Wednesday, November 05, 2014
I would be remiss in not pointing out one of the key dynamics that has been at play for some years, and really became a significant factor last night: Our failure to take right-wing extremism seriously.
The American right has been growing increasingly radicalized by the extremist rhetoric, nearly all of it originating with the racist/extremist right, that has become pervasive in mainstream discourse over the past generation. The Tea Party, frankly, is now indistinguishable from the militia movement of the 1990s. And the mainstream press continues to treat this radicalization as normative politics -- in large part because liberals do not make it an issue. When Joni Ernst can advocate Agenda 21 conspiracy theories and radical anti-abortion positions and still be treated like a normal politician, we share in that blame.
And the real result is that the center of gravity for our entire national discourse gets pulled farther rightward. Republicans become more and more rightist and radical because of this impetus, to the point that there are no real moderates in that party any longer. And what happens then is that the GOP keeps nominating far-right extremists who are so repulsive that liberals are happy to elect anyone -- even the most sellout corporate Democrat --- to keep them out of office. And so the Democratic Party has no incentive to listen to their progressive voters or even represent them; all they need to do is represent a safe corporate middle, and they can win election.
When progressives start making right-wing extremism a serious issue, to the extent that the mainstream press has no choice but to cover it, then we may begin making headway against this tide. But not until then.