THIS IS A LONG ARTICLE BUT IT SEEMS BEST TO INCLUDE THE WHOLE THING.
* Richard Hofstadter, quoted in the article, also wrote a book in 1964 called "The Paranoid Style in American politics." He said there's about 20% of any population that gravitates to the far right of the political spectrum. They insist that our government and all laws align completely with their beliefs, and any departure from that alignment is viewed as the result of a conspiracy against them, or by their leaders "selling out" to nefarious forces. Thus they constantly feel under attack and endangered. It's easy to get those people to believe all manner of conspiracy theories, so candidates fanning the flames of fear find a receptive audience among that group.
* "If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies." ~ From the GOP "brain trust's" post-willard, postemortem analysis of why he gained just 27% of the Latino vote. Dick Armey folksied it up thusly: "You can't call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you....” But alas, the GOP has slid WAY too far down the slippery, slimy slope into sociocultral extremism to turn back now. Their only hope to regain the oval office is to keep on beating the bigoted bushes and get as many pissed off Caucasians to the polls next year as they can to make up for their ever widening gap with minorities, women and young voters. It won't work. They'll lose again.
* The fear mongering of the Republican Party is all they have to run on. Their trickle down economics has been proven to be nothing but a failure. Their so called leaders are nothing but spineless inept marshmallows. Conspiracy after conspiracy that prove to be nothing more than dreams and fantasies. 8 years of saying NO isn't leadership it's nothing but school yard antics at its best. Now go have another vote on Health-Care it's been almost 3 weeks since you wasted money and time on the issue.
* Right wingers are like the orcs in the Lord of the Rings films. A mental state of calmness is completely foreign to them. Their non-stop invention of crises, with complimentary knee-jerk reactions, is an inborn natural state; a life-long series of mental hiccups.
* WHAT WE HAVE TO FEAR IS TRUMP. Talking down Donald Trump requires team work. We all have to call 702-982-0000 at the same time. We have to occupy his phones in Solidarity and cripple his communications. We have to social network, we have to go viral. We have to active thousands of protesters to join in calling and protesting by phone #DumpTrump
* Hate and fear, the only play card the GOP have. Amazing how conservatives continue to eat it up. America is great and moving in the right direction. That is the truth but hardly the argument to return to the failed policies of the Bush Administration
Why Politicians Want You to Panic
Crime is down, jobs are growing, America is pre-eminent. And yet Republican candidates are still fanning the flames of fear.
By Joe Keohane, December 27, 2015
At the beginning of this year, after a Republican sweep in the midterms, new Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had a message for the incoming class as the party geared up for the 2016 presidential contest: Don’t be “scary.”
“I don’t want the American people to think that if they add a Republican president to a Republican Congress, that’s going to be a scary outcome,” he said. “I want the American people to be comfortable with the fact that the Republican House and Senate is a responsible, right-of-center, governing majority.”
Around the same time, we began hearing more talk of the rise of the “reformocon,” a calmer, more practical, policy-minded and less viscerally anti-government stripe of Republican. One who maybe even might be able to resist the temptation to actively antagonize Latinos, the nation’s fastest-growing electoral bloc. For a moment, it looked like the fever that had burned since the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 had broken.
But then came the Mexican rapists, and Benghazi, and the plot to “Islamize” America, and Planned Parenthood acting as an agent of holocaust. We heard endless dark warnings about Obama the Nazi, Obama the ISIS apologist. We learned that the Affordable Care Act is tantamount to slavery and the Holocaust could have been averted if the Jews had just had guns, and that the Iran deal will trigger the second Holocaust (so many holocausts!).
Once the Paris attacks happened, the panic tightened its grip, with two leading Republican presidential candidates suddenly possessed by dueling hallucinations of celebratory Muslims in Jersey on 9/11. Then came San Bernardino. Donald Trump, who had previously contented himself with talk of an authoritarian state in which Muslims were made to register and neighbor spied upon neighbor, doubled down, calling for a ban of all Muslims trying to come to the United States. The rest of the field, while not quite scaling such rhetorical heights, hardly distinguished itself with steely Churchillian reserve, opting instead for a flurry of Muppet arms. When Obama gave a speech emphasizing calm and fortitude, Marco Rubio responded by saying that, on the contrary, Americans are “really scared,” John Kasich said “our way of life is at stake,” Chris Christie proclaimed that World War III had begun, and Jeb Bush said ISIS is “organizing to destroy Western Civilization.”
McConnell may have tried—however lamely—to get the scary horse back into the barn, but time passes and news breaks and the beast does not abide. What is driving all this panic? It’s easy to blame it on individual demagogues and pin it all on the symptoms of Obama Derangement Syndrome. This was the view on display in a November column by the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who attributed the abundance of panic in the GOP to the fact that “many bullies are also cowards” and “the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.” There is something to that, but it’s hardly the whole story.
The fact is, the variety of political panic we are presently enjoying is woven into the fabric of our society, an unfortunate side effect of living in a continually morphing nation of immigrants. This panic has historically afflicted the right more than the left (though the left is not immune to panics of its own), and though it usually simmers just beneath the surface of our politics, it has, at this particular moment in time, not just reemerged but, seemingly, gone mainstream.
For the most part, the current field of Republicans is riding the wave, ginning up panic whenever possible, in a campaign season that often seems less like an application to the White House and more like one for the ding farm. But will it work? Can this trembling, red-eyed, dark-minded impulse at the core of our national experience be marshaled to win a national election? And, perhaps more importantly, can it be stopped?
For all our talk of steady hands and rugged individualism, there’s a long and hallowed tradition of sheer barking panic in American politics. “There’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical!” Sinclair Lewis wrote in It Can’t Happen Here, his 1935 novel about a folksy American politician who leads a panicky nation into fascism. And indeed, we’ve done our part to prove him right. Over the decades, Americans, minds afire with doomsday visions of wild plots and schemes, have lost it over the illuminati, the Masons, the pope of Rome and his marauding Jesuits, the League of Nations, the U.N., communist infiltrators, welfare queens, Willie Horton, Jeremiah Wright, birtherism, gay plots, “death panels,” Jade Helm, no-go zones, the aforementioned Mexican rapists/ethnic cleansers/Ebola-infected ISIS supporters, and so on.
And throughout, most of those eruptions have come from a certain spot on the American political spectrum. Writing in 1954, historian Richard Hofstadter, borrowing a term from the social theorist Theodore Adorno, dubbed these people “pseudo-conservatives.” In his essay “The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt,” which Hofstadter wrote in response to the rise of far-right demagogues like Joe McCarthy and groups like the John Birch Society, he defined the type:
“Although they believe themselves to be conservatives and usually employ the rhetoric of conservatives, [pseudo-conservatives] show signs of a serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, its institutions and traditions.” They may call themselves conservatives, Hofstadter noted, but they do so mainly for the veneer of political legitimacy the term confers. In reality, they are more a mix of ultraconservative, isolationist and, occasionally, radical. “They have little in common with the temperate and compromising spirit of true conservatism in the classical sense of the word.”The pseudo-conservative, Hofstadter continued, “is likely to be antagonistic to most of the operations of our federal government except congressional investigations.” He is preoccupied with his loyalty and the perceived disloyalty of others and prone to constant patriotic “self-advertisement.” He “sees his own country as being so weak that it is constantly about to fall victim to subversion; and yet he feels it is so all-powerful that any failure it may experience in getting its way in the world ... cannot possibly be due to its own limitations but must be attributed to its having been betrayed.” He believes that “those who place greater stress on negotiation and accommodation are engaged in treasonable conspiracy or are guilty of well-nigh criminal failings in moral and intellectual fiber.”
All these years later, Hofstadter’s essay reads like the whiteboard from a breakout session at CPAC. While the author blamed the confluence of uncertain times and the advent of mass media—which keeps people “in an almost constant state of political mobilization”—he also argued that the animating spirit of pseudo-conservatism was tied to the “rootlessness and heterogeneity” at the center of the American experiment:
“Because we no longer have the relative ethnic homogeneity we had up to about eighty years ago,” he wrote, “our sense of belonging has long had about it a high degree of uncertainty. We boast of ‘the melting pot,’ but we are not quite sure what it is that will remain when we are melted down.”
Some recent research helps explain why the contemporary right may be more susceptible to this gnawing status anxiety than the left. In a paper published in December of last year, a team of researchers led by New York University’s Jonathan Haidt and the University of Virginia’s Thomas Talhelm (now at the University of Chicago), found that liberals tend to prize individuality, while conservatives prize belonging—not in a gossamer, self-regarding NPR “citizen of the world” sort of way, but a solid, intimate church group handshake-basis sort of way. If that’s true, then the more conservative-minded want to belong to their country like they belong to their towns, and it’s not hard to see how Hofstadter’s hypothesis would play out in a country where there’s no coherent whole to belong to. Belonging to America is like belonging to the universe. It’s not for the faint of heart.
This is not to say that all, or even most, conservatives are susceptible to the panic currently on display by pseudo-conservatives vying for the Republican banner, but it does suggest that within conservative America there is a strong and vocal constituency that has a pressing need to belong in a manner to which they’re predisposed, but can’t attain. And for them it’s hard to concede that the reason might be that the country was never wholly theirs in the first place, that it’s a mongrel all the way down to its bones. So the inability to belong begins to feel like dispossession, like an expulsion in progress. But by whom? Foreign agents? Domestic subversives? The mind begins to reel.
If that anxiety is the spark of pseudo-conservative panic, fear is the accelerant. This is another reason we keep seeing panic bloom on the right. In 2013, Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott published a study that attempted to link people’s predispositions to fearfulness with their political affiliations. She found that people who were more prone to fear tended to skew right. “It’s not that conservative people are more fearful,” she said, “it’s that fearful people are more conservative.” This, of course, has a potential upside: the caution and vigilance at the heart of classical conservatism. But the downside is that that fear can be easily inflamed, resulting in people, McDermott wrote, who are “scared of novelty, uncertainty, people they don’t know, and things they don’t understand.”
In its preoccupation with people you don’t know taking things away from you—including, in the very real and serious case of ISIS, your life—the pseudo-conservative impulse has proved irresistible for conservative politicians looking to draw support among a shrinking but ever more agitated base. It is now common to propose eliminating whole departments of the federal government, to urge supporters to ignore any federal law they find contrary to their religion (unless they’re Muslims), to preach the virtues of authoritarianism to cheering crowds of self-identifying small-government types, to demonize the very idea of moderation. By the looks of it, most of the current GOP candidates are banking that the pseudo-conservative line is their ticket to the White House. And maybe it is.
But that leads to an obvious question: If panic is such a powerful tool, why don’t Democrats try to whip some up themselves? After all, there are elements on the left that are prone to a kind of panic. The resurgence of political correctness on campus is a good example. Like the pseudo-conservative right, adherents to the PC left are obsessed with fragility—only in their case it’s the fragility of the persecuted people they claim to speak for. Their motivations may be rooted in sincere grievances and legitimate fears, as are the right’s, but the way they’ve chosen to address them—by imposing purity tests, catastrophizing every perceived slight and setback, and demonizing and purging dissenting voices—has become hopelessly overwrought, rendering the PC left about as liberal as the pseudo-conservative right is conservative. But the actual politics are beside the point. The emotional animus has taken over. (In fact, the justifiably mocked “I don't want to debate. I want to talk about my pain!” could serve as the motto of both sides at the moment.)
But the fact is, panic just doesn’t play that well with Democrats. For one thing, Democrats tend to be less liberal than the Republicans are conservative, and thus higher-level Democratic politicians tend to keep the more radical elements of the base at arm’s length. For another, the more radical elements of the left—Truthers, Occupiers and puppet-wielding Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers of yore—rarely run for office. The pattern is well established: The far left tweets; the far right runs.
One would hope that after a while the reflexive Chicken-Littling of everything would become a bit ... unflattering. Even to the feverish. And certainly, recent history suggests that while willingly surrendering one’s rational faculties in the service of liberty may be catnip for the GOP base, and may work well from the local up to the congressional level, it may be a dog whistle when it comes to winning a national contest. Richard Hofstadter followed the 1964 campaign of Barry Goldwater closely, seeing him as the embodiment of the pseudo-conservative fervor of the time. Goldwater’s belief that “economic individualism can still be ruthlessly applied to American life” (Hofstadter’s words), his declaration that “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” and his vow “not to pass laws but to repeal them” would play perfectly to today’s right wing.
But Goldwater also got his clock cleaned by Lyndon Johnson—partly because his rhetoric was so extreme in the runup to the nomination that he wasn’t able to moderate it convincingly to bring in more even-tempered voters. His defeat stood as a reminder to subsequent generations of presidential candidates, who, like Richard Nixon, recognized both the importance of pseudo-conservatives as a constituency but also that you can’t say a lot of this stuff out loud. Hence, the dog whistle. That lesson held until Trump happened.
There is a chance that whoever emerges from this primary season will soften his or her rhetoric and pull back on the overt expressions of panic to appeal to more moderate voters. Paul Ryan has said that “If we try to … fuel ourselves based on darker emotions, that’s not productive,” and he claimed to “believe in an agenda that’s inspirational, that’s inclusive, that’s optimistic.” That smells more like the establishment trying to corner Donald Trump than a collective epiphany about the virtues of not going henshit, constantly, and over virtually everything.
Plus, any hope of moderation hangs on the existence of moderate voters. A recent poll found that 43 percent of Americans believe that whites are now as discriminated against as blacks and other minorities. And 53 percent told researchers that the American “way of life” has changed for the worse since 1950. That suggests a rich pseudo-conservative vein that candidates can continue to mine.
But while they do, both they and the voters they court would be wise, between their howls and hyperventilation, their visions of dark forces bringing America to its knees, to heed the counsel of Cicero: “Fear is a bad guardian,” he wrote, “for a thing that ought to last.”