05 November 2008

Why Obama is no Buzz Windrip

Wherein I out myself as a rabid merito-classist.

Buzz Windrip, chief villain of Sinclair Lewis' novel It Can't Happen Here, rides a grassroots tidal wave of popular support to the White House. His promises of soft socialism to an economically uncertain American people win him an unprecedented landslide. But his big government quickly turns sour, and before they knew it, Americans found themselves living in a fascist state.

The paranoid middle class seems convinced that Obama's grassroots origins and liberal economic plans are going to have a similar effect.

This is absolute bollocks.

It is only incidental that Lewis' Windrip was a Democrat and a liberal. It is also only incidental that the Nazis began as a socialist party. Fascism does not categorically draw its support from either the right or the left. Rather, fascism feeds on the xenophobic, chest-beating, self-righteous paranoia of the poorly-educated, rural, lower-middle classes. In the 1930's, it just so happened that that segment of the American population voted Democrat. But these days, that same demographic is widely known as the Republican base. It doesn't matter whether you're promising greater individual autonomy or a stronger central government - it matters whether you're turning the uppity busybodies of the nation into a band of nationalist thugs.

Obama didn't win because he rallied the vast unwashed -- weilding the poor and ignorant like a cudgel these days is the Republicans' strategy of choice. Obama won because he managed to mobilize the well-educated and the prosperous in record numbers.

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