It’s that time of year again. Time for the Crazy Uncles to come out of the woodwork with the seemingly single-minded purpose of making everyone around them uncomfortable.
And not only am I a Republican, I was once what could be considered a Crazy Uncle. (Granted, technically I’m still an uncle, and some might consider me to be a wee bit off the deep end…). But I’m talking about the kind of Crazy Uncle that rants about politics at the dinner table during family gatherings, knocking things over as the debate gets more lively and the alchohol flows more freely.
I can’t quite remember when I first heard the term “Crazy Uncle” being attributed to boisterous right-wing nut jobs, but you’ll hear it quite often this time of year if you tune into liberal media programming (e.g. MSNBC – as an aside, my bleeding-heart liberal wife prefers the term “progressive media”). I tried to do some research into the birth of the term, but despite its widespread usage, it seems to have sprung into being spontaneously, like so many other odd terms with little or no origin that are carelessly tossed about. I did learn that my party had adopted it earlier in the year for the exclusive purpose of maligning Vice President Joe Biden (as in “Crazy Uncle Joe”), but aside from the many blogs and rants giving advice on how to handle Crazy Uncles of the right-wing nut job persuasion, and offering arsenal to combat their lunacy, there’s very little history or understanding for the Crazy Uncle.
It was my bleeding-heart liberal wife who reformed me from being a Crazy Uncle into just a crazy uncle. So as homage to her wisdom, and on behalf of all the unrepentant, dyed-in-the-wool Crazy Uncles out there, I’d like to offer, not advice or arsenal, but the gift of perspective.
Crazy Uncles often exist within the right-wing bubble that manufactures Crazy Uncles by the boatload. (You may have heard me mention this right-wing bubble in my previous column about Republican Denial.) This right-wing bubble is fashioned from right-wing media, who have made an artform out of playing off of people’s emotions, primarily fear, anger, and one other that’s rarely mentioned: paranoia. The paranoia is the important one here, as it fuels the former two. The paranoia is created by telling their watchers/listeners/readers not to watch, listen to, or read anyone but them, because everyone else is lying to them. Once the formerly rational Republican has fallen for this trap, they are then fed foolish, barn-burning rhetoric day after day, until they begin to feel that they are the only sane ones in a crazy world; the fear drives them to attempt to bring others into their fold of ‘sanity’ – Crazy Uncles can’t understand why everyone around them isn’t “taking up arms against the ravaging socialism that’s threatening their every freedom” (not to mention allowing gays into the military).
I’m cringing with embarrassment remembering the dark days of being a Crazy Uncle. Life has gotten so much better since graduating to Thoughtful and Informed Republican (and I don’t want to hear any crap about oxymorons). We’re out there, believe it or not, though there seems to be a dwindling number of us these days, thanks to the right-wing bubble.
Do your Crazy Uncle a favor. Invite him to read my column, where I will regularly make an effort to reform Crazy Uncles into Thoughtful and Informed Republicans, and attempt to bring a bit of balance back to this Crazy Country.