated about advertising itself and its "stars," the lead actors of its films. While "cinema," the featured films, and it's starring role actors were becoming increasingly sophisticated, the second feature films helped fill the rest of an evening out's entertainment for a huge percentage of the population enjoying themselves after work. Cowboy movies, crime movies, detective movies, comedies, and monster movies were all common genera's in the "B movies," the second feature films.

All of that, as well as the stars featured in all those movies, found their way into television, as television was learning to produce it's own entertainments featuring its own set of stars. Televangelism is a unique innovation in TV broadcast. Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham are among the famous televangelists. Among the "iconic" TV & movie roles of all that were "The Old Ranger," Dirty Harry, & "The Terminator." The Old ranger later became a president, The Terminator and a TV fake "rassler" later became state governors, while Dirty Harry became the mayor of Carmel, CA - each of which a millionaire in their own right, and 20th Century FOX a power behind the scenes. That list is by no means comprehensive. Disney, Paramount, and Warner, millionaires and moguls all, were already the masters of media before media became an internet "thing," all are conservative, and all have had a hand in "shaping the hearts and minds" of the US consciousness. Their stock-in-trade is presenting alternative views of reality as entertainment. What's more, they all know that a large portion of the public will ultimately believe anything they tell them to believe, and they all intend to keep it that way. I suspect the political spectrum will shift as far to whatever direction on the political spectrum best serves the interest of big entertainment. After all, they are the messengers that create the message, where "the medium >is< the message." Meditate on that last quotation awhile to fully appreciate how terrifying that message really is.

A few suggested links discussing the media/message:

https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?entryid=2781

https://masscommunicate.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/technological-determinism-marshall-mcluhan.pdf

https://psmag.com/environment/medium-message-50-years-later-91552

http://www.individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm

https://www.obtaineudaimonia.com/medium-message-marshall-mcluhan

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In case the link won't expand for you to see the full post:

each of which a millionaire in their own right, and 20th Century FOX a power behind the scenes. That list is by no means comprehensive. Disney, Paramount, and Warner, millionaires and moguls all, were already the masters of media before media became an internet "thing," all are conservative, and all have had a hand in "shaping the hearts and minds" of the US consciousness. Their stock-in-trade is presenting alternative views of reality as entertainment. What's more, they all know that a large portion of the public will ultimately believe anything they tell them to believe, and they all intend to keep it that way. I suspect the political spectrum will shift as far to whatever direction on the political spectrum best serves the interest of big entertainment. After all, they are the messengers that create the message, where "the medium >is< the message." Meditate on that last quotation awhile to fully appreciate how terrifying that message really is.

https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?entryid=2781

https://masscommunicate.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/technological-determinism-marshall-mcluhan.pdf

https://psmag.com/environment/medium-message-50-years-later-91552

http://www.individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm

https://www.obtaineudaimonia.com/medium-message-marshall-mcluhan

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ERRATA: Typo. Should read: "Even >primitive< radio at that time was instrumental in the rise of The Third Reich.

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I failed to mention that iconic movie character "Moses," from "The Ten Commandments," was a long-time president of the NRA - a major, if allegedly waning force in current politics.

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DKZ - long ago when Frito-lay was on strike, one of the phrases the union used , concerning the product and aditives was ; "You are what You Eat".

It also applies to what you feed your brain; as you have so ably and clearly stated.

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Frankly, I fear that in 25 years there will be no center unless Biden and our Democratic lawmakers get far more aggressive and take on Republicans face to face. I suggest Dems start by confronting Republicans who propose nothing, stand for nothing, and vote against everything and start asking,“What are you in favor of? Don’t tell me what you oppose; tell me what you are in favor of for your community.”

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They'll say they are for the unborn, gun owners, and "freedom" from mandates, but of course these are really just in opposition of abortion rights, commonsense gun regulation, and COVID health measures. "My" Congressional Representative just announced that he helped create a rights of the unborn bill. Otherwise he's been against everything Democrats have proposed.

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Michael: Your reply is spot-on. Had I had more time this morning I would have been more explicit. For example, I would have urged that Republicans who voted against BIF (Bipartisan Infrastructure) be forced to explain whether they’re against fixing the lead pipes, against building and fixing the roads, against investing in transit, broadband, and the like. As for House Republicans who voted against BBB ( Build Back Better), I would have insisted they explain whether they’re against affordable child care, universal pre-K, investments in housing, investments in elder care and home and community-based care, investments in climate, and so forth. Considering we are the wealthiest country on earth and can afford to spend $750 billion yearly on the military, I wouldn’t have accepted BS rationalizations like the impact of doing this or that on increasing inflation and high gas prices or the standard excuse about the amount of money that we just don’t have that would be needed.

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Slowly working my way through Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here.” (Sorry ‘bout the quotes; don’t know how to do underlining in these msgs) Written almost 100 years ago with a storyline based on a “populist” who captures the presidency and immediately disassembles American democracy in favor of an autocracy based on loyalty to him. He has the ignorant complicity of “aggrieved” people who sound very similar to a lot of folks making headlines these days. This is a very disturbing book with too much grounding in our reality to casually dismiss.

This has given me pause to consider what living in a single-party system would be like. It occurs to me as a resident of Alabama that I already do live in such a situation. There are between 2 to 3 republicant voters to a single democrat in every election except that of Doug Jones. Mr Jones won the Senate seat because the GOP put up a proud bigot and pedoflile. The rule of law strongly protects the propertied and serves the monied. The rest, eh, not so much. The exercise of power by rich white men has never been seriously challenged here. The remaining steps to complete the journey as depicted by Lewis are becoming preciously few.

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The country first began moving right in 1981 when Reagan became president and became so popular with the white working class. Some in the Democratic party saw how successful Reagan was in getting large sums of money for his campaigns and in winning his elections that they set out to do the same. This was the start of the corporate Democrats which were personified by Bill Clinton. It was a big mistake by the Democrats because you can't out corporate the Republicans. It led the way to Democrats turning their back on working people and turning away from Unions, which are the bread and butter of working people. I see some hope for the future however because of the strength and voting power of the current Progressive movement. They want to return the Democratic party back to being the party of FDR which is desperately needed.

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I am with you, brother; but I can’t imagine that it can happen.

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The “Founders” believed the 1st Amendment guaranteeing the freedom of speech and a free press would form the “4th leg of the stool” keeping the government in check. Then, as now, people’s opinion’s varied widely but they relied on newspapers – the predominate if not soul source of information – would clearly distinguish opinion from facts.

Today, unfortunately, the right-leaning press – FOX, Wall Street Journal, NY Post, etc. – doesn’t differentiate opinion from facts. Unless, and until, all news media are required to differentiate opinion from fact our democracy will remain on very ‘thin ice.’

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I discuss what the founders had no way of even imagining in the late 18th Century in my earlier comment about "big entertainment." They aren't the 4th leg. They "own" the 4th leg.

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separating 'opinion from fact' is all well and good but THE issue is unabashed lying and overtly fostering ignorance amongst the voters

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