I've never heard or read the work of right-wing radio-talk-show host Michael Savage, but the subtitle of his best-selling book, Savage Nation, tells me he must be some kind of simpering sissy wimp. It reads: "Saving America from the liberal assault on our borders, language, and culture."
Excuse me? Liberalism isn't assaulting anyone these days. It's barely alive. It's a bubble boy on life support in the coma ward. Liberalism a threat? To whom, Bambi?
It's beyond me why conservatives just don't declare victory. Why are they so aggrieved? Because they were driving their SUV and some hippie called them names? Boo-hoo.
The mainstream right has won. By that I mean the ravenous, talk-radio, corporate kiss-ass right. It tells you everything you need to know about them that they're not happy with mere victory. They require an extermination.
What is the evidence that they've won? Well, like Christopher Wren's monument, it's all around you. Let's see. They own the White House. They own both houses of Congress. They own the Supreme Court. George W. Bush, in the words of the eminently reasonable Michael Kinsley, is "the closest thing in a long time to dictator of the world."
We're fighting a pre-emptive war in Iraq designed to establish dominance in the Middle East—a war in which our tanks have not only flattened fleeing Iraqis but also the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union—all bugbears of the right. Our official war-making slogan could be taken from the old CIA–run Air America motto: Anything, Anytime, Anywhere.
The war and Bush's other economic policies are designed to bankrupt the treasury in order to force spending cuts everywhere but in national defense and national offense. The liberal programs that once defined America—like Social Security—are doomed. He's turned a demographic bump into a black hole. He's attempting to complete the job Ronald Reagan began by reviving Trickle Down Syndrome. Your government benefits? They'll be lighting some fat cat's cigar if they aren't fueling the war machine.
Bush has even figured out a way to trickle down deficits. The New Federalism involves moving programs downstream to states that can't pay their own bills, thanks in part to the Bush-run economy. He's redefined states rights to mean that every state has the right to cut whatever programs it wants.
And while Bush is diminishing government's overall size and scope (and here I define government as that portion of the bureaucracy that actually benefits the citizenry), he is consolidating power in his own hands—or the hands of his handlers. Their real and relative power is growing as everything else shrinks.
Not since Richard Nixon has a president sought so much authority; has a president been so secretive; has a president been so determined to run the country without bowing to Congress; has a president been so brazen about waging undeclared war. But Nixon, that big commie, didn't go far enough. His imperial fantasies were largely limited to the idiotic Busby Berkeley costumes of his palace guard. Bush, on the other hand, has published his imperial plan and signed it in blood.
So, not only have so-called conservatives taken the country and consolidated their power, they are also wowing—or at least (shall we be generous?) snowing—the public. This won't be good news to your typical Seattle peacenik, but here's a disturbing message: Polls don't lie. Yes, I wish we could ignore them, too, but the messenger, while not perfect, is close enough when it comes to measuring attitude trends. What do the polls say?
They say 70 percent of the American public supports the war—and that support has been growing. They say 70 percent of the public approves of the way Bush is doing his job. And more broadly, they say that more than half (53 percent) of the country thinks America is on the right track. Red, white, and blue marketing is in; protest coverage is a turnoff. Sure, maybe it's partly due to a wartime rallying effect, but that's the point. Bush has pushed us into a perpetual war because that's what fuels the right's sense of righteousness. And fear is the glue that holds the whole plan together.
It also suits the right's siege mentality. No matter that they've gutted and flensed the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society. Somehow, it's American conservatives who feel marginalized, under attack, and oppressed.
But what do they have to fear, really? Michael Moore and his Oscar night tantrums? Ralph Nader? Tom Daschle? Susan Sarandon? Soccer moms with Darwin fish? Horrible traitors all.
What will make the right wing happy? A statue of Jefferson Davis in downtown Seattle? Charlton Heston on the $3 bill? Doubtful.
Like an elephant scared of a mouse, the right is a pitiful giant. It is still deeply insecure despite a half-century of successful political conquest. But in that insecurity they find strength and resolve: There are enemies to fight and liberals to demonize.
If you think you're safe in this island of liberalism in Seattle, don't get too smug, because our very existence assaults their crybaby sensibilities. Eventually they'll get around to dealing with all the pockets of resistance, even if the war's already won.