Monday, October 12, 2009

A Paradigm for Today's Democrats? FDR's Response to the Plot to Overthrow Him

ALAN NASSER, professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College, wrote an article one year ago titled,A coup attempt against the United States.”

Nasser makes some observations that I didn’t touch on in my recent column – Was Roosevelt coup attempt inspiration for one against him?”

The most unsettling topic that he brought up was that Bush family patriarch, Prescott Bush, was among the group of conspirators against Roosevelt.

Photo: General Smedley Butler

From the article: 

Thus, fascist tendencies gestating deep within the culture of the U.S. ruling class were effectively left to develop unhindered by mass political mobilization.

Might this grisly episode have important implications for our understanding of the current political moment? One may be inclined to think so on the basis of the fact that one of the architects of the plot was one Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush. Bush, along with many other big businessmen, had maintained friendly relations in 1933 and 1934 with the new German government of Chancellor Adolf Hitler, and was designated to form for his class conspirators a working relationship with that government.”

Later in the article Nasser sums up Prescott Bush’s legacy:

“…the implications of this unsettling piece of history for contemporary politics run deeper than many –especially soi disant “oppositional” liberals- would like to think.

There is the temptation to point triumphantly to George W. Bush’s commitment to the irrelevance of the Constitution, his corresponding contempt for hitherto taken-for-granted fundamental human rights, his Hobbesian notion of unbridled sovereignty, his militarized notion of political power - there is the temptation to regard these fascist elements as the most significant contemporary remnant of the 1934 conspiracy.”

  Among some of the interesting feedback from readers of my column was the criticism that I didn’t talk about the Bush family connection in the plot. It was like they wanted blood. The intent of my column was not to polarize people. I made sure to make no references to any political party or ideology that would turn readers off.

I let the reader’s come to their own conclusions. If they wanted to investigate further into the whole Roosevelt coup attempt, they were welcome too. One reader – pegging me as a liberal by insinuation, commented that if someone from the “Right” wrote my column, people would jump all over that person. How can I really respond to that anger?

I just want people to see the strikingly similar historical comparisons to FDR’s and Obama’s first year in office. I mentioned a current article by NewsMax columnist, John L. Perry, because it showed that some people think a coup against Obama may be necessary to stop him.

Even Perry’s part about finding a “patriotic general” to lead the coup was ripped from the pages of 1933-34 when the conspirators enlisted General Butler.

We can, and should, learn from history. I’m not saying that there’s a legitimate organized attempt to overthrow Obama (like you, I’d be the last to know about that).

 I’m saying we have to look at what is motivating people today with their raging, raw rhetoric, ramping up at numerous public meetings in the last six months. Loaded rifles at town hall gatherings, and NRA Shooting targets with Obama’s image on them, aren’t good things.

The thing I see is an anger that could easily lead to Obama’s assassination when you look at how some are categorizing him like he’s the devil or Adolf Hitler. The FBI is having trouble keeping up with the hate groups and the lunatic fringe that are calling for Obama’s ouster – dead or alive.

Here’s what I know for sure. A majority of Americans voted for Obama and that’s why he’s president. The Republicans lost, and the party is floundering around trying to find a new identity that will take them in a new direction, and make them a viable party again.

The message I want to get out is that all this ideological warfare among the two major political parties is destroying our democracy. Congress is more like ancient Rome’s coliseum – a spectacle for the masses, with nothing good coming from it.  

The losers are the common man and his family. The country’s poor and uninsured. The homeless population. No one in Congress – or any other political position – seems likely to stop the damn bickering!

As It Stands, will someone please tell me if there is any hope that the paralyzed political system we’re stuck with can be fixed?  

1 comment:

Dave Berman said...


The very powers you adeptly describe at the root of today's fascism will continue to dominate us as long as they control the terms of public discourse. The power "they" have over "us" comes partly from our passive consent, which is assumed and taken for granted, and in turn reflects our complicity in our own harm. So rather than being "stuck" with a "paralyzed" system wondering if we can "fix" it, we are better served imagining what we want instead and manifesting that.