Ponderings on the New Politics of Extremism

Back from several days in Washington. The city still has all the disadvantages of being a one-industry town, with almost everyone working for the government or lobbying the government or reporting on the government or trying to influence the government or litigating on behalf of or against the government. It’s like LA and the entertainment industry, or downtown New York and finance. Everyone is in the same bubble, and every conversation sounds vaguely similar.

The only difference this time is Washington feels under siege, as if marauding bands are closing in on it. Unlike Europe, America doesn’t have feudal traditions that in the last century spun into fascism and communism. Our right and left are much closer to the center than are Europe’s.

But the American right — whose roots are found in Jeffersonian libertarianism and the Jacksonian alliance of small southern farmers and northern white workers — is moving further right, and pulling the Republican Party with it. It’s fueled by economic fears combined with racism, anti-immigrant nativism, and southern white evangelical Christians.

The puzzle is why Wall Street and corporate America are going along with it when their interests are so different. The new Republican right is anti-Wall Street and protectionist. It doesn’t want to expand immigration. It distrusts big business and opposes the sorts of special tax cuts, subsidies, and big government contracts that big business has thrived on. The Obama administration has been far better to corporate America and Wall Street than the new Republican right would ever be.

I don’t get it, but the alliance between the energies of the new right and the money of big corporations and Wall Street is formidable, and in this early summer of our discontent Washington can already sense the barbarians at the gates.

This post originally appeared at Robert Reich’s Blog and is posted with permission.

2 Responses to "Ponderings on the New Politics of Extremism"

  1. SBG   June 18, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Mr. Reich is so biased and not smart enought to see beyond those biases. The Democrats are the ones allowing themselves to be controlled by the extremes. Democrats and our far left president are supporting gender select abortions, takeovers of private industries, investments in industries inteneded to pay off political supporters, nationalized health care (and since I've lived under both Canada's and the UK's systems I can say with great certainty that they are FAR inferior). Additionnally, suggesting that conservatives and Republicans are racist, anti-LEGAL immigration is the most absurd rhetoric. THe 50% of AMericans who are conservatives and not the above are insulted at your lack of intelligence Mr. Riech. You are the bigoted, extremist we don't need!

    • tom kloss   June 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      SBG; I wouldn't want Reich talking about me that way EITHER, ESPECIALLY if what he was saying WAS true.