THE BLOG
09/08/2010 11:58 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Chasm Between the Right and the Rest

Newt Gingrich has just sent out an e-mail to his supporters entitled "America at Risk, A War with No Name," which argues for the development of a "long overdue serious strategy in fighting terrorism and the ideology behind it."

"Radical Islamists are people who want to impose Sharia (or Islamic) Law on the entire world... Radical Islamists view their struggle as a religiously inspired and approved jihad." The Obama administration, he continues, has renamed the Global War on Terrorism, (all with initial caps) the "Overseas Contingency Operation." The Administration, he asserts, is blind to the danger abroad.

Despite eight disastrous years of the widely perceived (at least outside of the U.S.) Bush war on Islam with American military operations in more than 100 countries, wars in countless countries (Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and who knows), with the stationing of American troops (targets for jihad) in several Arab countries, combined with unqualified support for Israel that taken together draw idle young men of Islam into terrorist camps in pursuit of jihad, the Right, with Gingrich carrying the banner on high, urges a yet more comprehensive, doctrinaire, militaristic NeoCon rush to the ramparts. The call for a clash of civilizations becomes louder each day.

The Right, in other words, rejects all efforts by the center and left, Obama or Bloomberg, European leaders or the United Nations, and ecumenical religious leaders, to calm the storm and to appeal to Islamic moderates and isolate the radical Islamists. Rather, they would treat the extreme as representative, focus on jihadist and Iran, and apparently prepare for war.

If you combine this appeal with the Tea Party fear and rejections of government programs including efforts at universal health care, stimulus programs to reduce unemployment, and add further the core Republican value of no tax increases, or more recently, constant tax reductions (Federal government tax revenues last year were 15% of GDP, down from the 18-20% traditional levels), you can see we are headed for an extraordinary impasse, perhaps toward national paralysis.

And now, we have a call to "a serious strategy in fighting terrorism," an apparent argument for yet more military action and strength, yet further demands on the budget. The NeoCons are back.

Moreover, a significant percentage of the Right's support is found in people committed based on religious conviction. Many supporters invoke God or the Bible to justify their political positions, ideas and views that do not respond to arguments based on reason, but rather on faith.

The Right, its position set in cement, apparently to be rewarded in November, is a world away from the Rest, I believe. Most Democrats and even Independents do not want a war with Islam, do not treat Islam as monolithic, and recognize that we have to pay for all these military engagements, not to mention social security, Medicare, and health care. But the Right, bolstered by a bad economy, frustration, anger with government and so forth, borders on a majority, at least a majority of those motivated to vote. The country is arguably fundamentally "Conservative."

Is there a remedy? Rally the Democratic and moderate voters. Get the truth out about how and why we find ourselves in this ditch. Educate and repeat and demand the truth. Hope that in the long run, minorities served by government programs and protections in alliance with traditional Liberals will crawl their way back and overcome the xenophobia and anger fed by diminishing economic opportunities. But in the meantime, plan for deadlock.

Does that mean stocking up on survival foods? No, but it may mean getting out of debt, simplifying, ex-patriating some money, learning how to garden. The Right is advocating a crusade, and judging from the last ones, our future could be grim.