In the 20th Century, our American nation realized that broad and destructive calamities required federal power to manage the business of disaster relief. Beginning even before the Great Depression, this collective response to natural and economic disasters characterized our liberal American state. In the 21st Century, a major political party uses its last grip on federal power to create a new disaster, one that fulfills their base need to reject the America we have become and replace it with the unmitigated emergency of their fantasies. A tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico now churns toward America’s shores while federal weather reporting and disaster response agencies remain shut down, hostage to the disastrous politics of people who actually cheer when eight hundred thousand federal workers are sent home. Indeed, the party of the right would rather see a full million federal employees get furloughed, and a thousand storms ravage our coasts, than accept an America with a black president and cheaper health insurance.
A nation so equal, so hardened against personal and public disasters, is their hell.
Disaster is not merely a means to an end for the modern conservative project; often enough, intentional disaster is an end in itself. It was not enough that this philosophy managed to win over so many Democrats that our laws allowed the economic disasters of recent years. They needed more than two parties could give, so the reactionary elements of our society have invested entirely in just one party. With the line long since erased between the lunatic fringe and the base, a few dozen gerrymandered Republicans now hold everyone else hostage in a stubborn act of nullification. This “suicide caucus” of the House Republican Party forms an echo chamber with its members’ most reactionary town hall participants and talk radio/FOX News voices.
These are people who actually believe their own propaganda, who actually do hoard guns and gold in full expectation of the American apocalypse, and who fantasize about tearing America down to replace it with an image of America’s past as they imagine it was. Do not underestimate the sway their dreams have over their waking minds. Even if they don’t know exactly what they want, they are sure they will get it by watching the world burn — and drown, and crumble, and come to pieces — because they think they can win a monopoly of power in the resulting chaos. In their rhetoric, right wing politicians constantly replace empowerment with firepower. After all, once everything goes to hell, he who has the guns and gold gets to make the rules, right?