I was jumping around the net a bit tonight, and ran head-on into a chilling post on AlterNet by Sara Robinson. Sara Robinson is a Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, and a consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a founding member of Group News Blog.
Watching the increasing mobilization of the right-wing goon squads here in Wilmington, NC, has been unnerving enough, and it has now obvious that the Republican leadership, rather then distancing themselves from the growing mob, is embracing them in spite of their increasing insanity.
“All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history’s worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who’d made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?”
Historian Robert Paxton, probably the world’s pre-eminent authority on the subject of how countries turn fascist, identifies five distinct stages, the first three of which Sara clearly shows are behind us. The key to the third stage is alliance between the conservative elites, who are currently out of political power, and their “base,” the folks on the ground, currently busily disrupting the democratic process in cities and towns all over the country. Once this alliance is forged, the stage is set.
“Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips’ Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas — the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer — being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We’ve seen Armey’s own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process — and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We’ve seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”
This is the sign we were waiting for — the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America’s conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country’s legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America’s streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won’t do their political or economic bidding.”
Is this totally off the wall? Perhaps. Is it possible? Well, I would like to think it couldn’t happen here, but the truth is it probably could! The mobs disrupting town hall meetings are totally out of control, and it’s only a matter of time before there are outbreaks of violence. Talk radio, FOX and the Republican establishment continues to stoke the birther and deather fires, de-Americanizing Obama, and through him, the rest of us who voted for him, and continue to support him.
My biggest concern is that the right’s ground troops really believe that they are close to losing “their” America, and as long as they continue to believe that, in the face of all reason and reality, we are all at risk.
Update, August 12th
As if I wasn’t paranoid enough, I awoke this morning to this: