Sunday, April 06, 2003

What drives them?

Regular reader and letter-writer TruthToPower sends this missive:
Why are the pro-war forces so angry? They have the president, congress and most of the public on their side and we are close to winning in Iraq. Why then do they resort to threats and violence? If my side was batting 1.000 you wouldn't hear one word of complaint from me.

I think these people are just angry. They are angry because they are ignored and exploited by our system. Unfortunately because we are led to believe that we have the best society on earth many of us don't know know how to respond when it becomes clear that the system doesn't work in the interest of the average person.

Enter Rush and company. They bring out the absolute worst in people like this, the "angry white men" who think that a few black people at U. Michigan are responsible for all their problems. I also don't think we should discount the after effects of the 2000 presidential election. It showed that might makes right. You don't have to really win. You bully your way to victory and dare anyone to speak up.

Of course Bush could care less about these people. They are being used by the most cynical administation in modern history. Unfortunately they will keep them angry and confused so that they can invade Iran, Syria or God only knows where.

These are very ugly times.

I couldn't agree more.

I think that what makes them angry is the mere existence of liberalism and anyone who qualifies as a liberal. And ultimately what drives them is the elimination of liberalism altogether.

Certainly, they will never be happy until liberalism is an extinct species, and everyone in America thinks exactly alike -- that is, like them.

And you are right -- the turning point was the 2000 election.

I've commented previously on Justice Scalia's justification, revealed last year in an article he wrote for First Things, for the Bush v. Gore decision and his clear contempt of democracy for its tendency to "obscure the divine authority behind government":
These passages from Romans represent the consensus of Western thought until very recent times. Not just of Christian or religious thought, but of secular thought regarding the powers of the state. That consensus has been upset, I think, by the emergence of democracy. It is easy to see the hand of the Almighty behind rulers whose forebears, in the dim mists of history, were supposedly anointed by God, or who at least obtained their thrones in awful and unpredictable battles whose outcome was determined by the Lord of Hosts, that is, the Lord of Armies. It is much more difficult to see the hand of God—or any higher moral authority—behind the fools and rogues (as the losers would have it) whom we ourselves elect to do our own will. How can their power to avenge—to vindicate the “public order”—be any greater than our own?"

... The mistaken tendency to believe that a democratic government, being nothing more than the composite will of its individual citizens, has no more moral power or authority than they do as individuals has adverse effects in other areas as well. It fosters civil disobedience, for example, which proceeds on the assumption that what the individual citizen considers an unjust law—even if it does not compel him to act unjustly—need not be obeyed. St. Paul would not agree. “Ye must needs be subject,” he said, “not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” For conscience sake. The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible.

As Dave Johnson suggests, it is clear that Scalia views proper government not as a product of democratic processes, but rather as a contest of wills in which God chooses the stronger and leads him to victory.

In light of the 2000 election, it is clear that this is how Scalia justified a ruling that, conceptually speaking, ran counter to virtually every position he had ever taken, particularly with regard to both states' rights and 14th Amendment equal-protections provisions. For him, it was more an exercise of the raw power he held by virtue of holding a seat on the Supreme Court, all in the pursuit of seating the person whom Scalia believed to have been chosen by God.

This bodes extremely ill for the 2004 election. Should a Democrat threaten to win, it is clear that the gang currently in power sees itself as divinely empowered, and seems likely to seek a way to justify any means, even extra-constitutional ones (as it did in 2000), to hold onto that. This would include unleashing the thuggery of the extreme right on the rest of the populace.

And it is clear that someone like Scalia would approve enthusiastically.

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