William A. Mayer
May 6, 2003
On Saturday evening April 26, 2003 former comedian Al Franken, now auditioning for the role of public ass [you might remember him as the unfunny, big headed guy with horn rimmed glasses from an after-its-heyday iteration of Saturday Night Live] accosted members of the Fox News team at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Hurling invective, he was eventually sent packing, albeit with a bloody chin.
We can’t help but observe that his is becoming typical behavior among an increasing number of Democrats.
Shorn of its theatrics, you can see similar displays by angry lefty stars and starlets, gaunt cheeked anti-war street demonstrators, fraudulent junior Senators from New York and the like.
Aside from showing an intolerance that is rather surprising – considering that most of them are card-carrying supporters of the ACLU and wear diversity like a boutonniere – their behavior underlines a tendency in the party towards an absolute and unconditional loyalty that borders on fanaticism.
Though some in this crowd might argue that the ability to hold fast to a position, regardless of its utter intellectual bankruptcy, is somehow an elevating principle, it is in reality a primary characteristic of something a bit darker – the totalitarian mindset.
Upon reflection it seems that this is a point capable of defining an important difference between the major parties.
The GOP, despite a more than occasional lapse into muddleheaded thinking, has in a positive manner, materially differentiated itself along these lines as compared to the Democrats.
Despite the contemporary nature of Franken’s buffoonery, this is not a recent development. It is illustrative of a deeper, more unsettling problem.
As long as thirty years ago, Republicans were more than willing to place even mistaken honor above party, to the extent of allying themselves, in 1974, with the Democrat leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Peter Rodino, in a successful effort to drive Richard Nixon from the presidency over crimes which seem in hindsight rather puny.
Not only that but to facilitate what was thought to be relief from a potentially cataclysmic “constitutional crisis” – as Ben Bradley and the "get Nixon" contingent at the Washington Post blared every day on page one, in 100 point type – a contingent of Republican Senators, led by Mr. Conservative himself, Barry Goldwater, along with other Republican leaders, persuaded the besieged president that the game was over; that resignation was his only patriotic option.
Nowhere in the examination of the recent history of the Democrat party, can any similar action be found – examine the sorry partisan record demonstrated during the Clinton impeachment.
On the Senate side only Russ Feingold broke ranks with his party, which seemed more intent on preserving a united, though mistaken, front than holding a misbehaving chief executive accountable.
In the House of Representatives only 5 Democrats broke with the Democrats to support the first of two successful articles of impeachment, not so remarkably, a similar number of Republicans voted with the Democrats.
Compare that performance with the Republicans actively working behind the scenes to convince Richard Nixon to resign for the good of the nation.
At nearly every opportunity where one would think that partisanship might be sacrificed to some greater common good, the Democrats have failed to deliver.
During the food fight surrounding illegal campaign contributions made by the Chinese communists, among many others, to the Clinton-Gore 1996 campaign we saw a consistent stonewalling of the investigation by the Democrats who wanted no part of being seen as disloyal to their maximum leader.
What we did witness, however were claims of “no controlling legal authority” “they all do it” and an inability to remember precisely what occurred as if the Democrats had contracted mass, but selective, Alzheimer’s on the subject, while hundreds of Democrat contributors slithered out of the country to avoid prosecution.
Along the way we were treated to pictures of a pudgy Albert Gore Jr. raising money in Buddhist Temples, later seeming unclear as to who the little bald guys in silk robes full of greenbacks, were exactly.
The same can be observed with regard to racially blasphemous statements made by former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd, whose use of the highly [at least when it is allegedly used by the other party] charged word “nigger” should have landed him back in his civies before night fell.
Byrd and his nasty little lapse(s) into Klan-speak – by sole virtue of his party affiliation – are shielded; his statements incapable of “rising to the stature” whereby censure of any kind is deemed appropriate.
On the contrary, Senator Lott’s far less injurious comments nearly got him sent to Siberia with Republicans bailing from his defense in nearly the same number as Democrats – while the national media piled on.
When it comes to war, the contrast between the parties is stunning.
Clinton’s Iraqi war resolutions – which were in large part actually written by Republicans – were overwhelmingly accepted by both houses of congress, however the sanctioning authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom found a petulant Democrat party bitterly siding with the obstructionist tactics of France, Germany and Russia.
Extreme partisanship – the type we see every day from Pelosi, Daschle, Schumer and Barbara Lee – and misplaced, unconditional loyalty go hand in hand.
They are the same thing.
What motivates this inability to differentiate between hanging together against unjustified outward attacks and dumping one’s conscience down a Democrat sewer?
Maybe Reichfuhrer, Heinrich Himmler, put it best during his motivational speeches to the SS in the late 1930s, when he succinctly stated – “My honor is my loyalty.”
As Hanna Arendt suggested in her groundbreaking work “Totalitarianism” the translation of that phrase from the German “Mein Ehrre heisst Treue,” though expressive, does not even give it its proper due – as she observed – because those words “transcend the meaning of mere discipline or personal faithfulness.”
And that is precisely what we have been witnessing – now for well nigh approaching half a century – a party somehow convinced that its badge of honor is a lockstep mentality, one echoed in the mainstream press not so surprisingly.
Arendt’s work is illustrative because of its acuity in getting to the heart of why true totalitarianism is so relatively rare and yet so dangerous.
It differs from “mere” dictatorial and terror regimes in that the seed for it is planted deep within each citizen who considers himself or herself a member of the party.
The convert is strongly swept up in what they perceive to be either a manifest historical [in the case of Bolshevism] or natural [in the case of State Socialism] irresistible process, of which they have the privilege to serve.
Everything, every calculation, becomes sublimated to absolute fealty – to the ultimate extreme as was witnessed in the Soviet show trials – where totally innocent parties confessed to high crimes just to prove their loyalty to the cause beyond all doubt.
Of course it has not reached, and will hopefully never reach, this point in the United States, but the Democrat party, being heir to a murderous socialist revolutionary spirit that preceded and at times still walks alongside it, gives it a special responsibility and standard against which it must constantly held to account.
So far its performance has been questionable.
The Democrat party continues to inspire a rigid party line mentality while at the same time encouraging policies, which hasten to create an atomized and classless society. From such incubators, totalitarian movements spring up, malevolent and threatening, as a matter of natural course.
The mantra of diverse multiculturalism, embraced by left-wing politicians and enforced with Prussian efficiency in newsrooms across the nation has already done yeoman’s duty along those lines. Witness the shattered societal relationships that used to bind people together.
These binding forces, now furiously under attack, were termed “prescription” by the Scottish born father of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke. They are the very gravity, which holds nations together. Absent such, ancient passions rise among an easily inflamed public. Mobocracy, in the 18th century vernacular – the democracy of the least common denominator – follows unhesitatingly.
A favorite delivery vehicle of these culture based weapons of mass destruction are the Democrat’s “stock in trade” – demagogic attacks on the so-called rich, special interests and other historically validated whipping boys. Under such a fusillade, even the middle class becomes a target of exploitation for the bullies from the DNC.
Ominous also, is the rise of and deliberate use by the party leadership of street gang demonstrators created to strike fear in the [Republican] ruling classes. Not surprisingly these thugs are organized by old line Stalinists. What is new is the degree to which radical lefty foundations – and people who should know better – infuse them with cash.
Not to be overlooked is the movement’s adoption of new grammatical usages, “neocon” for example. As used by the left it’s merely a pejorative, a code word for a supporter of Israel, a Zionist more precisely. Such references are ethnically and culturally offensive but cleverly designed to give the user cover, thus skirting the left’s proscription against less abstract language. Such coarseness would immediately dredge up troubling memories – anti-Zionist pogroms in the Soviet Union and anti-Juden terror campaigns in Nazi Germany.
It is clear that some of the most prominent voices within the party are, at least culturally, members of the group now being demeaned by it. That such bigoted tactical language would tacitly be endorsed by those that most suffered during the worst days of the ‘30s & 40s is further evidence of the power contained within the twin dialectics representing the two brands of socialism. It provides additional illustration, a window into understanding why one would continue to adhere to a philosophy as it turns inward against itself.
The sanctioning of mob violence, the equating of lock step orthodoxy with a tortuous version of patriotism and now the ominous rise of ethnic scapegoats are warning signs that must not be ignored.
Such analysis is deemed uncivilized, a low blow by many conservative opinion makers even among those who call the shots on the “Fair & Balanced” network
And that is precisely the difference between the modern left and right.
The left is all too willing to employ whatever tactic works, the right adheres to a loftier, less confrontational code of conduct which when given full rein, accounts for the majority party in the Senate’s unwillingness to mug pip-squeaks like Tom Daschle and turncoats like Jeffords.
This is our intellectual burden because no matter how seductive it may seem, becoming like your enemy to gain advantage is both morally repugnant and in the long term, an ineffective strategy.
What the right posits is not an alternative take, an all-encompassing conservative version of the Marxist or fascist historical imperatives. It's less heady and probably for that reason less attractive to the type of personalities now being forged in government schools.
Totalitarian fanaticism is a blow torch whereas the call for a return to traditionalism, to a smaller, less intrusive government is a candlelight in the darkness – symbolically powerful yet immensely fragile.
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7 may 2003