Today, the United States seems to be leading the world into a new Dark Age, where science and fact are forced to take a back seat to religious and ideological beliefs, where free-market extremism mixes with jingoism, militarism and Christian fundamentalism.
Tea Party Madness
America's most prominent "populist" movement, the Tea Party, is remarkable in that its central tenet is to make sure taxes on rich people are kept low and none of their tax loopholes -- even for corporate jets -- are closed.
Though the Tea Party denies that it is racist -- or has any similarities to the old-line fascist parties of Europe -- it appears particularly energized by its hatred of America's first black president, having pushed false claims about Barack Obama's Kenyan birth.
At its core, the Tea Party seems driven by a profound contempt for the necessity of democratic government as a counterbalance to the excesses of corporate power. The Tea Party amounts to a movement to shift power over U.S. society to corporate overlords.
Most recently, the Tea Party and its Republican allies shoved the United States to the brink of default, making the faith and credit of the country a hostage to right-wing demands for trillions of dollars in spending cuts but no revenue increases.
After the strategy proved successful, with President Obama and congressional Democrats bowing to the spending-cuts-only approach to prevent a default, Republicans gloated over their hostage strategy.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the GOP/Tea Party approach proved the debt-ceiling limit was "a hostage that's worth ransoming" and had "set the template for the future."
The cumulative impact of right-wing American policies is also pushing the world toward what may be another cataclysm.
The Right's anti-government, anti-regulation movement -- combined with the Ayn Rand's, "greed-is-good" approach to economics -- played key roles in Wall Street's financial collapse in 2008 and the resulting global recession.
Now, the Right's austerity demands are squeezing the embattled middle class even more, setting the stage for worsening social unrest, which is already provoking renewed racial tensions in Europe and prompting demands for more "law and order."
Key political forces in the United States seem determined to ignore the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s and force some post-modern "Clockwork Orange" replay of those troubled times.
After spending time in Normandy and recalling the sacrifice that so many Americans made to stop one lethal virus of madness, it is disconcerting to see the United States emerging as a principal carrier of another.
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