Sunday, March 01, 2009

red baiting 2.0

for the past year, the american right has been running through it's greatest hit of the last 20 years, as its struggled to regain its political footing. we've heard about reagan ad nauseam, newt gingrich is back, and, of course, they're still touting tax cuts as the solution to everything. but for the moment at least, it looks like they're going with accusing democrats of being "socialist".

i personally hope they stick with it. red baiting simply doesn't have the bite that it used to anymore. aside from that crazy guy with the hand painted sign who sometimes hangs out on walnut street, people don't worry about a communist revolution around here now that it's 20 years after the collapse of the soviet union. it looks to me like the right keeps reaching back to its glorious campaigns of the past because it has no coherent idea of how to face the future. no wonder the republican party is losing the 18-29 year olds in terms of party identification.the oldest of the 18-29s were nine years old when the berlin wall fell, eleven when the soviet union officially dissolved. they have no first hand memory of a feared communist menace. some have tried to replace dread of the USSR with the specter of "european style socialism" (i.e. democratic socialism), but that comes across as pretty comical to anyone who has actually spent any time in europe. it's also intellectually incoherent if you happen to know even the most basic history of the cold war. if "european-style socialism" is the same as stalinism, what the hell was the u.s. doing defending western europe in the decades following world war two? if you follow that claim to its logical conclusion, it ends up being a backhanded indictment of people like ronald reagan.