To Hell in a Left Hand Basket

Last night I was talking with someone who has an active mind that I very much respect. I always enjoy our discussions whether about politics, sports or women. Politically we are polar opposites, but we share passions and, at the end of the day, we share many concerns. This was not an angry or contentious discussion by any means but, toward the end, I realized, perhaps for the first time, that our views of the state of America are as opposed as our solutions.

There is a right-wing fringe movement in America and that has captured the center of Republican-conservatism and has successfully moved it toward their extreme ideological edge.  It believes that America is in such serious and dire straits that we are likely to implode, explode or spontaneously combust in a matter of a few short years, maybe only months.

Image: “Lost In Space” robot

They sincerely believe that liberal economic and social policies are taking us to the brink of extinction and that our demise will be fast and furious unless a completely conservative direction is taken in 2014 and again in 2016.

They believe that health insurance mandates, immigration compassion/reform, Dodd-Frank regulations on Wall Street, and clean energy development is the agenda of a socialist President who is Hell bent on destroying production, privatization, and wealth accumulation in order to create a fascist, nanny-state.

And they mean it.

Allow me to clarify my own position regarding this Fast Boat to China that we are allegedly on before moving any further.  I have grave concerns and have criticisms regarding American policies, but I, and most liberals I know, believe that America is a great country, with great accomplishments and we hold the tenets of America’s promise of freedom and equality high.  We see America as the gold standard of a Republic of, by and for the People.

We also see that our history is peppered with contradictions and human rights failings that had to be overcome in order to improve; and constantly improve, we must.  We believe that our ideology has been integral in moving our collective consciousness toward greater realizations of our best destiny.

We have been called “un-American” for not blindly accepting platitudes of American Exceptionalism, but we don’t believe that America is heading to Hell in a hand basket. Instead, we believe that serious course corrections always need to be made.

If our history has shown us anything it’s that we can endure missteps, misappropriations and misguided mistakes that result from this complex experiment in Democracy, but we must be vigilant in holding ourselves up to the light of justice.

My friend, as we were parting to go to separate engagements, wrapped up his evening thesis by reiterating the severity of this liberal/socialist conspiracy. He believes that the America we love will soon be laid to waste unless we drastically alter our course.

I was surprised by the conviction in his view, but my reaction was more quizzical-whimsy, than alarmed.

“But….aren’t we in a nice bar right now?  Haven’t we been getting our drinks without incident?  Did the streetlights work as you drove here?”

I continued.  “Do you feel that you could be threatened by missiles tonight?  Do you expect your work to be there tomorrow?  Won’t Starbucks be open in the morning?  I mean…how bad is it for us, really? Shouldn’t our attention be on those who don’t have what we have already?”

My point was that his reactionary view of the state of the nation with a Democrat in the White House is not rational, but that’s when something occurred to me that gave me a new insight into the ideological conflicts we are having.

That’s when it occurred to me that the entire political belief system of his movement is predicated on the idea that the state of affairs in America are so dire that we must react swiftly and severely with the broad sword of extreme conservatism in order to survive.

Chicken Little image via

The sky HAS to be falling for the imminent anarchy point of view to have any validity.  We must be in a state of emergency, not an Orange Alert, but RED, or their measure of the economy, immigration, social justice, and foreign affairs becomes irrelevant.

We had other plans for the evening, so rather than open up this can of Crisis Worms, we parted ways.  I got in my car, drove without conflict to a community theater production of “Les Miserable” and ultimately found myself at home at the end of the night.

My TV worked, the late shows I enjoy were still on and the neighborhood was quiet.  I fell asleep, confident that the next day would be productive and safe.

I did check the stock market in the morning, though, and…well…it’s fine for those of us who don’t panic.