From margins to mainstream: the rise of Rush, Sarah and gang

Published on People’s World, by Sam Webb, Sept. 10, 2010.

Let me begin with an obvious point: Right wing extremism is gathering strength and becoming more extreme.

Someone recently said with no hint of exaggeration that Rush Limbaugh and other like-minded, turbo-charged extremists are no longer on the fringe of the Republican Party, but comfortably nestle in its mainstream and shape its policies.

Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush possessed a conservative cast of mind to be sure, but this new right-wing gang is more reactionary and authoritarian, if you can believe it, than the two former presidents.

The political DNA of this grouping isn’t fascistic for now, but one can’t rule out such an evolution, given ongoing crisis conditions and intensifying struggles. 

In any case, their growing voice in Republican circles re-positions the GOP further to the right and endangers to the extreme democracy and progress … //

… Against this background, the Nov. 2 elections and the presidential elections in two years acquire a new and overriding urgency.

Frustration with the pace and depth of change is understandable on the part of the American people. After all, it’s hard to be sober minded when you are out of a job or can’t pay for groceries and medical care or face eviction from the home that you lived in your entire adult life.

And yet letting anger and frustration substitute for a well reasoned action plan to meet present and future challenges is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.

As we know in our personal lives, venting at an immediate target – a friend, a spouse, a family member, a co-worker – is, at best, a temporary fix to what usually is a much deeper problem requiring a more objective approach.

This is so in politics too. An objective class analysis is needed to gauge the balance of political power between contending groups, shine a light on who and what is blocking social progress, and identify the political forces that require further assembling if the country is to overcome the current crisis in way that favors working people and their allies.

Impatience and misdirected frustration (and I would add political generalities and sloganeering) will not cut the mustard in this regard; what they might do is cut our throats, figuratively speaking.

The point of politics isn’t to embrace the world as we want it to be, but the world as it is, a world filled with contradictions and complexities … and then figure out a path to expanded democracy, economic security, and a new burst of peace and freedom.

To be more concrete, the struggle to defeat the newest and more dangerous edition of right-wing extremism at the ballot box in November is the key link to open new vistas of freedom in every field of struggle – jobs, housing, public education, equality, peace and nuclear disarmament, environmental sustainability, democratic rights, and so forth.

The time to fight juiced-up, right-wing extremism is now when it still doesn’t control every lever of political power, not later when it does. And the immediate place to fight it is at the ballot box in November. (full text).

Link: Stop the Republicans from pulling the trigger on Social Security, by Joel Wendland, Sept. 6, 2010.

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