The Right is angry with Obama and Congress for having done too much. They vehemently oppose the Obama Administration, and the Congressional Democrats, as advancing a radical left-wing agenda. The word “socialist” probably hasn’t been used so often (and so erroneously) in America since the New Deal.

The Left is angry with Obama and Congress for not having done enough. Many if not most are disenchanted with the president and their Congressional representatives, angry that they did not fulfill their mandate, as these critics see it, to pursue a more aggressive progressive agenda.

Those who read my posts undoubtedly know that I would personally prefer moving as assertively as possible in the direction of using government to address both market failures and social problems, but I also recognize that it is impossible to get too far ahead of the center of gravity of popular opinion. Even having done as much as Obama has done has catalyzed a radicalized, blindly ideological, mostly irrational reactionary movement so passionate that it threatens to sweep Congress in the midterm elections.

Some on the left might argue that that’s why we should have done more in the two years that we had. But what’s done can be undone, in a variety of ways, and the goal is not to be stuck in an unproductive tug-o-war, a perpetual stalemate, both sides pulled into the mud every two years, but rather to create a sustainable progressive path into the future.

The fickleness on the left, the mirror-image of Tea Party irrationality, is, in many ways, a bigger threat to our ability to forge that progressive path than even the Tea Party, because the opposition doesn’t want us to move forward, while our own implacable extremists (or purists) want to move forward but are partners with the radical right in undermining our ability to do so. Without the disaffected Left, the Right would not be as successful as they are likely to be in this election, and in prosecuting their agenda. Which leaves those members of the left who are facilitating the right-wing takeover as responsible for it as the right-wing activists themselves.

The parallels between America today and 1920’s Germany may be reflected in this dynamic as well. The rise of the far-right Nazi party, which shared with our Tea Party a set of angry, scapegoating beliefs (anti-intellectualism, disdain for the poor, xenophobia and widespread racism, de facto service to corporatism), may also share with that era the implicit assistance of mainstream disaffection with the more moderate current government, allowing a group of hateful right-wing extremists to take over the country.

The Tea Party isn’t the Nazi party; it is both less explicitly racist and less explicitly corpratist. It is also far less capable of “getting the trains to run on time.” But it is fundamentally similar in being a movement that hates reason and idolizes a blind and self-destructive ideology, clinging to a fixation scrubbed of rationality rather than addressing the real complexities and subtleties of the world in which we live. And the end results, while unlikely to be as horrible as the Holocaust, are likely to be extremely destructive, and extremely cruel.

And those results toward which we are plummeting will be the fault of both those who fought to bring them about, and those who were foolish enough to abandon the effective fight against them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.