The Republican Party IS The John Birch Society

Political perception is today enabled by enhanced technologies such as old high school friends rediscovered on Facebook who alert one to a Machine Gun Shoot and Lobster Dinner sponsored by the Pemi-Baker Valley Republican Committee of New Hampshire. I’m not sure why this caught my attention. They used to have machine gun shoots in Barack Obama’s hometown – you know, “Chicago-style.” They were good for settling disputes. I should be pleased to learn that New Hampshire Republicans only use them to put food on the table.

Seriously(?), though, the shoot is being held at the Pemigewasset Valley Fish & Game Club (“Aim to Please, Shoot to Play”), for which it not the only machine gut shoot. There is also the spring “General John T. Thompson Memorial annual Machine Gun Shoot” and the fall “Big Pumpkin annual Machine Gun Shoot.” Pumpkins are a swift, fierce prey, and need to be hunted with only the most lethal of weapons. If, on that serious note again, you are wondering what machine guns have to do with “fish and game,” I’m still looking into that. In the big city, where I come from, machine guns are on occasion used for hunting, but a different kind of prey.

General John T. Thompson, by the way, was the inventor of the “Tommy gun,” and the PVFGC seems to be fond of him – it provides a prominent link to The Unofficial Tommy Gun Page, where one can learn the history the Tommy gun. The logo image on its home page suggests, too, which of all those firearms used to hunt fish and game is its favorite.

Also favored by the PVFGC on its homepage is “gunchick.”

Just in case you wondered who else besides young men with excess testosterone and sperm buys all those movie tickets.

This interest in Pemi-Baker Valley, NH in military automatic weapons is not unrelated to attitudes elsewhere, where tic-like reference to the Second Amendment is as frequent a political message as an assertion of constitutional rights. (I mean, those guys didn’t wear hip holstered guns to political rallies last year because they feared for their safety, did they?) Take, for instance, Sharron Angle, the newly chosen Republican candidate for Senate to oppose Harry Reid. Marginalized earlier as being, well, at the margins of the party – though if you can find those without falling off the edge of the earth, good luck – Angle is quickly undergoing an attempted makeover. Previously, she was still engaging the social policy debates of the 1930s, looking to transition out of Social Security, for instance, though now she is advocating Al Gore’s “lock box” and seeking to “personalize” social security. That latter would be George W. Bush’s “privatize,” and, yes, Republicans, still in the age of Karl Rove, think the electorate are morons, who would be fooled by Clark Kent’s glasses.

More problematic for Angle is her previous party membership with the Nevada Independent American Party, originally founded as part of George Wallace’s 1968 presidential bid. And this January interview with a Portland talk show host:

You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.

I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.

It becomes increasingly difficult for decent elements in the Republican Party to separate themselves from this kind of derangement – people who speak like this often end up being hunted by the FBI in rural backwoods after shooting abortion providers or for sending bombs through the mail. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult to find decent elements in the Republican Party.

Angle’s implied threat of uprising, her purposeful use, within the context, of “take out” regarding Harry Reid flirts with a call for insurrection only merely in not touching tongues. “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” as Richard J. Hofstadter detailed it in 1964, then immediately applicable to The John Birch Society, reigns in conservative American politics today. It reigns within the Republican party, the Tea Party phenomenon and the Birch Society itself, which is increasingly mainstreamed on the right not only by its cosponsorship of the CPAC 2010 conference, but by the full Right’s adoption of its views. We needn’t review again all the paranoid fears and accusations directed at President Obama these past two years, as Robert Welch, JBS founder once accused (requires Google sign in) President Eisenhower:

For the sake of honesty, however, I want to confess here my own conviction that Eisenhower’s motivation is more ideological than opportunistic. Or, to put it bluntly, I personally think that he has been sympathetic to ultimate Communist aims, realistically willing to use Communist means to help them achieve their goals, knowingly accepting and abiding by Communist orders, and consciously serving the Communist conspiracy, for all of his adult life.

How can we fail to see the parallels? We can if we are engulfed in the paranoia, for always this time is different. But it is not. The Tea Partiers and others on the Right claim they are losing their country – “I want my country back, according to the Constitution” is a famous summer 2009 town hall cry oft repeated. In that link I provided Monday to a JBS statement of beliefs and principle read into the Congressional record in 1980, we could read,

But for 30 years we have had a steady stream of governments which increasingly have regarded our laws and even our Constitution as mere pieces of paper, which should not be allowed to stand in the way of what they, in their omniscient benevolence, considered to be “for the greatest good of the greatest number.

That was, ironically, thirty years ago. The paranoid Right, which is, today, the Right, is always raising the cry of a nation lost, does not for the first time question the patriotic allegiance of the President himself. Just yesterday on the floor of the House, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas endorsed Thomas Sowell’s demented op-ed comparing Obama to Hitler, in which Sowell declared,

American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington.

Just last year Gohmert and other assembled Republicans declared

The Obama White House team is in a full-scale fascist flight-forward to ram through their Hitlerian health care “reform.” They are recklessly burning through every political asset within reach. If they succeed, they will destroy the United States.

Oh, no, wait that wasn’t Gohmert and the Pubs – that was Lyndon Larouche’s political action committee, which went on to praise another Texas congressman, Representative Sam Johnson, for calling Obama a “fascist dictator.” But no worries telling them all apart: Larouche is crazy.

The Birch Society itself is currently lashing out at Chris Matthews’ recent special broadcast on “The New Right.” (Strike up The Who.)

[T]he Matthews “documentary” turned out to be the predictable hard-left attack on virtually everyone to the right of Nancy Pelosi and Fidel Castro.

One shouldn’t be surprised at the indistinguishability in JBS eyes of Pelosi and Castro, for it makes this further case:

The villains he has lined up for his Rogues Gallery of the Right — Senator Joe McCarthy, Senator Barry Goldwater, John Birch Society founder Robert Welch, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rep. Michele Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Alan Keyes, former Rep. Dick Armey, Tea Party activists — really just don’t look or sound that scary or crazy.

We might agree in a grand show of bipartisanship that those names do all go together, though I concede that that the glow of time and the mellow maturity of his aging do prompt me to wish to rescue Goldwater from that company. People like Ann Coulter have already resurrected McCarthy in conservative opinion, and ask Rush Limbaugh if he is uncomfortable in the company of Welch.

It really all gets kind of messy, like a mind that can no longer clearly perceive the world or coherently make judgments, a mind that cannot any longer distinguish right from far right, disgruntlement from disturbance, disagreement from danger. In the United States today, we now have one political party and one pathology. Fortunately, we just passed health care reform.

AJA

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