'So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both.'
[Quote from the Washington Post]
I happened to watch The Alamo about three years ago, during the most intense period of anti-Iraq Intervention hysteria. It is full of the individual strands of thought and culture that weave together to make Americans American. There is the blunt honesty; the utter determination to be loyal and to do your duty; there is the profound love of country; there is the gentle satirical humour; there is the deep feeling of personal responsibility; there is the fierce martial spirit; and of course there is the commitment to keeping the law. There is absolutely nothing weird, bizarre or crazy about any of those things. They would have been perfectly understandable to an ancient Greek.
Apparently, the only people to whom they are a closed book are modern liberals. Rick Pearlsteins argument, that there is mutual incomprehension on both sides of this cultural clash, is clever but fallacious. For many years, normal average Americans, the kind for whom The Alamo is a living document of what Americans at their best are like, did not pay attention to the slowly growing socialist minority in their country. But that minority started electing senators and congressmen, and organising larger and larger activist groups (often paid for by successful capitalists), and promoting socialism the way socialism is always promoted, as a humanitarian crusade. And normal average Americans just didn't react, or pay attention.
It was only when it was revealed to tens of millions of them that these people now numbered in the millions, had very well developed infrastructure and had taken over the Presidency, the House of Representatives and were well represented in the Senate that they got anxious. And they began to find out who these people are, and what they want. That process is now quite advanced. Many ordinary Americans now understand the nexus between the liberal media, the liberal action groups, the liberal politicians and liberal capitalists. They are coming to understand that despite being a relatively small minority in fact, liberals are able to project a much larger profile. Liberals control important things like most of the news delivery system outside the internet; and higher education, where the leaders of tomorrow go to be 'finished'. They are beginning to understand that liberalism is antithetical to democracy because liberals know better- the liberal agenda must be forced on the bovine masses 'for their own good'. They are also starting to understand that at the heart of liberalism is revolutionary violence and destructiveness.
But deep within the American psyche is this fact: once Americans understand that a fight is needed, and what the parameters of that fight are, they are extremely hard to beat. Their determination is legendary- John Paul Jones anybody?
The truth is the opposite of what Pearlstein says- this is not just boring business-as-usual in the culture wars. A great big chunk of the population- Joe the Plumber on a massive scale- has noticed that liberalism is not just a disconnected series of annoying but essentially harmless bits of politically correct BS. That underlying it is a large-scale project to neuter America, to destroy its soul, to rip out of its cultural fabric all the things which prevent a complete socialist takeover.
Liberals don't want ordinary people to have guns. People with guns can resist an overbearing government. Liberals don't want white protestant culture to dominate- in fact they want it to disappear because it is a completely viable alternative to socialism. Liberals want to promote gay and lesbian lifestyles because that undermines protestant morals and folkways. Liberals want abortion on demand because that establishes the view that babies are not gifts from God, but bodily growths like hair or warts, dispensed with with as little thought. Liberals want the government to run everything, because then they can pump their liberal world view into every corner of society with impunity and ease. Liberals promote every cultural viewpoint but that of white protestant America, and hold them to be superior, no matter how unsuccessful, brutal and misogynistic they are.
The third of Americans who are usually uninterested in politics, and are satisfied to let others fool about with public policy, have realised that cool detachment is no longer an option if a socialist evolution is to be prevented. Their voice is new and distinctive. The tea-partiers are just as likely to excoriate useless republicans as they are useless democrats. And thats because their concerns are fundamental ones. They understand that what is going on right now is programmatic, deeply inimical to American traditions, and is much more serious than a bit of tinkering round the edges. And they are angry.
The Pearlstein take on this is the one current among most professional pundits and the professional political class- Yawn, another day in the culture wars. How wrong they are. When they say 'grass roots' they mean Republican grass roots. They aren't- they are the REAL grass roots, ordinary Americans totally pissed at what ideologues are doing to their country.