Seemingly oblivious of what actually brought us to this America they don’t recognize, the only cure for the Right seems to lie in the disease itself.
I may be guilty of progressive blasphemy but it would almost, almost mind you, be worth it to hand the political power back over to Republicans if for no other reason than to abate the hypochondria that is so pervasive within their ranks. The chicken little infection that seems to have contaminated all pundits and politicos on the right would have us believe that Armageddon is in sight and that our darkest days are ahead of us.
Jon Stewart highlighted such a mental state in a recent “We are the World” skit on Tuesday (2/1), referring to Glenn Beck as the Woody Allen of Fox News. In the world of ultra-conservatives, magnanimous and wondrous things occur only if their view of the world is realized. The impurity of anything non-christian and left of center politically is a threat to their small-minded vision of what some see as an attempt to “destroy America as it was originally conceived.”
Unless you have been on another planet the last two years the casual observer could not help but notice this festering mental condition, which developed following the 2008 elections, where Democrats won majorities in Congress and put the first black President in the oval office. I saw the evolution of this first hand in a single instance following the elections as I helped at a voter precinct that night.
Before the volunteers had all left, a few of us were cleaning up and got the early results in that Obama was likely going to win the election over McCain. One of the volunteers, an apparent staunch conservative, opined that we were on the road to perdition. She was sure Obama was the anti-Christ and said something to the effect that we should all get on our knees that night and pray for salvation and deliverance. Unable to see beyond a life style she had become accustomed to, this woman felt as if that world would be lost forever to the one she feared would result under Obama and the Democrats.
Like a junkie hooked on heroine, they saw their source for a fix being removed from them. Their only salvation was to sustain the days that allowed them to bathe in unrequited luxury from hefty tax cuts and government subsidies that enlarged their portfolios, along with visions of grandeur as the global savior spreading freedom and fighting evil abroad. Their world was filled with streets of gold while main street traveled down pitted asphalt roads and their leadership mirrored their culture and taste, white and well-healed.
Just days earlier the attitude among these newly developed hypochondriacs was anything but nonplussed. Things weren’t all that bad under a Bush/Cheney administration if you were white, wealthy and conservative. The rest of us were not doing so good. The status quo had created the greatest wealth disparity between the haves and the have-nots in modern times and yet all was wonderful for the fundamentalist Jesus crowd whose income was derived from investments in Wall Street, not the labor of Main Street.
So almost immediately on November 4th, 2008 the mental state of conservatives went from innocuous contentment to despair, oblivious of the fact that economic disaster had already been heading down that track months earlier towards the financial ruin for millions, including a lot of them with their derivative-laden portfolios. I suspect though that had McCain/Palin won the election that most of them would have remained optimistic. They may suffer marginally but hope would be just over the horizon for them because all would be corrected by the invisible hand of the market.
The blind loyalty to conservatism and their free-market ideology sees no real transgressions when things go bad for most of us because their influence in Washington always has their backs covered. The dull stagnate growth of the economy under Bush/Cheney benefitted from a developing housing bubble (fostered by greedy finance managers) that would ultimately come crashing down in late 2007. And though the middle and lower classes were seeing stagnate wages and even diminishing income while jobs were shifting to foreign markets, the wealthiest 2% were experiencing great profits and dividends that essentially blinded them to their own destructive orgy.
Not until Obama and the Democrats took control of the political reins of power were conservatives shaken from their fantasy world to see what was happening, and like Rip Van Winkle who slept through the changes, were unable to connect the financial ruination under Bush/Cheney to what they were awakening to. Their new awareness of their own excesses were extrapolated over to the new administration and their fretting has gone unabated ever since.
Waking up to find a member of the “minority” in the oval office and suddenly discovering that the labor force consisted of an expanding hispanic population, their 19th century values and heritage were shaken as fear gripped them like a fawn in a lion’s cage. Their mental collapse could be heard in Tea Party rants about “reclaiming America” and denunciations about how socialism was supplanting capitalist traditions, even though many are dependent on the “socialist” safety net of Social Security and Medicare and who suffer the recriminations of private health insurance who boot them from coverage when their health care costs exceeds limits that negatively impact profits.
It’s been noted to me in the past by corporate visionaries that perception is reality and when people demand a lifestyle that may in fact be against their own self-interest, the individual suffering they incur as a result is more acceptable to them than any alteration to their perceptions.
Thus for these poor souls who see nothing promising under Obama, only disaster, they are willing to reconvene the tactics of people who created 10% unemployment, unaffordable health care coverage, abuses in financial markets and a damaged image abroad so their affliction can be cured, blindly hoping that the cure may yet still be in the disease.