Having read Frank Schaeffer’s analysis, and the Political Carnival’s excellent summary, I think both are absolutely spot on, and am a little concerned with some of the commenters, who felt this point of view was unnecessarily extreme. It is always good to approach any kind of alarmist analysis/opinion with a healthy dose of skepticism, but, having met the progenitors of today’s movement about a quarter century ago, before the far Right Wing became a media sensation, back when they were hawking pamphlets and brochures from a folding table in the mall, I can tell you that there is ample reason to go ahead and be good and alarmed.
My encounter was at the height (or depth, if you prefer) of the Reagan-Bush era, when Greed was Good and tax cuts for the wealthy were sold to the masses as Trickle Down economics, supplemented with community activism (remember a thousand points of light?). There we were in the midst of a very popular (at least in retrospect) G.O.P. administration, but these extremist Christians were in no way supportive of the conservative leadership in place at the time. They were not comforted by the Great Communicator or his commitment to free-market capitalism, because they were answering to a Higher Authority. Their intent was to … and I wish I was making this up … take over the government. The plan was to start small, with the local stuff – school boards, city councils, etc, and work their way up: political missionaries determined to see their particular ideology implemented as law. They had pamphlets and a grim assortment of passion, fear, and an absolute and unshakable belief in their own divine rights. Remember the Church Lady? Dana Carvey made it funny, but in real life, Church Ladies are plenty scary. Still, let’s take a minute to appreciate some fine, xenophobic humor from that bygone era:
Their plans, while ambitious, were rooted in rather archaic methodologies. These hardy pioneers were hardly professional operatives, and it’s questionable they’d have succeeded in their efforts unassisted. They were, however, ripe for recruitment, and they begat this current generation of embedded separatists. And gradually, during the peaceful and prosperous 90’s, they were absorbed into the the neo-conservative movement, the modern Republican “base”. Savvy political consultants identified them, along with the closely associated post-Confederate racists and combative, gun-totin’ nationalists, as ideal foot-soldiers, and crafted the rhetoric that now rules the neo-con airwaves to mobilize these troops to unwittingly accomplish the same corporate goals that their predecessors had no interest in back in the 80’s. And make no mistake, they have no interest in playing by the rules – the mall pamphleteers had every intention of manipulating the political system to their own ends, and their modern counterparts have this intention plus every advantage money and top-level political strategists can offer.
We might look at the cacophony of fragmented messages being chanted by the 9/12ers and shake our heads in bemusement and dismay, but we must never, ever underestimate them, or the lengths they will go to to take over the government, never realizing on whose behalf they are acting. So, while indulging in a little Rachel Maddow to clear the intellectual palate, never forget what we, as progressives are up against is not nearly so civilized: