Monday, April 11, 2011

Fear and Loathing

Generally, I am reluctant to delve into the horrors of the present political scene, but there are times when my restraint gives way, especially since I went to bed yesterday convinced that my last post was too general and vague, meaning I didn't spend enough time thinking it through.

In The Economist today I read about the GOP governor of Maine, an ideologue named LePage, who has put an end to the Maine tradition of polite politics. Like the governors of Florida and Wisconsin and others beholden to the Tea Party doctrine, he has an arrogant approach to most issues and people, calling his opponents "idiots."

Especially idiotic in his benighted view is an innocent mural in the state's Dept. of Labor depicting child laborers and Rosie the Riveter. The governor finds the mural anti-business, thereby summing up whatever political philosophy he has.

Like many others recently elected to Congress and state houses, LePage is indebted to that one percent, the new ruling class described by Joseph Stiglitz, the wealthy corporate types that have bankrolled GOP campaigns. These are people who do not properly understand self-interest: they take it to mean: what's good for me and my group now! To hell with the needy, much less the common good. It's all about people like me.

The current crop of Republicans seems to be a party of resentment, a party of fear and loathing of everything liberal, everyone who's foreign or a minority, every idea that has depth and complexity.

Truth (e.g., the birther absurdity) is irrelevant to these right-wingers who thrive on hate and who see facts and research as part of the liberal elite. This ideology becomes almost comic in the mouth of Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Michelle Bachmann. But its implications are serious and frightening.

Left unchecked, what will emerge is a new dark age of ignorance and bigotry, based on attitudes that are hateful. When budgets are slashed without concern for human needs, when facts and truth don't count, when all government is seen as the enemy, and when self-interest NOT properly understood rules, we are in peril as a country.

That, I think, is why the Stiglitz article in Vanity Fair was important.

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