National Commentary

Reviving the Culture War

nfbenton-mugOrganize, not from grief or fear but from vision, passion and hope. Millions of progressive Americans have been reeling since the outrageous outcome of the U.S. presidential election was announced last month. There has been an abundance of anger, angst, fear and, unfortunately, recriminations.

But by this week, the mood markedly changed. It is due, in part (but only in part), to the continued buffoonish behavior of Donald Trump, maintaining his pattern of “tweeting” at 3 a.m. indignation at “Saturday Night Live” parodies, and manufacturing media events with only marginal substance in reality (such as the questionable impact of the Carrier “deal”). These indicate that after two years of this, the American public will be ready for a genuine political tsunami against everything he stands for.

The other cause for a revived spirit of the Trump opposition is owed to its ongoing core values that by their nature have built-in reserves of strength, perseverance and faith in moral outcomes. It is not shallow hype to point to such things, as much as the enemies of these all try to characterize them that way.

Progressives, by and large, should not overlook the extent to which their core values are rooted in such things, and how they contribute to vastly different approach to the future and their role in it.

It is instructive to review what happened since Obama was first elected in 2008. It involved a terrible devil’s compact that the Republican Party made with every capacity to block and discredit Obama’s presidency. In choosing this path, Republicans en masse, even many who were reputable moderates up to that point, began throwing their lot in with the radical, destructive and racist premises of what it organized into the so-called Tea Party, and then with the tirades of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and other right-wing radio talk show haters.

This brought on board the worst of the worst, the previously marginalized openly racist white supremacist groups who are now enjoying the limelight as never before.

One of the saddest expressions of this came from former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis of Northern Virginia, who started out as a reasonable, bipartisan-oriented elected official but apparently, when he was made chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, began to embrace the worst of this filth, himself. At a book signing event in Northern Virginia last year, when I lamented the extremism of these groups and their growing influence, he said not to worry, that they just amounted to “ways of organizing our (the GOP) base.”

The same goes for the amazingly effete crybabies of the neo-con wing of the Republicans, including Gov. Jeb Bush, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and former G. W. Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. Given how much death and destruction neo-cons wreaked on the world under W’s presidency, it’s been an eye-opener to see how lame they were in the past election.

But still, they were as responsible as Dick Armey and worst dirty tricksters like Steve Bannon and his ilk of the racist “alt-right” for the rise of Donald Trump.

The failed ideology underlying this GOP descent into the pit is a radical form of “might makes right,” of bankrupt “postmodernist” thinking that began making serious inroads into the public thought since the 1950s. Cynical “postmodernism” rejects all notions of love in favor of what it holds are the only valid truths, pleasure and power. Philosophers like the evil Michel Foucault vomited this view all over American academia in the 1970s and it has run so deep that few are conscious of it.

Most progressives, to one extent or another, have not gone all the way over to the divisive attitude of “postmodernism,” but have held out for the sentiment that animated Dr. Martin Luther King that is grounded in love for humanity.

This is the culture war that must now be escalated from the progressive side: We stand for love, values, integrity and the long-term consequences of beneficial action. In these ways, we stand in stark contrast to all the bottom feeders who’ve aligned with the past eight years of GOP obstruction and hate.