Whack-Job Politics

November 1st, 2010

The right wing, paranoid and demagogic impulse in American politics and American democracy has been with us for decades; from Father Coughlin, to Joe McCarthy, to the John Birchers to the Tea Party and Sara Palin. To this paranoia, we've now added what journalist Michael Wolraich, in his new book Blowing Smoke, calls "persecution politics." What is it in our socio/political DNA that makes us so susceptible to the this extreme right narrative?  More importantly, as Tom Friedman pointed out in his column yesterday, while the rest of the world looks to the American model of progress and opportunity, what will our retreat behind this wall of mutual distrust and ignorance bode for our future. My conversation with Michael Wolraich: