(My column for April)
Okay, guess the source of this quote:
“OBAMA’S RADICAL AGENDA IS ENDANGERING OUR COUNTRY!”
An impassioned caller on a right-wing talk show? A bumpersticker on a rundown pickup truck? A hastily scrawled sign at a Tea Party rally? Nope – that was from a slick little Web ad for Sean Hannity’s latest book, which graced the footer of a bulk email message I recently got from Newt Gingrich. (Yeah, I get all sorts of people to send me email. It gives me material to work with.) Of course, it’s also quite similar to the phrasing on this sign that you can spot outside the house of Wayne County GOP chair Frank Golden, on Route 6 in Canaan Township, just east of Waymart.
Ever since Barack Obama emerged as a viable candidate for the Presidency, the rhetoric around him has bordered – quite literally – on the Apocalyptic. So it shouldn’t be surprising that some folks have started acting like it’s – well, the end of the world, or at least of “America as we know it.” Folks like the so-called “Christian” terrorist militia known as the “Hutaree,” recently busted by the FBI for plotting mass assassinations of police officers. With words like “endangering” and “ruining” being bandied about so much (not to mention “socialist” and “Marxist”!), you almost can’t blame them for being frightened literally to the point of insanity.
The people responsible for this tone – folks like Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Dick Armey, and the right-wing talk show hosts who (by the way) are about to be given a brand-spanking-new outlet in our area, courtesy of Michael G. Stanton and the local radio folks at Bold Gold Media – are not stupid. In fact, they’re quite intelligent. They understand perfectly well what makes people tick. One has to assume that they have analyzed the situation thoroughly, and realized that they cannot win their arguments against Obama based on rationality and facts – and have therefore made a deliberate and conscious decision to try to win back power by creating, and then leveraging the power of, fear and anger among the American people.
However, these forces that they are trying to tap are as unpredictable and difficult to control as they are powerful, and have historically shown a nasty tendency to end up destroying the people who would wield them.
The local grassroots activists that I have met who are involved with the Tea Party movement do not seem to be interested (yet) in breaking any Democratic windows or engaging in other forms of violence. But if the rhetoric gets worse between now and the November elections, as it shows every likelihood of doing – and if those elections do not all go the Republicans’ way – I am not sure that they could resist the frantic siren call to take “patriotic action” and “save the Republic once and for all,” particularly if such action is painted as being “in self-defense” against an out-of-control, tyrannical government and its brainwashed liberal followers.
They just need to remember one rule:
The first side to intentionally draw blood… has already lost.