It’s the party of hate, the party of bigots, the party of fear and loathing. As the dust settles from the health care marathon, what is revealed is the ugly gargoyles that constitute not just the fringe nutballs of the teabag movement, but the mainstream Republican Party that spouts the vitriol of the reptilian brain in the halls of Congress.
This kind of head has been around for as long as I’ve been alive. It was there at Bowcraft, an amusement park in Scotch Plains, NJ that when I was a kid was just a miniature golf course and archery center — and John Birch Society bookstore. It was there in 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. It was there when Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker played racism for laughs. It was there in the late sixties and early 1970’s when the right wing slapped “America: Love it or Leave It” bumper stickers on their cars — stickers that translated really meant “Nixon: He’s the President so Shut the Fuck Up.” It was there at Kent State in 1970 when four kids on their way to class were shot dead by National Guardsmen at the behest of said Nixon for the crime of being young at a school where protests were going on. It was there when Ronald Reagan, the saint of the Republican Party, announced his candidacy for president in the very town where civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered and when he twisted a minor case of a wealthy woman who defrauded the welfare system into an image of black poverty.
I am 55 years old, and for my entire life, the Republicans have stood for nothing but fear and loathing and hate. They give lip service to “free markets”, but they only care about how such markets benefit the wealthiest among them. What the understand is fear — raw, pee-in-your-pants, heart-palpitation terror. The the terror of death that drives people to believe in a giant alpha male in the sky. The terror of losing what one has to people who look different. The terror of the unknown. The 9/11 attacks handed the Republicans a giant gift-wrapped box o’fear that they’ve been tapping ever since, and the bellowing of John Boehner the other night was just a manifestation of just what mean, small, frightened people they are.
Bob Herbert pulls aside the curtain today and shows us, as if we didn’t know already, who these people are:
At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.
It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.
For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.
This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.
Glenn Beck of Fox News has called President Obama a “racist” and asserted that he “has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”
Mike Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate, has said of Mr. Obama’s economic policies: “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”
The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.
The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.
If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests — a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.
A party that promotes ignorance (“Just say no to global warming”) and provides a safe house for bigotry cannot serve the best interests of our country.
Because if anyone believes that this country is well-served by catering to people who scream racial epithets at a hero of the Civil Rights movement and anti-gay slurs at a Congressman who has absolutely no interest in touching their little pee-pees, then it’s time to stop praising this country. Because like Claudius’ mother, we no longer live in a country, we live in a pack of mad dogs.
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