I think I figured out what been happening to this country. The extreme religious right has gotten a serious toehold, via the Tea Party, and morally weak republicans. The middle class has all but been wiped out, and now comes their assault on the poor.
Since the Reagan administration, class politics in the US has waned; the Republican Party benefits from the fact that many lower-income citizens vote against their economic interests because they oppose the social liberalism of the Democratic Party.
Many vote against tax increases on the rich, because even if they themselves are not wealthy, there is a tiny chance they one day will be. There is also the prevailing mythology that the wealthy class earned their place and should not be punished. They somehow believe that the rich will show some sort of loyalty or gratitude to their servants.
I've noticed that conservative humor usually ends with a punchline that describes a (woman / liberal / poor / person of color) being killed, maimed or imprisoned (in order of their preference).
Like the 91 year-old freshman senator (Freshman? Really?) from New Hampshire who recently resigned after suggesting the the mentally ill be shipped off to Siberia. Or the State Rep. from Kansas who thinks illegal immigrants should be hunted from helicopter, and shot "like pigs". Both claimed that they were just joking. Well, they though it was funny...
The playbook from the extreme right must include this:
This works for politicians, pundits, corrupt county sheriffs, equally corrupt corporate CEO's, insane cult leaders - essentially any conservative who is focused on their own interests, to the exclusion of all else.
- Use apocalyptic rhetoric that exacerbates fear, bigotry and extremism among the uneducated and intolerant.
- Counter any liberal criticism of your inflammatory calls for action by saying they can't take a joke.
- Keep turning up the heat and act shocked when somebody heeds your calls for extreme action.
- Be sure to maintain you were only speaking figuratively and you are being unfairly blamed when violence occurs (extra credit for insinuating that liberals set this up themselves).
- Keep your celebrations behind closed doors.