An excellent essay by Glenn Greenwald: Do Bush followers have a political ideology?
It used to be the case that in order to be considered a “liberal” or someone “of the Left,” one had to actually ascribe to liberal views on the important policy issues of the day — social spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, “judicial activism,” hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc. These days, to be a “liberal,” such views are no longer necessary.
Now, in order to be considered a “liberal,” only one thing is required — a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a “liberal,” regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more “liberal” one is. Whether one is a “liberal” — or, for that matter, a “conservative” — is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.
That’s the gist of the article. In our current climate, you can forget debating issues or policies or ideologies with most Conservatives. The simple fact is, if you “hate Bush”, you’re wrong. And this is not referring to any particular issue, such as the Iraq War. The simple fact is, Bush is always right.
This isn’t just a cheap shot at Conservatives along the lines of Michael Savage calling liberalism a “mental disorder”. If Greenwald is right, and I think he is, then most of us are no longer playing according to the rules. Like in the Creationism vs. Science debate, we’re standing here with all these mere facts when all that really matters is what the faithful believe. “Reality” is simply whatever Bush says it is. Disagree, and not only are you a heretic and a traitor, your voice no longer matters.
I referenced this not long ago with this post. When Social Security was in Bush’s line of sight, the Conservative choir all sung the hymn of crisis, demanding immediate action. It dropped out of Bush’s attention span, and now all is quiet on that front.
Greenwald also provides this example. Back when Republicans actually had a political theory to back their beliefs, they had this to say:
Since its founding in 1978, a secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA rhymes with ice -a) has received 7,539 applications to authorize electronic surveillance within the U.S. In the name of national security, the court has approved all but one of these requests from the Justice Department on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. Each of these decisions was reached in secret, with no published orders, opinions, or public record. The people, organizations, or embassies spied on were not notified of either the hearing or the surveillance itself. The American Civil Liberties Union was not able to unearth a single instance in which the target of a FISA wiretap was allowed to review the initial application. Nor would the targets be offered any opportunity to see transcripts of the conversations taped by the government and explain their side of the story.
Of course, since no information about the actions of the court is permitted to escape the sealed FISA chambers, the public is expected to accept on blind faith that the minimization procedures are functioning properly and the various law enforcement and intelligence agencies are not overstepping their bounds. But given an extensive and well-documented pattern of past government abuses, Turley’s warning of future abuses seems safe. Even when warrantless searches were unambiguously illegal, the government conducted thousands of them and violated the civil rights not only of possible spies, but of people engaged in constitutionally protected dissent. Secret searches of Americans’ homes and papers in the name of national security were one of the worst civil liberties abuses of the Cold War, noted the ACLU’s Martin. Instead of approving them, the Congress should outlaw them.
This recent strengthening of the FISA court fits comfortably in the pattern established in the late 1970s after the massive FBI crime spree against political activists. When the illegalities were documented by the Senate’s Church Committee instead of stepping in and stopping political policing activities by DoJ and intelligence agencies Congress took exactly the opposite approach. It waved a flag over a pattern government activities that had been criminal, draped it in authoritative language, and magically made it all legal. Since that time, through a series of laws and executive orders, policy-makers have further chipped away at freedoms previously presumed to be sacred.
Summary: Government spying on citizens is intolerable and a gross violation of Constitutional rights. You can read the whole thing here.
But, since Glorious Leader Bush wants to do it, it’s now perfectly fine. Bush is saving us, protecting us, and a Good Man, so we can trust him where we couldn’t trust others with this power. After all, 9/11 changed everything.
Predictably, Greenwald’s essay brought complaints from Conservatives, who expressed their contempt for Greenwald’s theory by completely validating it.
So long as this mindset continues, I think it’s fair to say that the Republican Party is no longer a political organization, but a cult. Now imagine trying to convince a cult member that he or she is mistaken about something. That’s where we are now.