When I was about 4 years old in the early 1930s, there was a time when I was quite concerned about what I was hearing.
It seemed the country was in dire straits because of “hairy bridges” and unions, and also on a slippery slope to socialism and the end of our democracy — which I didn’t know we had, but was frightened we were losing it. It was fortunately not too long before an auntie noticed my concern, and I found out that a man, Harry Bridges, had organized workers into a union for better working conditions and there was a government program, Social Security, to provide poor older people with enough money to keep them from starving.
Happily for me, I was more mature when Ronald Reagan blew a gasket over another socialist program for senior citizens. In 1962, before he was elected, Reagan stated that Medicare meant the government would take over all health care and we would be on the slippery slope to socialism.
During the rise of the Tea Party in the early 2000s, we saw signs at Tea Party rallies, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” After Reagan was elected, fortunately he made no move to eliminate Medicare, probably because by that time it was firmly entrenched, and people liked it.
In 2004, George W. Bush tried mightily to privatize Social Security and Medicare under the false premise that paying payroll taxes to help support the two programs took away people’s freedoms to use their money any way they wanted. Fortunately, his privatization reforms failed in 2005, considering the sharp downturn in the economy in 2008 which would have devastated seniors who had listened to him and invested their Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes in the stock and bond markets.
That brings us to “Government death panels;” “This will put the government between you and your doctor;” “Obamacare is the destruction of health care in the United States.”
After a few years, however, even if people were still opposed to Obamacare’s so-called socialism, they really liked the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the ability of people with pre-existing conditions to afford health care. Many just ignored the fact that Obamacare and the ACA are the exact same thing because they really like it.
Now, the conservative right wing is experiencing its absolutely worst possible nightmare. Energetic, culturally diverse, attractive, brilliant, aggressive women who really want to solve problems are in Congress, and are creating a disturbance. These women want to impose a fair and equitable tax system on the American oligarchs to pay for safety net programs, among other actions like rebuilding our infrastructure and fighting climate change.
“The government is s standing between me and my profits!”
“The American Dream is coming to an end because (of course) of socialism!”
Oh, come on, guys! Where is your creativity?
After 85 years, can’t you come up with something new to try to scare people besides the death of our democracy and socialism?
Cambria resident Shirley Bianchi is a former San Luis Obispo County supervisor. She writes an occasional column for The Tribune.