Wednesday , February 21 2024
The radical right, in all its guises, pursue a full-frontal attack on progressive values.

Under Siege from the Radical Right: It’s Not All About the Economy

Warning: This is a rant.

I’ve always prided myself on being able to clearly see political creep from the far right, slowly working to erode our civil liberties and our civil rights. But in the last few months I admit it: I feel that everything remotely progressive in this country is under siege. I don’t know which way to turn as first one assault and then another is hurled from the right, the far right and the farther right. Michelle Bachman, symbol of the Radical Right

From stripping public workers of their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin to defunding Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio, the right has cast these mere blips in state and federal budgets as the Great Satan of the economy while protecting the sacred tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and welfare for corporations. Other Midwest states with (perhaps overly) zealous governors are poised to follow Wisconsin in its assault on worker rights, including Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

If the only front in this assault were framed around “the economy” I think I could handle it; keep up with the latest insult, support the counterattacks. But it’s not just the economy.

There’s Tea Party queen Michelle Bachmann, making me weep, with her revisionist (or perhaps simply misinformed) telling us on television that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly until slavery was eradicated. Really? She seriously believes that? God, I hope not. And she’s running for president folks! At least that is how it seems now. She seems to be this year’s poster child for the radical right’s agenda. 

And then there’s the insanity about teaching creationism on a par with evolution as a valid theory to explain how we bipedal homo sapiens came to be. I’m just waiting for some school district to ban Inherit the Wind from the freshman English curriculum. (If it hasn’t happened already.)

Of course the potential GOP presidential candidates are falling over each other to insist that they don’t believe in Evil-oution. And while we’re talking about education (and revisionism) what about the recently approved Texas textbook changes that manage to do everything from minimizing the importance of Thomas Jefferson in the nation’s history to rationalizing McCarthyism. The push to reframe this country, with its intentionally unique vision of religious equality, as a “Christian” nation is appalling and should be chilling to anyone belonging to a religious minority.

States (with help from the House of Representatives for voting to defund Planned Parenthood) continue to catapult women’s health back to the days of do-it-yourself abortions (and the sepsis deaths that sometimes follow). This situation is so dire that South Dakota considered a bill making the murder of doctors who perform abortions “justifiable homicide” before putting it on hold (in a moment of sanity). 

And someone please tell me why mainstream, thinking (I think), intelligent Republicans continue to “out-Orly” Orly Taitz? Just come out and say: “Yes, Obama is a natural-born American and is at least in that respect qualified to be president of these United States.” Why do they seem only to talk around it, saying that it’s up to each individual to weigh the facts and decide for themselves?  Or worse! What?! Or more precisely, WTF? I really thought Donald Trump was smarter than that. 

Of course there are the voting rights assaults, attempted runs around and right through the Constitution regarding the children of illegal immigrants, and countless other things that are all beginning to boggle my mind (feel free to add to my list in the comments section). Maybe I’m just getting old and can’t keep up. But I can’t recall a time since I’ve been aware of politics—not during Nixon, not during Reagan—when I’ve felt the this sort of frontal attack on social programs, progressive thinking, and liberal values.

There is a small part of me, as I try not to get too depressed about all of this, that wonders if the right hasn’t overreached more than just a tad. Will there be a backlash? Will there be successful recalls of GOP legislators in Wisconsin—and even of Governor Scott Walker (when he’s eligible)—in response to the Republican majority’s destruction of collective bargaining rights? Will the Republican majority in the House take as big a beating as the Democrats’ did in 2010? Will 2012 be the year when people wake up and realize they’ve been mugged to make the rich richer and the poor without health care? One can only hope. End of rant. Thanks for listening.

About Barbara Barnett

A Jewish mother and (young 🙃) grandmother, Barbara Barnett is an author and professional Hazzan (Cantor). A member of the Conservative Movement's Cantors Assembly and the Jewish Renewal movement's clergy association OHALAH, the clergy association of the Jewish Renewal movement. In her other life, she is a critically acclaimed fantasy/science fiction author as well as the author of a non-fiction exploration of the TV series House, M.D. and contributor to the book Spiritual Pregnancy. She Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (

Check Also

Bass Reeves

Austin Film Festival: ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ – An Untold Story with David Oyelowo

'Lawmen: Bass Reeves' gives an exciting and fact-based look at the life of one of the first Black U.S. deputy marshals after the Civil War.