Right-wing Destructiveness Plus Liberal Weakness: The Dangerous Combination Behind America’s National Crisis

For more than a decade and a half, America has confronted one of the most profound crises in our nation’s history. Or rather, we Americans have largely failed to confront it.

Poll results show that Americans are aware that something has gone very wrong: The country is heading in the wrong direction, most Americans believe, and its political system seems incapable of dealing constructively with the challenges we face. As a result, the levels of pessimism among Americans about whether future generations will have better or worse lives than we have had are at levels pollsters have not seen before.

Despite these signs of crisis and of public awareness of things gone awry, we do not give this crisis the attention this darkening picture surely calls for. We are not dealing with this crisis as our nation has dealt with the previous big crises in our history.

When the United States had a major crisis over the issue of slavery, the national conversation focused on that issue. When there was a crisis over the Great Depression, and then over World War II, everyone knew what the nature of the challenge was, and those big realities were at the center of our national discourse.

But this time it’s different. Our national conversation focuses momentarily on all sorts of things related to the crisis — just about every major political news story is relevant in some way — but there’s little sense of what the pieces, fitted together, reveal about our national crisis.

Here, I assert, what putting the pieces together reveals to be the central reality of our present crisis. This is the two-fold truth that we as a nation should be discussing but, for the most part, are not: The Republican Party has become the instrument of a destructive force, while the response of Liberal America (including the Democratic Party) to this threat has been woefully weak.

This two-sided pathology is what our national conversation should be made to focus on. That’s so not only because he captures the essential dynamic of our pathological political system. But also because the more Americans can be led to perceive this reality, the better our chances of rescuing our nation — and our children, and grandchildren — from the dark future that now threatens.

A force like this, that has arisen on the right, can succeed in a democracy like ours only by deceiving people about its true nature. And it can triumph only if those who do not buy the con fail to rise up with passion and determination to defeat it.

It is astonishing and disturbing that such a force could arise and wreak so much damage on the nation, and yet be treated by most of the rest of the body politic as something almost normal.

This force is not normal. It is virtually unprecedented: Nothing like this has been seen before at center stage of American politics — with the possible exception of the decade leading up to America’s terrible Civil War. And as it did then, albeit in a different way, it is working to tear the nation apart.

Protecting what’s best in America will require that we see this destructive force for what it is, and that we press the battle against it by calling it out far more vigorously than Liberal America has yet roused itself to do.

Such calling it out is what I have begun to do in most of the pieces I’ve published thus far here on The Huffington Post:

These are but snapshots.

Soon I will be launching here a series of posts to give a fuller, more integrated picture of this destructive force, and of how it has been able to gain so much power to damage our country by exploiting the most broken elements in American civilization.

This series will also explore that crucial part of that picture that involves the defects in Liberal America than have rendered it so impotent in the face of this force.

That part of our pathological political dynamic I have begun to explore here in a previous piece titled “Where Is the Moral Outrage? A Sign of the Weakness of Liberal America,” which touched upon some of the reasons why much of Liberal America — including the Democratic Party — has been reluctant to do battle.

It is essential for America’s future that a fire now be lit in Liberal America, because it is in kindling the moral and spiritual passions of that part of our body politic that the beginnings of the necessary change will have to come.

This new series — offering a comprehensive picture of what’s gone wrong in the American body politic and what it will take to set it right — will debut under the banner “Press the Battle.”

Watch this space.

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  1. I live in Central Virginia, a place where people seem to be especially unaware of the true
    nature of the Republican party and how much it has put their true interests
    at risk. But there is so much knee jerk reaction to ‘big government’, ‘taxes’, ‘Obamacare’, etc.
    that I am at a loss to know how to even dialogue with people like this. But I do agree that
    so-called ‘liberals’ have not stood up for what they know to be right. I have been following your articles and hoping, and wondering what I can do.

  2. Hi, Andy. I have not commented much recently. Just wanted you to know that I’m still reading. Haven’t seen much to correct (as in typos, which I have caught from time to time) or comment on (as in propose alternatives to improve or clarify your message).

    • Thank you, Todd– yours being the closest thing to a response to my question yet posted: Is this piece a good and effective one that’s worthy of my putting it out onto Huffington Post as part of the build up to the launch of my Series in a few weeks?

      Do you have an opinion on that, Todd. Does anyone else have something to say, to encourage or discourage my using it there?

  3. I’d say “maybe” on the question of publishing the article in Huffington Post. In this case “maybe” being synonymous with “yes and no”.

    The “yes” part is that the piece stands on its own. The short summaries of the other articles would be good for people who see this article as their initial exposure to your writing.

    Perhaps my “no” part should be “maybe not” instead of a definite “no” because I do not know what rules or common custom over at HuffPost say about publishing such “summary of recent postings” are. Occasional appearances of such seem to me to be beneficial, let alone harmless. But others’ opinions about that may differ.

    Granted, what you say here is not merely summary. But I believe that many would read it that way. Perhaps I’m conjuring a tempest in a teapot about this.

  4. Sigh — no “edit” function for comments. I guess “proofread, proofread, proofread before clicking on ‘Submit Comment'” would be good advice here.

    I should have written “The ‘yes’ part is that the piece stands cogently and boldly on its own”.

  5. Have any of these articles been published on Common Dreams.org?

    • No, Melinda. I have not had anything on Common Dreams in maybe eight years. I was appearing there regularly, for a while, and then they seemed to drop me for reasons that I could never get explained. And then I just gave up on them.

  6. Andrew, I’m sorry to hear that. I must say I haven’t read then as much as I did several years ago. They seem to have changed don’t seem as timely somehow. But I’ve been trying to think of what there is besides Huff Post and can’t think of anything besides ‘The Nation’ or ‘Mother Jones’. What do you think of those? Are there any conservative publications you’ve tried?

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