Fear and loathing in the Republican mind


(With a gonzo bow to Hunter S. Thompson)

The Republican mind is a real puzzlement. Maybe it’s an oxymoron. Many times I feel that Republican mind is reflexively reptilian. Why is it so important that 45 million people live with no health insurance? Why is it so important people can’t be paid a living wage? Why do the ultra wealthy have be given even more wealth? Do they really want to maintain a sick, uneducated, poor underclass?

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In some cases it’s clearly a Pavlovian action, it is because it is. I grew up in an automatic Republican family; there was no other choice. Watch the Republican votes in the Congress or the legislature – ring the bell, they salivate and vote as ordered.

Today there are millions of citizens who blindly follow the dictums of party leaders. They appear to really believe that all Muslims are evil Islamic terrorists, and that we live under the continual risk of attack by some evil force.

It seems clear that many of our Republican brethren live in an alternate reality, far beyond the experience of most of us. There is also a serious difference in the role of government. We believe the goal of government is to make life better for all – the common good. Further, to provide common services – roads, police, schools, health care.

The right wing view is that government is obligated to protect corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the majority. All power flows from money; all gains flow to the wealthy. The wellbeing of the majority is a minor concern. The poor are poor because they are inferior beings.


Fear is a critical component of right wing belief and action. The right is helpless without an enemy. Someone has to be blamed for his or her imagined evils; communists, gays, immigrants, liberals, Muslins, peaceniks. This fear exploitation has long been a fundamental of fascism. Hermann Goering’s oft quoted remarks at Nuremburg about the use of fear to get people to fight wars were followed by a statement from his interviewer that, “There is one difference, in a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.” Goering responded with “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

The current Republican regime has perfected the art of keeping the populace afraid. The mantras of 9/11, terror, terrorists and traitors have worked all too well. An intelligent population trembles with orange alerts, removes shoes at airports and shows blind obedience to “Homeland Security” forces. We are told we are engaged in a war against terror; an incomprehensible statement willingly believed by seemingly reasonable people. A war on weather would make as much sense.


Fear is rather tepid unless enriched with appropriate people to hate. Commies, Japanese, Nazis, immigrants, socialists, welfare queens, black voters. Specific targets must be despised. The Republican communications machine has become expert is promulgating lists of people or groups to be despised. It has to be personal; these individuals have to be excoriated, usually under the guise of supposed damage to the ruling class. Welfare queens were a Reagan era target even though they were essentially non-existent. Voter fraud is a favorite current claim about illegal voters. Again, there are very few documented cases. It’s a ploy to divert attention from the real problems of stolen elections; the fraud is occurring with party officials and corporate supporters, not with the voters. Some of my Republican election judges are dismayed by same day voter registration. As the Minnesota Republican chair recently claimed, “Quality of the vote is more important the quantity!” The vote is apparently to be reserved for the ruling class. White male landowners as our founding fathers decreed?

180-degree language

Another interesting aspect of the Republican mind is reversed language. The right has done a superb job of capturing the language and since they control all media sources it’s relatively easy to convince the lemmings that hot is cold. A big lie is the easiest to peddle to people particularly if they are afraid.

Bush’s freedom for which the rest of the world supposedly hates us is the freedom for the rich to get richer and for corporations to control more. In his freedom there is no freedom for individuals. His freedom is opposite of our notion of freedom or Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms. Clear skies means polluted skies, no child left behind means leave as many behind as possible. Evolution doesn’t exist, climate change doesn’t occur. All science must be reinterpreted by the right wing Christians. The right lives in an alternate reality world of 180-degree language; almost everything said is the exact opposite.

Goerge Lakoff, Noam Chomsky and others have explored the underlying issues in language. Some of it may be hard wired. Certainly the classic Republican thinking of today emerges from a source far from the ken of most of us.

What to do?

When dealing with a hard-wired, alternate reality Republican I strategically retreat unless I’m being particularly dense and resort to useless discourse.

The best advice I’ve heard when dealing with more normal Republican beings is to keep bringing the conversation back to our fundamental issues and ignore the irrelevant minutia – flag pins and the like. The right doesn’t like issues.

Barack Obama continues to baffle the stenographers posing as journalists because he refuses to speak in sound bites. He expresses complete thoughts on issues about which people care.

Of course the corporate media does not want to deal with issues; much more fun to stir around with flag pins, acquaintances from another era or irrelevancies created by other media.

I’m naïve enough to believe that the truth will prevail. I believe our noble experiment with democracy will succeed. We are clearly at a critical tipping point. Can we still rescue our country or will the seemingly inexorable slide into a fascist dictatorship continue.

A fascist United States can be reversed only with conviction and incredible effort. It can be done but there is little time left.