Barack Obama isn’t a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin. He wasn’t born in Kenya, doesn’t have horns, and most likely isn’t the Anti-Christ. The crazy signs and overblown hyperbole we saw from conservatives over the summer were, for the most part, laughable by their sheer pathetic rants.
Still, anger comes from somewhere, even when it is woefully misplaced. What are so many conservatives so angry about? What can they point to that is so alarming as to require so adamant opposition? The truth might be in the path that got us here.
The destruction of so many good American jobs and ongoing attacks against working people didn’t happen overnight. Jimmy Carter first bought into the lie of mass deregulation by opening up the airline business. Ronald Reagan took the ideas and turned them into a full-fledged attack on working Americans.
Conservatives would deny that, of course, and that’s where the disconnect comes from. First, let me add that in addition to Reagan, Bill Clinton did enormous damage to working Americans too. Clinton pushed the “free trade” lie on the international stage with devastating effectiveness. The two Bushes did their part too. Conservative anger isn’t alone, progressives are just as mad about it.
What we have ended up with has been a cascade of plant closings – the “giant sucking sound” Ross Perot warned us about. We see record unemployment amidst a continual widening of the gap between rich and poor. It’s no coincidence that the current economic downturn is the worst since Reagan’s in 1983.
Funny, conservatives blame Carter for that one, even though it was two years into Reagan’s presidency. Yet they have no problem saying Obama is responsible for the downturn thrown in his lap. Getting a problem handed to you is no excuse for not dealing with it, and President Obama is not doing enough to reign in the corporate crooks who, through lack of regulation, brought us to where we are now.
Real Americans have seen the value of their work decrease while the cost of living has gone up. Their health care costs have skyrocketed while wages stagnated. Especially in conservative rural areas! Some of those most damaged by corporatist policies are the first to be angry at solutions.
Progressive movements throughout American history have brought about real change for working Americans. Usually, they have arisen after a period of wealthy excess by those who consider themselves above rules and regulations. Many conservatives miss the “arc of history” and don’t connect the dots.
They have seen their lot in life made harder, when the American dream promises different. They have been witness to the American dream becoming a club that was harder and harder to get in to. They see the news and hear how big the bonuses will be at the very companies who were driving this bus over the economic cliff. And they are angry – they have every right to be. They just should place the anger where it belongs.
Progressives and conservatives have a common enemy. It’s a wily enemy, one who would much rather have us fight each other. It is entrenched power, especially when fed by insatiable corporate greed. We may argue on the solutions, but at least we should agree on the problem. Conservative anger is justified – just find the right enemy.