Thursday, April 25, 2013

Today's GOP: the Politics of Paranoia

If one looks at many of the policies advocated by today's Republican Party, one underlying thread motivates them: fear and paranoia.  Fear and paranoia towards non-whites, fear and paranoia towards those with different religious beliefs (or no belief), fear and paranoia towards the poor who are depicted as shiftless and deserving of their misfortunes, and of course fear and paranoia towards gays who do not love the same way.  The positions seem to always be based on who the GOP base is against rather than for positive, innovative solutions to modern day problems and issues.  Retreating back to a mythical past when only whites enjoyed full citizenship isn't a solution.  Yet the GOP persists in in campaign to play upon the ugliest inclinations of the party base.  A column in the New York Times looks at the poisonous phenomenon.  Here are some highlights:

Out-of-control federal government. An immediate and immense Muslim threat. Gun grabbing, national registries and eventual mass confiscations. Tyranny. The politics of the political right have become the politics of paranoia. 

According to too many of them, the country is collapsing, and the government is not to be trusted. The circle of safety is contracting. You must arm yourselves to defend your own. 

It is no wonder, then, that in this environment, a Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday found that while 47 percent of Americans were angry or disappointed that new gun control legislation in the Senate (including the enormously popular background-checks provision) had failed to pass, 39 percent were very happy or relieved. Fifty-one percent of Republicans had those sentiments, compared with 22 percent of Democrats.

“The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76 percent of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54 percent describe the government as a ‘major’ threat.” 

The report continued:  “By comparison, there has been little change in opinions among Democrats; 38 percent say the government poses a threat to personal rights and freedoms and just 16 percent view it as a major threat.” 

Last month, Glenn Beck described the makeup of what he believed was the coming “New World Order.” It did not bode well for America.  “I think you might even have some Nazi influence in the United States, unfortunately, because we’ve had it before. And it will happen there and there, I think,” Beck said, placing dots over the Northwest and the Northeast on a map.

Discussing the Muslim Brotherhood’s “influence,” Beck said:  “I think there’s going to be a slight influence in South America and Mexico and in the United States. I think it is going to be more significant than anyone imagines, and I believe that you are also then going to be co-ruled by a thug-ocracy of this part of the world. 

And Beck delivered this prattle in a suit jacket, not a straitjacket.  This is the constant stream of desperate drivel that has fostered a climate of fear on the far right that makes common-sense consensus nearly impossible. 

As a former GOP activist, I now believe at times that those who remain in the GOP are mentally ill and that everyone sane has fled the asylum.  There really is little else that explains the severe lunacy.

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