The Klan, as I recall, had two major incarnations. The first was as a successful terrorist movement following the American Civil War. Klan 2.0, in the 1920s, was a reaction to the extraordinary cultural transitions of the early 20th century.
I’ve speculated that the birthers, baggers and deathers are also reacting to an increasingly incomprehensible world. Turns out the Senate minority leader might agree with me ..
… as the minority leader, John Boehner, put it, are “scared to death that the country that they grew up in is not going to be the country that their kids and grandkids grew up in”…
I say might because I can’t find Dowd’s version of Boehner’s words anywhere else. Boehner’s quote appears with intriguingly different wording in a GOP blog:
"...when I talk to people at these rallies, it was pretty clear these people are scared to death," Boehner said. "And they’re scared to death about the future for their kids and their grandkids and the facts that the American dream may not be alive for their kids and grandkids."
and in a CQ Politics transcript
“George, when I talk to people at these rallies, it was pretty clear people are scared to death. And they’re scared to death about the future for their kids and their grandkids, and the facts that the American dream may not be alive for their kids and grandkids. That’s what really scares them.”
So what did Boehner really say? Both, one, or neither? Anyone know?
The common thread, at the least, is fear. These middle class white men fear that (their) America is changing, and that their male children face a bleak future.
They are right to be afraid. Testosterone is no longer helpful in the vast majority of well paying corporate jobs or in advanced education. The advantages of melanin depletion are still strong, but this recessive trait will continue its secular decline. Corporate employment requires a level of disruptive interpersonal tolerance that is difficult for this group. Globalized competition is eliminating employment options for all but the genetically gifted – and this group is not gifted.
They are wrong, of course, to think that they can stop this change. Or at least, to think they can stop it without turning American in a 21st century version of 1960s India – isolated, impoverished and frozen in time.
Sadly, like a fearful dog, they are biting the hand of the man most likely to help them – the community organizer turned President. Their fear, and their limited understanding, has turned them into pawns of fame seekers and power seekers alike.
Managing the irrational, yet entirely correct, fears of the baggers and the 912 Project is a great challenge for American politics. If we can’t figure out a way to ease their fears, we may yet live through the equivalent of Klan 3.0.
At least I’m old enough to have enjoyed the golden ‘90s! The 21st century has been tough for America, and it’s not going to get better soon.
Update 9/19/09: Frank Rich has an editorial with a related but distinct perspective.