Salt in the wound.
Last I heard, the formation of an independent army within the United States designed to challenge the authority of the government constituted treason. Armed insurrections and riots make sense in totalitarian countries. How else can the downtrodden find a voice? But in what is by and large a successful democracy, it doesn’t make any sense to bring a gun to the campaign trail. Unless, of course, you’re letting rage and pettiness dictate everything.
A couple days ago the Seattle Times unveiled this little gem, drawing attention to the fact that the existing Tea Party and hyper-conservative rhetoric will likely inspire militant resistance to the Obama administration. They want to form a militia to guard the rights of state and personal sovereignty. Some GOP leaders opted to dodge endorsing the movement and to diminish its dangers, as Party Chairman Gary Jones described this as a bid for a megaphone. And anyone paying attention to the flagrant, sweeping ignorance among Tea Party activists knows that volume and aggression are the name of the game. But Oklahoma state senator Randy Brogden defends the initiative, saying the Second Amendment allows for militias to “protect themselves from an overreaching federal government.”
Brogden is out of his mind. Protect? As in fight? As in civil war? How could that be good for anyone? And what could the Tea Party possibly hope to gain if things go down that road?
Slick Willy stepped forward on the anniversary of the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City to explain to radicals that militant rhetoric and treasonous rallies do more than raise money or win votes – they inspire action form the more dangerous people out there. There are certainly other Timothy McVeighs, desperate for a cause. And hey, if their party leaders describe the current administration as gangsters (from the Minnesota demoness Michele Bachmann) and enemies of the state, then attacks become acts of patriotism. You just can’t encourage hate like this and expect things to remain peaceful. You demonize someone or something, and some crusader will take matters into his own hands. I haven’t been around very long and I’ve only been paying attention to politics for a minute, so I wonder about other occasions when this kind of language enjoyed this much popularity and what effects it had.
President Clinton said it best, though: “It is one thing to believe we are over-regulated and to work to lessen the burden of regulation [. . .] It is quite another to slander our dedicated public servants, our brave police officers, even our rescue workers, who have been called a hostile army of occupation.”
Which brings up another point that I don’t see expressed enough. I hope Sarah Palin gets the presidential nomination in 2012. The same backwards racists that rallied behind her when she joined McCain will emerge more forcefully, a sort of hysteria will rise among the extremists, and that will alienate every moderate and independent in this country. For christ’s sake, she puts crosshairs on campaign posters. Her PR engine should be thrown in to support another candidate, who can tastefully distance himself and cater to a more moderate crowd. While Palin’s gang of idiots will follow their crosshairs in whichever direction that hellion selects. She’s got the biggest megaphone on the block these days, but is just too stupid to win anyone over that doesn’t already agree with her. That said, I hope she runs. It would be a disaster.
Tricky, though. On the one hand, I think such a failure would create a greater gulf between the aging, rich white Republicans and everyone else – further weakening the GOP and maybe pushing it toward becoming obsolete. Oh, if only. But if politics become even more polarized, then congress will be cripplingly adversarial and the nation itself will be fractured further. And who knows just how literally the losers will take commands to ‘reload’ when this madness blows up?
When did ideological differences become more important than the health, security, and freedom of the majority? Has it always been that way in American politics?
Since this is your personal blog, you can be as sarcastic and exaggerated as you want. You can also call anybody any name you want. However, when things get professional, you better watch out for trouble, buster.
“who can tastefully distance himself”
himself? really? you sure bout that?
Well, tastefully was a strange choice. But yes. Let the radicals be radical, court their support on the sly (the Tea Party, come election hour, will need a competitive candidate. When push comes to shove, they’ll get behind not-Obama) and walk the path of the classier brand of ignorant.
The Tea Party insanity will blow up. Something’s going to happen and it’ll swallow up a lot of politicians in the aftermath if too many throw their weight behind it. But I kind of hope that happens. That they dump fuel on that fire so that it burns too bright for a minute and then fades out as rapidly as it grew.
i dont have time to leave a fully developed comment, but thesis for thought: the american political process has always been as polarized and divisive as it has been in contemporary times. Even in the early elections, personal attacks were prevalent.
Personal attacks and slander are par for the course, sure. Probably as long as elections have existed they’ve been involved to varying degrees.
When I think about US History, and consider that we were born out of an ideological movement, I wonder if there’s something unique about our brand of bullshit. The founding fathers didn’t rebel because of starvation or gross violation of human rights or anything like that – it was about money. Money and ideas about what comes with it.
I think that sense of high-fallutin’ entitlement threaded its way through a lot of US politics. Blah blah. So obviously polarization reached its zenith during the Civil War and its fundamental disagreements. The more I think about, the more it seems like reconciliation was never achieved and those same barriers still exist. In the end the South wasn’t defending slavery because they believed it was some righteous cause, but because they were greedy and terrified of losing money. And that seems to be the same battle we’re fighting now: a more progressive group of people are looking out for the greater good and promoting innovation, while the more entrenched wealthy elite are fighting any change that threatens their pocketbooks. Right?
So does it come down to a battle between capitalism and democracy?
The change I wonder about is in the past century, though. The sort of flagrantly treasonous talk, the rigidness of the party lines.
I was really surprised to find out that Sarah Palin had so many followers, and somehow equally surprised that they came up with such a self-righteous name for themselves as the Tea Party. I couldn’t figure out what they were on about for a while and I’m still struggling with it. Are they having one giant whinge about partially socialized health care? Does that truly frighten them so much that they’d care to incite violence against the Obama administration? Funny how the table turns on people who call themselves freedom fighters, because under George W’s working definition, the Tea Party is a group of terrorists. It’s like they’re trying to rev up a new ‘red scare’, but they’re in the unfortunate position being at the bottom and having to knock people off the top, instead of the other way around.
It’s strange days. There is a lot of that ‘red scare’ hysteria going on, and the same sort of manic fear-mongering. I read an article a while back about how the Tea Party capitalized brilliantly on the recession, blaming Obama’s administration and falsely portraying the stimulus package. I’m an idiot about economics. But it’s obvious that the financial oblivion of Obama’s first year was inherited. Trick is, you can’t aim a gun at the past. Tons of Tea Partiers came on board while unemployed, desperate for a cause and someone specific to blame for their bad luck. Health Care is just reinforcement for the idea that the government is overspending and burdening the tax payers, so Palin and her people can spin it easily.
Ugh. Ignorance breeds ignorance. It’s much easier to get a handle on Sarah Palin’s rhetoric, false as most of it is, than it is to grasp the more complex justifications given by most Democrats.
And you’re right, the self-righteousness is mind-boggling. I hope that twenty years down the line this entire chapter is revealed for what it is.
Then again, both Virginia and Mississippi are working to resurrect Confederacy appreciation and denying the prevalence of slavery in both states’ declarations of secession.