Monday, February 20, 2012

The Moral of DeMint's Fairy Tales

I was pleased to see our own Senator Jim DeMint take center stage for two whole pages in Thomas Frank's slender new book, Pity the Billionaire.

He very clearly describes DeMint's twists and turns in attempting to create a reality that conforms with his own self-serving belief system.

DeMint sings his eternal chorus of "socialism bad -- capitalism good" when he invents Europe's decline after World War II due to the adaptation of socialist programs (like national health care).  As Frank points out, France, Italy, Belgium and Sweden actually thrived during those postwar years.

But how can this be???  Simply, to Jim DeMint, it can't be, because it is not supposed to happen that way.  His reality is that Europe declined after their move toward socialism.

And Frank notes that DeMint does not ever offer proof of his claims; he merely tosses out inflammatory accusations to which his followers respond predictably, with fear and anger, and of course, loyalty to DeMint and his cause.

We see it over and over in the republican right wing.  Facts are shunted aside like an annoying gnat, while the rhetoric is repeated, as though the repetition makes it so.  And Senator DeMint, while not the brightest star in the firmament, like ex-President George W. Bush, knows how to tell a story.

As Frank says, DeMint's "fondness for fairy tales" combines simplicity (or simple-mindedness) with a moral rigidity that becomes ever more rigid as its tenets are questioned.

The success of this method is apparent as voters continue to support and elect those whose policies have failed, and which policies have torn down institutions we have for generations held as essential to our American democracy.

How do we fight this wave of delusion?

Fighting the fallacies will only work to a point.  President Obama, turning the tide of his presidency in the past several months, has demonstrated how to convince people that he, and not Boehner and DeMint and the rest of the right wing-nuts, is protecting our rights and freedoms.  He has done it through action.  Upon action upon action.  From recess appointments to enacting programs that will help turn the economy around and protect the American people, Obama has proven through his actions that he believes this is the way to get us back on our feet, and subsequently, it is working.

And, ironically, by standing up to the moneyed interests, he has also increased confidence and growth in the business community.

So we have learned something important from idiots like W. and DeMint.  We have learned that we too need to speak loudly and clearly about our values, and we need to act towards making those values once again central to our Democracy.

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