The most frightening book of the summer isn't by Stephen King. It doesn't feature vampires or werewolves or terrorists plotting in some far-off land. "Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane" is a chilling portrait of hate-mongers right here in the United States. Authors John Amato and David Neiwert present a snapshot of a society lapping up vitriol, hyperbole and disinformation in the wake of the election of the first African American president.
For many Americans, Amato and Neiwert assert, Barack Obama's election was a triumph. For others, it was merely a disappointment. For a certain subset of the population, however, "it went well beyond the usual despair," the authors write. "For them, November 5, 2008, was the end of the world. Or at least, the end of America as they knew it."
It's no wonder anger boiled over into violence. Racist tactics fueled the campaign. Rumors were peddled as fact. Obama was a foreigner, Obama was a Muslim terrorist. Obama was anti-American and poised to take down the country from within. After the election, the response was to crank up the rhetoric even harder.
Republicans, right-wing pundits declared, didn't lose because of the issues. They lost because they weren't conservative enough. CNN's Lou Dobbs went after Obama because he supposedly didn't have a birth certificate (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary). Rush Limbaugh went on record with his hope that Obama would fail as a president.
Amato and Neiwert offer a cogent analysis of the rise of the tea party movement and any number of fake controversies, pushed by Fox News and its pundits. The frightening part is how little those controversies are based in reality. Right-wing populism relies on "scapegoating, smears, conspiracy theories, falsehoods, and unhinging rhetoric, all of which inevitably unleash violent, extremist rage," the authors write.
Please support liberal authors everywhere since we don't have the same type of infrastructure like the right to sell books (or buy them en masse), so pick up a copy here.
Other options to grab a copy are listed here. Of course, we always recommend ordering it from your local bookstore if you can.