Earlier today, I read Leonard Pitt’s column in my local paper. It has one of the best descriptions I have read in recent times, of America’s greatest problem.
There has always been something rather bipolar about the United States of America. We have periodically seesawed between competing extremes. We’ve been the visionary and great-hearted America that declared life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness inalienable rights, that fed and rebuilt Europe after a world war, that went to the moon, that inspired the world through the force of its ideals. And we’ve been the paranoid, reactionary America too small for those same ideals, the xenophobic, fraidy-cat America that wire taps and witch hunts and sees Reds behind every lamp post, illegals on every street corner, terrorists at every bus stop.
The latter America has asserted itself emphatically in the years since Sept. 11, 2001. Encouraged by President Bush and his endless appeals to expedience and fear, we retreated from our ideals the way you do from a house afire; indeed, we openly questioned whether ideals were still tenable in this frightening new era. In the absence of ideals, we tortured, detained, spied, lied, alibied, all to a chorus of demagogic appeals that would have done Joe McCarthy and Charles Coughlin proud. – Link
Then, I come upon the following while reading one of my favourite sites, TalkingPointsMemo
A new focus-group of Republican base voters by the Democracy Corps (D), the consulting and polling outfit headed up by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, presents a picture of the GOP base as being motivated by a fundamentally different worldview than folks in the middle or on the Dem side — and they see the country as being under a dire threat.
“They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism,” the analysis said.” While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.”
So this idea that a portion of the American populace have created their own reality appears to have some confirmation.
I find this rather frightening. One cannot discuss differences rationally if certain basic premises aren’t accepted by one’s opponents.