Monday, April 8, 2013

The Democratic Cult of Saint Maggie?

I've written before about the strange and vexing Reagan hagiography in which American liberals and Democratic partisans regularly engage.  It is a tactic--an often misguided one, if you ask me--to paint today's Republican Party as "extremist" by claiming the mantle of Reaganism for a Democratic Party centrism.  We see this most frequently on issues of tax increases and gun control--although it is not limited to these.  Today, the cult of Saint Ronnie swam across the Atlantic and gained a Saint Maggie, too.
ThinkProgress produced an article entitled "Why the Modern Republican Party Would Reject Margaret Thatcher" that defies belief in its desire to rewrite history.  Their praise for Maggie's tax increases ignores her love of regressive taxation such as the poll tax she tried to introduce and the sales tax that she increased. Raising sales taxes to fund income tax reductions is so regressive that Bobby Jindal had to pull his proposal to do so.  TP's claim that Maggie supported "socialized medicine" is not borne out by the facts, considering the "Iron Lady" tried to dismantle the widely popular NHS---and failed.
Self-described 1980s conservative Barack Obama, a proud member of the strange and awkward cult of Saint Ronnie in the Democratic party, also extended some glowing praise to Maggie in his statement upon her death:
"Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny."
"...we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life..."  He said that with an utter lack of irony.
Free peoples, eh? Tell that the people of Chile who endured a military dictatorship run by Maggie's good friend Augusto Pinochet.  Also, ask the people of South Africa; Maggie referred to Nelson Mandela as a "terrorist" and opposed economic sanctions on the apartheid regime.  She--of course with the help of the U.S.--supported the military government of General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan, who helped fuel the radicalization of the country.  Ask the people of Northern Ireland about peaceful, freedom-loving coexistence while you're at it. What a champion of freedom she was!
We also saw the Democratic cult of Saint Ronnie in action on MSNBC last night on Lawrence O'Donnell's show.    MSNBC has a mix of Beltway whisperers (Morning Joe), unabashed party hacks (Bashir, Matthews, O'Donnell), and principled, intellectual liberals (most notably, Maddow and Hayes).  O'Donnell, whose show and style I can't stand and who is apparently a member of the cult of Saint Maggie, un-ironically praised Thatcher for being a "good socialist."  The ignorance manifest is stunning.
You would have, thankfully, heard a concise but effective rebuke in the prior hour on The Rachel Maddow Show.  Thank you, Rachel, for delivering an eloquent attack on the whitewashing of Ronnie and Maggie's legacies.  
Although Democratic partisans love to blather about how much to the right the modern day Republican Party is from their professed conservative heroes of yore like Maggie and Ronnie, I'd much prefer to see a piece called "Why George McGovern Would be on the Left Fringe of Today's Neoliberal Democratic Party."  If Ronnie and Maggie could find home in the modern Democratic Party, then it's the Democratic Party's lurch rightward that's most manifest and most troubling.

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