Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The French Revolution all over again

Funny, isn't it, that no matter how loony the mainstream Republican Party gets, it's still not loony enough for many of its supporters?

We saw this with the State of the Union address, too, when Michele Bachmann had to give a separate rebuttal from the usual Republican rebuttal. What, Paul Ryan wasn't loony enough for them? They had to get Michele Bachmann? Michele Bachmann?

We see this with the recent report on the financial crisis, too. It's not just that none of the four Republicans on the panel would accept reality, but that they couldn't even agree among themselves on which alternate history to present. Between the four of them, they had to present two separate dissents!

One of them even claims that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the primary cause of the meltdown. Heh, heh. Apparently, he's been watching too much Fox "News," huh? The thing is, there's clear evidence otherwise, but if you refuse to believe whatever you don't want to believe, what good is evidence?

These people don't live in the same world as the rest of us. But what they're finding is, if you can pick your own reality, then no one is going to agree on which one.

This really reminds me of the French Revolution. Back then, the leaders of the revolution lost control of their followers. Pretty soon, no one could be too extreme for the mob. If you were seen as a moderate, you lost your head (literally).

But the standards kept changing. Early leaders were soon seen as enemies, because they were just too moderate. You couldn't pick a position and stand still. You had to run as fast as you could to keep up with the mob, to become more and more extreme all the time. Because if you fell behind, you were considered a traitor and a reactionary, and the guillotine was waiting.

Forget about suggesting compromise. Forget about caution. Forget about common sense. When mobs rule, that's dangerous. When everyone else is running like a lemming towards the cliff, you'd better be in the lead. Because as dangerous as that is, it's far more dangerous - at least in the short-term - to be seen as lagging behind.

I see this in the Republican Party today. They started off with their Southern Strategy of appealing to white racists, and that was a big political success. They quickly took the entire South from the Democrats. Then they courted Christian fundamentalists, and found them to be a dedicated bunch of political activists. Too dedicated, because pretty soon, the tail started wagging the dog.

Fox "News" started out as a big help to Republicans. Now, it's Republicans who are a big help to Fox "News." No Republican dares to object. And with the Tea Party, Republicans were also quick to jump on board, encouraging their extremism. But they find there's no limit to extremism, none at all. And the same Republicans who thought to take advantage of it, find that they've lost all control over the situation.

These days, if a Republican leader doesn't keep Fox "News" and the Tea Party happy, he ends up a bloody mess in the trashcan of history. He doesn't dare even think about criticizing Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. And politicians run to become even more extreme than their rivals, because you just can't be too extreme for the GOP base,... but you can definitely be too moderate, too reasonable, too sane.

I don't know how this is going to end up. I hope it doesn't get quite as bad as the French Revolution. But seriously, when will this mad rush to the far-right end? When will we see a backlash from reasonable, rational people?

Unfortunately, when mobs run wild, reasonable, rational people seem to disappear. I certainly don't see any responsible Republican leaders trying to stem the mad stampede, do you?

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