SOME LEADING Democrats say they're concerned that right-wing fundamentalists are destroying the Republican Party. They have good cause to worry, of course. After all, politics wouldn't be much fun without organized opposition, would it?
But, somehow I don't share their anxiety. In fact, I'm kind of surprised that President Clinton, Rep. Vic Fazio, D-Calif., White House adviser Paul Begala, Democratic National Committee Chairman David Wilhelm and other top Democrats orchestrating the witch hunt against church-going Republicans are not more concerned about an internal threat to their own party. I'm talking about the growing power of left-wing fundamentalism.
Left-wing fundamentalism? You've never heard the term, you say? Of course not. That's the point. If you had heard about it, it wouldn't pose nearly the threat it does to the Democratic Party.
What is left-wing fundamentalism and how does it manifest itself in the Democratic Party? Well, think about this. How else can one explain the way leaders of the party are compromising and subverting our constitutional right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in favor of the singularly religious idea of protecting even the most obscure plant or animal?
In many cases, thanks to the influence of left-wing fundamentalism, so-called crimes against the environment are today taken more seriously than crimes against humanity. While violent repeat felons walk the streets and prey on people in our inner cities, a Florida man was locked up for years for dumping a small truckload of builder's sand on a remote piece of private property designated as a so-called wetland. While convicted killers profit from their notoriety, a California farmer had his tractor seized, his property idled and his livelihood threatened after he inadvertently ran over a rare breed of rat.
This isn't common sense at work here. Instead, it has all the earmarkings of a fanatical new religion, a new morality. What's emerging is a whole new value system, a completely new way of looking at the world. Its name is -- or should be -- left-wing fundamentalism.
Now, with the California Desert Protection Act passed Wednesday by the U.S House of Representatives, we're about to turn over a land mass roughly the size of the state of Maryland to the federal government to protect barren wilderness. Left-wing fundamentalists want to ensure that California's deserts remain deserts. Throughout the course of human history until this point, we have used our know-how and technology to make the deserts bloom. Now, these left-wing religious fanatics are imposing a new morality on us -- a morality that insists that the deserts must remain just as they are.
Worse yet, these zealots are using the power of the state to force their will on the rest of us. The high priests of this new religion see the state as their savior. And the state, always willing to assume greater power, is only too eager to take the cue.
What exactly is left-wing fundamentalism's creed? It holds to be self-evident the untruth that there is no difference between a child, a tree and a rock. In fact, depending on the stage of the child's development, the tree and the rock may warrant more legal protection.
Left-wing fundamentalists seek to keep man out of any area that is not already developed. How far has this raw fanaticism gone? In the name of protecting the forests from man, federal managers have established vast "eco-systems" where Homo sapiens is not permitted to enter, even to put out a fire if it was started naturally.
Do you see the religious aspect of this new value system? A forest fire is bad if it is started by man. If it is started by lightning, however, it's OK -- let it burn. Make no mistake, this is not about conservation. It's about Earth worship.
But left-wing fundamentalism has other doctrines, too. Don't discriminate between good behavior and bad. Don't make people feel bad about their self-defeating lifestyle choices. Don't teach children right from wrong. Nobody knows when life begins or ends.
Compassion is measured by how much of other people's money you are willing to spend on social programs. Bigger government means better government. It's a religion that basically stands the Judeo-Christian tradition on its head.
As radical and extreme as this program sounds, it may be the best-kept secret in politics. Why? Because the focus has not been on left-wing fundamentalism in the Democratic Party, it was been on right-wing fundamentalism in the Republican Party.
If Messrs. Clinton, Fazio, Begala and Wilhelm are going to start looking under beds for religious extremists, perhaps they should start with their own.
Joseph Farah is editor of Inside California, a state political newsletter, and Dispatches, a national biweekly cultural watchdog publication.