Listening beneath the rhetorical sound and fury of the Republicans a pattern can be heard in stark relief to their counterpart.
There you go again, says the Ronald Reagan in me, with the "us" and "them."
The scolding voice of the punitive parent is echoed by the brimstone of the preacher and gains full throttle in the mouth of the fiery conservative talk-show hosts and sadists like Dick Cheney. In the alchemy of the psyche fear is converted to hatred. Their vocabulary ranges from menace to blame.
Don't tell me all Republicans are malicious and all Democrats are nice guys.
Did I say that? Only most of them. Those who were damaged early on. They must be descendents of the cave-dwellers who lived in terror of the next thunder or fire or attack from a fanged-beast. Woe is me became war on them.........the next tribe who didn't quite look like theirs.
FDR's We have nothing to fear.... can be contrasted to a century of Republican alarm. Nativism in the twenties was a movement damning the foreign-born as if they were barbarians at the gate. The national scare was a companion to rampant lynching and anti-Semitism along with the threat of a Chinese yellow menace. The Russian revolution was yet another bogeyman which whipped up hysteria and a virulent xenophobia.
Don't absolve the Democrats from joining the racist or jingoistic spirit of the times.They were just as virulent if not always as loud. The White Anglo-Saxon idyll scorned Eastern Europeans (Jews) and olive skinned Southern Europeans (Italians and Spanish).
Ironically these same forces didn't recognize a true menace when they saw it. They were the last to acknowledge the inhumanity of Franco's fascism and they resisted the Nazi abomination, indifferent as they were to Jewish extermination before war was declared.
So powerful is the instinct for survival that we are quick to strike back at the closest suspect without giving much thought to our acts. Roosevelt, himself, got swept up in the campaign of fear with his internment of Japanese-Americans.
There you have it. The liberal patrician shows his true colors. Maybe FDR had nothing to fear but his own avenging angel.
Following the war Joe McCarthy led the charge against the new enemy...atheistic communism and their godless atomic bomb. McCarthy was an alcoholic, paranoid demagogue who finally fell into disrepute after reigning over Cold War hysteria.
This was a bi-partisan effort as well. Plenty of blame to spread around. And who got us into Southeast Asia and escalated the bombing? It takes a lot of hate to carpet bomb a country and defoliate their crops.
Maybe the Republicans are just a tad more practiced at the game. Smear and scare is the way they talk to their base who recognize the code words that incite those down on their luck to join the militia, man the border, roam the streets and check for birth certificates. It's the same old song. The same American brand of tribalism. The pathology of racism that gnaws at our soul. An evolution of consciousness remains a distant hope; that thread of humanity that joins us rather than the differences that separate us; to consider forgiveness, starting but not ending with ourselves.