American history since 1900 is full of "What were we thinking?" moments. From flagpole-sitting to goldfish-eating, from the War of the Worlds
broadcast to Honey Boo-Boo
, from Warren G. Harding to George W. Bush, there are so many instances of this country losing its collective mind that it's a wonder we've survived this long.
Every time, cooler heads eventually prevail. We realize that lining kids up against the walls school hallways with their arms over their heads will not protect them from nuclear holocaust. We realize that Martians have not in fact landed. Rock 'n' roll proves not to destroy the fabric of our nation. The Eastern bloc behemoth falls not with a bang but with a whimper, making us wonder what all the fuss was about. Osama Bin Laden is dispatched and shown to be an old man watching an old tube TV.
Few people are better at whipping up hysteria than Republicans. For my entire lifetime, it's been Republicans promising Dire Consequences lurking right around the corner. Their stock in trade, at least since the 1950s, has been fear. Yes, there's loathing too, but the primary focus of Republican energy is fear. Fear of Communism. Fear of the Devil's music. Fear of terrorists. Fear of interracial marriage. Fear of GAY marriage. Fear of black people. Fear of brown people. Fear of women. Fear of children. Fear of job loss. Fear of church authority figures. Fear of hellfire. Fear of God. Republicans champion fear, and then do whatever they can to create the conditions under which that fear can grow and thrive, because at least up until this past election, fearmongering had shown to be very effective for them.
Hope can be a powerful antidote against fear. I'm not talking about platitudinous hope like the slogan on the Shepard Fairey Obama poster, nor am I talking about the hope of a guy spending his last fifty bucks that were supposed to be spent on groceries on Powerball tickets. I'm talking about the hope that keeps us alive, that lets us get through one more day without blowing our brains out no matter how bad things get. It's that kind of hope that is keeping people in the Rockaways and Staten Island and the Jersey shore waking up every morning with the courage to get through one more day of devastation, cold, and hunger.
Republicans have been winning elections, or at least trying to, based on fear for three decades. It was Reagan's mythical welfare queen. It was Jesse Helms' "White Hands" ad. It was George H.W. Bush's Willie Horton ad. It was the hippie-punching of the campaign against the Clintons. It was the outrage against Common appearing at the White House. It was seeing terrorists around every corner and branding everyone who didn't panic at the site of a swarthy man or a woman in a headscarf as a terrorist sympathizer. We see it in the ridiculous idea that if we allow gay marriage everyone will HAVE to marry someone of the same sex.
This kind of fearmongering reached its pinnacle with the rise of the Tea Party. A loose amalgamation of racists, religious nuts, reactionaries, old John Birchers, and perhaps a few people who really DO care about the Constitution, the Tea Party was quickly co-opted by super-PACs, and so you ended up with a bunch of people talking about freedom while wanting to see women prosecuted for seeking abortions and old people screaming about Big Government while waiting in line to deposit their Social Security checks. It was the triumph of Teh Stoopid, and Republicans were only too willing to hold their hands out to catch some of the spittle escaping from such people's mouths as they ranted about Obama conspiracies that are based on nothing.
There was a time when people like Bob Dole, who appeared on the Senate floor in a wheelchair the other day to advocate for ratification of a United Nations treaty that would basically encourage the rest of the world to make accommodations for the disabled along the lines of Dole's own Americans with Disabilities Act. But as Jon Stewart noted, Tea-crazed Republicans hate the U.N. more than they care about their own citizens, including those brain-damaged babies that they would force women to bear and raise with no help from them.
There are no limits to the crazy and the moronic coming from the mouths of these people. Rick Santorum, one of the nation's leading fetophiles, thinks that making accommodations for kids with cerebral palsy somehow means that dark-skinned people from the U.N. will forbid him from home-schooling his kids
(NYT link alert) and teaching them that gay people should be hated with every fiber of their being. Marco Rubio said last week
that because there's a "dispute amongst theologians" about how old the earth is, he has no idea. He then backtracked
yesterday, but made sure that the mouth-breathers know that yes, he does believe that there's a giant man who lives in the sky who micromanages everything. Former Bush spokesmodel Dana Perino says
that women who are victims of domestic abuse "should make better decisions." Kooky "pastor" Bryan Brown has a grand unifying theory of Obama
that seems to involve Communism, Islam, Robocop, and Willie Horton. The craziest woman in Alaska continues to prove that "Socialist" is just another word for "N----r"
. And speaking of the man who lives in the sky, THIS fucking guy KNOWS
that God has forgiven him for pressuring his mistress to have an abortion while he serves as a family values fetophile. When do we stop taking these people seriously? When do we stop giving them microphones? It is a parade of crazy, and if this country doesn't get its shit together soon and toss these people onto the dustbin of history, we're going to have to watch the media treat them as if they are good-faith operators until they succeed in driving the entire country off the cliff.
Labels: batshit crazies, Republican clown car, Teh Stoopid