A good deal of attention was given yesterday to Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) fake-filibuster. It wasn't actually a filibuster, of course, just sort of a long, rambling talk, interrupted by random other senators, and lots of sitting down and resting. But why quibble, it was fine performance art that really accomplished nothing, except getting Ted Cruz a lot of TV time, which ultimately was probably the point.
Lost in all the zany hoopla, however, was a point I found utterly remarkable, yet wasn't addressed by any reporters that I heard.
Let me explain.
At the heart of it all, of course, was Mr. Cruz, who was supported in large part by his BFF, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), both men major darlings of the extreme far-right Tea Party (tm) corporations.
And both men made outlandish comparisons, each attempting to paint themselves as noble, lone voices speaking majestically against monumental enemies, just like great patriots in the past. In Ted Cruz's case, it was a comparison against Nazism.
"Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, 'Accept the Nazis,' " Cruz said on the Senate floor. " 'Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe, but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them.' And in America there were voices that listened to that. I expect those same pundits who say it can't be done, had it been in the 1940s, we would have listened to them."
As for Mr. Lee, he appeared on Mark Levin's radio show and said --
"I would remind your listeners out there that the Revolutionary War was fought and won with the support from a minority within a minority of Americans. There are lots of fights we have fought as Americans where we were the underdogs, where not everyone was on board. But a select few knew that it was worth fighting. And eventually they persuaded others to go along and eventually they won."
Now, to be clear, pundits did point out -- very clearly, and very pronounced -- how both of these gentleman's comparisons made them each look self-righteous, paranoid and ridiculous. But everyone missed a much larger point of ridicule.
In both cases, these two "heroes" of the extreme radical right -- in order to make their case of being Lone Voices standing tall in the minority against powerful, harmful philosophies that blocked what was good and best for America and the world (and having their extreme, far right supporters cheering them) -- used as examples of those small-minded, unpatriotic, anti-American forces -- are you ready? -- far right reactionary politics!
In America before World War II, where as Ted Cruz rightly said "there were voices that listened to" those who cried out that going to war against Germany shouldn't be done, who insisted we shouldn't "stand against them," those very "voices" were largely the far right isolationists who wanted to keep the nation out of war. Who even considered Germany our friend. "Those same pundits" -- when it was the 1940s -- demagogues like Father Coughlin, Gerald L.K. Smith, William Dudley Pelley, Gerald Winrod, America Firsters, industrialists like Henry Ford, senators like Gerald Nye and Arthur Vandenberg were largely on the far right. They're the ones "we" (Mr. Cruz and his far right friends) actually did "listen to."
As for the Revolutionary War, "where not everyone was on on board," it was the reactionary upper class elite and Southern slave states who were not on board, the loudest, most powerful voices fighting against breaking with England and against declaring independence. The "select few who knew that it was worth fighting" were the radical, liberal leaders of New England and the Northeast. It was the John Adams, Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson who were the "minority within a minority of Americans" who "persuaded others to go along and eventually they won."
So, while Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and the far, far right conservative reactionaries cheer the words and actions of those noble, visionary heroes of American history -- a tip of the hat to them for making oh-so clear that through that history of this nation, it has been the voices of liberals standing tall and strong and determined against the reactionary forces of conservatives who have led the nation to where we should have been all along.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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