If you’ve ever wondered what the Liberal view of what right wing pushback looks like from the Left’s perspective then Rick Perlstein’s piece in The Washington Post is a must read. The article is titled:
In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition:
Birthers, Town Hall Hecklers and the Return of Right-Wing Rage
How better to marginalize the opposition to ObamaCare and the President’s other prolific spending initiatives than to stereotype so. But as far as the actual legislation…well, Perlstein doesn’t want to engage on that level because it might ruin the ideological narrative he is weaving for his audience at the Post.
Here’s another nugget from the Left’s perspective of how to place the current political debate in historical context:
Before the “black helicopters” of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a “civil rights movement” had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would “enslave” whites. And back before there were Bolsheviks to blame, paranoids didn’t lack for subversives — anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists even had their own powerful political party in the 1840s and ’50s.
The failure of Perlstein’s narrative is that he refuses to engage on the substance of real dissent. His focus is on the fringe, where, predictably, he finds more examples from the right wing than the Left wing. The giveaway on this is the following line:
The various elements — the liberal earnestly confused when rational dialogue won’t hold sway; the anti-liberal rage at a world self-evidently out of joint; and, most of all, their mutual incomprehension — sound as fresh as yesterday’s news. (Internment camps for conservatives? That’s the latest theory of tea party favorite Michael Savage.)
The phrase “liberal earnestly confused” conveys a sense of honesty and straightforwardness that Perlstein doesn’t afford the Right. This presumption explains why the Left doesn’t understand why it is losing the debate in Washington today. While Republicans struggle to field an opposition to the Democrat majorities (and it remains to be seen if they can do that) it should be noted that Liberals are losing the intellectual debate in spectacular fashion.
A disorganized and fragmented opposition is destroying the political capital of Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress. It isn’t the birthers, the heckling or the right wing rage that is decimating the Democratic Caucus. The self immolation of the Democratic Party today is the result of shallowness at the top (Barack Obama) and inch deep roots in their base (Congress). Democrats like Perlstein are manifesting the classic symptoms of a terminally ill political machine. To borrow Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ example, the ObamaCare debate has shown that Democrats are somewhere between Denial/Isolation and Anger in the process of assessing their political condition.
There was no viable political opposition to Democrats in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was elected but the condition of the Democratic Party that year was terminal, the result of a disease that first presented symptoms in 1966. That’s where the Democrats are today: dead men walking.