The other night, between peeling pears and evening prayers, I sat down in my wife's grandmother's old rocker and decided to watch some national news on television. This was a bad call on my part. In so doing, I witnessed much more coverage of the recent 9/12 Teabaggers March on Washington than I cared to see.
Mobs are never pretty, and this one was no exception--a bunch of pissed-off, overweight, middle-aged whiter-than-white folks in tee-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes. Their defenders will maintain that the media hones-in on only the wing-nuts in the crowd. There is undoubtedly some truth in this, but as the camera scanned the crowd, I saw no clumps of protesters that were not peppered with the crazy signs. By this I mean those signs comparing President Obama to Satan, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Castro, the Anti-Christ and--this I don't get--Heath Ledger's Joker. [Yes, I know that Democrats drew horns on pictures of George W. Bush. The ones I remember the most were pictures of Bush as Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed poster-boy for Mad Magazine. But as AEN's by-line was "What, me worry?" as disaster unfolded all around him, I didn't find this characterization of GWB far-fetched at all.] But apparently these protesters believe our President is both Socialist and Fascist, which is a nice trick, much like being a Catholic Muslim. The tough guys in the crowd carried banners proclaiming "Unarmed--This Time." Some thought the "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy" signs were particularly clever. Though there was plenty of sloganeering, the gathering was largely fact-free. Their complaints were all across the board, united by only the one thing that cannot be named.
I came across a short interview recently with Paul Gottfried, a leading American intellectual who posts periodically on the Chronicles and Taki sites. He is the author of a number of books, including Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy, After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State, and Encounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and Teachers. I enjoyed the article, but had not planned on posting anything about it, considering that his plain-spoken words might be misinterpreted. I no longer hold those reservations after watching the Tea Party crowd in Washington, and believe Gottfried's thoughts are timely indeed.
I’m not much impressed with the “traditionalism” of the American heartland or (to use that ridiculous neologism “red states”). That heartland, in which I’ve spent much of my life, has supplied the teeming footsoldiers for McCain, Karl Rove, the inexpressibly stupid “W,” and loudmouths like Sean Hannity. It is the American heartland that now identifies patriotism with launching wars of choice in the name of spreading “our democracy.” Its inhabitants, moreover, suffer from the vulgar eating habits and lack of cultural literacy that their critics often impute to them. However perverse in their political judgments these critics may be, they are right about the ignorance and gullibility of heartland Americans.
In answer to the question “Do the people have the government they deserve?”
The government is far better than the one that the masses actually merit.
On populist activism:
I think the populist Right in the US vastly overestimates the virtues of the “people,” which it identifies with whatever it likes, as opposed to what the people overwhelmingly vote for. Listening to populists, one gets the impression that it was not “the people” who voted for Obama and whom big-government Republicans, leaning leftward, have been able to manipulate. The “people” only exist for their rightist admirers when they please those who are praising them. Otherwise, we are not dealing with the “people” but with Martians or interlopers. Needless to say, I am not a populist because I understand the total compatibility of the “people” with the leftist managerial regime that now rules us.
The interview in full can be found, here.