If you can muster the wasted graymatter, antacids and self-control, plop yourself on a couch and watch a few hours of coverage from the Republican primaries. The right-wing choir harmonizes disturbingly around a few major notes: ranging from war-mongering and billionaire-coddling to overt sexism and economic fallacies of every conceivable bigotry and proportion. As if anyone needed a reminder of America’s perpetual class war it seems as if this year Republicans are hell bent on taking every opportunity to not only shelter the crimes of billionaires in a spectacle of gilded talking points but also to show off how out of touch they are. Ready to demonize and belittle any socio-economically disenfranchised group available for the abuse, America’s right-wing is directly appealing to the paranoid at the behest of the privileged.
This demonizing of America’s less-than-privileged classes has taken many forms. In its plasticity, “other-ing” as a socio-political mechanism of divide and conquer is nothing new to the right wing, so it’s with an expert hand they work this tool. The mechanism works off two key engines. Firstly, the paranoid class (e.g. let’s imagine a conservative demographic living in a government-insured home off a taxpayer-bought highway that actually receives more in taxes than it puts in, but whole-heartedly believes the government is overtaxing and over-regulating it) has to be made to believe that it shares common interests and motivations with the privileged class. Sometimes this shared interest is imagined by the Horatio Algers-type hallucination that one day the poor man may indeed be as rich as the rich man. Yet other times the shared interest is imagined through shared geographic, racial, religious, gender or sexual-preference similarities. In either case, once this “shared interest” engine is secured, then the privileged class works on the second engine of their mechanism, warning the paranoid class of all the dangerous, dirty people waiting to take away the paranoid class’ somewhat limited historic privileges (imagine something like lessened personal criminality, better schools and a far higher likelihood of securing a homeloan). That’s why, say the billionaire mouthpieces, a United Front must be made between the paranoid and privileged. If not, the “others,” the foreigners, minorities, women, activists or the plain old poor, will come and steal (note the use of “government taking” instead of “taxation” in right wing circles) everything the privileged and the paranoid have built together.
Traditionalism, with it’s combination of faithful obedience to the abstract unquestionables of religion and the real unquestionables of authority, happens to serve those who would further concentrate their wealth and authority. It also serves as the philosophical meeting ground and launch point for this twisted mechanism. So the culture wars are born and the engine of paranoia must be constantly fed lest the paranoid wake up to the manipulative hustle being pulled on them.
The image-pumping is non-stop. The message, and the paranoid voters it wins over in the ballot box, must be secured if the Right Wing wishes to continue its domination of our government.
So far in 2012, the rights of women have been the most consistent target of right wing politicos looking to score points with their traditionalist base. Besides being a long-standing target for the patriarchy dictatorship model that harkens back to bigots of thousands of years ago, women as a target also offer the political advantage of being massively under-represented in our government. As ThinkProgress explains
“Women make up 50.7 percent of the U.S. population, but they only make up 15 percent of the Senate and 16.6 percent of the House, according to a Congressional Research Services report.”
So the Right-Wing has been on a hit-parade of sexism, with the jewel of their political crown being the state sponsored rape laws that force vaginal penetration on women if they are opting to have an abortion in the first trimester of a pregnancy. This of course follows closely on the heels of their outrageous attempts in 2011 to codify into law the most reprehensible forms of sexism, which included but was not limited to
- redefining rape to make it easier for rapists to get away with it
- the “Protect Life Act” which ironically would have led to the deaths of thousands of mothers by allowing any hospital that receives federal funding to deny an abortion to a patient even if her life is in danger
- introducing “personhood bills” which actually stripped the rights of pregnant women in favor of the rights of the zygote or fetus they were carrying
- the attack on Planned Parenthood as the scion of an imagined abortion culture, when in fact over 95% of Planned Parenthood’s work for the community has nothing to do with abortions but rather with providing the very expensive ob-gyn care that is so often lacking in impoverished neighborhoods
The craven bigotry of their political stances matters little in the final calculus for the Right-Wing, now an alloy of privilege and paranoia tempered in the repeated political victories of manipulation-via-traditionalism. Women are sub-humanized in this construct, the citizen that can be most heavily regulated. Half of our citizens would thus be turned into powerless pseudo-citizens. Thus half of our potential working-class solidarity-in-action is sold out by our own paranoid members with a touch of arrogance and testicular supremacy.
While there are some hopeful signs that the billionaires and bigots have finally stepped over the line and awoken America’s sleeping democratic giant, this sort of constant sexist, traditionalist messaging further shows itself as just another tool in the Class War against the 99 Percent.
It’s not hard to see that there are corporate benefits beyond the fundamentalism at work when billionaire-backed traditionalist candidates rail against the counter-traditionalism of a secular state. Take for example Rick Santorum‘s statement that:
Of all the great and necessary freedoms listed in the First Amendment, freedom to exercise religion (not just to believe, but to live out that belief) is the most important; before freedom of speech, before freedom of the press, before freedom of assembly, before freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances, before all others.
Swimming in Santorum-Land, nothing is more important than Christianity. Nope, nothing. Not having the right to speak what’s on your mind, not the right to assemble and protest, not having the right to demand accountability from your employees, the government. All of that is, conveniently enough for the billionaire, marked off as a secondary level of rights to be preserved only for those who have achieved the first level of rights, namely obedience to White Male Profit-Lovvin Christian God. Traditionalism, whether through the humanity-destroying crucible of unquestioning obedience or by destroying half our solidarity in one sexist swoop is the meeting point between fear and profit, privilege and paranoia, oligarchy and the mechanism of a manipulable democracy. It should also be noted that traditionalism has often been the last refuge of failed socio-political systems, leveraging the agitated bigotries of others to maintain their own supremacy. The systemic weakness of our present avarice-based systems have, alas, become clear to even those who control and benefit from them.
Image: Samuel Wynn Warde