Friday, September 17, 2010

I feel her pain

Amanda despairs:
What’s fascinating to me is that all this goes on while the Republicans---the party that prioritizes cutting taxes for the very richest above all other concerns---have unblinkingly adopted anti-elitism as their garb. It’s a lie that is so profound that its most naked manifestations make the non-wingnut parts of the audience wonder how they just get away with it. For instance, Carl Paladino spent most of his victory speech railing on about toppling the “ruling elite”, so much so that if you had no context and wandered in, you would swear that you had walked into an early 20th century communist rally. Paladino, of course, is a millionaire who had $10 million of his own money just laying around to spend on a primary campaign for an election he has to know he’s going to lose. He decried the “elite” in front of a crowd that I guarantee has an average income a couple of brackets over the average. To look at his policies, you’d think the “elites” that he’s out to get are exactly the same as the poor and unemployed.

The lie, in other words, is so big that I don’t even know if there’s a name for it. Is it an existential lie? The Big Lie? The biggest? It was such a whopper that I can’t believe that the folks listening didn’t get headaches from the straight cognitive dissonance between the claims being made---that they are the rabble fighting off an elite that is defined by being poorer than they are---and reality. I spend a lot of my time chronicling right wing lies. Many of them are factual. Many are more just disingenuous poses ("Liberals are the real racists!” “Abortion hurts women!"). But these insanely rich Republicans talking about how they’re going to kick out the “elite”? That’s such a reality-destabilizing lie it’s like me belligerently insisting that I’m Marilyn Monroe, and anyone who points out that I’m not simply hates gerbils. It. Makes. No. Sense. It’s maddening. I’m sure it’s meant to be.

More than any other lie they tell, the one about how Republicans defend the little guy against the “elite” is the one that makes me despair the most for my country. The only proper reaction to these claims is hysterical laughter, and yet they’re being offered as if they’re serious, and taken in that spirit. It’s complete madness. When you have so much of the population indifferent to basic reality, what do you do?

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