In all manner of Talibanic extremism, the unhinged, lunatic rightward fringe is using this opportunity to push all of the foolishness they could imagine when they lived in the political wilderness and were jonesing for power. The lunatics are running the asylum, literally. It is a nasty little sideshow, and there would be some entertainment value in it all if actual lives were not at stake. Congress voted to defund Planned Parenthood. In South Dakota, a bill would sanction the murder of abortion providers as justifiable homicide. A Missouri lawmaker wants to do away with those “over the top” labor laws that prohibit child labor. And Texas could allow college students to wear concealed weapons on campus. After all, what better way to deal with campus gun violence than to recreate the Wild West on campus, in Texas of all places? Meanwhile, the NRA, further revealing its kinship with rightwing extremist groups, advocates the formation of armed militias— private police forces unanswerable to government authority.
In the midst of all of this, ordinary citizens are waking up, and thousands are taking to the streets in nonviolent protest. Although Glenn Beck would paint the workers marching in Wisconsin as anarchists, socialists and communists, not to mention allies of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, there is a thread which binds the protesters in the Middle East and the U.S. They all know authoritarianism when they see it, and they realize the government, reeking with oligarchy and plutocracy, is working to undermine their interests. As F.D.R. once said, in the words etched in his memorial, “They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers… call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”
Class warfare is ugly, but sometimes it is necessary. It can be a liberating thing, and it is the best thing that can happen to a progressive movement that needs a president to “make me do it,” as F.D.R. urged A. Philip Randolph. And as they said in The Godfather, “These things have to happen every five, ten years. Gets rid of the bad blood.” Getting rid of the bad blood could also mean getting rid of an overreaching GOP living on borrowed time.
Playing both sides of the fence in the class wars, Democrats must choose a side, lest they get swept away, too.