In a column titled “G.O.P. Greek Tragedy,” Maureen Dowd reveals the conspiracy theory vision mainstream Democrats believe about conservatives:
In the old days, the Republican ego had control of the party’s id. The id, sometimes described as a galloping horse or crying baby, “the dark, inaccessible part of our personality … chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations,” as Freud called it, was whipped up obliquely by candidates. Nixon had his Southern strategy of using race as a wedge, Bush Senior and Lee Atwater used the Willie Horton attack, and W. and Karl Rove conjured the gay marriage bogyman.
Once elected, those presidents curbed the id with the ego, common sense and reason. But now the G.O.P.’s id is unbridled. The horse has thrown the rider; the dark forces are bubbling. Moderates, women, gays, Hispanics and blacks — even the president — are being hunted in this most dangerous game.
Which is the bigger drive among today’s progressives: to implement social justice with the perfect welfare state or to save the world from the imaginary Fascist Misogynist Anti-Gay Racist Imperialist Demons of the GOP?
Dowd chants the familiar spell: “Southern Strategy, Lee Atwater, Willie Horton, Karl Rove, gay marriage” and all of a sudden elaborate fantasies of an American Totalitarian state (described by Joe Conason in It Can Happen Here and Naomi Wolf in The End of America) spring to the progressive mind. The only reason Republicans since Reagan ever win elections is through their Faustian deal with the dreaded Christianist Theocracy Redneck Matthew Shepard-killing Red State Nationalists. Utilizing hidden electoral codes in their campaigns, the corporatist establishment Republicans dupe the NASCAR neanderthals to vote against their economic interests. (Thomas Frank set the talking point for the Bush era with 2004’s What’s the Matter with Kansas?) But, Dowd warns, now the barbarians who want to lock up gay people almost possess control of the GOP.
So the contents of Barack Obama’s agenda remain irrelevant to the Dowd-progressive. After all: at least with Obama, the teenage girls won’t need to perform their abortions themselves with coat-hangers.
Tea Party efforts to articulate fiscal sanity won’t penetrate minds hypnotized by this fantasy. Through emotional experiences and cultural conditioning the modern progressive channels her own id into hating those she deems beneath her in the pecking order. And as long as no greater threat to her comfort emerges, she’s likely to continue selecting conservatives as preferred whipping boy in her own Freudian dramas.