Just a few thoughts at the close of the day on what has brought us to the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in as a people.
The rise of the right in the modern era began in the mid 1960's. Except for brief interludes of sanity, it has been on the march since that time. Its power is embodied in today's Republican Party, as well as in the newly organizing crazies known as the Tea Party (or, as I refer to them, Teacans).
What great and dramatic change occurred in the 60's to bring this on? Well, you know. Of course you do, don't pretend otherwise.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act finally enshrined the official and permanent renunciation of the original sin of this nation and this government (note: this characterization should in no way be misconstrued as a suggestion that anything could ever match or exceed the genocidal horrors visited on native Americans). But it did not purge the land of sinners. No, plenty remained, and they all resented mightily their well deserved moral upbraiding and scolding by this governmental action. No longer would they have the freedom to deny others their freedom.
An angry reaction not only was expected, it was openly welcomed and encouraged by the Republican Party. By 1968, a truly twisted and unlikely person, Richard Nixon, following his blatantly racially tinged "southern strategy," was able to win the presidency. The unrepentant sinners were responding in droves to the Republican anti-government rhetoric, which clearly translated into the message that anything powerful enough to insure equal rights for black people, was too damn powerful to do anything right.
The New Deal coalition was broken. And average white working people have been suckered into voting against their own economic self-interest, even survival, on every issue from taxes to unions and public education to banking regulation ever since. It has gotten so bad that they now are on the verge of acceding to the dismantlement of social security and medicare. Truly, such a thing would be an unprecedented act of economic suicide.
Unsurprisingly, the only groups who benefit from this dirty and thoroughly disreputable anti-government crusade are the well off, and the very well off. The rest of us suffer.
Ironically, many of those suffering the most are perhaps the greatest contingent of the Tea Party movement. They are clearly disaffected, hurting, confused, and angry. But whether they know it or not, they have largely brought this pain and uncertainty on themselves.