Nobody makes the mistake of calling me a conservative.  A life of paying attention hasn’t allowed it.

I still regret voting for Richard Nixon in 1968. He was the last Republican to get my vote for president.  The conservative message does not resonate with me. It smacks of a flawed world view. Conservatives falsely believe the individual has equal footing with everyone else and that his or her prosperity comes through initiative and hard work.  It fails to review history where wealth begets wealth — and wealth, once attained, begets power and dominion. There is no level playing field, and the strong forces keeping it that way use visible and invisible means to ensure such control.

In “Who Rules America?: Power in America- Wealth, Income and Power,”  University of California – Santa Cruz Professor G. William Domhoff, notes, “As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).”

Does anyone believe that conservatives would ever want that lopsided situation to change? Have we ever seen major American social legislation led by Republicans?

Conservatives spurn reform. They reject legislative remedies. They do not recognize the underclass as a legitimate part of humanity. Conservatives seek to preserve the status quo and ensure those who have an upper hand on the system are going to tighten their iron-fisted grip on it. Conservatives regard change as antithetical to their own quest for more of the pie. Get all you can while you can, they believe. I watch the political campaigns and wince at those claiming to be more conservative than some other conservative, as if that is a virtue.  Conservatives somehow think that deregulation and the private ownership and operation of everything, except national defense, creates the perfect system.  What they ignore in the equation is that removal of rules leads to unfettered corporate lawlessness.  Greed and selfishness flourish in an environment without controls and cozy relationships.

It is breathtaking how so many Americans swallow conservatives’ tripe even though it runs counter to their own interests. It shows how effective relentless propaganda can be.

Corporations have no conscience. Once they get bigger than state and national governments and become multi-nationals that are “grounded” in nations too weak to restrain or discipline them, there is no reining them in.   History will show that governments/politicians that were compromised by billions of lobbyist dollars by corporations were the undoing of the American civilization.  Few will acknowledge that bone-headed free-trade agreements over recent decades opened the floodgates for American corporations to dismantle factories and the workplaces across this country and send millions of jobs to countries  with the lowest wages.  We became a nation of service jobs, a costly health industry and the universities for the world.    Conservatives should have stood up for American jobs, should have bought only made-in-American things, should have bellowed about the Cayman Islands become the world’s fifth largest financial centers because of the corporate tax dodgers that keep 100s of billions of loss tax revenue, should have shouted “fire” with the demise of the middle class.

Conservatives — especially libertarians — naively believe that removal of all restraints, including in the business world, leads to a Utopian economy where everyone benefits, from the captains of the industry to the lowest level worker. Baloney.  Free-market economies lack human values. They only reward those who already own the system.  More than a century ago, it took anti-monopoly legislation, labor unions and social activism to bring some controls on American industry. The middle class flourished for a time, but lawmakers continued to cave in to conniving corporate pressure that changed the landscape forever. Corporations insidiously corrupt all sectors of government from developers descending on city halls to groups like Corrections Corporation of America building private jails in Arizona and reaping $11 million a month.  Slick money and highly paid professionals are no match to g-men.

Mergers of banks, airlines, health systems, media, agribusiness and other business sectors have created new monopolies hellbent on dominating their fields, then moving into others.  In the end, as they say, they become “too large to fail” and thus eligible for plenty of government help. What galls me is how conservatives get their great opportunities to “show us” how to create order and prosperity but only bring a chaotic world of less.  Republicans have controlled the Arizona Legislature for generations, yet the state is mired deeper and deeper in debt. They conjured bizarre plans such as selling state buildings and leasing them back.  Education invariably takes the biggest hit.   During the Republicans’ watch, Arizona has consistently rotted at the bottom of all the national rankings for the indices for a good place to live and raise children.  Conservatives have done such a good job of demonizing new taxes.  To advocate a tax hike is political suicide.  As long as the wealthy in this state can buy new Lexus and BMWs, live in manicured gated communities with fountains and their private golf courses, yet stubbornly resist tax hikes to bail out the state, then I give them no respect.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has given corporations unrestrained ability to unleash billions of dollars on political campaigns, as long as politicians make getting re-elected their primary goal, as long as lobbyists use their massive muscles, as long as corporations ramble across the planet exploiting like 19th century plunderers, as long as CEOs are awarded tens of millions in incentives, as long as governments meet in closed sessions to do the public’s business in private, we are doomed.

Pity those who wear a conservative label. In short, conservatives are out to conserve their hold on their wealth at all cost — as the rest of the world deteriorates around their miserable selves.  Conservatives remind me of the 1,000 privileged friends of Prince Prospero in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mask of the Red Death.”  While pestilence and suffering scourged the world outside his castle, Propero’s flock of the nobility lived in full comfort inside. Untouched and oblivious to the misery outside, they dined, drank and frolicked in a masquerade ball. With doors welded shut, they expected to survive the disease.  In the end, disease came in the form of a masked stranger. One by one, starting with Prospero,  the gentry succumb to the disaster they had avoided as long as they could in their selfish luxury.