Monday, August 12, 2013

The GOP, Breaking Bad

One odd aspect of the human condition might be called the "berserker mode." It's a desperate, nihilistic tactic, driven by panic or madness that is willing to risk anything. Perhaps the suicide attacker is the ultimate expression of this mode, but it's far more widespread than that. The psychopath gets his effectiveness from his reckless lack of fear, of consequences or the disapproval of others. The character "Heisenberg" of Breaking Bad learns he is dying of cancer and is transformed from meek high school chemistry teacher into a murderous drug lord.

Something similar happens to whole nations. Germany and Austria at the dawn of World War II. It can happen to political parties too. The desperate nihilism of today's Republican Party has a huge component of that. People seeing the old verities of racism, that old time religion, and good union jobs collapse are the motor that powers the anti-government, anti-Obama, anti-science, anti-modern Republican base, and there are plenty of unscrupulous opportunists ready to harness that rage to power - the Kochs, the Romney's and the others.

These stories usually end badly. For everybody.