Monday, September 14, 2009

Can the mob rule?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Five buses left Northside Baptist Church just before 10 p.m. Friday night on their way to Washington, D.C., after quick stops to pick up more protesters in Durham, Salisbury and Burlington.

Why Washington? Because they were on their way to join the mob of 9/12 protesters who have a thing-or-two to say about government spending.

The Daily Beast's John Avlon weighs in on the day's festivities:

The weirdness of the Wingnut summer isn’t over. The anger has metastasized into the body politic, and it’s going to get a lot uglier from here.

Obama Derangement Syndrome is establishing itself as a potent political force, able to rally tens of thousands of citizens to the Washington Mall after Glenn Beck’s call. Joe Wilson’s outburst isn’t an embarrassment of incivility to these folks; it is a rallying cry for an army of useful idiots. But Republicans will soon find that they cannot contain or moderate this strain—while Democrats won’t understand what hit them.

The wave of white people that descended on Washington, D.C., this Saturday wasn’t motivated by simple racism, as some liberals might wish—at least that’s what the lady waving the Confederate flag told me. No, this was something else: a pent-up frustration at unprecedented Washington overspending and an individualistic resentment of the welfare state, all mixed with a dose of self-referential patriotism and a spicy dash of paranoia.

These are the American flag-brandishing patriots who dare to call the president a communist and a would-be dictator. As more than one T-shirt put it, they are exercising their First Amendment rights so they don’t have to exercise their Second Amendment rights—yet.

It was hard to tell whether the pictures of the Founding Fathers on T-shirts and posters outnumbered references to Hitler or Lenin, but these folks are riffing off history. They know their Constitution and their Tom Paine, via Glenn Beck.

Read the entire post here.

Who's paying for the protests? Here's a theory:

Glenn Beck will tell you that this weekend's march of right-wing activists on Washington was six months in the making.

Don't believe a word of it. Try 40 years.

As disgruntled white taxpayers joined conspiracy theorists, gun enthusiasts, state-sovereignty activists and outright racists on Pennsylvania Avenue, the long-time leaders of the American right, whose pedigrees go back to the 1964 presidential campaign of Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., no doubt witnessed a day they thought might never come.

Never before has the right taken to the streets in such numbers. (Estimates range between 50,000 and 100,000 attending the post-mach rally at the U.S. Capitol building.) Marching has long been the province of the left, most notably in the civil rights movement. But the election of the nation's first African-American president, a moderate liberal, in a time of economic crisis, yielded right-wing leaders the gold of backlash.

While the foot-soldiers of the Tea Party movement give it a more secular appearance than its recent predecessors, the movement is the right's replacement for a religious right that has weakened since 2004, when it helped win a second term for George W. Bush. The tactics, however, are the same: just as the religious right subverts the Christian faith in the service of its authoritarian, business-friendly goals, so, too, does the Tea Party movement subvert the American civic religion -- that faith characterized by love of country, invocation of the Founders and veneration of the Constitution.

At the dawn of the cultural evolution of the 1960s, a handful of right-wing activists and intellectuals banded together to form a philosophical movement that became known as the New Right. These were the people who won Barry Goldwater the Republican presidential nomination, only to see their candidate meet disastrous results in his race against Democrat Lyndon Johnson of Texas. But the right is never truly defeated; its leaders are patient, and they learn from their errors. When they're out of power, they stay busy, building institutions and mailing lists, all the while waiting for their moment to strike.

And so, in 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency, largely thanks to the tireless efforts of New Right leaders.

Out of their tiny numbers, they went on from the Goldwater campaign to found the religious right, a textbook example of ground-level organizing that led to a national electoral victory with the election of Reagan. And they are at it again.

Here's Glenn Beck's dramatic commercial for the event, for which he was the live anchor on Fox News:

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