Not quite conspiracy theory

So, at the request of Micah, I’ve decided to start blogging some of my ramblings.

We’re pretty fucked today, politically. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we actually got to this point. When did the federal government get so much power? When did the American public become passive couch potatoes who just want to watch reality tv? And, most importantly, where did I get the impression that this is the state of things?

9/11 changed some things, but I think it also was an inevitable result from a long series of incidents. There are deep undercurrents in the United States: what powers do states have versus the federal government? Should states be able to nullify laws? What does freedom actually mean?

The best I can tell, things started to get dicey under FDR, and really got bad under Truman. I’d consider FDR to be a sort of response to the Populist movement of the late 1800s, lead by William Jennings Bryan among others. Basically, there was a massive tension between the southern/western states like Texas, and the northeastern industry. Lots of old money was influencing politics, and poor people were getting fucked by it. Then FDR’s new deal comes along. The interesting thing about the new deal is that while NYC got a lot of the money from it (by way of Robert Moses), Texas did too. That is to say, states that were poor and were not paying much into the federal government got a hell of a lot of money back from it. In a way, beginning to answer the tension.

The challenge with this is it empowers the federal government a lot more than many people, including FDR’s own vice president, liked. To the extent that his VP ran against him during FDR’s unprecedented third election for president, debatably only winning because Lyndon Johnson saved the democrats in Congress. FDR chooses a new VP, Wallace, who is super popular, and a very likely candidate for president himself. FDR decides to run for a fourth term, and at the last moment, Wallace is switched out with Truman. There is some conspiracy theory around this, and it’s hard to tell exactly what happened, but Truman winds up as the VP. Then 80 days into FDR’s fourth term, he dies, and Truman becomes president.

Keep in mind, Truman is the president who created the CIA, the NSA, and dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman set into stage a massive expansion of the federal government which eventually lead to the Pentagon Papers and Nixon resigning, leading to the Ford pardon. The rest is history.

So what actually happened here? It’s hard to tell. But I would wager that we could understand a hell of a lot more about how the surveillance state came to be by looking more closely at who was working behind the scenes during Truman’s administration.

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