ESCANABA - Seven years ago Nixon political strategist Kevin Phillips wrote in "Wealth and Democracy" that America was becoming a plutocracy, government by the wealthy.
It is advantageous for plutocrats to champion the message of no taxes and reliance on the market forces, which they control, to fix society's problems. They have found useful spokespersons in today's politics.
Fifty years ago John Kennedy called us to "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." We were to work for the greater good in America. We don't hear much about Kennedy's call in this age.
The Baby Boom Generation produced "me first" people, a frame of reference plutocrats exploit. During the Vietnam era military draft some Boomers avoided the draft but later became hawks while they stayed safe and secure.
Former Vice President Cheney dodge duty in Vietnam. When asked why he didn't serve his country at that time Mr. Cheney said "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." He was taking post graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin.
From the safety of Washington, D.C. or Wyoming Mr. Cheney was a key player in sending young men and women, who didn't have his "priorities," into Iraq.
While CEO of Haliburton Mr. Cheney starred in a video promoting the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson, later implicated in accounting fraud at Enron, saying ""I get good advice, if you will, from their people [Arthur Andersen], based upon how we are doing business and how we are operating, over and above the normal, by-the-books auditing arrangement."
Newt Gingrich, co-author of the 1994 Contract with America, likewise came of age during the Vietnam War. Like Mr. Cheney, Mr. Gingrich now talks of attacking a variety of countries, but when he was at the age for military service he dodged using student deferments.
Bellicose bloviater Rush Limbaugh avoided the Vietnam draft using the excuse of a pilonidal cyst. The Mayo Clinic website says this cyst is harmless except when it becomes infected. Then it can be painful.
What is striking is the facility these politicos have for sending others to the fight in wars when they so assiduously avoided their own military service. Their notion of privilege makes them perfect puppets for the plutocrat message of "me first."
It is not surprising then that the Cheney-Gingrich-Limbaugh clique support tax policies which make the wealthy wealthier leaving the rest of Americans bearing the financial burden of their wars.
The triumph of plutocracy was highlighted at the CNN/Tea Party presidential debate a couple of weeks ago when Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul whether an uninsured comatose patient should be left to die. Mr. Paul said that the uninsured should take their own risks. Members of the audience shouted "Yeah" when Mr. Blitzer whether whether such a person should be allowed to die.
Tough talk has replaced substance. Politicians from Texas tend to talk bringing it on and shooting coyotes with hollow point bullets.
Rick Perry bragged about using hollow point bullets and a laser sight to shoot a coyote that was bothering his dog. George Bush told insurgents in Iraq to "bring it on." Of course, President Bush was several thousand miles away and surrounded by protection when the insurgents "bring it on."
Teddy Roosevelt said America should speak softly and carry a big stick. These guys speak loudly and dodge responsibility. Not only do they not ask what they can do for America, Cheney, Gingrich and Limbaugh turned their backs in their on duty and line their pockets defending wealth.
It would be refreshing to hear a call to service to all Americans. In a plutocracy hard work and dangerous duty is reserved for the others not the "me first" crowd.
When asked why the Democrats did not react to the influence of big money and did not capitalize on the Bush family's connections with the Enron scandal, Mr. Phillips said, "because they're so interested in raising money that they can't see their soul in the mirror."
EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at uppermichiganlaw.com/richard-clark.html