The Nation's Pulse

The Hayseed Rebellion

Hey, all you bigots and extremists, listen up!

By 10.25.10

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One of the most striking things about this year's political discourse (as if name-calling and wild accusations can be dignified with such a term) is that what used to be considered traditional and commonplace thinking is now labeled as extremism and bigotry. A few examples:

If you believe that the U.S. Constitution means only what it actually says, you are an extremist who ought to be wearing a powdered wig.

If you believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman, you are a homophobe and a bigot.

If you think people should not be allowed to break into our country illegally, then get free education, health care and jobs and to march in our streets to protest the violation of their "rights," you are a racist, a xenophobe, and your state should be boycotted.

If you have misgivings about the morality of abortion, or any doubts about the absolute right of a mother to kill her unborn child, you are a religious fanatic, an anti-feminist, and probably a right-wing Catholic.

If you admit to having some queasy feeling when boarding an airplane with people dressed in Muslim garb -- you are not only a bigot but you are FIRED -- if you work for National Public Radio (or probably any other institution aligned with the cultural/political Left in this country.)

If you watch Fox News, you are a freakin' @#XX!&**mf2!!!

If you doubt any of the above is true, a close look at the TV commercials being run by the likes of Sen. Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray or many of the other endangered Democratic incumbents running scared this election year will prove my point. Anyone who does not totally buy into the "progressive" agenda and orthodoxy of politically correct, left-leaning Democratic Party is, by definition, "extreme" if not outright bigoted or "crazy" (as Reid has labeled his opponent, Sharron Angle).

The point of all this is not simply to bemoan what's happened to political debate in this country, but to point out how successful the Left has been in redefining the terms of that debate. Over the last 30 years, liberals, through their dominance in the media, the universities, the public school systems and major cultural institutions, including television and Hollywood, have redefined what is acceptable and unacceptable in American society. And the docile, largely silent majority of ordinary Americans, who don't relish confrontation and controversy, have allowed these institutional forces to have their way in changing American culture. Up to now.

People who still cling to "traditional" views of family, marriage, morality, and personal responsibility probably still constitute a majority in this country, but they have been cowed into submission by the institutional forces dominated by liberal "progressives" who are intent on redefining America, reshaping everything from the economy and the educational system, marriage, the family, the meaning of citizenship and the role of government. They are in a position to do this because over the last 30 years they have gradually taken over the institutions of power and influence -- all the elite universities, the mainstream media, the film and television industry, most of the big-name foundations and cultural institutions, the arts and fashion, and many of the mainstream Protestant religious denominations.

The people who adhere to traditional American values -- which means everything that defined what America was and what it meant, up to the late 1960s -- have largely stood on the sidelines watching this takeover, too busy going to work, raising their kids, tending to the suburban home, paying their bills (even their mortgages!) to do anything about it. And anyway, they were the kind of nice, non-confrontational people who didn't want to raise a fuss and didn't want to get into conflict with their university-educated children (who were now shacking up, living off welfare, marching in "gay pride" parades or protesting at the World Bank) and who thought that all this politically-correct stuff was a fad that would pass in time, when everyone came to their senses.

Memo to the naive majority: It ain't gonna pass, it's only going to get worse, because this is a Movement -- a lifelong battle being waged by dedicated, determined, unscrupulous people because it is the only thing they have left to believe in, having abandoned religion as a superstition, patriotism as a joke, and morality as a strait-jacket. This is their religion, their family, their purpose in being, and they need to succeed in this life because at the end there is only Darkness.

Did you ever see the movie All the King's Men? It's a classic made in 1949 starring Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark, a country boy who turns to politics to run for governor -- a portrait based on the life of Louisiana's populist governor and U.S. Senator, Huey P. Long.

In a powerful scene that is the turning point in the story, the politically naive Willie suddenly realizes that he is being used by the influential powers in the state to split the "hick" vote so that the corrupt incumbents can remain in power. Willie rises to the moment in a rage at allowing himself to be played the fool in this plot, addressing an audience of overall-clad hayseeds by calling them all "hicks" and himself a "hick." He sees that he has been totally snookered, used as a pawn, just as naive as all of the gawking good-ole-boys standing before him. It is then that he determines to stand and fight, and be just as ruthless and cynical as his would-be manipulators.

Hey, all you bigots and extremists and homophobes who still believe in all that stuff this country used to stand for -- it's time for your Willie Stark moment. It's time to stop being so nice, so naive, so accommodating to the movement that is intent on changing your country radically and permanently. It's time to stand up, speak out, reject the unfair labels being pinned on you and reject the redefinition of everything you care about. They are relying on us to remain the "hicks" they think we are, staring open-mouthed and paralyzed at the brazenness of the transformation they are jamming down our throats.

Willie Stark said it this way: "I'm the hick they were gonna use to split the hick vote. But I'm standing right here now on my hind legs! Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standing on your hind legs? Have you learned to do that yet?"

The tea party movement is the first sign that average Americans, the people who still believe in what we were and how we lived and thought, just might get up on their hind legs on Nov. 2. It's about time, hicks. It's about time.

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About the Author

James P. Gannon is a retired former Wall Street Journal reporter and newspaper editor. He lives in Virginia.