I’m so used to being behind everyone else that when I turn out to be ahead of the curve it occasions genuine surprise. That’s the way it appears when I think about the dominance of the far right in American politics. As an editor I get to read proposals for other editors on the board. Political scientists are trying to analyze how we’ve come to be a nation of religious far-righters when we seemed so progressive that we put a smart phone in everyone’s pocket and Alexa in everyone’s voice range. I grew up as a far-righter when it certainly felt alienating. Apart from people we met at church I didn’t know any others outside my family. People we knew were, well, just different. Back in those days we didn’t judge them. We accepted them for who they were.
One of the aspects of my life to which I’ve grown accustomed is being ignored. I’m not a big person, nor am I a loud one. It isn’t unusual for me to be overlooked at work and even at religious gatherings (a field in which I’m a bona fide expert). Nevertheless, I have a wealth of experience among the far-righters and I think it might help to understand our political climate. I think I have a pretty good grip on what motivates this crowd. Since I grew up (serious study will do that to you) and am no longer arrested at that stage, I’ve blended into the crowd as someone just as perplexed as everyone else. I do, however, have an idea of what they’re after. Our particular sect didn’t push this—we seemed more worried about our own souls staying out of Hell—but many fundamentalists wanted to take over the nation. In fact, they have.
The fact that 45 isn’t one of them is immaterial. Power is the thing. Power to make others conform or suffer. This particular faith is built on fear, not love. It’s as if their New Testament lacks the gospel of John. You see, I was ahead of the curve. I was part of it before it took over congress, the White House and the supreme court. Things move so far these days that thinkers just don’t have time to think about everything. Work days are long and covid still complicates everything. Who has the time to seek out those who grew out of the very source that now endangers our democracy? I think I prefer running a little behind, don’t you, Cassie?