April 19, 2024

The Wreckage Wrought By A Marauding Minority


Along the Champs Elysees on Christmas Day, nobody worried about getting gunned down in the street, or about a marauding minority political party bent on wrecking the nation. Photo/Keith Schneider

PARIS — Along the Champs Elysees’ on Christmas night, an angels’ envy of rope-thin LED halos — colors shifting from red to blue to white — circled the trees and lit the broad boulevard where thousands of people strolled carefree. Nobody worried about the sick and the deranged wielding assault weapons capable of mowing children down like wheat toppled by a stout wind. People stood in line at a theater, clearly unconcerned that the movie inside could be the last one they watched.

Paris, where I’ve alighted this week, is the largest city (2.2 million residents) in one of the world’s largest democracies (population 65.6 million). And while there are issues aplenty here, neither the city nor the nation are undermined by a marauding minority bent on wrecking order and stability from within.

That is not true at home. In the United States, this was a Christmas of consideration for what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. The murders of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut was a chilling disaster for the country. Newtown crystalized the accumulation of tragedies that have weakened the nation – terrorist attack, financial meltdown, climate-warming fires and floods, mass murder, governing deceit and fecklessness. More significantly, the massacre clarified the principal cause — a reckless and dangerous minority, armed with a governing strategy constructed from the raw materials of greed and fear, and firing with indiscriminate recklessness the bullets of inflexible ideology.

The central issue for America’s intelligent, world-aware, reality-respectful president and his progressive supporters is pretty straightforward: How to stamp out the renegade threat. That campaign, it seems to me, encompasses four essential components:

1. Recognize the danger. As I noted in an earlier ModeShift post, the progression of nationally injurious events — from the Supreme Court’s sanction of President Bush’s hanging-chad victory to 9/11 to the Newtown massacre — are directly tied to the Republican Party’s dangerously diligent agenda. The United States has sustained 13 straight years of national body blows.

It is about to sustain another. House Republicans are defying their own House leadership. They are pushing the country to another fiscal confrontation that weakens our financial credibility and could thwart the recovery. The illogical dimensions of what’s happening defy reason. House Republicans refuse a modest increase in taxes for the top 2 percent richest wage earners and businesses to provide more federal revenue to lower the deficit. Because of the peculiar strictures of a deficit-reducing bill negotiated a year ago, the result of what these right wing lawmakers and their supporters clearly see as a matter of principle is that taxes will rise for all Americans.

In the world of reality where most of us live, there is absolutely no logic to what the right is doing. But in the world of fabricated reality, invented enemies, made up facts, and delusion where the right operates today, it makes pefect sense to block a tax hike on the richest Americans that has the effect of producing a tax hike on all Americans. After all, this is the same party that argues that teaching kids how to gang rush adults, and cries for more guns in schools are sensible answers to preventing mass murder in schools.

2. Understand the right’s shrunken electoral influence. The Republican Party represents a minority of American voters, and its reach is steadily diminishing. Outside of the Deep South states, President Obama swept Mitt Romney by more than 10 percentage points in the 2012 election. House Republicans argue that they have a mandate since so many lawmakers won their districts by margins exceeding 60 percent to 40 percent. But a lot of that influence is due to the geographically insane redrawing of House district lines — an exercise undertaken by state legislatures every 10 years — in a way to maximize conservative voting patterns. The total 2012 national vote for all House seats, though, showed the same result as the presidential vote: The Democratic tally was millions of votes larger than the Republican tally.

3. Talk about this in public. Conservatives succeeded over the last two decades to command
the public arena by being fearless and articulate. They demonized the progressive press. They temporarily removed the word “liberal” from the political lexicon. They silenced or redirected the national discussion of climate change, gun violence, the deficit, terrorism, and war. They did this by citing made up facts, broadcasting them on commercial radio and Fox News, and by drawing together a melange of emotional concerns – guns, gays, abortion, and race – to rally support among a ragged group of largely white, older, suburban and rural voters.

The terrible national consequences of the Republican Party’s dogma are indisputable and perfectly visible. There are bound to be Republicans who are capable of seeing reason and don’t want to be complicit. Democrats need to reach out to them even as they talk about the record of violence that Republican dogma has produced, and that is now killing children, obliterating facts, and damaging the nation. Reasonable people who support Republican candidates need to be asked, time and again, why they are countenancing such a reckless agenda? Why do they reject the science of climate change when droughts and storms and floods are proving the accuracy of computer climate models? Why are they fighting restrictions on assault weapons and putting their children and ours in harm’s way? How is it that they can fight so hard for the unborn and care so little for those that are born? Just as being a member of the white supremacists, the skinheads, and the Klan carries a black mark, voting for this Republican Party needs to be seen by Democrats and by reasonable conservatives as a social stigma.

4. Actively support President Obama and fearless progressive candidates. The Republican Party has grown weaker and meaner. They represent a real threat to the American economy and to personal safety. Their record of policy making and governing over the last decade reflects an allegiance to one sacrosanct principle: making the very rich richer. Elections are still sacred institutions in the United States. We just elected a president who has the capacity to be truly great. He needs active, consistent, enthusiastic support. The rational among us owe him and the country the strongest measures of our allegiance.

— Keith Schneider

6 thoughts on “The Wreckage Wrought By A Marauding Minority

  1. The paradox is how has a minority party become such a damaging influence to our society? The answer, I feel, is in understanding that they are not simply a marauding minority but rather a highly organized, deeply funded political force. The recent anti-labor legislation passed in Michigan was not achieved by an illogical group, but a highly ideological, politically active, body funded by Michigan’s wealthiest man, Dick Devos and masterminded by the right wing think tanks he bank rolls. Their logic is one of complete capital control based on Christian religious dogma.
    I agree with all of your assessment Keith with one exception. The Democratic party along with President Obama has been egregiously complicit in a two party political system that too often kicks the can down the road on issues of poverty, the environment, and race. Our best effort to address these issues is in not simply providing President Obama with unconditional support but rather pressuring him to step out of his centrist position, to move beyond merely being a president who wants to find common ground between these two parties, to a president that leads us in a truly meaningful new direction.

  2. Your thoughts on Newtown, and your follow-up here, are right on. The only thing I would change is that I don’t think these whackos are destroying the country on purpose. They actually do believe they are right and that this is what will save America. It’s just that they are whackos who can’t think straight because they’ve been very effectively taught to hate liberals.

    To me, the gun argument is no different than what was behind Karl Rove’s election night meltdown–the bubble these people live in is completely fact-free. Some know that and don’t care because they’ve been winning with flat-out lying for quite awhile; while others simply don’t know that. But they’ve been so poisoned by hate radio and TV–starting way back in the ’70s with Pat Robertson and Limbaugh–that ANY position taken by a non-right wing ultra conservative is not only wrong, but proves the person holding it is an idiot. It works for any topic you can think of, including all of those in your new post.

    Facts don’t matter with these people; only power does. That is what Newton and all of us are now coming to grips with: whether it’s the economy or the climate or public safety or better food or anything else, it’s making sure the power resides with the friends of the big banks, oil companies, agribusiness or whatever. That’s ALL that matters, as the NRA President-Jerkoff so masterfully proved in his statement on Friday. I have not seen the whole thing but the backlash against it has been just terrific.

    I do think, however, that they’ve dealt themselves out of a seat at the table as legislation moves forward. I think it will be like Johnson passing the Civil Rights Act–a real landmark change that, while not having an immediate effect like putting 200,000 new heavily armed cops in classrooms might have in one or two instances, will point us back in a different direction.

    I do think NRA has been a big part of a longterm strategy to disembowel all government and deliver all decision-making away from liberals and toward gun-toting conservatives. But, quite literally, that strategy is now blowing up in their faces. As you said, Newton is wealthy and picket-fence-safe; now even rich, disconnected, above-it-all suburbanites see that there literally is nowhere for them or their children to run. These largely Republican areas were/are complicit in letting it get this bad.

    Lawrence O’Donnel had quite a take on the NRA guy (whose name I refuse to learn) on his MSNBC show Friday. Lawrence is frequently hyperbolic, but everything he says here seems completely true to me, including calling the NRA guy a desperate rat! You might want to check it out just for some additional perspective:


    Meanwhile, ya gotta wonder what Obama’s gonna say at his State of the Union address. He’s said several times now that climate change is one of the big three he’s gonna work on this term. It will be interesting to see how the new Republicans work it. He only needs to break off maybe a dozen and he can actually get something done. Maybe they will fear the full force of his ground game, which he’s now clearly ready to use again leading up to 2014, something he didn’t do in 2010.

    The Republican brand seems damaged beyond repair, and I expect he’s take full advantage of that. He’s already got Boehner lookin’ bad for not taking his Social Security COLA offer, and Boehner’s got himself lookin’ bad because his caucus won’t pass his precious Plan B.

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