I think I’m like most Americans in that the best description of my politics is “mixed”, as I independently choose what I think is the right answer to a problem based not a rigid idealogy set by others but on my own experience and values. For this reason I tend to avoid overarching labels based on an overly simplistic left-right spectrum.
That said, I cannot ignore the fact that an uncompromising myopic reactionary group, the self-styled “Tea Party”and fellow travelers have taken over the Republican Party and are so certain their anti-Enlightenment and internally contradictory philosophy is the only answer that they will take us all over the cliff. They’re like the people who ignored warning signs and climbed over railing in Yosemite, laughing and encouraging their children to join them before they, surprise, surprise, slipped in and went over the falls with a look of shock on their faces. Within the past few weeks o perfect storm of converging events has occurred to show us the depths of their disdain for others and reality. A perfect storm that may crash the political and economic system of the US. Andrew Sullivan declares, correctly IMHO, that Republican are engaging in what he calls in the title a "cold Civil War"
I longed for Obama to bridge this gulf in ideology. But he cannot bridge it alone, especially when the GOP is determined to burn the bridge entirely, even when presented with a deal so tilted to the right only true fanatics could possibly walk away from it. And so the very republic is being plunged into crisis and possible depression by a single, implacable, fanatical faction. Until they are defeated, the country remains in more peril than we know.
First we have the phone hacking scandal in the UK. Nobody has done more to poison political discourse in the English-speaking world than the Murdoch NewsCorp empire. Now despite what some on the left believe, this media empire does not convert people, instead it speaks to an audience that already existed. But this was an audience that refused to accept reality and Murdoch gave them “news” that fit their world view. It also allowed the Republicans to fill the vacuum created when the Democratic party and liberals/progressive arrogantly discarded populist messaging. News Corp has been able to set the news agenda not only by feeding their audience, but by their competitors greedy desire to co-opt NewsCorp's message and following. The hacking scandal revealed that not only is their message vile, but that they will stoop to any level to get information they can use to manipulate emotions and public opinion.
Then we have the continuing extreme weather, which has produced continual record breaking temperatures and drought in Oklahoma and Texas and caused one of the worst heat waves on record in the East. This after two unusually stormy winters, continued Arctic warming and anomalous temperature and precipitation patterns. But rather than rethinking their position on climate change they’ve doubled down on it, to the point of Limbaugh mocking the very idea of their actually being a heat wave.
Another thing about this reactionary group is their use of fear, particularly Islamaphobia and ant-immigrant sentiment (Ground-Zero Mosque! Border Fence!). This sentiment exists in Europe as well and is the motive behind Anders Breivik’s terrorist attacks in Europe. Breivik’s views are indistinguishable from those espoused by Beck, Coulter , Limbaugh and Fox News in general. Based on comments from reactionaries on news stories related to this I detect a doubling down on this rhetoric while dismissing a Breivik as just a lone-nut with no political motivation.
Finally we have the debt ceiling crises. Though the Republican establishment is using it as leverage against raising taxes on the rich, the Teabaggers* doubt want it raised under any circumstances. They would rather have the country default than borrow money to pay its bills. They mock warnings that default will have dire consequences, Coulters response to Moody’s warning that they will lower the US rating was to call for an investigation of Moodys! Mediaite reports:
On last night’s Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling appeared skeptical of the idea of Moody’s reducing America’s credit, and, sharing his “conspiracy theory” that Moody’s is colluding with Democrats to Ann Coulter, found her in complete agreement, calling for a House investigation if the credit rating falls.
As I write the news is that the markets, yes the great symbol capitalism that they proclaim to love, are becoming skittish.
In the end, this reactionary alliance of Teabaggers, enablers and sympathizers are behaving like smokers who respond to a lung cancer diagnoses by suing the doctor and doubling the number of packs they smoke.
The public is becoming repulsed by the Teabagger philosophy, but the response is yet unorganized and unfocused. Obama has been the adult in the room, but his party is cowardly and the progressive/liberal activists who rail at them are largely upper-class ineffectuals. Our institutionalized two-party system does not allow other voices to be heard.
Something will happen in this storm, what I cannot say.
· *I use the derogatory Teabagger because it was initially used by them and I find their attempts to associate themselves with American Revolution vile.