The Universal Notebook: The enemy within

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Remember back in 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security report “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” warned that right-wing extremists posed a greater threat to America than Islamic militants?

And remember how swiftly the Republican Party condemned and suppressed that report?

Well, four years later we have enough of those radicals in Congress to pose a serious threat to the continuing democratic government of these United States.

With sequestration, when extreme and unnecessary cuts in government services and funding are set to take place due to the failure of Congress to act, it now seems clear that in agreeing to a sequester back in 2011, President Obama made the serious strategic miscalculation that he was dealing with people of good will.

Now he and we can see that hardcore tea party Republicans do not care what damage they do to democracy – as long as they don‘t have to compromise their thoroughly un-American principles.

Speaker of the House John Boehner is well known as a hapless tool, but it is tea party darling Eric Cantor who deserves much of the blame for the childish brinksmanship that now passes for public service in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As Doug Thompson, founder of Capitol Hill Blue, one of the Internet’s oldest news websites, wrote back in 2011 when the tea party faction took America to the brink of insolvency over raising the debt ceiling, “Cantor and those of his ilk represent a cancer that is spreading throughout Congress, the American political system and the nation at large – a notion that compromise is bad, cooperation is unthinkable and coalitions are evil.”

On the contrary, governing is the art of compromise, cooperation is the American way and coalitions are fundamental to democracy. America has become an increasingly progressive country just as the party of angry, old white men has become increasingly reactionary. While pretending to be loyal Americans, the ultraconservatives in Congress (and bunkers everywhere) are actually anything but loyal Americans.

In a new study of right-wing extremism titled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” published by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, Dr. Arie Perliger, director of the center, points out the “antidemocratic dispositions among various far-right groups.”

“On the conceptual level,” Perliger writes, “there are irreconcilable tensions between core nationalist elements, internal homogenization and nativism of far right groups, on the one hand, and the liberal-democratic value system, on the other hand. Such tensions tend to push far-right groups to adopt an ‘anti-system’ stance and revisionist views of the democratic system.”

And that, folks, is what we are really up against in this country – extremists with their own version of reality. That’s how we get a bogus “tea party” in revolt not against taxation without representation, but against a democratically elected government.

That’s how we get conservatives who believe that majority rule is a form of tyranny.

That’s how we get senators and representative voting against Hurricane Sandy relief aid.

That’s how we get pseudo-patriots believing that the Second Amendment guarantees them enough firepower to overthrow the very government that guarantees that right.

That’s how we get members of Congress who don’t give a damn who gets hurt by sequestration cuts, as long as they don’t have to compromise with President Obama.

And that’s how right-wing radicals have become the enemy within.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.