This is the personal blog of Rick Staggenborg, MD. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Take Back America for the People, an educational 501.c3 nonprofit established by Dr Staggenborg.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I am the son of an anti-union small businessman who is a rock-solid Republican. My mother on the other hand was a liberal with such a bleeding heart I thought that she was going to exsanguinate at any time during the 60s, as her heroes were assassinated one by one. Her depressed disposition was in sharp contrast to my father’s sunny one, which did not waver through the Vietnam War until my brother was severely affected by serving as a marine in Vietnam.

There was difference of opinion between my parents over the idea of killing or dying for a country so sick that it killed its own President, his brother and an internationally respected civil rights leader who just also happened to be opposed to the war for corporate Empire in Vietnam.
  My brother served because my father expected him to to serve, not because he believed the lies of the corporate politicians and media that promoted the war as part of the “war” on communism. The effect of my brother’s emotional injuries caused a rift in my family that took decades to heal.

I was ten years old when my brother went off to Vietnam. By that age I had learned to think for myself, as my father had taught me. I listened to both sides and understood the argument for fighting communism but my eyes told me that we were in a hopeless fight. In those days the war was on in the living room every night, unlike today when the blood and madness of war are carefully kept from a public more interested in whether they can feed their families and keep a roof over their heads than the connection between wars in far off deserts and the war on the middle class at home.

At ten years old I read the newspaper editorial page every day. Our local newspaper struck me as neither particularly liberal nor conservative, as I understood the terms. I developed a facility for looking at both sides of every argument and testing them for logical consistency. Eventually I felt forced to conclude that I was a liberal. What I didn’t know at the time was that traditional conservative values had become so distorted by corporate politicians and the media that the term “conservative “ had lost much of its traditional meaning and that most of the values I picked up from my father were in fact traditional conservative ones.

I didn’t find out the truth until years later, when I met former Nixon Chief Legal Council John Dean and had a long talk with him in 2009 at an American Civil Liberties Union banquet where he was the speaker. We talked about his then-new book Pure Goldwater. It was a biography of a man he knew well and regarded as the epitome of the conservative politician. He had recently completed a trilogy of books about the demise of traditional conservativism and the rise of fascism in the ranks of the Republican Party. Recognizing this, he had left the party some years before and become an independent. This is certainly understandable, as a man like Dean clearly also saw that the Democratic Party was leaning in the same direction as both parties became increasingly dependent on corporate money.

We talked about and mourned the loss of traditional conservative values like tolerance for minorities, avoidance of foreign entanglements, the individual liberty to conduct ones private life as one wishes without government intrusion, paying for wars and other costs of government as you go and respect for the loyal opposition. He had seen firsthand how the naked lust for power could destroy someone like President Nixon, who at one time he had considered a good man. We talked about parallels with John McCain, who had briefly stood out as a maverick within the Republican Party until he was smeared by the Bush slime machine in 2000.

Dean professed no particular affinity for John McCain, who his research showed was held in disdain by Barry Goldwater. McCain’s brief dalliance with standing on principle could not compensate for the hypocrisy of abandoning every principled position he had ever held as the price for securing the Republican presidential nomination. In his blind ambition, he had willingly become a tool of the international corporate terrorists he was fighting for when he was captured and tortured by the Viet Cong.

Once my eyes were opened to what real conservatism was I realized that I was as much a conservative as a liberal. My father taught me the virtues of hard work and self-sufficiency at a young age. Working with him I found him to be as scrupulously ethical in business as he was in his personal life. I learned that he paid union wages and provided health benefits because he believed that it was the right thing to do, not because anyone pressured him to do so. He took pride in his work and taught me the value of hard labor.

I love my parents equally despite their differences. Both taught respect for others, the importance of honesty and integrity, the inherent value of every human being, how to be a good citizen and how to deal with conflict without acrimony. They were both as quick to praise good behavior as to criticize my failings while always making it clear that they did so out of love and in the hope that I would grow to be a good man some day. They understood that to accept the responsibilities of an adult, I must be given the autonomy to fail and to grow from my mistakes.
Having grown up to think for myself, in the end I concluded that I am neither conservative nor liberal, as those terms have been redefined by corporate politicians and the media. I am an American. I value my independence of thought. I refuse to be labeled as being on one side or another of an artificial divide that we have accepted as reality only because of indoctrination with false beliefs in school, in our homes and in the corporate media. I am as proud of my conservative beliefs as those that others would call liberal. They are the product of being raised properly with respect for the ideals that this country was founded on and respect for my fellow Americans and other Peoples of the world.

When enough other Americans realize that our similarities are more important than our differences, the time will come when we will arrive at the collective conclusion that our government has failed us not because the idea of a democratic Republic is inherently flawed. The democratic experiment is failing because we did not maintain the vigilance necessary to ensure that a government created to be of, by and for We the People would thrive and flourish. Under our eyes and with the support of many, our government has been given over to corporate interests with no allegiance to the United States, its people or the other Peoples of the world suffering under the yoke of fascist tyranny.

it is not too strong to label the American government and the New World Order it is fashioning as fascist. It is a sad commentary on the ignorance of history of most Americans that so few remember that the term was coined by Mussolini to describe a government of, by and for the corporate interests. That is what ours has become. If we wish to avoid the mistakes of Germany in the 193os we will remember that if we do not cry out against injustice to any of us, there will be no one left to save us when the fascists come for us, as they clearly intend to do.

There is yet hope that our children will not grow up in a fascist New World Order. All that is required is for Americans to remember their proud history of fighting liberty and justice for all. If we can cast aside the artificial and self-imposed distinctions that divide us we can unite to restore representative democracy to the United States. The key is to recognize that nothing in this world is perfect, including the constitution. The Founders knew full well that selfish men would seek to assume power not meant to be held in a democratic society. That is why they provided a mechanism to change the constitution without overthrowing the government.

The Revolution was sparked by a Tea Party that was a reaction to the granting of special tax privileges to a corporation that had far too much influence in the British government, the East India Company. We are now faced with an similar situation where financial, medical insurance, banking, armaments, security and other corporate interests control all the levers of power in Washington. The revolution is not over, it has just begun. Those of us who want to be proud to live in a nation whose highest values are liberty and justice for all must reach out to our countrymen and unite in the common cause of the modern abolition movement: The abolition of corporate personhood through constitutional amendment.

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