Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thomas Franks "Red Scare" Explains How We Got to this Point.

Thomas Franks article, The Red Scare Returns, gave me one of the duh! moments where I couldn't believe I didn't think of it. That's why he's making all the money and I'm blogging away on a site the liberal establishment refuses to acknowledge. Franks reminds us that no one or party advocating free markets was dethroned, really, even though the election proved otherwise. We never got the populist movement empowering American consumers and workers.

WSJ: What is peculiar about this particular right-wing rebirth is the speed with which it is happening. We had the crash last year, as in 1929. The financial gods were duly dethroned, the banks started to fail, and the mighty were humbled, as per the time-honored script. A market-worshiping Republican Party went down in an avalanche of obloquy (public discrace). A scary new populism made the cover of Newsweek back in March.

But then we skipped a step. Some new version of the Bonus Army never marched on Washington. No Huey Long materialized to haunt the wealthy and we have endured no wave of sit-down strikes. Instead, we proceeded straight to the backlash, raging against a leftist upsurge that maybe should have happened but that didn't.

Despite the "socialist, commie" accusation leveled against Obama by the right wing, he's a centrist. Instead of riding the publics decision to move the country to a more liberal economic social agenda, Obama focused on making peace with the opposition. Franks continues:

Today, from the floor of town-hall meetings and the heights of the Republican Party, alarmed Americans fret about secret socialists and denounce the president as a dictator. They make plans to pull their children out of school rather than have them exposed to his hypnotic oratorical powers. They quail at imaginary death panels, storm at imaginary threats to gun rights, and froth at an imaginary birth-certificate scandal. And it has required only eight months of Democratic administration to bring the right to a boil.

Actually, it required even less time than that. Remember the tea-party catchphrase? "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," protester after protester would rage, as though the Obama administration, then in its fifth week, had already ground them under its heel for years.

...TV host Glenn Beck instructing viewers of Fox News how the murals and sculptures that surround them are actually evidence of the secret socialist faith that is presumably shared by the powerful.

Besides, who among us really cares about the particulars of SEC mismanagement? The most notable literary response to last year's financial crisis was not to turn to the obvious genre—books about Wall Street shenanigans in the 1920s—but to skip several historical stages and to go straight to Ayn Rand's 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged," in which heroic titans of industry are persecuted by a meddling government. The book's sales skyrocketed in early 2009, proving that when bankers puff asset bubbles and wreck the world, a large part of the public can be counted on to learn from that experience that bankers are the real victims of society, presumably deserving even more tax cuts and deregulation.

And it's this willingness to believe, with its escalating cries of "socialism" and "indoctrination" that intrigues me most. Can people really be moved to worry about communism with the Soviet Union gone? Can you really hope to gin up a red scare without almost no reds?

Sure you can. Because red scares are fun. It's somehow ennobling that time is running out for our country; that we alone have figured it out and now we are stepping bravely forward to give the congressman a piece of our minds.

Besides, where else is a suspicious mind to go when there are no other explanations being offered? The backlash is pretty much the only critique of "elites" that lots of people will ever hear.

And so we all dare to call it treason. Calling it treason is a movie in which we can all have a role

I wish I had said that.

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