The funniest thing over the last couple of weeks in the world of politics is no longer the Republican Presidential nomination, which for several months in a row has been the best sitcom on TV. But the building panic from conservatives about Occupy Wall Street has replaced the presidential race as the most delightful show to watch. Eric Cantor is talking about mobs in the street, and Glenn Beck is doing maybe his best meltdown ever (and that’s saying something, because Beck has had some doozies). Conservatives by the truckload are freaking out all over the place.
What makes it even more fun for me is that their panic exactly echoes the kind of panic conservatives have always shown about the idea of democracy and taking on the monied interests throughout American history. In my book on the history of the American political debate, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be, I discussed how conservatives throughout our history have always echoed each other on these subjects no matter what the era. Here’s a sampling:
Written in 1776 by a pro-British Anglican Bishop: “If I must be enslaved let it be by a King at least, and not by a parcel of upstart lawless Committeemen. If I must be devoured, let me be devoured by the jaws of a lion, and not gnawed to death by rats and vermin.”
WE are the rats and vermin, of course.
More highly entertaining and revealing examples like that.
From the anti-American Revolution Tories of the 1770s to the Glenn Beck/Eric Cantor conservatives of today, conservatives always have been on the side of the wealthiest and most powerful in society, and always have been absolutely panic stricken when people get out in the streets to protest the abuses of the rest of us by the economic elites. Conservatives don’t like democracy; they don’t want the poor or the young or people of color to vote; they don’t like demonstrators raising hell about the powers that be. The panic by these conservatives is, as I said at the beginning of this post, as funny as can be: you can’t make up stuff as genuinely unhinged as Glenn Beck's reaction to Occupy, he is far funnier than any satire of him could be. More importantly, though, the reactions of these conservatives — so like the reactions of conservatives throughout American history who have been on the wrong side of every big issue — give reassurance that the folks at Occupy Wall Street are on the right side of history.
They hate us! They really, really hate us! Better yet, they fear us, and rightly so. Especially if some rats and vermin chew Miss Becky's lips off while he's asleep. Or awake.