Like everyone, I'm trying to make sense of the senseless, rationalize the irrational. That can't be done, of course, but thinking about the assassination attempt on Gabby Giffords and the wounding and killing of other innocents, I've tried to put together the elements of what I consider a perfect storm of circumstances that have led us to this point in American history. This started decades ago. And slowly but surely it has, like a slow-growing cancer, metastasized to point of sure death, the death of America, or to be more clear, America as a beacon of a functioning democracy in the world.
Perhaps it started with Nixon's "southern strategy," the deliberate stoking of racism and fear in southern states to woo Dixie Democrats, who favored segregation as part of their normal lives, and began to realize that the Democratic party was in favor of integration and the ending of Jim Crow laws which perpetuated cruel segregation in their states. Republicans, realizing that Dixiecrats were FEARFUL of ending segregation, invited them to join the Republican party. Republicans let Dixiecrats know, using both covert and overt messages, that the could be at home in the Republican party because, wink wink, the Republicans felt the same way and would advance policies that would protect their "state's rights." Everyone knew what that meant...states should be free to discriminate if they wanted to. The Civil War could be fought again, but this time the south would win by voting Republican. The strategy worked. The consequences of that shift, however, drew people into the party whose lives were ruled by FEAR. And the Republicans exploited that to the fullest, knowing exactly what they were doing.
During the years after this shameless exploitation, Republicans continued to use FEAR to attract voters.....using all kinds of scapegoats; blacks, Communists, "illegal aliens" (doesn't that conjure up a frightening image?), gays, and now after 9-11, those scary Arabs and Muslims....it's always been "them," "the other," "people not like ME" who are to be feared and of course dehumanized. When people are systematically dehumanized, they can be eliminated without batting an eyelash because if they are not human, they don't feel pain or heartache like WE do. No problem. No regret. This is how soldiers are trained for war. You cannot see your enemy as human if you have to kill him. A mentally stable person just couldn't do it. So we have to make soldiers crazy to a point in order for them to kill other humans....of course most of the time it doesn't work and soldiers come home traumatized for life because of what they have had to do. We can blame our leaders for that, and that will never change. But I digress.
I have wondered for years why the Republicans, and especially right wingers are so afraid of everything....I consider myself an educated person. I'm a retired educator, well-read. Pretty smart. Why are they so afraid of so many things, and yet I, with the same set of facts at hand, am not? I have right-wing friends and family who exhibit such irrational fears, but for the life of me, I don't see it the way they do. Well, finally I think I found the answer in an article I read recently about a study done on the brains of conservatives and liberals and by golly, it's ORGANIC!!!
University College of London, England recently did a study that revealed that, "people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life." http://www.rawstory.com/...
It has nothing to do with the rational side of the brain, the side that analyses material and comes to rational conclusions. It's all emotional. No, my right-wing friends and family simply do not process information, the same information that I have, the same way that I do. They are ruled by FEAR!! Well guess what! Republicans in leadership positions know this. And those are the truly evil, the ones who know and exploit the fear.
Their gurus, like Frank Luntz and other "pollsters" have trained leaders in the Republican party to use words that invoke fear. They frame issues using fear images and words. Fox and Limbaugh, and Palin and their ilk all know this and deliberately use paranoia and fear to appeal to these kinds of people...fear centered, and preferably not too bright. But even educated right wingers are ruled by fear, so their education is bypassed by emotion. Not to worry.
I don't think most Democrats understand this fact. We still want to try to change minds, argue points, educate the other side with facts, rational arguments about policies and how they affect people. This lack of understanding about the real problem with Republicans, their fear centered lives, leads Democrats down the wrong paths time and time again. I'm afraid our president does not have a clear understanding of who he's dealing with....the true evil of their strategy.
So what do Republicans have to lose by stopping the practice of hate speech, vitriol, paranoid conspiracy theories, whipping up the fear? Elections, supporters and money. Power. The power to be elected to positions where they can change policies that affect them and their rich corporate sponsors. If they can whip up fear to the exclusion of critical thinking, they can win elections. They have no other way to do that...NONE. If they can obscure their records by making people afraid of the next bogey man, they can get people to the voting booths. If they did not do that, they would lose. And losing is not what they need. Losing means the rich will stop running the country. Losing means power will be shifted to the people, not the corporations. Losing means they all go home. Losing means the livelihoods of Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity, O'Reilly and the whole crazy, mean, hateful bunch of them will be lost, and they will be stripped of their jobs, sent home to live in obscurity.
Oh no, they will not risk that. This is not going to end anytime soon. And I have no idea how to make it stop. I pray for our country.