‘A WORLD APART’…. The more one hears from far-right activists about their fears and beliefs, the more it seems as if there’s a parallel universe of sorts that doesn’t quite line up well with our own. And if you’ve ever been tempted to ask, “What’s the weather like in their reality?” the answer, it seems, is cloudy with a strong chance of paranoia.
On a conference call with reporters just now, Democracy Corps’ James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Karl Agne went over their focus group study of Republican base voters and their worldview that President Obama is out to destroy the country — and the pressure this puts on Republican voters to make no compromises with the Obama administration.
“I don’t know if we’ll say we were startled,” said Carville, “but if you take the position that these Republican voters take, it’s easy to see why it leads to this, but they really believe that Obama has a secret agenda here. And our view is this is a dominant view in the Republican Party.”
The study described self-identified far-right Republicans as “a world apart from the rest of America.” It added, “They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.”
Phrases like “Obama Derangement Syndrome” apply extremely well to this segment of the GOP base. They are absolutely convinced, not quite nine months into Obama’s presidency, that the Commander in Chief has hatched a deliberate scheme to destroy American democracy. They’re paranoid, and creative in their wild conspiracy theories. They’re deluded, and have a pathetic kind of persecution complex.
It’s one thing to believe the president’s agenda is a bad idea, but these folks believe the White House has a literally dictatorial scheme in the works. Also from the report: “Conservative Republicans do not oppose Obama’s policies simply because they think they are misguided or out of partisan fervor. Rather, they believe his policies are purposely designed to fail. When they look at the totality of his agenda, they see a deliberate effort to drive our country so deep into debt, to make the majority of Americans so dependent on the government, and to strip away so many basic constitutional rights that we are too weak to fight back and have to accept whatever solution he proposes.”
As David Corn added, these Republicans believe there’s an “underground movement” assembling to resist the coming dictatorship, and believe Fox News and the Tea Parties are “manifestations of this nascent uprising.”
In the larger context, it’s not exactly shocking to know a sizable portion of the Republican Party’s base has gone stark raving mad. What’s of greater interest, though, is what the Republican Party is going to do about it. As far as the GOP base is concerned, constructive cooperation and/or negotiation with the White House is intolerable. Indeed, the report suggests the activists are annoyed with their party — it isn’t nearly unhinged enough for their tastes.
For a party that believes base mobilization is the key to electoral success, it poses something of a challenge — follow the un-medicated whims of enraged nihilists who stand “a world apart from the rest of America,” while pretending to be a mainstream political party that has the capacity to appeal to a broad national audience. I don’t envy them.