Even a casual reading of the local daily is enlightening. Not because it manifests any of the traditional journalistic virtues -- it doesn't -- but because its picture of this corner of the American southwest lays naked the truths that underlie the country's drift rightward.
A recent edition displayed on Page One a photograph of a billboard that read: "More Mosques. Less Jobs. Vote Democratic?"
The grammatical barbarism, "less" where "fewer" is required, represents the mass ignorance of an American electorate that was downright proud to have twice voted into the Oval Office a man who got through college on unearned C's bestowed because of his family's political and financial clout.
The first phrase, "More Mosques," depicts the overt hatred and implicit fear that motivates our voting class. Fear and hatred of "them" drives the engine of American politics: American citizens of German extraction in World War I, of Japanese extraction in World War II, of Asian extraction during the Korean and Vietnam wars, of Arab extraction and Muslim beliefs today. Do you believe that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion applies to American citizens who worship in mosques? You're a traitor who supports terrorism.
The second phrase, about jobs, implies that Democrats caused the record unemployment that actually resulted from eight years of Bush economic insanity. This is representative of another factor in America's drift rightward: voters' willingness to believe any lie, deception, innuendo, rumor or misleading statement that is repeated often enough on TV.
You can't pick up a copy of the local daily without being assailed with reasons to fear. Our proximity to the Mexican border makes us particularly vulnerable. "They" sneak across from Mexico and trash our beautiful desert and sell drugs to our innocent youth and take guns back in the other direction that are used to kill our ranchers and travelers and rape our women.
Recently the paper reported on a radio debate between our two candidates for Congress. The incumbent, a Democrat who has been right on most of the important issues, wavered when asked if he supported much-needed legislation to protect our public lands from development, vehicular degradation and other misuse. He said he feared that having wilderness on the border would give haven to drug smugglers, human traffickers and deadly assassins. In fact, the legislation would enhance border security by providing a broader zone for law enforcement patrols than exists now. Never mind. The fear frenzy has been whipped up by the Tea Party crowd, and not even a good man is strong enough to stand up against it.
A local columnist commented the other day on a commission, appointed by the governor, tasked with a broad range of responsibilities on energy policy. This is an area where the lie-mongers have succeeded in planting a desperate fear of "Cap 'n' Trade" among voters, most of whom haven't the foggiest notion what's really at stake in the effort to control carbon emissions that are killing the planet. He took no sides on the core issue, but lamented that it would be decided by an appointed commission. Such things should be decided, he wrote, by elected officials who are "accountable to the voters."
As long as reasonable people continue to delude themselves that elected officials are accountable to anyone other than corporations and a handful of obscenely wealthy Americans, social justice, civil liberties, public health and welfare and the noblest ideals of the Founding Fathers will continue to wither and die.
When we finally realize who's running things -- if we ever figure it out -- it will require one hell of a revolution to restore democracy.