Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, when speaking of how groups within society evolve to extremist views said: Reactionary concepts plus revolutionary emotion result in Fascist mentality.
Over the last decade and, in particular, since 2010, while we scratch our heads trying to understand what the GOP’s end game could possibly be, a significant part of our nation’s electorate continues its steadily march towards a social order reminiscent of Germany in the 1930’s.
Why do I say this? Look at what is going on in NH’s House of Representatives. One vital aspect of what Reich described as a society’s move towards fascism is the ruthless drive of its leaders to attain and hold power.
Speaker O’Brien and his legislative team exhibit a complete lack of consistency or political principle in the legislative initiatives they pursue. Their goal is to maintain their power and in doing so they are willing to abandon any principle to adopt any issue likely to gain converts.
The Gingrichs, Romneys, Sanctorums, Palins, Bachmans and DeMints (et al) of the world, with the enthusiastic support of their state level extremist adherents, feed on the politics of resentment, alienation, frustration, anger and fear. They speak to a constituency composed of people who are gullible, lack intellectual curiosity or the analytical skills to evaluate the merits of what they are being told.
The message, mirroring the same talking points created by Karl Rove-inspired advertisers and other media savvy people, does not have to be fascist in content or language…they realize that they are targeting followers who are willing and glad to embrace the underpinnings of fascism as a salve, an antidote to their fears and perceived needs that are inculcated and reinforced by those who seek to gain and maintain power over them.
Another way to look at their actions is to see it for what it is: a movement of extreme cultural nationalists who have combined economic corporatism and authoritarian autocracy masked by pseudo-populist appeals to overthrow their political adversaries. They deny their goal is to “turn the clock back” but instead argue that they are simply responding to the organically expressed will of the people.
Their return on investment is realized when their supporters blame our vexing societal problems on handy scapegoats – anyone and everyone that is different from themselves and/or does not share their bleak and cynical view of the world.
What we have is a GOP electorate actively seeking to deny many of their fellow citizens the civil liberties and rights that they themselves enjoy. They target working class and middle class people as greedy, lazy workers who should be stripped of living wages because they are undeserving. They embraced domestic and foreign policies that are diametrically opposed to their rational self-interests. They embrace the limitations placed upon their own freedoms in the name of “the war on terror.”
We now see the emergence of the very worst of GOP leadership agenda: the introduction of “religious” fascism.
They want their followers to believe the big lie that there are certain segments and groups within society that are immoral and a threat to the public well-being. What better way to attain and maintain political power and moral hegemony in the public square than by claiming to speak for the “good, moral, and decent folks.” Apparently, the best way to “justify” homophobia is to manufacture LGBT people as “the enemy,” and that you are coming to the rescue so as to rid society of the “scourge” of “the homosexual agenda.”
This new tactic has emerged in the form new talking points the Speaker and his lieutenants have introduced into NH politics. Now their focus in on enacting laws and regulations designed to justify the resurrection of segregation; the subjugation of women; the condemnation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people; capital punishment; overturning the right of same-sex couples to marry; elimination of health care provisions, eradicating critical thing in educational curriculums, and arming their followers for the cultural war they imply is surely coming.
Adolph Hitler once said: The great masses of people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.
Notice the NH House leadership almost always appeals to some virtuous (albeit false and unsubstantiated) reason for whatever evil they are attempting to perpetrate on the citizens of NH. This unevitably happens whenever you have a group of like-minded extremists who occupy unjustified authority positions and claim credit for accomplishments, competencies and expertise they certainly don’t have or deserve.
Yet, in almost every leadership role in the NH GOP, there are individuals who have misrepresented their personal histories in order to create a more palatable image and persona for their followers. What is particularly troubling is that while we sit by waiting for their deceptions, lying and hypocrisy tobe exposed by the Fourth Estate (our historical champion for seeking the truth), the Press seems paralyzed and unmotivated to challenge them.
As I contemplate what they are going to do next, I am reminded of Henry Clay’s warning to fellow senators in 1834:
The arts of power and its minions are the same in all countries in all ages. It marks its victim; denounces it; and excites the public odium and the public hatred, to conceal its own abuses and encroachments.