So it comes to pass that "stay paranoid" captures the core primary message from the GOP comic-horror show: something or someone nasty is out to get you. Already has, per Tea Party whining: where's my freedom? my pension? my house? my pre-Viagra youth? my submissive wife? Fear and loathing certainly drive fringe aversion to that rich, tin-ear "vulture capitalist" practicing a cult religion. What if Mitt Mormon is programmed during crises to obey only Latter Day Saints?
Ripples of Romney revulsion continue to elevate outlier gasbags like Rick Santorum (America kaput, blame sex) or Newt Gingrich (America kaput, blame elitist Obama), even Ron Paul (America kaput, blame federalism). The "anybody but Mitt" mob gags on this flip-flopping opportunist but eagerly gulps down unelectable lost causes. Beset by elitist ambushes, poor, persecuted fundamentalists invoke all the self-pity of the "scorned-again" Christian. Does "born-again" (open to be conned by one candidate clown after another) not smack of "shorn-again," as sheeple rush to the next messiah? "Wrong-again" sums up the GOP devolution of last few months.
Fear-mongering continues as the GOP growth industry: dread 9/11 terrorists lying low, Iranian saber-rattling, North Korea's nukes and Chinese money muscle, including industrial-computer theft. Is that an asteroid or a comet (or the Rapture) coming our way? Domestically, total economic collapse still looms (buy gold coins!) plus creeping, invasive sharia law, gay rights, skyrocketing gas prices, Medicare "adjustments" and, worst of all, higher taxes. Well, second worst. But who wouldn't fear a second Obama term, as Bill Maher quips, from this fictionalized bogeyman, the "Islamo-socialist revolutionary who is coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe, or worse yet, Saul Alinsky?"
Fringe Binging on "liberal thugs"
Ditto, the CPAC harangue by top GOP Senator McConnell against Obama's "liberal thugs." Name one liberal thug akin to Andrew Breitbart or Rush Limbaugh. This White House, McConnell snivels, works only to "intimidate or silence" its critics while perfecting the "art form" of "the orchestrated attack." Holy foreskin! In the light of day this GOP thug had the nerve to declare he's never observed such "tactics employed with the kind of zeal we see today." Got a mirror? Got primary candidates? What about Rove and Cheney, Bachmann and Palin, FOX noise and nutty televangelists?
Now, added to the global warming hoax (all the more successful by hoodwinking so many top scientists), the righteous must now battle administration wars against religion, faith, moral values, abstinence, marriage, the family, the Bible, and American exceptionalism. For the fiery theocrat Santorum, the enemy is modern secularism, as personified in code by the president's "phony ideology" delinked from the Bible. Translation: we're saddled with an un-American, illegitimate, old-fashioned false prophet.
What a joke! Alleging this timid, ever-wary White House is some hotbed of militancy? Sure, Obama uses force for occupations, predatory drones, or whistleblowers, threatening dictators or scolding Iran. But not against domestic rightwing terrorists who've crippled America, then afterwards blame poor people for limping. How about serious, criminal inquiries into crony capitalism, Wall Street banks, Gulf oil polluters, or Congressional malfeasance? Now that would be war-like.
What, me paranoid?
Significantly, rightwing propaganda now expands Karl Rove's politics of personal attack and finite conspiracies to wholesale, permanent, systemic hoaxes. Because hoaxes must be co-ordinated, and poisoned with bad faith, fringe operatives and know-nothings can dismiss them as nefarious, unworthy of debate. Global warming is thus summarily neutered. Likewise, evolutionary biologists represent a double whammy -- not just scientifically wrong but infidels (by crude readings) who undermine the notion of immortal Christian souls. Just look how snooty elites force good Christians from the straight and narrow.
Of course, conspiracy-driven ambushes best suit fundamentalist creeds ever on the lookout for that palpable, literal, sneaky Satan. By misreading metaphors, goofy literalists can patch together quite a coherent story, even one based on a 6000 year-old earth. Expand this gullible mindset to elevate reactionary billionaires as ordained "fathers of prosperity," belching out free-market hoaxes: 1) greed and avarice are good for all, 2) everyone (with hard work) can be rich, 3) and only by defending the super-rich can true Americans escape nefarious socialists. That way lies Santorum and Gingrich, billionaire-backed hoaxsters who can win if they hoodwink enough sheeple.
Countering New Dark Ages
Of course, whether or not key centrist voters resist such delusions depend on how quickly (and how well) Democrats counter evocations of dire apocalypse. Where's that liberal beef? As George Monbiot laments, you just can't blame the right for media-obsessed wedge issue food fights:
When I survey this wreckage I wonder who the real idiots are. Confronted with mass discontent, the once-progressive major parties, as Thomas Frank laments in his latest book, Pity the Billionaire, triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate, muzzled by what he calls "terminal niceness". They fail to produce a coherent analysis of what has gone wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism.
What the right offers, with skilled propaganda, is a seemingly "coherent analysis" (good guys with God on their side vs. predatory, unblessed enemies), thus spawning extremism "uncluttered" by the realities of the Constitution, hard-won civil rights, or other niceties, like shielding government from religious over-reach. You can't fight endlessly-funded ideological assaults without far more resistance than visible today with nicey, nice White House skirmishes.
Thus, who's shocked that rightwing minority mindsets dominate the landscape, despite only controlling the House (and federal courts)? The right uses every belligerent tool, then shrieks in horror that the other side is making dastardly war against all it holds sacred. Interestingly, their supremacy has worked despite lacking a truly charismatic leader since or like Reagan (indeed, the onslaught now is from shrunken midgets). That defines a battleground against widespread reactionary committees extended across various lines and billionaires.
Absent so far are militant national figures eager to confront such scattered yet coherent ideologues, nor do I see a battle plan that takes seriously an enemy who takes no prisoners, eager to close down government. That today's rightwing hacks aren't high-quality candidates, plagued with low political skills and sleazy personalities, provide an opening. But that won't happen as long as congenital compromisers choose to "triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate."