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A Nibble of The Paranoid Style

I've been wanting to make a post for quite a while, but between very long hours at work and demanding family commitments the only time I've had for myself lately is the commute to and from work. Fortunately I take public transit so I can read at my leisure.

Tonight a book I ordered arrived and when I went to pick it up I opened it at random. Here's what I read:

It is not the authority and legitimacy of the Court alone that the pseudo-conservative right calls into question. When it argues that we are governed largely by means of near-hypnotic manipulation (brainwashing), wholesale corruption, and betrayal, it is indulging in something more significant than the fantasies of indignant patriots: it is questioning the legitimacy of the political order itself. The two-party system, as it has developed in the United States, hangs on the common recognition of loyal opposition: each side accepts the ultimate good intentions of the other. The opponent's judgement may be held to be consistently execrable, but the legitimacy of his intent is not — that is, in popular terms, his Americanism is not questioned. One of the unspoken assumptions of presidential campaigns is that the leaders of both parties are patriots who, however serious their mistakes, must be accorded the right to govern. But an essential point in the pseudo-conservative world view is that our recent Presidents, being men of wholly evil intent, have conspired against the public good. This does more than discredit them: it calls into question the validity of the political system that keeps putting such men into office.

Richard Hofstadter. The Paranoid Style in American Politics. (Harvard University Press 1965; repr 1996. page 100.)