Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Republican Party Has Been Captured By Far-Right Extremists

by Beverly Bandler - 09-06-2011

That the Republican Party has been captured by the radical right is not news. The 112th Congress has made it clear, however, that the party that calls itself the GOP has brought the United States to a crisis stage.

“One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime,” said journalist Bill Moyers, “is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe...for the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.” Moyers said this in January 2005.

In 2006, former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips charged that the: “Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. History.” Phillips went on further to remind us: “Unfortunately, three of the preeminent weaknesses displayed in past [nation] declines have been religious excess, a declining energy and industrial base, and debt often linked to foreign and military overstretch.”

Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief with the end of the Bush administration and the results of the 2008 elections, only to face after the 2010 elections the reality about which playwright Arthur Miller warned us before his death: “…America’s precious freedom of conscience, her pride for two centuries, now under threat from the political Right as never before.” The Republicans are unlike any political party America has ever seen. “The gravity of the current political situation goes beyond party politics or even the threat posed to the functioning of democracy,” writes political analyst John B. Judis. In September 2011 Americans find ourselves in a crisis and we must finally deal with it.

The radicalization of the Republican Party began in the 1980s. The television writer and producer Norman Lear, the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and other leaders formed People for the American Way (PFAW) in 1981 in response to the divisive rhetoric of newly politicized televangelists.

Since then there have been many voices warning about right-wing extremism: Robert Altemeyer, Eric Alterman, Kevin Baker, Chip Berlet, Max Blumenthal, Rob Boston, Will Bunch, Frederick Clarkson, Alexander Cockburn, Joe Conason, John Dean, Sara Diamond, Bart D. Ehrman, Henry A. Giroux, Michelle Goldberg, Chris Hedges, Susan Jacoby, John B. Judis, John Esther Kaplan, Allan J. Lichtman, Dave Lindorff, Barry W. Lynn, Jim Marrs, Jane Mayer, Ray McGovern, Mark Crispin Miller, Bill Moyers, David Neiwert, Timothy Noah, Robert Parry, Rick Perlstein, Kevin Phillips, Charles P. Pierce, Frank Schaeffer, Jeff Sharlet, Frank Rich, Sara Robinson, Chris Rodda, Hanna Rosin, Matt Taibbi, Jennifer Van Bergen, Michael Weinstein, Sean Wilentz, Gary Wills, Naomi Wolf, and Sheldon S. Wolin, among many others.
In late 2009, Michael Keegan of PFAW noted that McCarthyism was “back”--with the same manipulations, bullying, intimidation, character smearing, witch-hunting, coarseness, chaos, hate-talk, illogic, conspiracies, double-standards, hypocrisy, viciousness, history re-writing, fear-mongering, race-baiting, gay-baiting, red-baiting, grotesque distortions and exaggerations, and brazen lies.

Now Mike Lofgren adds his voice with a shattering article: “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.” Lofgren, a longtime Republican staff aide on Capitol Hill, has been impelled to end his nearly 30-year career as an esteemed professional staff member. “[B]oth parties are not rotten in quite the same way,” he says. “The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP...the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.”

The American Civil War: initiated in 1861, interrupted in 1865, resumed ca. 1980, in full flower in 2011.

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