Election Day musings

Today is the day that we’ll find out whether the USA has completely fucking lost it and actually elect a large number of christofascist teabaggers into office, or whether some semblance of sanity prevails and most of them will not be elected (completely incidentally, this will also be the evening on which I decide whether I should take the extensive or the intensive route if/when I make it back to college in January :-p ).

According to this map, , teabaggers are running in 129 house and 9 senate races. Theoretically, that’s a lot of potential for fucknuttery. Luckily it seems that in a lot of the races, the teacandidate stands no chance of winning (This apparently includes Christine O’Donnell, who is some 20 percentage points behind the democrat, according to various pre-election polls). Still, they could win some of them, and if they win enough of them, especially some strategically powerful ones (Most notably the Reid vs. Angle Nevada Senate race), they could become an actual active voice in the government of the US.

And what then?

This article has been making the rounds in the liberal half of the internet (and if you need a right-wing “endorsement” for it, Jonah Goldberg (of “Liberal Fascism” and “Assange needs to be murdered” fame) hates it :-p). It’s based largely on this paper(pdf link!)* from 1998, which tries to usefully define fascism in a way that makes it possible to identify before it gets to the marching-in-lockstep stage. And what the paper identifies as the core identity of fascist movements (pp. 6-7; sorry no blockquote, my c/p from pdf doesn’t seem to work), seems eerily close to the christian-patriotic, anti left, anti-furriners, anti-intellectual core of the teadentity. Now, the alternet article identifies the current election as possibly that step in the development of fascisms beyond which there’s a point-of-no return. now, looking at the electoral map, I don’t think that’s quite accurate. The teabaggers can’t win enough to become overwhelmingly powerful just yet, and it’s possible that intra-part conflict will kill the movement in the next 2 years. But I can see how having them as part of a legitimately elected government is definitely a first step, with the 2012 and 2014 elections either killing them off or indeed becoming the point of no return. After all, the teabaggers have already started shaping US politics from outside the official structures. Once they’re in, the insane narrative that American values indeed are teavalues will become even more prevalent in the media. And we all know how well the democrats are able to withstand these narratives instead of fully buying into them.

So what’s the point of this post? Really only to slap my American friends over the head with it and remind them to not fucking fuck this thing up!!!!

Now excuse me, I have to drive the boyfriend to the nearest voting station

P.S.: sorry for the overuse of tea as a prefix. It just fit so well :-p

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
*regardless of whether it’s relevant to the teabaggers, or whether the teabaggers will even be an issue after today, it’s a paper worth reading and keeping in mind for future reference. I really do think it captures the definition and development of fascism really well.

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15 comments on “Election Day musings

  1. Leigh Williams says:

    I agree — and I was much struck with it. It’s why I’ve been so active in this election cycle.

    Deeply troubling.

  2. Leigh Williams says:

    That, and _The Authoritarians_, have been very valuable to me as I’ve tried to understand how this brand of fucknuttery works — and why it’s so appealing to a broad swathe of Americans.

  3. Walton says:

    P.S.: sorry for the overuse of tea as a prefix. It just fit so well :-p

    I like it. I think my favourite ever bon mot of yours was “teacouple”, which I remember you using someplace. :-)

    On a serious note: I don’t think the Tea Party movement is fascist as a whole, though it certainly has some crypto-fascist elements within it. But it is certainly true that a climate of discontented right-wing populism, tinged with xenophobia and scapegoating of minorities, is exactly the environment in which authoritarian regimes tend to arise. The Tea Party is perhaps symptomatic of a tendency in American society that could, given the wrong combination of factors over the next few years, have very, very nasty results.

    It’s a scary time to live in – and whatever happens in the election, it’s going to get worse over there (and likely in Europe too) for undocumented immigrants, asylum-seekers, Muslims, and other groups who are painted as “enemies” by the bigots. Basic civil liberties are likely to be dismantled even further. Not to mention the constant rhetorical attacks on the “intellectual elite”, which, translated into policy, will probably mean slashing funding and support for higher education and research – again, something which stifles a free intellectual climate and, therefore, feeds authoritarianism in the long run.

  4. Jadehawk says:

    I like it. I think my favourite ever bon mot of yours was “teacouple”, which I remember you using someplace. :-)

    I think that was on facebook, talking about the interview Taibbi did with the Kansas couple.

    It’s a scary time to live in – and whatever happens in the election, it’s going to get worse over there (and likely in Europe too) for undocumented immigrants, asylum-seekers, Muslims, and other groups who are painted as “enemies” by the bigots. Basic civil liberties are likely to be dismantled even further. Not to mention the constant rhetorical attacks on the “intellectual elite”, which, translated into policy, will probably mean slashing funding and support for higher education and research – again, something which stifles a free intellectual climate and, therefore, feeds authoritarianism in the long run.

    I totally agree. It’s why I’m reconsidering fleeing to Europe. Feels like in the long term, it’s just more of the same.

    Plus, in NZ, I’d be one of 5 million people deciding on the fate of a place, insdead of one in 300 million in the US or one of 82 million in Germany ;-)

  5. David Marjanović says:

    I love the tea- prefix. :-)

    I decide whether I should take the extensive or the intensive route […]when I make it back to college in January :-p

    What does that mean?

    The teabaggers can’t win enough to become overwhelmingly powerful just yet, and it’s possible that intra-part conflict will kill the movement in the next 2 years. But I can see how having them as part of a legitimately elected government is definitely a first step, with the 2012 and 2014 elections either killing them off or indeed becoming the point of no return. After all, the teabaggers have already started shaping US politics from outside the official structures. Once they’re in, the insane narrative that American values indeed are teavalues will become even more prevalent in the media. And we all know how well the democrats are able to withstand these narratives instead of fully buying into them.

    This reminds me a lot of Austria’s xenophobe party in 1999. They had gained votes (mostly protest votes) in every single election since 1986*, giving them the nimbus of invincibility and historical inevitability; they had been chasing the two big parties into doing their bidding, especially into making asylum policy more and more xenophobic; and following the elections of 1999, they ended up in government.

    And then their utter incompetence and screaming lack of qualified personnel (the minister of justice was replaced twice because the previous one was burnt out) made them a laughingstock, and in 2002, the party split apart in a struggle that can to some degree be described as one between realos and fundies. (Made for nice TV drama.) The conservatives (comparable to Obama, Kerry, and both Clintons) immediately took advantage of this, triggered new elections, and won a lot, while both xenophobe parties were trounced. And at the next elections, in 2006, the conservatives lost many of those votes back to the Social Democrats.

    Obviously, differences abound. Austria’s xenophobes had a charismatic leader figure and leadership structure, something the teabaggers fortunately lack (…Haider : Failin’/Joe the Unlicensed Plumber/Bachmann/O’Donnell/… :: tragedy : farce); because of the two-party system, they were a separate party, while the teabaggers are Reptilians, though they’re almost the only Reptilians left; they had a coherent party program instead of incoherent feelings; cutting a legislation period short and calling new elections appears to be impossible in the USA, which is very annoying indeed; the xenophobes’ bumbling attempts (very few and far between) to coopt Christianity for their fear of at least Turkish immigrants backfired (if anything), because Catholicism over here (the default denomination, something lacking in the US) puts a lot of emphasis on the “love your neighbor” parts and the Sermon on the Mount while sweeping the “lake of eternal fire” parts under the carpet and pretty much ignoring the Old Testament altogether; the general populace of Austria isn’t quite as uneducated as the US one…

    In sum, I don’t feel like freaking out just yet. I’ll try to wait 2 more years to see if I should have.

    * Except the special one of 1995, when they lost slightly. They more than made up for that in 1999.

    I totally agree. It’s why I’m reconsidering fleeing to Europe. Feels like in the long term, it’s just more of the same.

    In some parts of Europe at least, it plainly cannot get any worse.

    I’m serious.

    In Austria, after 2 decades of the mentioned pressure from the xenophobe parties, it has got so bad – little children from Kosovo who lived here for years being kicked out of the country because one of their parents didn’t fill and deliver a form in time, for instance – that the point of broad-based public outrage has been reached. It’s getting loud enough to cause some results. The mentioned children are back, and a girl from Kosovo who did all her school here and was then sent back is now allowed to reenter the country…

    Plus, in NZ, I’d be one of 5 million people deciding on the fate of a place, insdead of one in 300 million in the US or one of 82 million in Germany ;-)

    But…
    – Isn’t voting in NZ a bit like voting Democratic in Washington DC?
    – Would it need to be Germany? I thought you wanted to avoid it because of your mother, never mind the Hartz IV madness? You have the right of permanent residence in all EU countries, and Germany is the biggest. You might like France, where people immediately take to the streets when they don’t like something, and (my cautious estimate) at least half of the time it works! Or Austria, where voting Green and convincing our generation to do likewise makes an impact; they’re entering the government of Vienna right now… permanent residents are allowed to vote in county-level elections throughout the EU.
    – That said, when it comes to decisions on the EU level, you’d be one of 450 million people. But then, the EU holds 2 permanent seats in the UN Security Council and 27 in the general assembly, as opposed to 0 and 1 for NZ, respectively.

  6. David Marjanović says:

    it plainly cannot get any worse

    To put it in big-picture terms: as far as can be told from extrapolating recent trends, the US is a generation behind Europe in many things, and xenophobia is one of them. The US has a long tradition of considering itself an immigration country, and widespread xenophobia* that surfaces in nationwide politics is a very recent phenomenon; over here, there’s no tradition of considering immigration normal, let alone desirable, and institutionalized xenophobia is now passing its peak.

    * As opposed to good old racism, which is not on the increase.

    Right now: news in the TV channel France24 saying the Democrats keep a narrow majority in the Senate; various Republicans, including Boehner, making bipartisan noises.

  7. Jadehawk says:

    What does that mean?

    it means i had the choice between taking my time and taking most of the classes i was interested in, regardless of whether they were relevant to my degree; or taking the bare minimum required for graduating, and squeezing as many classes into mu schedule as possible, including taking summer classes.

    pretty obvious now which one is the safer choice

    widespread xenophobia* that surfaces in nationwide politics is a very recent phenomenon

    uh, no. “my grandparents were the last good immigrants” is a sentiment almost as old as the US itself. The only reason the US has any immigration-restrictions at all is because of historical bouts of xenophobia. And it’s always been xenophobia against the “wrong” kind of immigrant. or do you think anyone is pissed about me being here, m”taking their jobs”? no. because I’m not part of “The Other”, as currently defined.

  8. Paul says:

    The US has a long tradition of considering itself an immigration country, and widespread xenophobia* that surfaces in nationwide politics is a very recent phenomenon

    Jadehawk already covered this, but you can’t be serious? There has always been widespread xenophobia in the US. Against the Irish (or the Catholics), the Chinese, the Japanese, the Polish. The targets change as the groups are considered “assimilated enough”, but it is by no means a new phenomenon.

  9. Jadehawk says:

    in the 129 house races with teacandidates, the teacandidates won 41 races (29 in districts that went to democrats last time); in the 9 senate races with teacandidates, the teacandidates won 5 (2 in seats that had previously gone to democrats)

    the teafuckers fucking won a lot.

  10. Paul says:

    I find it hard to believe that you’d be surprised. You live in North Dakota, right?

    People need to realize how bad things are and how bad they can be before sanity prevails. I don’t see this happening any time soon. I’ve even found myself mulling over the morality of not supporting Democrats until they actually run on platforms worth supporting, instead of running on conservative platforms with a couple carrots to lure progressives. But at that point, even current!Obama is out.

    Nothing will change until the politicians actually fear or at least feel beholden to their constituents, but their constituents will not force this until they feel sufficiently insecure. We’re not anywhere near there, yet, as the government gives a false sense of security while getting rid of anything approaching a safety net for the people. What we have is two groups of people who see the other as crazy or unreasonable, with the government in power running a confidence game that keeps their side placated (keeping the people from demanding real change, since at least half feel safe and secure that their guy is in charge at any given time). As far as I can figure, letting the inmates run the asylum for a time could make things bad enough to make the people demand real support and representation from their government, instead of everything being decided by corporations. Giving the reins to the corporatist democrats could be seen as more of a risk, since they might actually be adept enough to keep the corporatist system running well enough to prevent revolt, preventing real reform*.

    *I’m of two minds over whether the impending dissolution of “health care reform” is a good thing or not. The whole thing was simply corporate welfare for the insurance companies, and the fact that the Dems pretend it was done “for the people” makes me sick. But then, it would have helped many of the poorest get care. Of course so does Medicaid, its one fundamental problem being it only helps those who qualify its “needs based” test, regardless of whether there are people who make just enough to not qualify while having nowhere near the funds to pay medical bills (see: personal bankruptcy’s leading cause). As far as I can see, the only unambiguous good from HCR was preventing insurers from dropping people with preexisting conditions (which is a personal issue for me, even), but with no measures to keep costs in check all that means is they will jack up everyone’s rates more than enough to compensate. And of course from the beginning it was inevitable that even though costs would have been jacked up anyway, the lack of prevention of it in the bill means costs will be raised even more and blamed directly on the bill. It just feels like a bill that was meant to fail. With a Democrat controlled congress and a Democrat President, we got a Republican-tactic bill that is meant to crash and burn and show how government cannot handle health care.

    The President should have vetoed it and held a press conference making very clear that it was simply corporate welfare, not an aid for the people. But then I remember him making a deal a year before the bill passed ensuring that there would be no public option. Then pretending for a year that he actually wanted the public option, implying it just wasn’t in because the people didn’t want it or weren’t fighting hard enough for it (something I really wish Jon Stewart had tackled, he tends to be good at pointing out hypocrisy). The man’s a snake.

  11. johannes says:

    This article has been making the rounds in the liberal half of the internet

    Spin-doctoring Sternhell until what’s left of his thought on the origin of Fascism fits into American partisan politics. Ouch >:(!

    Jonah Goldberg (of “Liberal Fascism” and “Assange needs to be murdered” fame)

    Raping Willi Huhn until what’s left of his analysis of Social Democracy’s role in WWI and the raise of corporativism fits into American partisan politics. The man was a council communist, the idea that American right-wingers (ab)use his thought probably makes him spin in his grave >:(.

    IMHO, a better comparision of European Fascism and the Tea party had been made by Andrei S Markovits, in the German leftist weekly Jungle World:

    European Fascism wanted to conquer the state. Our Fascists want to live in a cave somwhere in Idaho, do not want to pay taxes, consider the state to be their greatest enemy, and want to destroy it.

  12. David Marjanović says:

    pretty obvious now which one is the safer choice

    Oh yes. :-(

    you can’t be serious?

    <facepalm> I should have thought of that… however, the reason I didn’t is that all these bouts of (sometimes very widespread and officially supported) xenophobia ended before Republican congresscritters & governors became publicly afraid of Spanish-speaking immigrants and started campaigning on that fear.

    Between such bouts, it appears that the US attitude is “give me your tired, your poor masses”, and it only changes when unexpected masses arrive, and even then it takes some time to appear in politics because it contradicts the national myth of “give me your tired, your poor masses”.

    Concerning Austria, I’ll post some reasons for optimism after lunch.

  13. David Marjanović says:

    …eh… maybe after today’s lunch. :-(

  14. David Marjanović says:

    Sorry. Still no time to post that stuff, I need to go sewing.

  15. David Marjanović says:

    Here goes, at last. I’m referring to the district newspaper (…the 10th district of Vienna has well over 100,000 inhabitants and would be Austria’s 4th largest city if it were a city) which gets delivered here every month.

    I’ve already mentioned the recent elections that are now resulting in a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Greens. For such elections, each party makes an ordered list of candidates, and the first few of them get a seat in the city parliament — the more votes, the more seats. If you’re far down on the list, you have no chance… except if enough people give you a “preference vote”. This university student, with a Turkish name and a completely covering headscarf, campaigned on Facebook and made it. Bigtime. She was on position 166 on the list of the Social Democrats, but got 5,601 preference votes (in a city of 1 1/2 million). For comparison…

    1) Michael Häupl, incumbent eternal mayor (Social Democrats) with a M.Sc. in zoology: 12,030 preference votes
    2) Alexander Van der Bellen, Green economy professor and former “Federal Speaker” of the Greens: 11,952
    3) Heinz-Christian Strache (self-proclaimed superhero of the xenophobes who tried very hard to portray the election as a duel between him, the knight in shining armor, and Häupl, the evil, treacherous fatso): 9,936
    4) Omar Al-Rawi (Social Democrats): 5,712
    5) Gülsüm Namaldi (see above): 5,601
    6) Maria Vassilakou (head of the city’s Greens): 4,929
    7) Christine Marek (head of the city’s conservatives, and incompetent federal minister for families): 3,533
    8) Christoph Chorherr (prominent city Green, son of a prominent city conservative): 1,798
    9) Renate Brauner (incumbent vice mayor, Social Democrats): 1,773
    10) Michael Ludwig (ditto): 892
    11) Sebastian Kurz (unknown conservative): 858

    The frontpage headline of the October 27 issue is “Mission from God: terror in front of clinic!” The accompanying article describes the complaints of the head of an abortion clinic in a remarkably favorable light. Those complaints are about protesters who, for instance, pray the exorcism and run after women on the tramway, shouting “Mama, why did you kill your child”. By law, they are not allowed to prevent women from entering the clinic or even to give them flyers or plastic embryos. The doctor wants a “protection zone” around the clinic to prevent them from laying siege to the sidewalks, something that has been existing and working in France for 9 years now. He has also hired actors who dance around the “life protectors” or gaze at them from a distance of 5 cm. He is quoted at the end: “The women who come to us have already made their decision. They are not coming because they want talk about it with anybody once more, but because they don’t want to stick a knitting needle up their womb on their own.”

    And now I’ll have lunch, LOL.

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