The modern conservative movement in America has a driving force elevated above all others. The economy will may fluctuate, policy changes happen, progress moves ahead – and there is the fear. Palpable, living, breathing fear.
Fear has been the major motivator of conservatism for decades, reaching new highs under the presidency of Barack Obama. But it’s always been a tool the right loves to bring into play, to motivate the “useful idiots.”
The corporate and elitist goals of the big money on the right could never get populist support for their ideals if out in the open. They must cloak them in veils of nationalism, exceptionalism, fundamentalist religion, and fear of the unknown, unfamiliar, or different.
Fear the black man – manifested perhaps most effectively in the Willie Horton ads used by Bush senior.
Fear the immigrant, especially the brown one – Mexicans want your daughters, your dollars, and your very country.
Fear the Muslim – while fundamentalist religion is always dangerous, the right just wants to substitute their version of theocracy in place of imagined Sharia Law takeovers. Does anyone sane actually think an Islamic theocracy could be imposed in America? But that’s the line being pushed.
Fear the progressive – your lost job, your decline in stature, your insecurities about the future – all the fault of progressives who want to remake America into your worst nightmare.
The fear leads to a siege mentality, wherein conservatives see everything around them as out to get them. And the way their leadership pushes fear – and the followers greedily slop it up – gives them little credibility when it comes to actual concerns. You can’t talk to them and get them to listen, unless you are one of them.
Maybe what they need is a big collective hug, someone to tell them there is no bogeyman under the bed or in the closet, there is no wave of brown people coming to destroy, there aren’t judges going to use Sharia Law to settle their divorces or traffic infractions.
Something else Beckerheads need to know – you won’t lose your rights if you grant rights to someone else! It’s not a zero sum game. If you allow same-sex couples marriage equality, no one is taking anything away from you. If you decide to let an Islamic center be built no one is tearing down a church to do it.
They need to look beyond the black and white simplicity of their faith too. The death-cult of the End Timers, who wish for war, disease, and disaster as imagined signs of the return of Christ dominate the populist far right. We may learn to late that so many people wishing for worldwide war and disaster could in fact bring their twisted nightmares to fruition.
Sure, some will say that the fundamentalist right doesn’t represent the entire movement. That’s a cop-out, because while some in the movement aren’t screaming fundamentalists, screaming fundamentalists dominate the agenda.
Driven by fear to act courageous in the face of imagined bogeymen, displaying cowardice when it comes to embracing real change, the movement realizes it’s time is coming to an end – or do they? Are they misinformed enough to not know that America, if not today, then soon, is moving beyond them?
So maybe, all we have to do is send some people to Beckopalozza and give ’em all big hugs, tell them it’s all going to be OK. No, on second thought, kick ’em to the proverbial curb of history. There are people far more deserving of our sympathy and assurance.