Scott Walker, Glenn Beck, and the Age of Chicken Little Politics

Stop the dire warnings--we're America, we hold up the sky.

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If you don’t read this bog post—IN FULL—life as we know it will come to an end, the Earth will stop spinning on its axis, and the terrorists will win. THE STAKES HAVE NEVER BEEN HIGHER! 

Ok, not really. If you stop reading now, the sun will come up tomorrow morning, Charlie Sheen will still be nutty as a fruitcake, and against all reason, I’ll probably pick my beloved Kentucky Wildcats to win the NCAA tournament in our office pool because I always do. Life goes on. [Vote now: Have you had an overdose of Charlie Sheen?]

But listening to political debate today, you’d think every issue is a matter of life and death. We live in the age of Chicken Little. The sky is constantly falling, or about to fall. And what the other side wants to do will make it fall faster and harder. MARK MY WORDS!

It’s a dynamic that’s always existed in America and probably lots of others countries, but in the aftermath of the economic collapse, when the sky really did almost fall, things have gotten out of hand, particularly on the right. 

Healthcare reform will mean death panels executing seniors. Energy-efficient light bulbs are socialism. Banning Jared Loughner-endorsed high capacity magazines will render the Second Amendment moot. Letting gay people marry will destroy marriage in some way that Larry King and Newt Gingrich have not already. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons about gay marriage.]

Glenn Beck is the chicken-est of the Chicken Littles, having warned variously of the inevitability of caliphate rule, a Turner Diaries-style civil war in America, a perfect storm of something or other, the imminent arrival of the anti-Christ and an Archduke Ferdinand moment, whatever that is. I think this is all because Michelle Obama wants kids to eat healthier, but with Beck, it’s a little hard to tell what he’s talking about. [See photos of first lady Michelle Obama.]

And everyone from Mitt Romney to Scott Walker to Mitch McConnell assures us that the sky will absolutely, positively fall if we raise taxes on millionaires and large corporations, despite ample evidence that higher taxes on the wealthy actually coincide with our strongest periods of economic growth. [See who donates the most money to McConnell.]

Just for the record, this is not merely a phenomenon of the right (well, mostly it’s the right). It happens on the left too. Every time President Obama voices support for anything approaching a compromise on spending, he’s a sell-out. If he doesn’t land Marine One in Tahrir Square and personally lead the rebellion, he’s George Bush. If he’s not personally picketing in Madison, he’s a Pinkerton guard.

Not exactly an environment conducive to sensible policymaking. Thankfully, no-drama Obama is exactly the cool head we need in this time of hotheadedness. His style may not always please fellow progressives, but wearing my concerned citizen hat, I appreciate a president who does not freak out about every damn thing, who plows ahead and does the hard work of real change. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the sky remains firmly in place. It’s actually brightening a bit. [See a slide show of the best cities to find a job.]

So now more than ever, any time you hear predictions of an apocalypse resulting from some policy or political issue, remember that Social Security and Medicare were once called socialism too (they aren’t), raising the minimum wage is always predicted to cost millions of jobs (it doesn’t), and everything from women’s suffrage and civil rights to the Clean Air Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act was wrongly predicted to bring the big blue sky crashing down on us.

Chicken Littles, stand down. Stop the rending of clothes, the dire warnings and wailing. We’re America. We hold up the sky.

  • See a slide show of the best cities to find a job.
  • Check out a roundup of GOP political cartoons.
  • Follow the money in Congress.