Last night, I went with my wife and two friends to see the movie Vice. The movie was about a Vice President, Dick Cheney, and also about one of the most destructive of vices, the lust for power.
The film was advertised as a comedy. And I did laugh, once. I snickered even more. And for most of the second half of the film, I wanted to rip apart the movie screen. It didn’t feel like a comedy.
The movie exposed many of the roots of our present political crisis in the Nixon, Reagan, and Cheney administrations. A few months ago, I wrote a blog exposing the economic underwear of the Trump GOP. I spoke about how wealth has been, since the 1980s, concentrated more and more into fewer and fewer hands, and how the role of the tax system in moderating the control by the rich of this nation was undermined. For example, in 2017, the top 1% owned 42.8% of the nation’s wealth. It has been increasing by 6% annually since the mid-2000s. America’s wealthiest 20 people now own more than the bottom half the population, own more than 152,000,000 people combined.
In that post, I also spoke about how Reagan, in 1987, ended the Fairness Doctrine. How many people today even remember that doctrine, which directed the behavior of broadcast media in this country for about 40 years? It was first spelled out by the FCC in 1949, during the Truman presidency. According to economist George Tyler in his book the Billionaire Democracy: The Hijacking of the American Political System, this doctrine obliged broadcasters to give equal and factual coverage to all sides of an issue and all candidates for office. It included a requirement that anyone victimized by an online attack be given equal time for a prompt response. It was ended by claims by the Reagan FCC that the Fairness Doctrine “restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters”. As if asking journalists to be honest and base their reporting on reliable and verifiable sources of information is an infringement of their freedom.
The book and movie described how, by ending the Fairness Doctrine, not only was Fox News created as the propaganda organ of the right wing rich, but the concentrated assault on truth that we now see daily was begun.
I don’t mean to imply that network news was ever totally honest or generally characterized by in-depth coverage of diverse viewpoints. But at least we didn’t have pure propaganda aimed to control the population. If we know nothing, we can’t act knowingly.
But the heart of the film was Cheney’s clear and present assault on the Constitution’s separation or balance of powers doctrine. The movie reminded me that during the presidency of the second George Bush, not only was Cheney the one in charge, but he was acting as if the laws of this nation did not apply to him. We were lied to very blatantly, so we’d support a terrible war, begun not to make the nation safer or to punish those responsible for 9/11, but to make oil executives richer.
Cheney pushed a doctrine called the strong unitary executive theory. For him, the president was basically a King–if he said it or did it, it was legal. John Dean, former White House counsel for Richard Nixon, wrote of this theory: “In its most extreme form, unitary executive theory can mean that neither Congress nor the federal courts can tell the President what to do or how to do it, particularly regarding national security matters.”
So we see how the T presidency, his assault on the rule of law, and the extreme and painful divide in this nation, was created. Rip away the economic power of the majority and give it to a very small minority. Do the same with the power of the vote. Undermine the division of powers amongst the different branches of government and give it not to the executive branch but to the executive himself. Undermine any controls on lying in the news media so the truth can be portrayed as whatever those with the money and power say it is. And what do we have? The revolution was never fought. The constitution was never written. The monarchy, of the right wing, is in power. The nation is once again great (if ‘great’ means a colony of the rich).
This movie was not exactly a comedy.
The control over the media is a wall erected by a minority around the majority. One movie won’t break down that wall. All of us learning how to speak out is a beginning. Each of us speaking out as often as we can is a next step, so a powerful political pressure is created. And when the propaganda networks shout back at us, we need to make our voices even louder. We need to call for Democrats and independents to make one of the first orders of business in the new congress re-establishing the Fairness Doctrine. Then breaks in the wall would be exposed. And eventually, the whole wall and this administration would come tumbling down.
Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:
Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.
Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:
- Get access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
- Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
- View the website with no ads
- Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
- Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
- Commenting badge.
Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.
If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here: