Frank Rich’s Sunday column in the New York Times drew the same conclusion I have made about recent acts of violence aimed at Congress for passing health care reform. Namely, that the Teabaggers who last week called John Lewis a “nigger” and tried to blow up Tom Perriello’s house are the same people who yelled “terrorist” and “kill him!” at John McCain campaign rallies. But the connection goes even deeper: when they sense an impending doom and loss, the Right simply can’t control themselves and fly into a rage of hate and violence. By October of 2008, it was obvious that Barack Obama was going to win the election – and the GOP base was apoplectic that a black man would make it to the White House. Now, they are beside themselves that a democratically elected Congress has passed health care – and it has brought out their worst elements of hate and bigotry. We never saw the same level of anger and hysteria on the Left, when the Right was similarly ascendant.
It’s incredible to think that after two straight elections where Americans proved that they want a more progressive politics, the media would somehow pretend the Teabaggers are a vanguard social “movement.” But all of a sudden, they were everywhere on television – with Fox News providing wall-to-wall coverage that intimidated other media outlets into covering their rallies. Didn’t the 2006 and 2008 elections prove they are out of touch?
If the Teabaggers are such a big new movement, where were these people before Obama won the election? It’s as if everyone had collective amnesia. In January, Randy Shaw wrote that the Tea Party movement was just repackaging America’s right wing that has existed for decades – the same folks who opposed Social Security in the 1930’s, and civil rights legislation in the 1960’s. Rather than being sidelined, they were now treated as something “new.”
But it goes further than that. Two weeks before Obama won the White House – when it was apparent the McCain-Palin ticket would face a landslide defeat, I observed how the Right’s impending loss was leading to rage and hate. Obama campaigners were assaulted while canvassing in the swing states, McCain rally attendees shouted “terrorist!” and “kill him!” and some even hung effigies of Obama in their backyard attached to a noose.
George Bush’s campaigns could bring out the worst in people, but it never got this nasty and hateful because the right-wing knew they had a chance of winning. Unlike Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore did not pose the same kind of threat to this group of people. I thought about this when reading how Democratic members of Congress now face death threats. The Teabaggers were more well behaved when their protests delayed health care reform, but once it became obvious it would finally pass they didn’t know what to do.
Frank Rich added a point worth repeating. Demographically, the predominantly white Teabaggers will only lose more ground – as the country gets more diverse. The best way to understand the Birther Phenomenon – 58% of registered Republicans don’t believe or are unsure if he was born in America – is that it’s just a proxy for racism. It does not matter how much their conspiracy theories get debunked – Obama is not “American,” according to them. It’s similar to what a McCain staffer in 2008 called “real Virginia.”
Meanwhile, Democratic members of Congress are requesting Capitol Hill security.Filed under: Archive