Friday, June 21, 2013

"He is Valjean to the Tea Party’s Javert"

"In The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter argued that right-wing movements often harbor a perception of 'a conspiracy against a way of life.' Following Hofstadter, Parker and Barreto suggest that Obama’s ascendance threatens the Tea Partiers’ traditional understanding of America. The president does not look like them or reflect their values; he personifies in an unavoidable way the changing face of the country. Thus the Tea Party despises Obama personally, distorting him into a grotesque papier-mâché figure good only for burning in effigy. Cue the Hitler moustaches, Nazi salutes, and dark mutterings of socialism in response to what are in fact very mild center-left policies. The 'birther' controversy, which remarkably persists in some quarters, bears all the hallmarks of Hofstadter’s paranoid style: state officials in Hawaii supposedly conspiring to hide Obama’s foreign lineage, thereby defiling the Constitution."

Michael O’Donnell in The New Republic reviews Christopher S. Parker and Matt A. Barreto's Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America.

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