Poison Fruit

Spring                                        Waxing Awakening Moon

Spring has sprung, then it sprang back.  23 today.  Not prime gardening weather yet.

The conservative embrace of right wing populists has begun to bear poisoned fruit again.  They referred to Obama and African-American congressmen as niggers, Barney Frank as a faggot and phoned in death threat to several members of the House who switched their votes on health care reform.  The great irony of the moral majority, Christian right, tea-party tea bags is that by all normal political calculation they should vote Democrat.  They are, in the large part, blue collar folks, some living on minimum wage, many no doubt eligible for the health insurance provisions just passed by Congress, but conservative strategists have intentionally chosen to underwrite their social prejudices against people of color, homosexuals and folks with a college education in order to collect them into the party’s ranks.

This is not a deal with the devil; it is the devil making a deal.

I know these folks because I grew up with them in Indiana.  They first came to national notice in Indiana when 30% of the Hoosier electorate voted for George Wallace for President.  They were first and second generation folks from Appalachia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee and worked in the automobile and other heavy manufacturing centers in the Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio area, the area long since identified as the rust belt.  Union workers in the 1950’s and 1960’s, these constituencies voted a straight Democratic party ticket in line with their economic self-interest.

After LBJ and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, George Wallace made an independent run for the Presidency aiming himself squarely at southern Democrats, the diaspora of southerners working in the north and those other bigots nationally willing to sign up.  This came to the attention of Kevin Phillips, then a strategist for Richard Nixon.  He conceived of the moral majority, corralling the Wallace voters and conservative Christians, sometimes the same group into a winning base for conservative Republican politics.  This was the time of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robinson.

Right wing populism has a long and unsavory history in the US.  The KKK, anti-semite, homophobes, anti-Darwinists and love it or leave it patriots are just a few examples.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has made a career for Morris Dees and his compatriots filing suit against various organizational expressions of these folks.  When economic insecurity marries the all-too human propensity for discrimination, a violent firestorm will result.  It is no different now than it was in the post-Reconstruction days, the days during the Great Depression or the years after passage of the Civil Rights act.

True conservatives should be ashamed.

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