I thought I was the only one who was noticing a lot of folks flirting with treason. The group Oath Keepers whose members include cops, sheriffs and military people say they are going to resist the tyrannical orders that are sure to come from President Obama. They see him as the embodiment of all the fears that have festered since the “Red Scares” of the first half of the 20th century. Republicans have been stoking those embers for a long time, keeping them hot enough so when they need to throw some kindling on them, they are ready to flame up at any time. It’s dangerous business to be messing with, because if push comes to shove, our government must fight any insurrection. The media is playing a large role in this growth of anger too, FOX News and CNN willingly spread their messages with MSNBC showing some restraint, but still doing their part to get their messages out. Mother Jones has an article on this scary phenomenon.
But righteous anger is one thing. Manufacturing fear, dare we say terror, is another—and over the past year, we have seen cynical politicians and talk-show demagogues increasingly willing to traffic in it. It’s no longer just handfuls of militia types trading overheated conspiracy theories; it’s America’s most popular cable news network giving gobs of airtime to people who all but advocate armed insurrection. It’s the man who is now our newest senator chortling, on live TV, that maybe Barack Obama was born out of wedlock—don’t you wish guys still had to face an affaire d’honneur for comments like that?—a scurrilous point we take note of only because it indicates that Scott Brown gets his talking points from extreme-right sites like WorldNetDaily (WND).
When people in positions of great power play footsie with those who advocate treason—or claim that the elected commander in chief is a bastard foreigner with no claim to the office—they are not just engaging in a lively debate. They are actively negating a fundamental principle of American politics: that the government, no matter how much you might disagree with its representatives, is of, by, and for the people.
When George W. Bush basically had the presidency given to him in 2000 by the Supreme Court, democrats plugged their noses and accepted that he is the president, sure they protested and fought and tried to use all legal means to have all the votes counted, but there was NO threats of arming themselves or overthrowing the illegitimate government. And in this case there actually was a basis for that belief. The politics of “No” fits right into this movement, and it’s really causing great damage to our republic. More from Mother Jones…
This is the true danger of condoning rhetoric like Oath Keepers': It’s not just that it might push some from the paranoid fringe to the terrorist fringe. It’s that the political debate becomes corroded to the point where we as a nation no longer have enough common ground to agree to disagree. When one side’s goal is to stonewall and destroy rather than discuss and engage, we get paralysis—it takes two to tango, but only one to stonewall. (And stonewall-and-destroy is by no means a strategy unique to Republicans—yes, kill-the-health-care-bill lefties, that means you.) There are many ways to attack democracy, and one of them is to slowly, cynically undermine the founders’ mandate: to work together toward a more perfect union.