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The Mean Streets of Politics, 2010

Yet another Republican candidate has threatened the violent overthrow of the government should he not get his way in the election.  Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting on Dallas congressional candidate Stephen Broden:

If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary,” Broden said, adding the nation was founded on a violent revolt against Britain’s King George III.

Watson asked if violence would be in option in 2010, under the current government.

“The option is on the table. I don’t think that we should remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms,” Broden said, without elaborating.”

Broden is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. He may not have a chance of winning, but he’s a fringe candidate only insofar as the GOP is a fringe party. Here’s what RNC chair Michael Steele said of Broden:

Whether you are talking about a Nikki Haley in South Carolina… a Tim Scott… Pastor Broden here… there is a huge opportunity for us to show the other side of who we are and what we believe.

Broden has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Dick Morris, the Republican National Coalition for Life and a lengthy list of congressional Republicans and candidates.

New Republicans aren’t just breathing fire. They’re snorting napalm. Nevada Senate hopeful Sharron Angle also threatened violent insurrection, of course.

Conventional thinking, as represented by the out-of-touch media mainstream, labels the threats of violence mere aberrations. There is a great reluctance on the part of the press to just speak this truth:  Very wealthy conservatives have created and funded an unhinged right wing that advocates violence, that can’t oppose others without hating them.

There is a double standard here. Imagine the press reaction to a Democratic National Committee chair bragging about or funding, say, the Weather Underground.

While publicly bemoaning political polarization, some in the press secretly welcome this turn of events like they might secretly welcome a hurricane:  reputations can be made covering disasters. There are better stories to tell.

In any case, the blame really should fall upon all those conservative consultants and candidates who create the monsters to win elections and then try to pretend they had nothing to do with their creation. Over and over they provoke their extremists.  Then, when the extremists speak out or act their benefactors duck and disappear. In his way they 1) enliven their extremist base; 2) reassure more moderate voters that they are not so extreme. It’s a twofer.

America is polarized. Many on the right are outraged at the thought of a black man in the White House. Most liberals and moderates view Barack Obama’s election as a symbol of remarkable moral and political progress.

Many on the right want to drown government in a bathtub. Most liberals and moderates want government to protect us from economic and environmental ruin.

Most importantly, many on the right favor a much more authoritarian, hierarchical society. Driven by fear and their own social disorientation, they want things simple.  Discipline and obedience are their political aphrodisiacs. They want the un-drowned part of government to rule our sex lives and our religious lives, to enforce a rigid class structure and a dangerous disparity of wealth. Government intrusion and control is okay so long as it’s on behalf of the right (read: their) authority.

The view is now and always has been incompatible with democracy. Libertarian Tea Partiers will squawk at the above. They are not looking closely at themselves, or at least at those standing next to them.

There are also those who understand freedom as available only within a rigid, hierarchical system. What others see as freedom they see as anarchy or permissiveness.

There’s little honest talk about these fundamental differences. We prefer to think of our politics as a kind of crazy and loud-mouthed disagreement over, say, the effect of federal spending on man-in-the-moon marigolds.

But dishonesty and denial give cover to the Timothy McVeighs of the world, and sooner or later we’ll be forced to wonder where all the marigolds have gone.

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Glenn W. Smith

Glenn W. Smith