I have long been mulling over what is behind the approach of the current brand of the Republican party. I had an earlier post called “Enemies” (Friday, June 23) about how Republicans/conservatives/whatever we call them now need to have an enemy and then they go out and attack that enemy.
Not that I am a terribly insightful person. It’s just very hard to ignore that those kinds of tactics that have become the weapon of choice for Republicans. But I just had all my scattershot thoughts and feelings coalesce when I read a piece by Glenn Greenwald on his blog titled “John Dean and Authoritarian Cultism - a Review”, where he reviews and excerpts John Dean’s book, and then adds some thoughts of his own. It’s all the stuff that I had been thinking about, but these guys add something that I never had before. “Why”.
I won’t go into trying to summarize. I suggest you read Glenn’s blog or by Dean’s book. I haven’t yet, but I plan on it.
Here is the ultimate scary thing for me, tho.
"Ultimately, as Dean convincingly demonstrates, the characteristic which defines the Bush movement, the glue which binds it together and enables and fuels all of the abuses, is the vicious, limitless methods used to attack and demonize the "Enemy," which encompasses anyone -- foreign or domestic -- threatening to their movement. What defines and motivates this movement are not any political ideas or strategic objectives, but instead, it is the bloodthirsty, ritualistic attacks on the Enemy de jour -- the Terrorist, the Communist, the Illegal Immigrant, the Secularist, and most of all, the "Liberal."
"What excites, enlivens, and drives Bush followers is the identification of the Enemy followed by swarming, rabid attacks on it. It is a movement that defines itself not by identifiable ideas but by that which it is not. Its foreign policy objectives are identifiable by one overriding goal -- destroy and kill the Enemy, potential or suspected enemies, and everyone nearby. And it increasingly views its domestic goals through the same lens. It is a movement in a permanent state of war, which views all matters, foreign and domestic, only in terms of this permanent war.
"Supreme Court justices who rule against the President on national security matters are tyrants, traitors and pro-terrorist. Journalists who uncover legally dubious government conduct carried out in secret are criminals who should be imprisoned for life or hanged. Virtually every political opponent of the administration's of any significance -- Howard Dean, Al Gore, John Kerry, the Clintons -- is relentlessly branded as a liar, mentally unstable, corrupt, seditious, and sympathetic to the Enemy.
"And even those who devoted much of their adult lives to military service to their country (often in ways far more courageous and impressive than most Bush supporters), or even those who have been longtime Republicans and conservatives, have their characters relentlessly smeared and motives and integrity impugned as soon as they criticize the administration in any way that could embarrass the President -- Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, the war critic Generals, Joe Wilson, Scott Ritter, Wesley Clark, John Murtha, John Paul Stevens, and on and on and on.
"It is a movement devoted to the destruction of its enemies wherever they might be found. And it finds new ones, in every corner and seemingly on a daily basis, because it must. That is the food which sustains it."
What Dean and Greenwald are saying that the people who are currently masquerading as Republicans are really large clusters of different groups whose only common, binding value is a pyschological need to identify an enemy and destroy them. That’s what they do. Past that, they have no real discernable agenda other than what occurs to them as they make crap up as they go along, and then cry “traitor” when people point out to them that what they are proposing is either obviously misguided or conflicting with their earlier stances.
This is one of the more frightening things that I have read. This now isn’t a clash of ideas, concepts, or philosophies. This is a battle between those on the left, who (in a very clumsy, rambing, and conflicted manner) would like to make this world better, and those on the right, whose sole concern seems to be the destruction of whoever they designate as their enemy.
All one has to do is look at the rantings of Ann Coulter, Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc. These people make a living, in fact, a fortune, by demonizing and dehumanizing liberals, Democrats, feminists, gays, etc., anyone they see who "isn't us". Orwell’s Two Minute Hate is becoming reality as we speak.