The rise of free-market populism in this country finally has manifested in an election. And judging from the hyperbolic reactions, you know it’s a political movement with staying power.
When tepid, traditional conservative candidate Doug Hoffman knocked off liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava—a candidate who was supported by nearly every boogeyman in the GOP handbook—you might have thought that the rabble had stormed the Bastille.
Sophisticated New York Times columnist Frank Rich called the event “a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war” and compared the conservative surge to a murderous Stalinist purge. (Remarkably, the esteemed wordsmith failed to unleash similar histrionic language when one-time-Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman met the same fate.)
Purging moderates is indeed a self-destructive strategy for any national party. But running a party without any litmus tests on the central issue of the economy seems to be similarly self-defeating.
The most impressive trick played by Rich and other liberals, though, is creating a narrative wherein the ones attempting to fundamentally reconfigure the American economy are cast as the moderates.
The nearly powerless who stand in their way? Well, they play the part of Stalinists.
But of course, as Orwell pointed out, the real Stalinists are the people who torture the language like Frank Rich does.