The words of Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, have never been more prevalent than they are today. As Americans become more and more polarized in their political views, there has emerged a segment of the population who believe in what they consider to be an ideal vision of America. This ideal vision is one they claim to be true as it represents the values of the Christian nation that our forefathers had envisioned for this great land. This vision represents the true intent of our founding fathers and anyone who disagrees with this vision represents a person that despises this great land.
This past week, we have seen the fears of Sinclair Lewis manifest themselves nearly eighty years after his original quote. Unfortunately, it has become commonplace in this day and age for a select group of the American public to enforce their beliefs onto the general population as a whole. The problem is that this group of people is given significant airtime on major television networks and they are often portrayed by the media as experts in their field. Their words and their suggestions are taken seriously and often spark political debate both inside and outside of the Beltway. And yet, through it all, their words and actions represent the exact thing Sinclair Lewis warned us about well before World War II.
I’m talking about Neo-Conservatives and their incessant desire to go to war.
For today’s warmongering right, there has never been a war too small or insignificant to become involved in. Just look at Fox News’ own Bill O’Reilly who has suggested that we raise a 25,000-man mercenary army to defeat ISIS. O’Reilly’s idea was so bizarre and outlandish that not only was he mocked on his own show but he also felt the need to defend his idea against Stephen Colbert, of all people, in what has only further added insult to injury. Despite the fact that O’Reilly’s fighting force has rightfully been shot down, there still remains a large percentage of Neocons who believe that the only way for America to prove its superiority is through military might. And unlike Bill O’Reilly, these Neocons have significant influence in our government.
Enter John McCain. The senior senator from Arizona has long been a staple on the Sunday talk shows for the sole reason that he will undoubtedly be criticizing President Obama, no matter what kind of reasonable and well-thought-out policies the president might have in place on a particular issue. This past week, McCain criticized President Obama claiming he knew all along that a group like ISIS had the potential to emerge if we didn’t leave a residual force in Iraq. In seeing the danger that ISIS now presents, McCain has gone full in on the idea of having American boots on the ground thereby engaging a violent terrorist group that will ultimately lead to the loss of gallant American soldiers. Despite his own personal history as a POW, Senator McCain apparently sees no problem in sending American sons and daughters abroad to fight a group that has beheaded multiple prisoners.
And yet, despite all that John McCain is still not the biggest warmonger out there today. That award goes to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney, the architect behind the colossal failure that was the 2003 Iraq War, still feels important enough to give President Obama foreign policy advice, and our news media still gives him a platform to do it. Last week, Cheney appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox and fanned the flames of war in insisting that ISIS could attack the United States in ways that were worse than September 11th. Cheney said, “I believe there will be another mass casualty attack against the United States, and I do believe that next time they will have deadlier weapons than airline tickets and box cutters.” Cheney also advocated for boots on the ground and has publicly stated that President Obama’s foreign policy has been a major reason for the rise of ISIS in the region.
For Neo-Conservatives, ISIS has become a convenient ally in their ongoing quest to get America involved in another ground war in the Middle East. Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Neo-Conservatives like O’Reilly, McCain, and Cheney have tried to justify going to war by way of false patriotism. They have insisted that the world needs American troops to provide stability, completely ignoring their own past history when they were three of the biggest supporters for the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush. These three neocon warmongers have consistently and unabashedly criticized President Obama for arriving at diplomatic solutions rather than blindly sending in the American military to fight ground battles in hostile lands. Neocons like O’Reilly, McCain, and Cheney honestly believe that for the United States to proclaim itself as God’s chosen nation and to become an example to the rest of the world, it must emerge victorious from a ground war against a foreign enemy. Then and only then will the United States reach its full potential.
Unfortunately, this neocon mindset remains a threat to our modern democracy. By consistently giving neocons a national platform to discuss their ideas and criticize the President, there remains a large segment of the population convinced that a ground war with ISIS would be a good thing. There’s a clear reason that 70% of USA Today readers oppose using ground soldiers against ISIS while 57% of Fox News viewers actually support this idea. Being consistently exposed to the ideas of Bill O’Reilly and other warmongering hosts, Fox News viewers have come to the conclusion that the only real way to defeat ISIS is to send in the American military ground forces. For an audience that has consistently been told that Barack Obama has been the worst modern president, giving them the idea that America has something to prove becomes a powerful sentiment. The average Fox News viewer honestly believes that the only way to prove the United States is God’s chosen country is to emerge victorious from a land war in the Middle East.
It is that viewpoint right there that represents Sinclair Lewis’ worst nightmare: An America blindly clamoring for war and not even realizing they are being duped by fascist leaders on the right.