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Here are some political rules to live by: The more gaudily an American flag is displayed in a Twitter user's avatar, the less that person will know about the actual American system of governance. A Washington "blue-ribbon panel" exists not to achieve any actual goal other than boosting the "blue-ribbon" credentials of the participants. Any political institution that uses, in their name, the words "Family," "Patriot" or "Liberty" is more likely to be against those things than for them. Oh, ridiculous Orwellian present, how we miss the ridiculous slightly-less-Orwellian past!

By now you may have already seen the ridiculous newsletter note penned by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, the one lamenting the reelection of Barack Obama as the worstest thing ever, for America, and assuring us all that the country has gone to hell in a very large handbasket because of course it has. Again, though, what is remarkable about this and the whole raft of pre- and post-election doomsaying by the leading lights of the conservative movement is how absolutely unhinged from reality they all are. Let us stipulate that there was indeed a time when conservative was not synonymous with delusional, or at least a time (not all that long ago) that the delusional people were made to sit at the children's table, at least. Now they're running the show. This is why Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump can have supposedly serious people contemplating their presidential prospects, and why our national budgets are determined, at this point, by anarchists.

James Dobson is not well. He is broken. It may be that the reelection of the scary black man broke him, or it may be that he was broken before that, but keep in mind that Focus on the Family and similar organizations used to pretend at legitimacy. Now, the pretending part is harder. Here, let's look:

I'm sure many of you are discouraged in the aftermath of the National Elections, especially in view of the moral and spiritual issues that took such a beating on November 6th. Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat.
Well, that's a bit maudlin.
Consider, for example, these four shocking components of the Democrats' 2012 platform. […]
Feel free to peruse those, but they can safely be summarized as (1) abortion porn, (2) gay marriage will doom us all, and (3,4) two conspiracy theories. Fair enough; welcome to the Family. He mopes about how Mitt Romney talked about the economy, and not about things like "the military and its gay agenda." He says the "imperious judiciary is arguably the most dangerous issue facing America because it imposes itself on almost every dimension of culture," apparently unaware that the judiciary is well and truly in conservative hands, and has been for some time, and if even those outcomes are not conservative enough than I hesitate to even imagine how imperious the judiciary would have to be to gain Dobson's desired social results. And there's this:
Silence also prevailed in response to the radical U.N. treaties that Democrats are about to raise in the U.S. Senate. If ratified, they will change this nation forever. I will say it again: both parties ignored these and dozens of other critical issues throughout the campaign.
Radical U.N. treaties, the man says. Like what? More radical than wheelchair ramps? As radical as the promotion of bicycle paths? This seems to be one of those codes that only the true conservatives can parse out—something adopted from Bircherism, something premised on the vague threat of the other and that the U.N. is, somehow, not just a malevolent force but, less plausible, one with some shred of actual power. When the complaints were just about "Agenda 21" one could chalk it up to paranoia about one particular (very silly thing), but no, as usual it is the mere premise of a "U.N." that is the terrifying thing.

And this:

Well, the election is over and we have a president who often ignores the Constitution and imposes dictatorial powers on the American people. Some people believe, and I am one of them, that Barack Obama is the worst president in American history. Pundits are scrambling to explain what happened and offering advice for the future. Karl Rove and others are telling the nation that conservatives need to abandon their long held moral beliefs, such as opposition to abortion, and become more like liberals. They have said, "We will never win another election unless our party develops a bigger tent." Being interpreted, that means political parties should stay away from the moral and social issues. Those controversial topics, they say, just drive voters away because at the end of the day, "It's the economy, stupid." There we go again!
How do you figure? This is not just for or about Dobson, but the entire social conservative movement—I have seen this dictator line more times than I can count. Based on what? What are the egregious batterings of the Constitution that have come so close to enslaving us all?

We know it is not torturing suspects or holding persons without trial. We know it has nothing to do with signing statements, or domestic espionage under sketchy circumstances. The crowd has no second thoughts about assassinations; no particular compunctions with lying; no concerns about presidential appointments, so long as none of them get dubbed a czar, which makes the whole thing sound foreign. The only time I have heard dictatorial used with regard to specific policy has been when the subject was how aggressively to deport certain brown people (the supposed dictatorial stance was, with some irony, the more permissive one) but other than that … what?

This is what is so very remarkable about the modern conservative movement. It is, even (especially) among the largest and most prominent organizations, at this point devoted entirely to paranoia and conspiracy. Their vision of reality is so far afield from what any more objective viewer would see that it is simply not parseable. The grift relies on painting a picture of America as a dystopia only a few quick votes away from fascism, or communism, or some other generic tyranny, that much is understandable, but this language of apparent "dictatorship," this vision of the military and their obvious "gay agenda," the paranoia over imaginary United Nations armies overrunning us in order to enforce, apparently, wheelchair ramps—this is a movement that is not well. There is no core, there, only a series of ever-larger fabrications.

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