Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Crazy Can They Get?

Much of the country - the moderate people who comprise the vast middle ground of US political opinion - marvel at the political excesses of the Tea Party people. I have written about them in several times before, sometimes simply reporting the facts and sometimes trying for a bit of humor. *

The Tea Party mindset is not a recent development. We have always had the far out crazies on both the radical right and left. However, these crazies were more constrained in the past, perhaps because of their sub-conscious sense of their own ridiculous radicalization. No longer. Today they are ‘mainstream’.

The rising crescendo of shrill right wing demagoguery and the demonizing of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their regressive dogma has motivated thousands of these crazies to come out of the woodwork. They now believe - and loudly proclaim - they represent a groundswell of grassroots majority populism, even though poll numbers say otherwise. There have always been some who never hid their nuttiness, who didn’t care if others thought they were way over the edge. Recall George Wallace of Alabama, David Duke of Louisiana and the recently deceased Reverend Jerry Falwell. Falwell once said, ‘Textbooks are Soviet propaganda.” in one of his many witless proclamations. He said so many stupid things I had to laugh when Christopher Hitchens said after Falwell’s death, "If he had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox."

Tea Party populism is the ‘God, Guns and Gold’ variety, loudly and obnoxiously championed by people like Sarah Palin, and Ron Paul, and their Fox News collaborators. The Tea Party succeeded in electing a number of their people into office in the 2010 elections, and they are making themselves heard and felt, misguided as they are. A lot of these people are new to the political process, but some have been there all along. Until now, their bizarre activities have been shoved to the side or ignored. But now, newly emboldened, they are ‘mainstreaming’.

That does not make them any less bizarre however. One nut case in Georgia recently made the news when he asked his Republican Congressman Paul Broun in a public meeting: “When are we going to shoot Obama?” At the time Broun made absolutely no objection to the publicly expressed thought of shooting the sitting President of the United States.  Later, Broun tried to justify his failure to be responsible, claiming “I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question."

R-I-I-I-G-H-T. But, not surprisingly, that’s not what really transpired. At the meeting Broun actually matter-of-factly answered the question saying, “The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president. We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

That was it. That’s the new ‘normal’ for these people.  Broun's kind are not lonely in this area of Georgia. This year, the region’s Republican Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin - who holds a 'Biblical degree' - was first in line to introduce numerous bizarre bills and resolutions to the state legislature, including but not limited to the following:

  • A bill to make women prove miscarriage or face felony charges;
  • A bill to eliminate drivers’ licenses; “"licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people because taking on the restrictions of a license require the surrender of an inalienable right.”;
  • A bill to bar state from requiring vaccinations, the ‘Freedom from Compulsory Pandemic Act’;
  • A bill to require taxpayers to pay in gold or silver only;
  • A bill prohibiting local governments from interfering with a (city) resident who wants to raise chickens, rabbits, hogs cows or goats;
  • A bill stating that since Georgia was not a party to the suit in Roe v. Wade, it is not bound by that decision. The bill defines life as beginning at conception, and abortion as murder;
  • A bill prohibiting the state from collecting income taxes;
  • A bill to change names of ‘victims’ to ‘accusers’ (as in rape ‘victims’ to ‘accusers’);
  • A bill to allow any legislator to lobby for special interests;
  • A bill to abolish Department of Human Services;
  • A bill to require property damage or bodily injury or death before citing a person for traffic violations;
  • A bill to repeal prohibition agains carrying concealed weapons in church
  • A bill to repeal prohibition agains carrying concealed weapons for post-secondary schools;
  • A bill to abolish property taxes;
  • A bill to provide that land use and zoning laws, ordinances, and resolutions shall be prohibited;
  • A RESOLUTION informing a Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice that Georgia is a republic, not a democracy.
This is completely nuts, and unbelievable to any rational person, I know. Anyone except Tea Partier types would consider this guy as certifiable - yet he is routinely justified and defended in our right wing blogosphere. More bizarre yet is that that this is routine for Bobby Franklin, who has been elected over and over, and is now serving his EIGHTH consecutive term!

No one should be surprised however. This region also produced Newt Gingrich, who ‘shut down’ the government once before, and also US Representative Larry McDonald (a ‘conservative Democrat’!) who died when Korean Air Lines flight 007 was shot down over Russia in 1983. McDonald also just happened to be the President of the John Birch Society at the time, and was considered as the second most conservative member in Congress - behind Ron Paul!

The Republican Party is desperately trying to get ahead of what they perceive, correctly in my opinion, as a movement which can engulf them. They are trying to 'embrace' the crazies in order to preserve their party, but in the process finding themselves being moved so far right as to make the GOP increasingly irrelevant. That's the danger in trying to ride a wild horse. The so-called Tea Partiers themselves are too radical ever to be a party in their own right. Mainstream America simply will not tolerate their excesses for long.  They will end up sucking the life out of the GOP

We know where the crazies are. They live among us - and are trying to convince everyone they are the new normal. But, that just ain't so. . . and never will be.

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