This afternoon I had the displeasure of browsing the current affairs/politics and economics section of my local Borders bookstore. It’s a displeasure because as much as I love books, I loathe the chain bookstores. I am bombarded with scores of pedestrian Dan Brown books in the fiction section and the latest screeds from the wingnut welfare circuit among the aforementioned sections. It truly is depressing.
But that brings me to my larger point- the sheer absurdity of today’s Right. I will refrain from using GOP/Republican interchangeably with Right because I do believe there are still some sane Republicans. By the Right I mean the folks who watch, listen or read Fox, talk radio and RedState. I do not wish to imply that all conservatives are part of the Right, either. In short, I am using the term Right to refer to the base.
The mixture of ignorance, paranoia and xenophobia on the Right is a heady mix, to be sure. Every book from the Right (wingnut welfare circuit, to be sure) was about how someone to their left was destroying America or had already destroyed her. Stimulus spending to help the economy was merely Obama paying off (wait for it) unions and big business, because no two interest groups go together like labor and the Chamber of Commerce! Expanding access to health care is a socialist plot as dastardly as 9-11. People can hoard Q’s and K’s in Scrabble, at least according to Palin’s new book (not sure how anyone can hoard something of which there is only one; perhaps Scrabble is in cahoots with the liberals trying to destroy America by providing only one of each). I also learned that if we do not bomb the hell out of Mecca, the Muslims are going to kill us all!!
Then, of course, were the more generic books proclaiming the general depravity of anyone to the left of Dick Cheney. Added to that mix was one about how anything the liberals say about business is a lie. And another on how the magical market fairy was going to save us all. Perhaps the biggest laugher is the sheer number of Thomas Sowell books in the economics section. Sure, he is an economist by training, but he hasn’t taught the subject since 1980, instead plying his trade on the wingnut welfare circuit (specifically, the Hoover Institution; how’s that for unintended comedy). You’d be hard pressed to find a single mainstream economist who would consider Sowell a colleague. But there he is, with at least four books in the economics section.
The Right has been very successful in creating its own reality. It has its own media outlets, its own publishing houses and its own stars. But the past two elections have shown that being so far from actual reality has political consequences. It is hard to take seriously a group of people who so frequently cry wolf. Just look at the lack of traction the yearly War on Christmas seems to be having this time around.
But added to their breathless denunciations of czars as the end of Western civilization is the fact that when actual abuses of power were taking place, these folks were silent. Politicizing the Justice Department? Who cares! Obama used the word success instead of victory. ZOMG!! We’re going to be forced to convert to Islam!!!
Today’s Right has inherited the paranoia of Dick Nixon and married it with the authoritarianism of Dick Cheney. It speaks only to its own members and views all policy debates as some grave threat to the American way of life. This comes through in their language, which often refers to violence or indulges in threats of violence. In the Right worldview, we are constantly on the precipice of end times, teetering on the brink of ruin or sliding down some slippery slope to perdition.