Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Tea-Partyization of the Republican Party: Appeasing Drunk Daddy, Raging Mother, and Crazy Uncle

People who grow up in dysfunctional families where a particular family member is the primary source of dysfunction—say, a severely alcoholic father, a rageaholic mother, an uncle who is always on the verge of exploding because he’s a dry drunk using rage to mask the symptoms of alcoholism—commonly exhibit a certain pattern.  Much of their family life revolves around making excuses for and doing anything possible not to set off Drunk Father, Raging Mother, or Dangerous Uncle.

And as this pattern develops in a family, the entire family eventually ends up being dysfunctional.  Because it is enabling the one family member in need of serious intervention and healing to continue in her or his dysfunction.  It is spreading out, as it were, the root causes of the alcoholism and rage, permitting the person manifesting those symptoms not to deal with them.

It is denying reality, colluding in lies, and halting the flow of healthy family relationships insofar as they don’t fit into the “needs” (read: control) of the problem family member.  Eventually, the entire family becomes consumed by the inner drama of its alcoholic or rageaholic member, and that member calls the shots for everyone, as other family members tiptoe around trying not to set off another round of sodden drinking or another spell of out-of-control rage.

And this is how the American body politic treats its right-wing extremist element.  Though that element represents a small, discrete portion of the body politic, at some level, the most significant institutions of our society—our government, the mainstream media, the corporate world, many faith communities—have made a tacit decision never to run directly up against the rage of the tea partiers, the birthers, the religious right.

As a result, a president and Congress elected on a platform or change we can believe in continually appease the far right, under the guise of building an impossible bipartisan coalition.  And the media bend over backwards to “balance” their coverage of issues and be “fair” even to those screaming lies and hateful epithets and calling this valid political discourse.  

This produces a political culture of gridlock in which no important movement forward—movement to address our serious, growing, and very real problems—is possible.  Because we’re doing everything possible to continue making excuses for Drunk Daddy, Raging Mother, and Crazy Uncle.  And to try to make them happy (impossible task!) even if, in doing so, we know full well that their analysis of current events is absolutely false and grounded in disinformation.

For the rest of this story, I recommend David Corn’s analysis of the tea-party-ization of the Republican party at Alternet today.  And an addendum: this is Joshua Holland talking (again, Alternet today) about the proper response when mean/crazy/lying/game-playing family members try to subvert a family’s health through their lies and games: 

The black-hearted demagogues stirring up this outburst of ignorant Islamophobia [i.e., re: the proposed Ground Zero mosque] are truly the worst human beings in the world. They’re monsters, and should be shamed out of the public square. That they’re not — that they’ll continue to be given a platform to spread their noxious bile — is a dark reflection on our entire society.

Yes. That we tolerate and entertain such hate-filled behavior, and let it prance all through the lead pages of our mainstream publications, says a lot not about the haters, but about us.