Mock and Scorn as Public Policy
In the last few years, the far right has brought this nation teetering to the perilous brink of moral bankruptcy by selling mock and scorn as workable public policy. We see this in their leaders (Sarah Palin) and followers (the Teabaggers), whose team jersey is contemptuous wanton violence — their faces screwed up into a rictus of wrath, lips snarled in ridicule as they arrogantly spew the hubristic litter of Fox News talking points.
When we consider that these are the same self-identified “Christians” of our nation, we must pause. While this is not a Christian nation, it is made up of a majority of Christians. The Christian radicals making up the Tea Party and social conservatives have publicly prayed for the death of the President, mocked community service, scorned the poor, the environment, wildlife, and sold hate under the banner of Jesus. Is this their brand of religion? If so, who is buying?
Our nation’s soul is at risk, as we watch 23 percent of the population go off the deep end from the misinformation being proffered as fair and balanced news. These folks have relegated themselves to the fringe of society to such an extent that they can no longer have a rational discussion or debate about the issues; they are too misinformed. Yet they approach each debate with the self-righteous certainty of the sneering Fox commentators, their misguided and often flat-out, empirically proven false comments dripping in ironic, humiliating (only to the self-aware) sarcastic derision.
They are then shamed and ostracized for being LIVs (low information voters) by “snobby liberals”, just as Fox tells them to expect, and so the cycle continues. The disgraced then run back to their comfort zone, sporting their wounded pride as impotent rage, desperately waiting for their next hit of victimization on the hamster wheel of self-fulfilling prophecies.
This is a case of epistemic closure, a debate that’s been raging recently within the (few) intellectual corners of the Conservative movement. Epistemic closure is the idea that people close themselves off to new info and only listen to sources they agree with, which creates a closed mind that will rejects outside information. In other words, intellectuals on the Right fear, for good reason, that the Right is so misinformed from being fed what they believe instead of what is true, that they are confining themselves to the lower outer limit of the public debate.
But this self-marginalization is catnip to the victim-identified right, who hold their status as white martyrs close to their hearts. It is, after all, all they have. If they aren’t sacrificial victims for the Cause, what are they? That’s a question they don’t want to have to answer. It involves taking responsibility for the W years, for the failed implementation of their ideology, and for the way conservatives bastardized their own ideology in a never-ending need to feed the immediate bottom line of their corporate masters.
Instead of owning up to the past and indeed the present (e.g., the Gulf Oil spill), they are doubling down on denial. And defiance of reality takes a lot of effort to maintain when one ventures out from their insulated world view. Unjustified scorn is the weapon of middle-schoolers the country wide for hiding their insecurities. It is not different among the bullies of the far Right; Sarah Palin mocks the President because she was a failed leader who quit on her state. The shame and humiliation she should feel as a person who quit on her oath of office is projected outward, exemplifying the old phrase, “one finger pointed out, four fingers pointed back at yourself’.
The more hatred, the more scorn, the more contempt she dishes out, the more guilty she is. Mock and scorn as public policy also disguise a Party bereft of ideas. All they can do is make fun of other ideas. They have none of their own to offer. It’s not just their “leaders”, but the Right has Fox, Rush, and now the radicalized Christian church to assist them in their journey toward irrelevance brought about by scandalous derision of our nation’s leaders while we are at war and fighting our way out of a deep recession.
But how long can they sustain this policy of mock and scorn? At some point, people begin to see past Oz to the little man in the booth. And when this happens, they flee their own mortifying willingness to be duped and don’t look back.
Wizard of Oz: [speaking in a booming voice into microphone] I am the great and powerful…
[then, realizing that it is useless to continue his masquerade, moves away from microphone, speaks in a normal voice]
Wizard of Oz: … Wizard of Oz.
Behold, behind the curtain of scorn lay nothing but a small-minded, desperate Party, using illusion and distraction to maintain what power they have left.
Going negative has been the Republican strategy for so long, perhaps they don’t know how to get out of it or they are simply lacking in the courage and fortitude to face up to their destructive, haunting mistakes. Either way, they don’t have long as a viable national party unless they take some serious steps to win back the moderates. Even hard core Republicans are distancing themselves from the Teapublican Party’s mantle of hate, as the far right sounds more and more like the radical Islamists they claim to loathe. By the way, the Islamic movement is defined as being characterized by “moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.” Does that ring any bells?
Just how long will our nation be subjected to mock and scorn by the so called patriots of the Right? Probably until they wrestle power back from the Democrats. And as the economy continues to improve, thus narrowing the chances of huge Republicans wins in 2010, you can expect to see the mock and scorn multiply. It’s all they have.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.