Utterly appalled that a major party candidate in this country can actually hold a rally with a hate radio “shock jock” and extremist (UPDATE: and a GOP chair who apparently likes telling anti-Semitic “jokes”), and not automatically lose the election by 30 points or so, I asked several smart Virginia and national Democratic politicos what they thought about this situation. I mean, can you imagine if Terry McAuliffe rallied with a Marxist who said white people were evil, said derogatory things about men, Christians, heterosexuals, etc, maybe threw in some 9/11 “Trutherism” for good measure, just to complete the equivalence with crazies like Mark Levin? Wouldn’t that be the end of Terry McAuliffe or any other Democratic candidate for, well…forever? (and rightfully so, I might add)
Specifically, I asked the Democratic politicos what – if it’s even possible to imagine – would be the “left” equivalent of Cuccinelli and Obenshain hobnobbing with the Mark Levins, Wayne LaPierres, Koch brothers, Rand Pauls, John Whitbecks, and other assorted bigots, extremists, and tinfoil-hat lunatics of the world? Not to mention the Family Research Council, labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center? The best answer I got went roughly like this (edited from chat format for clarity and coherence).
This really is the Republicans’ base. The characteristics you described – extremist, tinfoil hat, bigots, etc. – are not our base. If you look at the polls, on issue after issue, our base is in the majority on almost everything, often in huge numbers. Yet somehow that doesn’t translate on election day.
Part of it is people have become inured to the right wing being the raving lunatics that they are. The whole political conversation has moved so far right in recent years, that this kind of craziness is somehow considered acceptable, within the norm. The media doesn’t call it out, probably doesn’t even see it, like they have all been simultaneously brainwashed.
It is really scary, not that different from how extremist movements have come to power throughout history, but a lot of people have forgotten that history, most people – certainly members of the Republican “base” – aren’t fearful of being a persecuted minority, they don’t feel any threats out there, they feel their innate right to assert their lunacy and vitriol.
Another Democratic politico friend pointed out that there simply is no “Tea Party” equivalent on the left side of the political spectrum, broadly speaking. In fact, there really isn’t a functional “left” in this country at all (or even a progressive movement worth speaking about). In addition, the right wing has done a far better job over the years of marginalizing the “left,” “liberals,” “progressives,” even moderates in the Republican Party (“RINOs!”) than Democrats and progressives have done to the right wing in this country, even after the disastrous Bush/Cheney era should have put the nail in their coffin for a long time to come.
For instance, this progressive politico pointed out, almost nobody takes Dennis Kucinich seriously, and he’s objectively speaking far less of a “left-wing extremist” than Frank Wolf (or Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain, EW Jackson) is a “right-wing extremist.” Yet going back to Dukakis – and earlier, to Nixon – the Republicans have somehow managed to make “liberal” a dirty word. That’s in part because the corporate media skews to the right, and in part because the right has a much better-financed, and ultimately more effective messaging machine than the (non-existent, pretty much) “left” does.
No doubt, the two of us agreed, the media is a huge part of the problem. They simply will NOT – out of cowardice, greed, stupidity, whatever – call out the right-wing extremists for what they are (case in point: the Washington Post article on the Cooch/Levin rally today doesn’t explain who Mark Levin is and what he’s all about, so how would readers know?!?). Instead, they treat them as normal, sane, reasonable, “the other side” of “two sides” (equivalent of course). That is totally not true, yet they repeat it so many times (and even some members of the Democratic Party, like Mark Warner, constantly use right-wing “framing”), that the Big Lie becomes the Truth.
So that’s apparently where we are right now, and that’s why the Ken Cuccinellis and Mark Obenshains of the world can mug for photographs, hold rallies, and ally themselves with bigots, extremists, and tinfoil-hat nutjobs like Mark Levin, Wayne LaPierre, Foster Friess, the Koch brothers, the Family Research Council, EW Jackson, John Whitbeck, you name it, without automatically losing the election by like 30, 40 points. Because in a sane country, filled with people who really pay attention, who really understand the issues (in part because the media actually does its job, which it most certainly isn’t doing now), and who vote for people who HELP them not HURT them, that’s what would happen to people like Cuccinelli and Obenshain. Sadly, though, that isn’t currently the case, and this is the FUBAR situation we’re in right now. And no, to answer the question at the start of this diary, there is most definitively NOT a “left” equivalent of Cuccinelli’s, Jackson’s, and Obenshain’s far-right-wing extremism and lunacy.