The Attack on Democracy
It has been disturbing, over the past few weeks, to see Sarah Palin’s Facebook page creep into my Facebook newsfeed. Whether we choose to believe it or not Palin and the Tea Party are gaining momentum. Normally, I would shrug off the whole thing and consider it politics as usual. But this time it’s not politics as usual. Rather, it’s something new… or the return of something older.
Poor Barack Obama. Now that the dust has settled, the democratically elected president is under attack from the Left, he’s under attack from the Right, and his hold on the Center is slowly slipping away from him. Everything is unraveling. Those with anti-democratic views are licking their chops: “here is the impotence of democracy!” they shout.
Differences of opinion – between the liberal Voltaire to the conservative Justus Moser, between left wing critics to right wing proponents of the free market – have been with us for a very long time. It those on the fringes of these opinions (on the hard left and the hard right) that have – for varying reasons – not agreed to respect the democratic system.
American conservatives’ response to Obama’s policies have been harsh, as one would expect them to be. Debates between Democrats and Republicans have, really, hit a deadlock on a number of issues, the most obvious being health care.
But out of this deadlock, this stall in the political process engendered by a democratic election, has crept the Tea Party. Is the Tea Party just another Conservative offshoot? Maybe, but maybe not…
I happened last week to see a ‘Tea Party’ themed Youtube video called “OTP: One Term President by the Wolverines”. Something about the video put me off, but I wasn’t sure what it was.
Over the past week I’ve been reading a book called The Anatomy of Fascism. One of the traits of fascist movements has been to discredit ideas such as ‘liberalism’ or institutions such as ‘democracy’. The aim of the Youtube video is, precisely, to discredit the decision that millions of Americans made to elect Barack Obama into office. They aim, like other fascist movements in history, to maintain the political deadlock that withers away current ideals and institutions.
But more troubling is that fascist movements seem to emerge out of a financial crisis, are ultra nationalist, are in cahoots with industry even if they claim to be anti-capitalist, are anti-left and anti-socialist, are fresh new faces, and typically believe that democracy does not work. All of these elements are present in the Tea Party movement, and all of them are evident in the Youtube video.
Dear conservatives, the Tea Party are not your friends: they seek to undermine democracy. They WILL help you, but when they’re done with you there will be no more politics, only thuggery and ignorance.