Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Growing Anger and Violence On the Right

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.

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.


USWest said...

I agree. In fact, I logged on early because I was thinking about LTG's post on Angry White Men.

I am not sure I agree that this is just an angry white man thing. Many of the instigators are middle aged women, the types that you would usually mark as HRC supports. But instead of being mawkish HRC, Oprah lovers, they are a vocal set of angry white women. That is the part I don't get. The men, I can understand. The women . . . I just shake my head. Some of this is displaced anger over job losses and hard economic times. And the irony is that they are attacking the very policies that are designed to help them.

The American people have been in a pressure cooker for the last 8 years. And now they are boiling over. Republicans caused so much frustration and they used fear and uncertainty to keep protest low. I think now we are just beginning to see the outlet. It is starting with the wrong people and if Obama doesn't do something to direct it, it may spread to the extreme left. And then you have 1968 all over.

Republicans have nothing but violence left. They can't appeal to intelligence or knowledge because they sold their party to the extreme right. Joe the plumber was a prime example of appealing to the ignorant "common man". And Palin was a play at using old-fashion sex appeal to get votes.

Along with this trend is the sudden rise in militias again in the country who think their rights are being violated and who are believing wild conspiracy theories. Their rights were much more under threat under Bush than Obama. But Bush was 100% WASP,and Obama isn't.

Anonymous said...

The militias are also a function of rising un-employment and also offer a place to put the anger and lack of control, caused by the people they voted for. What is more frightening about the guy with the gun in RBR mentions, he was wearing the same T-shirt Timothy McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested...McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt at that time with a picture of Abraham Lincoln and the motto: sic semper tyrannis, the state motto of Virginia, and also the words shouted by John Wilkes Booth after he shot Lincoln. The translation: Thus, always, to tyrants.[57] On the back, it had a tree with a picture of three blood droplets and the Thomas Jefferson quote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Now what the hell are we doing allowing people like that to stand at a presidential function with a loaded gun...particularly in this environment...the inmates are running the asylum.

Raised By Republicans said...

Geez, I completely missed that about the T-shirt!

I'd bet the Secret Service didn't miss it though. I hope they're keeping an eye on him.

But damn. Can you imagine the national political shit storm that would erupt if a man carrying a non-concealed, legal hand gun assassinated President Obama?

Anonymous said...

Yes sir, the revolution would be televised. WW

Anonymous said...

Bye the bye USW,you are correct about women's anger...I see them at teh town halls as well...but I think a lot of their anger is based in the abortion issue and the rest is an after thought, at least with these women I see. I saw one on McCaskil's meeting, and the concerns were real and understandable, but based on completely erroneous reports and mis-information...many are just duped by Fox etc...the information / media sources these folks watch and listen to or read...a collective National Inquirer. WW

Raised By Republicans said...

Remember that Hillary supporter who was protesting at the DNC meeting that finally resolved the Florida and Michigan thing? You know, the woman that was screaming about Obama being an "... inadequate, black male?"

I think there is a major class-race-gender interaction here and there is one thing I know about three way interactions, it's really hard to isolate their effects.

Part of this is that for decades you could make a pretty good living in this country with little or no formal education and even without any skills beyond what you could be trained to do on an assembly line in a few hours. That all began to end as the rest of the world industrialized (or in the case of Europe and Japan, recovered from WWII). The people who were really living well in that old regime are now older, mainly white (but not all white), mainly male (but their wives benefitted too), and less educated.

They are losing a long held life of privilege and entitlement and they're mad as hell. It's a rage that carries over to their kids too - who grew up feeling entitled to the good life despite not giving a crap about school or obtaining economically valuable skills (like electronics or mechanics etc).

The Law Talking Guy said...

RBR- That was largely my point in the first part of tea party comment below.

Raised By Republicans said...

Sorry. Didn't mean to plagiarize.

USWest said...

I think I like the way RBR puts it better. ;-) I agree LRT with the parts of your previous post that mention the frustrated sense of entitlement. I just think it isn’t isolated to white men. I keep thinking of Archie Bunker and Mary Tyler Moore.

And on a similar thread, Gen X has its own sense of entitlement. And we expressed that in voting FOR Obama. We thought going to college and going in debt for graduate school entitled us to a high paying job, owning our homes, vacationing, etc. You know, the upper middle class lifestyle. Now we have unemployment where everyone is getting hit, not just the blue collars. We have medical bills that are running wild, we have the largest senior population ever to support, our children are going to poor performing schools, we are working one job to pay child support and the other for the insurance and rent. We have been shouldering the largest national debt ever and so far have seen little in return. On the upside, we generated a tech boom that went bubble while our elders generated a housing and finance bubble. Our rage was expressed during the election. But our rage was much more hopeful than the rage we see from our elders.

A lot of this is a generational thing. It is change. It is the natural process. That is why I think the administration has to find a way to direct and channel these people’s anger. And in fairness to these people, in many ways the awakening has been more rude for them. Many of these people thought they would retire now but can’t or don’t have the jobs to retire from. Many of them have lost more than one job over the years due to downsizing, economic contraction, trade, etc. Many of them are living in towns that were once bustling but are now dead. They don’t have the time we do to rebuild their nest egg. And they are tired of being screwed with. And yes, WW, they are listening to madness of FOX and Limbaugh, and the like. They are angry about a lot of things, but medical care is just the opportunity to express the rage that they didn’t fell safe expressing under Bush.

Raised By Republicans said...

US West, I get your allusion to Gen X rage. Speaking as a Gen X'er, I feel that a bright future I've worked hard for is being blocked by deadweight baby boomers and the generation between the "Greatest Generation" and the Boomers. In my meaner moments, I resent older people who won't let our generation build a new and different future because they refuse to admit that their past is gone forever.

Of course, there are plenty of future oriented older people. And I shouldn't make blanket generalizations about entire generations. But they are a minority within their generation. I've seen the numbers.

USWest said...

I feel the same way. And I see them all over in my workplace. And because there is no mandatory retirement, I see 80 year olds sleeping at their desks and collecting paychecks for it while I am busting my butt. In my case, I have just been given a promotion by default (they restrcutred and increased my responsibility and my title)but no reward. No bonus, no raise, nothing. Then I see the 80 year old snoozer who probably owns 5rentals in town in addition to his own home, has a bank role in Switzerland, and think of how much of the budget he's sucking up that should go to me.
Then I remeber the advise I was once given. "Don't get bitter. Once you are bitter, all is lost."

The Law Talking Guy said...

What you mean, USWest, is that because the short-sighted boomers participated with Reagain in the destruction of pensions, there is no adequate retirement, so these older snoozers are still working.

On the other hand, I cannot agree with you more about bitterness! Life is too short to be bitter. Oscar Wilde said that "youth is wasted on the young." Let's not waste what we have left of youth by being prematurely old, bitter, and angry. As the Obama election portends, there is no escaping demographics and time: the future does belong to us GenXers.

Raised By Republicans said...

Speaking of the future, the pay-go system for social security will mean that we get to pay for all those Boomers' social security. But if we can just avoid wrecking social security altogether, all their spoiled boomer-echo kids will be paying into the system for us. ;-)

Anonymous said...

You guys are a bunch of haters...I just feel like I was at a health care town hall. I'm out. WW

Raised By Republicans said...

I'm not so sure the Gen Xers will ever have the kind of influence in the future that either the Boomers have now or the Boomer Echo will have. We just don't have the numbers to compete. I think Barack Obama is as close to a Gen X President as we are likely to see and he is - by most definitions - a Baby Boomer.

WW - I'm sorry we freaked you out with our little Gen X rage moment. We're not "haters" really. But try to put yourself in our shoes. We are a generation that will likely never have "it's day." People who are 10-15 years older than us run the world now and people who are 10-15 years younger than us will run in the next decade.

We were told in college that we would benefit from a great job market when the Boomers retired en masse. But, for reasons US West and LTG alluded to, the Boomers have not retired. Instead they continue to hang on to senior positions. By the time they do retire and we move up, the work force will be dominated by the Boomer Echo by virtue of their enormous numbers.

Of course all venting aside, as I said, generational prejudices and stereotypes are dangerous and not generally appropriate.

USwest said...

Ah, WW, you don't fit the bill of the type of boomer we are talking about. And,yes, we are painting with a broad brush. It's a mentality that bugs me more than an age thing. And in the end, I have no problem with boomers staying around and holding up influential position so long as my salary doesn't stagnate!

If my salary goes up, cool with me. I'll afford all those vacations while the boomers are stuck going to meetings and making all sorts of decisions. There is a flip side to this.

Raised By Republicans said...

I go further and say I would gladly see my salary stagnate (well, not gladly - but I wouldn't blame anyone else for it) so long as the Boomers in the senior positions ahead of me actually continue to earn their salaries. In my place of work there are several 55+ people who are among the top earners in our department who haven't really done much more than mark time for years.

Anonymous said...

I do understand your various positions on generational differences and seeing folks make money for no output while you suffer isn't right...but it is all a numbers game. If everyone that is currently on the tit from your perspectives, were laid off and put on social security or unemployment, you would really see a very poor consumer confidence index at that point....the economy would freeze up. That doesn't make your plight any easier to bare I understand but the other side of that is the Gen X ers will receive the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world at about 10 trillion dollars of cash and assets over the next 10 to 15 years. The other thing that decreases opportunity for your generation is is fortunate that your generation is smaller...if there were another 30 million your age, man...I don't know where we would be now. The digital age is just not that big on job creation, at least yet...I hope more innovations come to provide more and better jobs for your generation to fill. As far as social security is concerned, again, pure numbers..72 million boomers, 42 million generation 2017, it is downhill...there will not be enough people working to keep it going unless it is funded by another source...from 1984 to 1990, they drained 7 billion off of the postal service to shore up SS...

I will share with you that I have been passed over for promotions for younger folks, and I have had to work for Gen X ers who were in power positions who did not know what they were doing and I have forgotten more than most of them know and it makes for cluster F***.

Hey, maybe our standard of living has been to high, maybe we all have expectations about what we should get and what we are entitled to, it is a mentality and habit we have been taught and it is exactly the mentality that makes you and me for that matter, angry...but we need to look in the mirror too I think. Maybe there is something to be said for global socialism...maybe the thought that we should all have the right to go out and be billionaires is not really a healthy 'right'...maybe we should not be such piggys...and beleive me, my generation have been and are, the biggest little piggys the world has ever produced. We are also the worst examples for 'family' ever in the world, with all of our divorces etc. So from my generation to yours, I am sincerely sorry we fucked things up for you, I hope you do better, but I'll bet you'll fuck 'em up to...but I wish you the best of luck with the bag of snakes you are left with. WW

Raised By Republicans said...

Interesting point about the computer age not generating a lot of jobs. Perhaps the causal direction goes both ways though. Perhaps the drive to computerize was in part incentivized by the demographic trough that is Generation X.

Of course, we know the Boomers, "didn't start the fire" to paraphrase Billy Joel. But it's hard not to get blamed when your generation (the boomers) have so dominated public discourse (both political and cultural) in this country for close to 50 years.

WW, I really really hope you are right that Gen X will benefit some day from all these demographic coincidences. But I'll believe it when I see it. I suspect much of that wealth will be consumed in the prolonged Golden Years of the Boomer Generation.

As for screwing up the country, again, as you said, it's a numbers game. We just don't add up to the kind of numbers the Boomers and their Echo do. So even if we try to screw things up we won't be as effective at it.

Anonymous said...

"So even if we try to screw things up we won't be as effective at it."
Good point, but you'll have to tools to be more efficient at it! But I think you guys will pay more attention to the environment etc., a different set of priorities will prevail is my hope. So party on and more power to ya!

And you are absolutely correct about the incentive that drove us to is to compete in the global work force...we all have to the the jobs of 3 people...they told us how the computer would free us up for more free time, biggest con job in the world. Little known fact...only about 23% of the baby boomers have college degrees, if memory serves, so the real money is in very few hands...the middle class was created by manufacturing jobs and those are all point to this part, just a ramble...but...

300 boomers turn 60 or older every day. The generation of baby boomers is 1943 - 1960. Life expectancy is now at 75 years old in the US. That means the oldest boomers are 66 years old and the youngest are 49. I'd say over the next 16 years, most of us will croak, so basically, you have to wait another 26 years, and the earth will be rid of us...yikes, 26 old will you be then...58 to 62? with 74 million echo boomers under neath you to generate some fat social security checks../so maybe your golden years will be okay, it's just the in-between that will be difficult I reckon. WW

Raised By Republicans said...

"only about 23% of the baby boomers have college degrees, if memory serves, so the real money is in very few hands...the middle class was created by manufacturing jobs and those are all point to this part, just a ramble...but..."

No, no, WW, I think this is very significant. In light of the demographics of voting patterns I discussed in the original post, your observation suggests that age, class, education and income trends (increasing over time or decreasing over time) are all overlapping with a large segment of Baby Boomers.

Raised By Republicans said...

sorry, the demographics are discussed in another thread.