Americans are living though a new era of "pop" culture. First, the inflated financial bubble popped on Wall Street. Now the fringe Right bubble is bursting on main street.
During the Carter administration in which the economy suffered double digit inflation, the air was let out of old time liberalism. Reagan, Bush and more Bush brought pins to the table along with a thousand points of light and burst it.
In between, a changed and improved "liberalism" emerged. The new progressivism is a perfect fit for postmodern times and the American people. Bill Clinton ushered in an era of social justice tempered by fiscal responsibility. His ideology was mitigated by a situational approach to problem solving. In governing, Clinton practiced political moderation, even though the extremes sometimes took him over in his personal life.
The Clinton administration, however, could not complete the change. In politicking, they were required to fight the fringe on their turf. The obsessive-compulsive focus on scandal, the us vs. them mentality, the demonizing, and the-truth-is-the-truth-because-I-said-it attitude.
During the Bush/Dukakis campaign, the fringe Right voice emerged with the Willie Horton ads. During the Clinton administration, the fringe salivated over scandal and became emboldened. During the Bush/Gore campaign, they got downright arrogant. During the Bush/Kerry campaign they got outright giddy. To the disbelief and downfall of Kerry and his campaign, the swift boating stuck.
Thus developed a sense of invincibility leading the fringe to go this far and this low. Why not? It had always worked before, so they pushed on and pumped it up with an absurd litany -- pigs and lipstick; Bill Ayers; the socialist/tax-and-spend liberal label; pro-America vs. anti-America...
Everyone expects hot air in politics, however the air got so rank that the country began to suffocate under a paranoid and divisive mentality. In this climate, a domino effect took hold; the fringe Right bubble was too close to the Wall Street bubble when it burst. One took the other down.
Now we have Republicans, Democrats, and Independents walking away from and speaking out against extreme rhetoric and deeds. The country is ready for an Obama administration that will provide us with a sense of moderation; a fusion of ideas; a patriotic, yet global perspective; and a sense of unity in a diverse culture.
Follow Caroline Presno on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drcaroline09