Robinson has written a lot about how and why fascist systems develop. I won't go into much of that here, only remind you that the major driver in that direction is White America suffering deep anxiety over losing its Top Dog status. We've had far-right groups for a long time now, but they've always been seen as fringe. Not only is the Tea Party not seen as fringe, but it combines several strains of far-right fears into a viable political force. These strains are:
* Economic libertarians who think big government is tyranny.
* Fundies who oppose liberal social policies
* Apocalyptic Christians (those who believe the world will end in a final battle between Good and Evil) who fear a Satanic New World Order.
* Various conspiracy theorists who fear any kind of New World Order.
* Super patriots who fear US sovereignty is eroding.
* White Nationalists who want to preserve "real" America.
These strains might make up as much as a third of the country's likely voters. Which means they can't take over through the ballot box. But they can take over through force (happy that gun laws have been liberalized).
This is why next week's election is important. There are about 70 Tea Party candidates for various offices across the country and three likely scenarios.
1. Only a handful of candidates win. The Democrats spend a couple years pointing out how nutty they are and the whole thing fizzles in a couple years. Alas, even if the wins are small I doubt the Dems have the spine to push the movement to die out.
2. The Tea Party makes a solid showing and establishes itself as a serious force, but doesn't win enough races to actually do anything. If this happens progressives must work fast and hard to keep the tide from rising. Otherwise we're facing the same scenarios in 2012.
3. The Tea Party wins most of their races, locking up the GOP and becoming a genuine political power.
If #3 happens, there is no turning back from a fascist state. No democracy that has allowed the equivalent of #3 to happen has turned away from fascism. The whole thing will take a decade or two to burn out and we can only live through it.
Because if the third option happens -- the Tea Party (pushing the GOP) wins either chamber -- don't expect much governing to happen. I've already mentioned the GOP will simply refuse to pass any budget if Obama won't sign their budget. In addition they promise two years of a nightmare of hearings, trials, character assisinations, and impeachments of as many progressives as they can. Clinton's impeachment was only the warm-up act. We can only hope it backfires on the GOP in the same manner it backfired when Clinton was brought to trial. Similar scorched earth tactics are planned for all other levels of government. Casual violence against immigrants, progressives, and gays may increase as the American equivalent of brownshirts become bolder and are encouraged by the authorities.
The no-return point might be behind us on November 3. Alas, most progressives don't yet recognize there is a threat. Past that no-return point we can only watch the whole thing play out in agonizing slow motion. The character of the next decade may depend whether corporatists, militarists, or theocrats get the upper hand in the emerging regime.
If I remember my German history correctly (and I may not) gays enjoyed a great deal of social acceptance in the 1920s. That ended in the 1930s when the Nazis blamed gays (and Jews and…) for the downfall of their civilization (the one that allowed Nazis to come to power. Though the Nazi regime lasted only 12 years, the condemnation of gays they instilled in the populace still lingers. In contrast to nearby Belgium and Netherlands, Germany doesn't have gay marriage, only Domestic Partnerships. A lot of our gains could be quickly undone, not to reappear for a long time.
Warn your friends while you can.