This weekend, at a panel on the U.S./Mexico border in Marfa, Texas, GRITv friend, reporter Mark Danner discussed the "thinning out" and hardening of politics.
When there's insecurity, violence and threat, he noted, people flock to those who promise to deliver security and stability even at the cost of their personal liberties. Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico—whomever offers protection attracts popular support.
But that's not only true in visibly war-torn countries. It's true here too. Don't you think? The economy hasn't recovered, no matter how many reports proclaim that the recession ended and millions cast about for answers, for someone to blame, someone who promises to help.
The middle of the spectrum, Danner noted, thins out while the extremes thicken and grow more powerful. Funny how here in the U.S. we've only heard about one extreme: the Tea Party movement, the angry, anti-government, pro-gun, far white. The money media loves their rallies and their politicians. Wacky views make great cable news.
So what about other views? Views that might be considered the other end of the "extreme" spectrum remain unspeakable. Suggest that Obama is a socialist Kenyan Nazi Muslim and you might end up winning a primary campaign. Suggest that Bush and Cheney ought to be prosecuted for torture and other war crimes, and you're ostracized. Why is that?
Perhaps the reason that we've only heard from one extreme in this time of crisis is that those in the money media fear that the other, leftist sort might actually gain traction. As Americans feel the ground shifting beneath them, nothing's more critical than controlling what's out there, on offer, on which to hold tight.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.