The Myth of Individualism and American Conservatism of the Far Right

Having heard and watched various actions of the so-called Tea party Movement and the Republican leaders trying to tap into this movement for the next election, I could not help but notice some drastic inconsistencies in their self-presentation.

What we are being told is that these people are angry with big government and wary of the increasing influence of government over American individual freedoms. In their view the Democrats are socialists and thus represent a collective sense of identity.

First of all, if they all are so much about the individual freedom, how is it that most of their political beliefs manifest a different kind of government control: most of them are anti-gay, against abortion rights, and even against paying taxes. So, they want the government to be able to regulate the very private, and individual decisions of people, but do not want the government to aspire to provide healthcare for the people. Similarly, the same people are so adamant about protecting their privacy, but had nothing to say when the Bush administration was listening to the conversations of everyone living in the United States.

Similarly, the Republicans who see this group of people as a vote bank have displayed their own inconsistencies in the debates during the healthcare reform bill passage. Isn’t it strange that a party so invested in the Individual’s right to make his or her own decisions, and a party that consistently blames the other of collectivism, voted against the bill as a block. The so-called socialist party had more than thirty dissenters, but the party of individualism could not even offer just a couple of dissenters. How does this extreme form of conformism to the party leadership help bolster their claim to individualism?

Also, the same group of people who are enraged at government spending had no problem when Mr. Bush was bankrupting the nation by fighting two wars entirely on credit. Why weren’t they concerned about spending then? Or is it only when the government tries to make healthcare accessible to all that spending becomes an issue.

In a recent talk, Noam Chomsky, who has the uncanny ability to distill complex ideas, pointed out that there are quite a few similarities between the rhetoric of the extreme right and the historical statements of the fascists in pre-Nazi Germany. Now, I am not suggesting that these people are Nazis, but their rhetoric is increasingly becoming more fascist, uncompromising, racist, and irrational. And, to make matters worse, they have media anchors–a whole news network–shaping the debate and heating up the passions with the most irresponsible propaganda ever mobilized by a news organization.

So, my final question: how does a large group that votes en bloc and acts as a cohesive pressure group, still keep its individualistic values?