R. D. Kushner
January 7, 2005
An omniscient member of Congress proclaimed on Thursday that the debate presented by Democrats regarding the validation of Ohio's votes was, “A failed strategy of spite, obstruction, and conspiracy theories.” This new style of McCarthy-ism is not a new or an isolated incident; it is in fact the only consistently effective tool in the Republican arsenal: Persist relentlessly and call your adversaries malevolent liars.
One might wonder how such grade-school antics can be so successful; how Americans [and their elected officials] could be so manipulated by such obvious tactics of distortion and forensic relativism. The truth is that reality is much more difficult to decipher when set against the bright background of what is egregiously classified as, “spite, obstruction, and conspiracy.” Although only an opinion, these assertions are easy to understand; they are unrelated to the substantive issues, and they immediately invoke a strong emotional response with simple rhetoric. Once the emotional response is primed, rational thought is quietly subdued.
For example, if someone says, “There might be a terrorist attack in New York this week,” but later retracts their statement; the end result is a suspicion that there might be an attack in New York, irrespective of the retraction. The mere suggestion has now been rendered permanent by the notion that the original statement may have had some basis in fact. Why? Because the human mind cannot release itself voluntarily from the efficacy of its emotional responses.
The conservative “right” will say that this line of argument doesn't give the American people enough credit. On the contrary; it gives them just the right amount of credit; for in their beautifully wide-eyed search for truth, they are revealing the most wonderful asset of humanity: the constant search for meaning and its unrepentant optimism.
Congressman DeLay accused John Conyers and Barbara Boxer of mounting, “A direct attack to undermine our Democracy.” Mr. DeLay wants Americans to believe that even if these heroic representatives were trying to seek out truth about election fraud, their “attack on Democracy” is a bad thing. The truth about real Democracy, is that it is malleable and demands that it question itself at every turn. Contrary to this assessment was the predatory manner in which Mr. DeLay delivered his indictment of this cornerstone of Democracy: debate. His mean-spirited attack revealed a fascist intolerance, a willful myopia, and an obstinate close-mindedness.
In supporting the Ohio election confirmation, in spite of glaring evidence of voting irregularities, Democrats stood in opposition to the call for continued investigation; and in doing so, they aligned themselves with DeLay’s scathing indictment of everything “left” and joined his chorus as he belittled American Democracy. But in a way, the Democratic position is even more apprehensible: while Mr. DeLay really does believe in his own rancid close-minded ideology, the Democrats know better but are simply playing recreant politics; and sadly, this pathology is used to excuse the moral cretinism of the current administration.