The Republican party is using anger and violent tendencies to boost their image with their base. This started back in campaign last fall and its continuing now. Race plays a big part in this. It should not be surprising that racism and the far right are common seen together around the world. What is alarming is that the Republican party is using these dangerous elements to whip up its base in the face of recent electoral defeats. I have said before on this blog that the Republican Party - as currently constituted and managed - is one of if not the biggest threat to democracy in this country and this is the kind of thing I mean.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Here are some examples:
Last year in the campaign there were numerous clips of racist or violent reactions by McCain/Palin supporters at their rallies. Here is a short clip of a man with a monkey doll which he calls "Little Hussein [Obama]." Here is another of an Obama supporter having his/her sign ripped away by Republicans at a rally in California. The person with the sign moves out of sight (possibly to go get their sign back) and the empty spot in the crowd is quickly and smoothly filled in with a Republican wearing a red hat (seemed to be the uniform of the day). Here is a clip about a violent outburst at Palin rally in New Hampshire where two young Obama supporters claim (with some credibility) to have been beaten by a mob of angry old ladies.
Moving on to the current health care rallies and town halls, here is a clip and story of an African-American woman having her poster of Rosa Parks taken and ripped up by an older White male. When she goes to get the sign back, several cops swoop in and man-handler her out of the building. The man who attacked her was hustled away too (by only one cop) and is now being charged with misdemeanor assault. Then there is the guy who showed up to an Obama town hall meeting in New Hampshire with a pistol on his hip and a sign alluding to a quotation by Jefferson about refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
But what effect is all this having? Is it turning people off? Is it convincing people? Gallup has a poll out on this. The results seem to show that it is intensifying views but not really shifting them. Take a look at the first numbers on the page and at item 4. Compare them to the numbers I posted in an earlier thread on the health care polling. About the same number of people who strongly oppose health care reform also say that these demonstrations make them more sympathetic to the anti-health care demonstrators' views. Item 4 on the Gallup link shows that reaction is heavily partisan. Democrats and Republicans look at these demonstrations and come to diametrically opposed conclusions. There is some potentially worrying movement among independents but I suspect that very few independents are paying very close attention to the demonstrations. My experience with independents is that they are turned off by such angry political confrontation.*
In any case, I think these numbers most likely suggest that the demonstrations are polarizing rather than convincing in their effect. This is in line with the Karl Rove approach to politics. You win by getting your based more whipped up than the other guy's base. If your people are frothing at the mouth that's good. The assumption is that your base is roughly the same size or bigger than other guy's base.
The danger is that this will create an atmosphere where political violence seems to be legitimized by the Republican leadership. Recent assassination of a doctor who performs abortions or the shooting at the Holocaust museum in Washington may be early symptoms. The guy at the Obama rally with a gun may be the canary in the coal mine. This guy may not have had any intention of shooting anyone. But what about the next guy who hears about taking guns to rallies and decides to go a little further?
*It's also worth noting that with so many conservatives of the non-religious variety leaving the Republican party, the "independent" group has probably shifted to the right on economic issues in the last 3 to 4 years.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:52 AM