Tuesday, December 29, 2009
During a time of economic decline, persistent cultural strife, deepening American involvement in far-off military conflicts, and rapid environmental deterioration
salvation fantasies promising them both a transcendent, everlasting future and violent retribution against perceived evildoers?
2002 CNN poll found that 59% of Americans believed that the prophecies in the Book of Revelations would come true
mainstream American culture is permeated by apocalyptic beliefs and the yearning for messianic deliverance
The Obama phenomenon is impossible to analyze or understand without considering the deep levels of anxiety and desperation that progressives suffered during the radical presidency of George W. Bush
a secular version of the Christian right's salvation fantasy
The Audacity of Hope, "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."
Oprah Winfrey referred to Obama as "The One," a fusion of Jesus and Neo from The Matrix
when Obama defeated Clinton in Iowa, he quoted from a Hopi Indian End Times prophecy
"We are the ones we've been waiting for."
Ezra Klein declared the candidate, "not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of the word over flesh... Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our higher selves."
Louis Farrakhan, who had consistently ordered his followers to boycott elections and who attacked black politicians from Harold Washington to Jesse Jackson as tools of the white power structure, declared in a dramatic address to his followers that Obama was the Messiah
Many of Obama's harshest progressive critics embraced a secular salvation fantasy that Obama cleverly channeled and cultivated to excite them and distract from his lack of progressive accomplishments. In the end, Obama's messianization created false expectations while establishing political space for the right to undermine and delegitimize him.
the salvation fantasy Obama offered stood in stark contrast to the dualistic
malignant Rapture visions of the Christian right
he repudiated partisan rancor, declaring that there was no "conservative America" where people rejected science, demonized gays and assailed minority and women's rights.
words of Andrew Sullivan
Obama was destined to be "a liberal Reagan who can reunite America."
experiments by a group of political psychologists
profound fear of death inspired extreme conservative beliefs
cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker
"The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity -- designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny of man."
John Judis' excellent article, "Death Grip" on the studies for more).
Obama attempted to provide a blank screen
conservatives projected their most fearsome inner demons onto him instead.
Joe the Plumber began to attack Obama as a nebulous Other
a strange outsider who did not share
mainstream American values. Their intention was to make him as unfamiliar and frightening as possible
to scare off wavering independent
it was too late
so it extended into this year and peaked with the Fall Teabagger rallies and town hall disruptions
The Teabagger propaganda bore
right-wing Jewish settlers during rallies against Yitzhak Rabin
Obama was a Muslim; Obama was a commie pinko; Obama was a cosmopolitan globalist; Obama was a black nationalist. It did not matter who Obama really was. The right simply wanted to portray him as culturally alien and insidious
he had offered himself up as "a blank screen
and therefore not establishing a very clear identity
the liberal left's messianization of Obama enabled and even encouraged his otherization by the radical right
with false rumors
most damaging rumor
from the cult of Lyndon LaRouche
refined by former New York State Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey
mainstreamed by Palin
Obama never recovered
his plan to escalate
the war in Afghanistan
as the public option and Medicare buy-in proposals were scrapped to mollify Joseph Lieberman, the progressive left went into contortions
attack him as everything from a warmonger to a tool of Wall Streeters like Rahm Emanuel and Robert Rubin. "Kill the bill!" has become the battle cry
those former Obama fanatics experiencing a crisis in faith should look in the mirror
hey demanded a secular salvation fantasy and participated in the messianization of the candidate who delivered it to them
They now know that Obama is just a politician