Rep. Steve King, who thinks he lives in an America that doesn’t actually exist and hates the America that does, says liberals hate America because they don’t share his delusions. Right Wing Watch reports that Steve King indulged in this fantasy when speaking this summer to Eagle Forum Collegians, which is apparently a group of young conservatives eager to drink the conservative Kool-Aid.
Of course, that’s not how King sees it, or at least says how he sees it (don’t trust him any farther than you can throw him). In his mind, liberals “don’t love this country [because] they don’t think of this country the way I do.” I suppose to love America we also have to hate immigrants the way he does and think God hates President Obama.
Wow. I did not realize Steve King was the standard used for tests of patriotism in the United States Constitution. Oh snap! There is NO test for patriotism in the United States Constitution, just like there is no religious test.
But what King is really saying is that if you’re not a capitalist you’re not an American. Which is funny because like Jesus, the Ten Commandments and the Bible, you won’t find capitalism in the United States Constitution.
King complains that the citizenship test says the economic system of the United States is “free enterprise capitalism” and that President Obama would get this question wrong.
That may be technically correct, but in fact our economic system is one of crony capitalism, where corporations and government officials exchange money, favors, and kisses (and sometimes more, as the Republican Bush administration demonstrated) as they pat each other eagerly on the back for their mutual enrichment; a “culture of ethical failure” as the Interior Department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney called it in 2008. John Boehner’s involvement (and he is not alone) in the Keystone XL Pipeline demonstrates that this crony capitalism is still the favored economic system of the GOP.
That, and that alone, is the economic system favored by Republicans and by Steve King, meaning despite his pretend self-righteousness, he, too, would get the citizenship question wrong. But let’s listen to him rant:
Forty-seven percent of the students in college don’t believe in capitalism? What is happening America? That’s because the leftists have done this thing: they have verbal jackhammers, they have keyboard jackhammers and they are chiseling away as if they had a jackhammer at the beautiful marble pillars of American exceptionalism. They don’t like the constitution, they don’t love this country, they don’t appreciate the greatness of America, they don’t think of this country the way I do.
Refurbish those beautiful marble pillars of American exceptionalism. If we all do that, then this country can become something even more than the shining city on the hill. If we fail to do that, the left will take over and we’ll descend down into a place that I don’t think you have imagined yet and if I started to describe it I’d leave you on a down note instead of an up note.
A notable problem here (I will leave out his ridiculous paean to nationalism, devotion to which led to World War I) is that nowhere in the United States Constitution is capitalism mentioned. Go ahead, take a look yourself. You won’t find it. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, no religious tests, things people like King don’t approve of, but no capitalism. None. Being socialist is not a violation of the Constitution. The Constitution sets out the organization and functions of our government (functions Republicans don’t understand). It is not an economic plan.
King needs to read some history. He seems to be depending like so many Republicans on the pabulum David Barton spits up. The Constitution was written in a largely agrarian society at the dawn of the industrial revolution, where, in America, products were still largely built by cottage industries and not in factories.
Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was only published in 1776 and you won’t find the word “capitalism” in it because it had not been coined yet (again, go ahead and look). Smith was dealing with a new world of “factories” and “machinery.” The world Karl Marx railed against – a world created by capitalism – in The Communist Manifesto in 1848 did not exist when the Constitution was written or when The Wealth of Nations was penned. In other words, Marx was writing about a set of evils that did not exist in 1776 or even 1787.
That is not to say that there were no economic evils in 1787. The term capitalism itself comes from the word capital, which is something you own, which in the agrarian economy of the 1770s and 80s included slaves and white indentured servants and child labor. Did liberals ruin everything by doing away with indentured servitude, slavery, and child labor? Some Republicans think so, and would happily, they say, bring back all three.
Who is 1776 could have imagined the evils of capitalism run amok as epitomized by the Gilded Age a century later? What could be imagined, and was, was the obligation of the state to provide for its citizens. Adam Smith argued that the national government should engage in socialist activities like building roads and bridges.
Republicans would like to privatize those now but private interests would never build them in the first place, which is why Smith said the government should do it. Smith also though the government should dig canals and build schools, something else Republicans would now like to privatize, even though without the actions of the federal government, we would not have those schools available to privatize.
Capitalism would have been perfectly happy to let the working classes languish in ignorance, another cherished hope of Republicans today. After all, an ignorant electorate, like a white evangelical electorate, is a Republican electorate, which is why they are so diligently engaging in a war on voting rights. They love crony capitalism for the same reason: it keeps them rich and it keeps them in power.
Steve King doesn’t love America. He doesn’t love the Constitution, since he says he puts God above the Constitution (“We’re going to serve God and country in that order”).
He cares about how much cash he can cram into his pockets from the snake oil he sells, and how many lies he can tell about liberalism. King, like most Republicans today, love a fantasy America that doesn’t exist and has never existed, and their echo chamber mentality has made this fantasy America more real to them than the genuine America they actually inhabit.
They blame us for not sharing their fantasies, but the shame is on them insisting their lies are more true than the truth.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.