Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the Coming Hard Turn to the Right


Rachel Maddow interviewed Melissa Harris-Lacewell yesterday about the “hard right turn” Virginia has taken recently—though it voted Democratic in the 2008 federal elections.  Evidence of the hard right turn?

1. A declaration by Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) that children born with disabilities are a punishment for their mothers’ previous abortions, since, as we all know, the bible says that God demands the first-born as the consecrated fruit of a mother’s womb.  Or something to that effect.

2. And once in office, Virginia’s new governor Bob McDonnell cancelled an executive order from his predecessor re: discrimination in state hiring and firing, and substituted a new order explicitly removing sexual orientation from non-discrimination protections.  As Rachel notes, it is now perfectly legal to advertise a job in Virginia with a “gays need not apply” clause, or to ask a state employee if she is gay and then fire her if she states that she is.

I’m struck by Melissa Harris-Bracewell’s assessment of this situation.  She sees the hard right turn coming for the nation as a whole in 2010.  She states,

And so, this is a pretty stunning and absolute reversal and the fact that it’s not just around issues of fiscal governance or statecraft but right at the heart in both cases of the question of citizenship, of rights, particularly for marginal classes of people is a pretty frightening indicator of what’ll happen if, in fact, for example, in the 2010 elections, we lose the House. 

And I agree.  It’s coming.  And it’s not going to be pretty.  And people of faith like Marshall and McDonnell will be right at the center of that hard-right turn with its dramatically increased targeting of vulnerable minorities. 

With lots and lots of Catholics marching right beside them.

At Salon, Glenn Greenwald offers some perspective for why the hard turn to the right is on the horizon: the Democrats continue to play deceitful games with their supporters, offering hope for progressive programs for which they never intended to fight in the first place. 

As Greenwald notes, this siphons away the energy of the base that put Mr. Obama into the White House and elected a Democratic-majority Congress.  Those voters are now so discouraged and angry that they will not vote in the coming elections:

The only thing I wonder about is whether Washington Democrats are baffled about the extreme "enthusiasm gap" between Democratic and Republican voters, which very well could cause them to lose control of Congress this year.  By "enthusiasm gap," it is meant that the very people who worked so hard in 2006 and 2008 to ensure that Democrats became empowered are now indifferent -- apathetic -- about whether they keep it.  Even as crazed and extremist as the GOP is, is it remotely possible that the Democratic establishment fails to understand not only why this "enthusiasm gap" exists, but also why it's completely justifiable?

The hard turn to the right is coming.  And it won’t be pretty when it happens.  And a large slew of American Catholics are fighting hard right now to make this turn happen, injecting poison into the political discourse of people of faith, working to increase social and economic divides and demonize people on the margins, calling for the blood of their brothers and sisters who try to keep Catholic social justice teachings alive.

While the “objective” and “balanced” center continues to sit on its superior perch, blathering on about love, compassion, justice.  About ideas.  But not about people and their lives. 

And about Latin Masses.