When you have divided the world into two categories – freedom or tyranny – and there is no ground whatever between them, you are not only among the least intelligent commentators out there; you also have to be completely fanatical even in the face of popular repudiation.
I watched Fox last night. Every pore on Sean Hannity’s face quivered. He seemed close to tears at times. He blamed Obama for a horribly negative campaign. He basically told the majority of Americans who voted for a president Hannity actually seems to believe is the worst in modern times that they will now deserve their enslaved state.
The performance artist, Ann Coulter, just Etch-A-Sketched immediately to 2014. She cannot process the past, and yet she preposterously calls herself a conservative. Her gig is attacking – in the crudest, snarkiest, most cynical fashion – anything she can decide to call “liberal”. To ask her to reflect retroactively on a massive realigning loss for her kind of slash-and-burn conservatism was to ask her to do something she has no capacity to do.
O’Reilly was fascinating and immediately explained the result as a function of there being too many black and Latino and young voters who voted for “free stuff.” At no point last night did anyone on Fox even mention the four democratic victories for marriage equality across the country. When they referred to the Colorado marijuana legalization, they cut to a teenager bragging that he was going to get stoned tonight. William F Buckley was in favor of legalization. These performers had no argument as such; they just had contempt.
Yes, I watched for Schadenfreude purposes. These charlatans and money-grubbers have turned the broad tradition of Anglo-American conservatism into Southern Fried Fanaticism – and I wanted to see them crackle in their batter. They have replaced empirical doubt with unerring faith in an ideology that had its moment over thirty years ago and is barely relevant to the world we now live in. That faith has been cynically fused with fundamentalist religion to make it virtually impossible for the GOP to accept that women are the majority of voters in this country, that gay couples are equal to straight ones, that 11 million illegal immigrants simply cannot be expected to “self-deport” en masse by a regime of terrifying policing, that war is a last and not a first resort, that the debt we have is primarily a function of two things: George W. Bush’s presidency and the economic collapse his term ended with.
This kind of total fanaticism about an ideology that bears no resemblance to Burkean conservatism is often called religious. But the truly religious person is not focused on the Electoral College math, but on living her own life the right way in accordance with the God she worships. She is not obsessed with policing society to keep the “other” at bay – the homosexual, the African-American, the Latino immigrant, the single mother, the young straight dude who is truly baffled by the anachronisms of homophobia and the belief that alcohol is less harmful than marijuana. She knows that living a good life is hard enough without controlling the lives and fates and dignity of others.
But the person who fuses Manichean political warfare with theological certitude cannot, will not, abandon that stance for pragmatic purposes – because there is no greater evil than pragmatism for the fanatic. A political party can adapt and change; a fundamentalist religious party loses its entire authority if it admits error, because its message is based on religious texts that are held to be inerrant. The biggest obstacle in front of today’s GOP threfore remains theo-political fundamentalism, and how it can be overcome.
Listen to its tone, hear its anger, and absorb its utter irrelevance to anything but fantasy and delusion and mania:
We conservatives, we do not accept bipartisanship in the pursuit of tyranny. Period. We will not negotiate the terms of our economic and political servitude. Period. We will not abandon our child to a dark and bleak future. We will not accept a fate that is alien to the legacy we inherited from every single future generation in this country. We will not accept social engineering by politicians and bureaucrats who treat us like lab rats, rather than self-sufficient human beings. There are those in this country who choose tyranny over liberty. They do not speak for us, 57 million of us who voted against this yesterday, and they do not get to dictate to us under our Constitution.
We are the alternative. We will resist. We’re not going to surrender to this. We will not be passive, we will not be compliant in our demise. We’re not good losers, you better believe we’re sore losers! A good loser is a loser forever. Now I hear we’re called ‘purists.’ Conservatives are called purists. The very people who keep nominating moderates, now call us purists the way the left calls us purists. Yeah, things like liberty, and property rights, individual sovereignty, and the Constitution, and capitalism. We’re purists now. And we have to hear this crap from conservatives, or pseudo-conservatives, Republicans.
You know what, Mr Levin? The “crap” coming your way has only just begun.