Summary: Liberal America does not perceive well the nature of the force that's taken over the right. Not perceiving what we're up against has enormous consequences, because understanding one's foe - its nature, its way of working, the disposition of its forces - has enormous implications for devising the best strategy for defeating it. Providing a good understanding of what it is we are up against is one of the central purposes of this "Press the Battle" series.
Maybe now is a good time to explain why I think what I'm presenting here just possibly help turn the tide of battle. A reader recently wrote me privately wondering when I was going to stop the preliminaries and explain what I'm proposing to do. The fellow evidently has missed the point: this -- getting the picture I'm painting in "Press the Battle" into the national conversation as far as possible -- is what I think is important to do.
How could it be important? What is it about this picture I'm painting that I think could have a meaningful impact on the battle over what kind of nation America will become?
In the second entry of the series, after listing various components of The Republican Party's Extraordinary Pattern of Destructiveness, I asked: "What is it that would express itself in all these ways?" I described that question as "too long unasked." (Indeed, has it been asked anywhere?)
But that "It" is what we're up against.
But in Liberal America, one encounters little recognition of this "It." Instead, what we find a jumble. For many, the picture lies in pieces, issue by issue, news item by news item.
But I say, it's essential to put the pieces together to see the "It" that animates all these manifestations.
Another way many liberals talk about the problem on the right is in terms of how "far right" the Republican Party has moved, how it has become more "extreme," and dominated by "ultra-conservatives."
At a greater level of integration, there is the idea that what this crisis is about is "plutocracy," or "money in politics," or "corporate takeover" of our government. Surely, this points to an important dimension of the problem, but there's a good deal more to the picture than this diagnosis can cover.
This force also has given us torture, a level of dishonesty extraordinary even by the usual standards of politics, a political dynamic in which conflict is consistently chosen over cooperation, an unprecedented indifference to the public good.