(I must credit a friend for coming up with that title.)
I am getting really nervous about what is happening to the American Right. The paranoia is getting really, really bad – Death Panels, Obama the racist non-citizen, Hitlerian healthcare. Now Obama is feeding “Marxist propaganda” to the nation’s schoolchildren?! Does anyone really believe that? WTH is happening to US conservatives? He’s black with a funny name so he’s a Muslim socialist Nazi whatever? How did we possibly get to this point?
And this is starting to leak out to the rest of the world now, you know. South Koreans heard about that guy who brought a legal firearm to a health care townhall, and it’s downright embarrassing to try to try explain it: ‘well you know, that’s the way we are; those wacky Americans.’ The ‘Obama is Hitler’ riff from the summer is also starting to filter downstream.
You can’t talk like this and expect people to take US superpowerdom seriously. If we are going to lead, and not just be some sallow, pathetic, self-involved empire-in-decline (like 1914 Austro-Hungary), we gotta clean up this kinda stuff. Don’t conservatives see this? They love American empire and dominance more than anyone, yet their post-Bush rhetoric tells the world we aren’t fit to lead, or at least, they aren’t fit to lead the US. Most rich countries have state health care; they think it’s kinda weird we don’t. That doesn’t mean we have to have it, but it does mean when opponents flip out and say ObamaCare is the beginning of the Fourth Reich, they think we’re bananas. Last week some guy got his finger bitten off at a health care townhall?! C’mon! Please! I have to explain you people to Asians out here, and it’s killing me!
Democratic systems need healthy coherent opposition parties. Especially in a 2-party system, a functional, serious opposition is a crucial check & balance. But the US conservative freak-out just goes on and on, even after 8 months of Obama’s presidency. Andrew Sullivan argued in The Conservative Soul that the GOP was at risk of becoming the first religious party in US history. In similar manner, one might say it is becoming a regional party, as it contracts to a Southern rump. Christianist rural paranoia has replaced reflective seriousness.
And stories like this are exactly why the GOP continues to contract. Does the Fox News right really believe the POTUS should not speak to the nation’s children? Isn’t that going wildly overboard? And besides, isn’t it kinda cool that the president wants to talk to kids? Isn’t that good for citizenship? And when he says he is asking for their help, doesn’t that have a ‘we’re-all-in-this-together,’ ‘ask-not-what-your-country-can-do-for-you’ vibe to it? Isn’t that a GOOD thing? Besides he’s the POTUS. Doesn’t he have the right to to speak to the citizenry, including the next generation? He did get elected; he is the PRESIDENT, right?
Oh, I forgot… he’s not a citizen, so of course he shouldn’t talk to the children! How nicely one conspiracy theory dovetails into another to create that FNC echo chamber.
*Sigh* I am running out of things to say on this. It’s just too weird. Go read Richard Hofstader’s classic The Paranoid Style in American Politics. You’ll learn about all the other wackjobs in the history of the American right – like Father Coughlin who thought the New Deal meant FDR was in league with Stalin. How nice.