Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where the Right wants to go

Perry would like to return the country to an idealized past—a time when government was an invisible presence. When he appeared on “The Daily Show” last year, to promote his book “Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” Jon Stewart asked him when Washington had gone “off the rails.” “About a century ago,” Perry said. He blamed Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive movement, which promoted the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment, sanctioning a federal income tax, and the Seventeenth Amendment, mandating direct election of U.S. senators rather than their selection by state legislators.

“There are very few people that, I think, would go back to a pre-1920 United States, because that movement didn’t arise out of nothing,” Stewart observed. “Children worked in factories. Women were not allowed to vote.”

“I get that,” Perry said, amiably, although he and Stewart were clearly talking past each other—to audiences in two Americas who are no longer within shouting distance of each other.

Assessing Rick Perry

And there you have it, right from the horse's mouth: where the Tea Party wants to go is 1910. That's their destination. And it's a great place to be, if you're a Gatsby.

But if you're black, or gay, or non-Christian, or female, or poor, it's not a good place. I don't understand the people who think the 1940's were some kind of paradise. They confuse me with their historical rose-colored glasses. But surely no person paid by the hour thinks that 1910 would be better for them.

And, of course, Perry wants to go back to the world that directly led to WWI and then WWII. How much more empirical evidence for the utter failure of government policy can you ask for than that? You know, that whole 1910 thing, we tried it; and it lead to two world wars. So... can we learn anything here?

If nothing else, you'd think that the rich would remember what they didn't like about 1910. Back then, the popular solution to the problems of social inequality was Communism. Communism doesn't work; it's hideous and savage and leads to great misery. But lots of people chose it anyway, because the life they were leading was worse. We only avoided a Communist revolution in this country because the rich decided to ease up and turn to socialism, out of fear of said revolt. And now here the banksters are, with both hands in the cookie jar. It's as if the absence of a credible threat by an irrational, oppressive system empowers them to act irrationally. It's as if disproving the existence of Hell turned Christians into sociopathic monsters.

Which it doesn't; the vast majority of Christians who lose their fear of Hell remain generally good and decent people (in sheer point of fact, religious doctrine of any stripe seems utterly uncorrelated with personal morality). So what this proves is that the rich really are different than you and me; they're irredeemably stupid.

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