‘The Rise of the New Confederacy: How America-Hating Right-Wingers Took Over the GOP‘ in AlterNet makes some good points but is way over-intellectualized and elitist. I mean, the author actually says the gaping political chasm in the country may well have started because of educational changes Harvard made in the late 1800’s. But he says nothing about the rural-urban split, populist surges in the south and elsewhere, or the mistrust (often justifiable) that the South and West has for Washington and big government. Instead we get quite a lot about premillennial dispensationalism, and how that is the main ideology of the right. Batten down the Harvard hatches because the p.d. Jesus zombies are coming! Libertarians apparently don’t exist. Someone needs to alert the Ron Paul branch of the Republican Party.
For the author, right-wingers are ignorant, scary yokels who need to heed what their Harvard-educated betters tell them. This view is too common among urban liberals who then can’t figure out why southerners and rural folks think them to be condescending, pointy-headed jerks. Republicans don’t do this. They make friends with such folks rather than simultaneously insulting and fearing them.
Joe Bageant grew up redneck, became a leftie journalist, then went back to his little home town and wrote about, and did without being condescending. He explained how the Democratic Party has lost millions of votes that used to be theirs due to an elitist approach the past few decades towards rural whites. This is what the AlterNet article misses.
The Democrats share plenty of blame for the mess the country is in, and for the rise of the right as well. They’ve done little to fight the right. Sure, the Democratic Party isn’t as deranged as some on the hard right. But they’re just as in thrall to corporate power and campaign “contributions” as Republicans and worse, have few principles they’ll fight for. Yes, the psychosis on the right needs to be confronted and opposed. Yet practically no Democratic politicians are doing so. Why are they so timid? Or are they complicit? By their silence they cede the playing field and the momentum to the right. Saying they should be supported because they are less bad is no answer nor is blaming everything on the right.