Wednesday, March 24, 2010

El Rushbo, demagogue

While many see this guy as a harmless windbag, an entertainer whose teddy-bear charm endears him to little old conservative ladies who would vote Republican anyway, others see him as a pernicious influence on the body politic, a polarizing force who drives a wedge between members of his own party who moderately progressive ideas he should be considering, if not embracing.

Those of us who worry about him are concerned about his ability to misinform the masses, cynically manipulating the political process, elevating pseudo-science and half-truths into the realm of credibility, thereby painting himself as the sole teller of "truth" on the airwaves. This self-aggrandizement is made all the more dangerous by an American listening public which has been schooled in a largely socialistic public school environment where mediocrity is acceptable and intellectual curiosity discouraged.

The end result of his bloviations and intentional misstatements has been a Republican Party in disarray. The once proud, thoughtful GOP which had William F. Buckley as its intellectual guide and politicians of the caliber of Barry Goldwater, Everett Dirksen, and Gerald Ford has degenerated into a radicalized shell of principles it once eschewed: war-mongering, budget-busting, and authoritarian-praising.

That this cabal of radical, war-hawking former Democrats can take over the Republican Party's political apparatus, polarizing public opinion and destroying the ability to build a national consensus disturbs many who understand the value of strong countervailing in which neither held a monopoly on "truth."

Democracy can only survive if we have strong competition for the best ideas, a political atmosphere where consensus is sought; failing that, compromise is reached and the mechanism of government continues to serve. That entire principle was eroded first by the leadership of Newt Gingrich (with the reluctant acquiesence of Ronald Reagan), then Tom DeLay, his intellectual inferior who with Karl Rove sought a permanent majority of Right Wing ideologues, something that only fascist countries have ever glorified. The demolition of the Party was complete with the arrogant tactics exemplified by the derisive term RINO (Republican in Name Only) which forced the defection of moderates such as Arlen Specter, Jim Leach, Colin Powell, and Lincoln Chaffee.

To all of this, Rush has only gloated, professing "we don't need them!" To the contrary, the country needs them to anchor the political center, the swing voting bloc that decides elections. Pushing them away only ensures bitterness and the occasionally violent displays of hatred we're seeing now with increased regularity and within-party sanction.

This is likely the end Rush has in mind as he creates the "Liberal" hobgoblins only he can defend us against. The problem with this is that the circle of "Liberals" to one who espouses such intractable views is ever-increasing; his core admirers will probably remain faithful until they either die (yes, most of the most devout are in the elderly age cohorts) or he implodes (an incresingly likely possibility). At any rate, it's a cult of personality which has far less to do with democracy than it does in laying a blueprint for the very Communist takeover he rails against.

“I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature; and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and like the grave cries ‘Give, give!’” - Abigail Adams, letter to her husband, 1775

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