A good many true believers think "capitalism" and "America" are synonymous. What makes the Tea Party so powerful is that it also appears to be an uprising against capitalism, against Wall Street -- in particular against the bailouts. For example, Tea Party protesters often talk about how much they hate "crony capitalism." It's only when you really dig down that you discover that their understanding of "what went wrong" in the housing bubble and the financial crisis is that government played too large a role in the economy, not too small a role. And their crazy idea for getting revenge on "crony capitalism" is to cut red tape and get regulators out of the picture altogether. A perfect example of this is Newt Gingrich's Super PAC's TV commercials against Romney and Bain Capital: The ad's narrator is all for "capitalism," but oh how he hates what Bain Capital has done to working people's lives! (But Newt's solution would be further deregulation!)
[Watch this very slick million-dollar video (paid for by Newt's sugar daddy) that utterly destroys the credibility and alleged integrity of Mitt Romney and the doings of his predatory, leveraged-capital buyout operation, Bain Capital and other such enterprises.]
In his book, Frank says that the right wing and their media shills suffer from a "victim complex." But how is this possible? (How to understand books such as "The Persecution of Sarah Palin"?)
That they do indeed understand themselves as victims is undeniable. It is Sarah Palin's entire raison d'etre. Whenever one sees her face TV, one knows that very soon someone is going to make the point that someone, somewhere was mean to her. This is also what explains the whole fantasy of concentration camps for conservatives, which continues on in places. [See this link, for example].
Not surprisingly, perhaps, this ties in with the absurd theme that runs throughout "Atlas Shrugged," where the main character, who has organized a strike of the billionaire class, describes himself as "the defender of the oppressed, the disinherited, the exploited," by which, quite incredibly, he refers to his fellow billionaires! That's right, in one of the most popular novels in recent history, billionaires are said to be -- insisted to be! -- the "disinherited" and "exploited" class. And millions of college sophomores and others who came to be of like mind have gobbled this up!
How can conservatives keep this down, once they've gobbled it up? The explanation is that they merely understand "elitism" in a different way than you and I. In their deluded way of thinking, the true "powers' of society are not the rich, but the professionally-credentialed and the government-connected. Conservatives basically invert the populist categories of yore: Instead of blue-collar workers or farmers being the exploited producer class, it is entrepreneurs. Why? Because it's they who have to work so hard and have to comply with regulations and pay taxes and put up with the whining of their tattooed hipster employees. And so to their way of thinking it is the rest of us who are the real parasite class.
Ironically, utopian capitalism is, in all sorts of ways, a delusion that runs parallel to utopian communism.
It's not a coincidence that both movements, utopian capitalism and utopian communism, had their heyday as responses to systemic economic breakdowns, and that both of them have spawned similar social movements, in which the gleam of the utopia is so blinding that it cancels out all sorts of realities that are obvious to everyone else (famine in the Ukraine; the role of toxic credit default swaps in the US). There are dozens of other curious parallels, all of them drawn out in shocking detail in Frank's book.
The Obama presidency was the time for a second FDR, not Clinton II.