Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Gloomy Thoughts from T&U

Because I am not currently drinking (much) and need to find new and fun ways to kill brain cells, I watched all 13 minutes of this video of interviews from Glenn Beck’s August 28 rally.

Of course, we have your usual xenophobic “I want my cuntry back!” shit, which, sadly enough, I can’t find that distressing anymore, given that it’s pretty much a universal saying for dumbasses these days. I did, however, realize a couple of pretty disturbing things beyond the garden-variety racism, nutbaggery, and morbid obesity that are seen at these events.

About halfway through the video, the adorable young gentleman interviewing the teabaggers asks them how they feel about Glenn Beck saying that Barack Obama is racist against white people. One straight-up nutball totally agrees with Beck’s assessment, but a group of four people don’t believe that Beck said that, and one person becomes visibly angry when the interviewer confirms he saw it on Beck’s show.

Obviously, these people are sane enough to realize that accusing the president of racism against white people is patently fucked up, or at least know well enough to pretend they think it’s fucked up. But if they go home and research it, they’ll see that Cute Interviewer was right, and then how will they react? Will they step away and disavow Beck? Will they at least say, “Well, that’s fucked up, but I still think he’s pretty awesome in general, so I’m okay with disagreeing with him on this”? Not likely. Either they’ll claim the quote was taken out of context, or even worse, stretch their basic ideas of decency and sanity to fit the new world they’ve been exposed to in which their hero calls the president a racist.

This, kiddos, is a major way a charismatic* leader radicalizes even relatively non-radical people. Beck will keep doubling down on cray-cray, and his followers who trust him and believe him will mold their opinions and even their moral compasses around what he says. The best hope that we have is that he does too much too fast and people become disenchanted with him. If they don’t, and these people start to gain power, then we’re absolutely fucked.

I also realized that they really don’t have as much faith in our democracy as you’d think such dedicated patriots would. They shout that America is the greatest country on earth and we are the best people EVAR and God smiles at us when we take a poo poo and blah blah blah blah...but they are terrified of the collapse of the nation from within because of the results of one election cycle. I don’t believe in American exceptionalism, but I do agree that our democracy is fragile and under threat. Unlike the teabaggers, however, I think our greatest problems are ignorance, economic inequality, and disunity--beasts that teabaggers loooove to feed Twinkies and ranch dressing. They’re basically what the Tea Party platform is built on.

The more their values take hold, the worse things get, which causes them to dig in deeper ideologically and often brings other disenchanted people along, especially when “leaders” like Glenn Beck are telling them that the Tea Party’s values are the only way out. Let’s hope that the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins push their sophistry so far that even some of the most dedicated morans see through them, or that the economy improves enough that halfway reasonable people regain their ability to think. Otherwise our democracy is about as fucked as the teabaggers think it is.

*I don’t know how the fuck Beck managed to be considered “charismatic,” but he is. People have such low standards these days.