A short while ago, I wrote a long review of Nancy Maclean’s Democracy In Chains which is a clear and precise history of the modern far right in the United States. It explains the economic theory and practice behind the Koch Brothers, the Sinclairs, Charles Schwab, and the other ultra-rich purveyors of extreme capitalist-libertarianism. This is important background material for any Resister. Two other recent essays bring the story up to date and fill in some blanks about the far-right’s organization and methodology.
Michela Tindera of Forbes Magazine has an illuminating piece about just one of the raft of organizations with wholesome sounding names that were developed and financed during the right’s fight against Obama. Only recently activated transparency legislation allows us to see that Americans For Job Security was actually a front for right-leaning billionaires such as Schwab, and the Fisher family, the deVos family, and others to place millions of dollars secretly into political campaigns.
Another group — the Council for National Policy (CNP) — is profiled by Anne Nelson in Salon magazine. It is this group that has been “grooming” Mike Pence to take over when Trump finally tips over the edge.
“Over the past few decades the traditional GOP has been overtaken by partisans of the Radical Right, now entrenched in the party’s infrastructure. This shadow network of hardline organizations, activists and donors stands ready to outlast the Trump presidency. The story of the CNP, a hub in this network, is a case study in how the durability and strategic capacity of right-wing institutions have shaped the American political landscape. The Council for National Policy had its origins in the Southwest, where the social agenda of Christian fundamentalists and the economic interests of the oil industry converged. They founded the CNP in 1981 to capitalize on the election of Ronald Reagan; Reagan’s former attorney general, Edwin Meese III, would serve as the CNP’s president from 1993-1997.
The organization meets several times a year, maintaining secrecy for its membership and its proceedings. But a 2014 membership roster was leaked and published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, illustrating the span of the political network: major donors such as the DeVos family; evangelical powerhouses such as Southern Baptist leader Richard Land; and heads of influential media interests, including the Salem Media conglomerate. Kellyanne Conway has belonged to the CNP’s executive committee, and Jay Sekulow, lead attorney on Trump’s personal legal team, has served on the board of governors. The organization also, critically, includes the heads of membership organizations such as the National Rifle Association and the Susan B. Anthony List (a group that funds anti-choice candidates), whose ground troops can be deployed in coordinated political canvassing. In the words of former CNP president Richard DeVos (father-in-law to Education Secretary Betsy), the CNP convenes the “donors and the doers …”
“Over time, the CNP partnerships evolved into a well-oiled machine, in which big money, regional broadcasters and ground troops advanced its interests in ways that were often neglected by the national news media. Mike Pence appeared at various stages of his career. One co-founder, Morton Blackwell, claims to have trained some 200,000 conservative candidates and political activists through his Leadership Institute — among them Mike Pence …”
“The strategists of the CNP are keenly aware of the formula that won them the White House in 2016: Hillary Clinton’s campaign, focused on the national media, won the popular election by three million votes, but lost the Electoral College by some 80,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The CNP may be hoping for a repeat: wagering that the impeachment furor in Washington will play out in the national media without moving the swing states — and that the Democrats will be too distracted by the drama to notice.”
These are serious organizations that mean to do us harm unless we go along with their socialism for the rich, austerity for the poor line of propagandizing. We need to keep a close eye on them and their surrogates if the Resistance is to win in the end.