It’s a very exciting time. The tea party movement is radically flipping out about nearly everything, the Republican Party is behaving like a spoiled child and refusing to support any legislation, Obama’s ratings are in the shitter despite managing to get two major planks of his platform done in the first half of his first term as president. It’s pretty crazy.
I think the part I like best about the rhetoric is the concept that “the American people don’t want this” or “the American people didn’t vote for this,” or “this is being rammed down the American people’s throats.” What I like best about it is that it completely disavows democracy’s legitimacy and pretends that our votes don’t actually count. It’s a subtle way of simply calling the people in power tyrants. It’s funny, because the president was elected on a fairly comfortable margin. The former republican president actually lost the popular election, probably the biggest perversion of democracy to date. The people’s voices were totally ignored in his presidency. Whereas now, the democrats have a clear, if slim majority and a president in the white house and somehow no one managed to vote for these guys. To hear the rhetoric tell it, they literally snuck into the white house and capitol and suddenly became senators and president.
It’s incredibly disingenuous speech, and in some small way it’s dangerous. When the actual votes of the American people are being denied in favor of what one singular party tells you the American people want, it inspires exactly the kind of hegemony of thought it’s warning against. “Despite the results of the election, the people want a conservative and traditionalist approach to government.” I think I can, with reasonable confidence, say that even during the Bush years when inflammatory anti-Bush rhetoric was practically a requirement of existing in a political sense no democrat stood up and denied the legitimacy of the republican majority in Congress. They may have denied the Bush presidency, but that was largely for the fact that Bush really did lose the first election any way you slice it. Denials of Obama’s presidency were largely based on the ridiculous idea that he was not actually an American citizen, one easily countered and disproven.
All the same, when rhetoric spins around and becomes a common talking point or a popular tirade lede, people tend to believe it based solely on the passion of those who say it. If you’re going to tell a lie, tell it loud and tell it often. So lots of people really do think that the president is an illegal alien or that the democrats weren’t actually lawfully elected or that Obama isn’t doing exactly what he was elected to do. Because that’s all they hear from the fox news to the conservative websites (no newspapers, though, those are all run by left-wing Jewish media elites) to the talk radio on their way to work to the buddies at the office who all consume the same media and talk about the same things. It’s a beautiful thing, public manipulation. Karl Rove was and is a genius, as is Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and all the lovely personalities Rupert Murdoch has promoted through his own media empire. It didn’t start with him, really. It was William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer who developed the concept of using a newspaper owned and run by themselves to support their political ideas. The only real difference between then and now is probably the sheer quantity of media owned by Murdoch. He runs literally every kind of media it is possible to consume, from radio stations to tv stations to newspapers to magazines to websites to a film studio. If one so chose, one could easily only consume media produced by Murdoch owned corporations. And he isn’t even American! He’s an Australian with nothing but a vested interest in making a lot of money by telling people what people with money want them to hear.
So there are all sorts of people who believe all sorts of crazy things about Obama or the democrats or evolution or atheists or homosexuals or abortions or the way the economy works. It’s what they’ve been told. They aren’t stupid. No one (well, except people with legitimate mental handicaps) is really stupid. It’s the scope of their world. When a person lives in an area, grows up in a family that believes a certain worldview, exclusively befriends people with that worldview, takes a job with co-workers with that worldview, you can be damn sure that person will also have that worldview. People are products of their environment. Their environment is a product of their culture. That’s all it comes down to, in the long run. Culture.
Many are convinced that the Tea Party movement simply represents a wing of the Republican Party, and with all the anti-tax rhetoric, you might also be lead to believe this. However, the movement itself actually sprang more or less from Sarah Palin’s abrupt popularity and her adherence to a culture people felt that they could relate to. That coupled with the angry response to the bailout procedures of both Bush and Obama administrations has lead to something of an angry conservative revivalist movement. While the Republican Party has invested themselves in it quite a bit and developed some serious legislative cojones because of them, banking on them helping the Party to take back the senate this November will likely backfire, because the Tea Partiers aren’t just mad at the Democrats. They’re just mad, and totally unfocused in their ire. Huge political missteps, such as the treatment of BP during this oil geyser crisis and the nomination of totally reactionary politicians rather than ones who listen to their electorate will only hold the Party back.
The thing is, the culture that was so long defined by traditional media is being introduced and beset by a new form of media. I’m sure it’s tired and familiar by now, but the internet really is pretty unprecedented and magical. There’s a site, I’m sure you’ve heard of it, called “Wikipedia” that endeavors to create a free and publicly accessible encyclopedia of all human knowledge. This is a totally crazy and new concept and absolutely world-changing if administered correctly. How does one distort facts when they are immediately verifiable through a simple search of the internet? How does a singular culture proliferate when the outputs, reasoning, and comprehension of many others is freely available to anyone? Some people complain about a lack of focused spiritualism and a detachment from ideology in religion, with people who adopt them freely and without much thought to the metaphysical consequences. This is merely a result of the expansion of worldview, the knowledge that not only can other concepts of spirituality exist, they do exist. In the face of this incontrovertible knowledge, how can one accept a singular dogma? This has and will continue to change the political landscape as both party’s hidebound ideologies seem laughable in the face of such diversity. The tea party, the conservatives, and as a whole the entire traditionalist movement is largely fostered and supported in an environment where the usage of internet is limited at best. In places where the technology is readily available and information is cheap and easy to find, there is a much stronger streak of social liberalism and tolerance.
Possibly the smartest and longest lasting planks of the Obama administration and their infrastructure rebuilding stimulus is the promotion of broadband internet access for the entire nation. This should go a long way towards educating those in cloistered communities of alternatives to their way of life. It should bring options to the people. It should foster a worldlier outlook on the outward world. It’s a very exciting time.