Birthers, ‘Baggers and Backlash: G”NO”P digging its own grave

Unless you’ve been living in a cave recently, you are well aware of the epic ground war raging throughout the country over health care reform; activists on both sides have been preparing for this moment for months if not years. Most attention to date has been on the Teabagger a.k.a. Deather activists aiming to derail the reform effort by any means necessary. To hear the corporate media tell it, a large swath of everyday, mainstream Americans are taking to the streets in anger against the Democrat Road to Serfdom agenda. However, reality would suggest otherwise:

Michael Steele says don’t blame Republicans for the protests, though as Think Progress points out, “Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) has said that the time for polite town halls is “over,” and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has said that Democrats will have a “very, very hot summer.” State Republican Parties have also joined in.”

That’s just some very random, very prominent Republicans who aren’t responsible at all for the very same people that they say are the grassroots just having their voices heard. Like Heather Blish, who is “just a mom from a few blocks away” and “not affiliated with any political party.” That political party she’s not affiliated with surely didn’t send out any talking points telling people who were unaffiliated with it that they shouldn’t admit to being affiliated with it when asked by reporters. Luckily, there are some good reporters.

Her LinkedIn page shows something different. She was the vice chair of the Republican Party of Kewaunee County until last year. She worked on the John Gard campaign, who ran unsuccessfully against Kagen last year. And it says she’s a part of the Republican Party for Kagen’s district, as well as the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and the Republican National Committee.

Sam Stein thinks that maybe “she – like other protesters at these events – are there because of political reasons not policy disagreements.” Yeah, maybe.

But these are just concerned, mainstream, regular people. Like the guy here, who (at 0:55) is just “regular” “not fringe” people, and only happens to work for a pharmaceutical company.

Their arguments don’t seem to have to make any sense, cause they’re MAD AS HELL!!! AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!!! Funny how the G”NO”P makes fun of community organizing until they do it themselves.

Then there are the Birthers. These sorry misfits don’t even try to pretend they’re interested in policy of any sort, jumping straight to a direct challenge of the President’s legitimacy based on…well, it’s not exactly clear. But it is clear that their complaints are not substantive or reality-based in nature. Barack Obama was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, an American state. Period. Any evidence to the contrary is spurious at best, and each attempt to produce more concrete proof is quickly and thoroughly debunked. Yet the traditional media gives these fools a megaphone, as if there were anything there worth reporting, and very few congresscritters are willing to stand up against this madness. I’d like a hear a legitimate, reason-based explanation how the Birther claims are in any way more credible than Truther theories on 9/11.

But this post is not a polemic against the Birthers or the Teabaggers. I feel no need to marginalize them any more than what they are already doing to themselves. Rather, I feel it is deeply important that we understand WHY these nutters are so angry. And we indeed must understand them as a singular group, because their core motivations are identical. We often hear the same violent rhetoric and see the same disgusting signs from both, because they are driven by apoplectic rage that their moral order is being upended. Their thinly veiled message smacks of classic Jim Crow racism: “he’s not one of us”. They are the last desperate gasps of the old school segregationists. These folks are scared, and they are dangerous.

I am far from alone in this observation. Krugman’s column last Friday, as usual, nails it:

For the most part, the protesters appear to be genuinely angry. The question is, what are they angry about?….they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement… and cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.

Does this sound familiar? It should: it’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.

And DailyKos FPer Hunter also really gets it:

It is more than a little troubling that each of the recent, most explicitly aggressive and loud and factless “movements” to appear on the scene since our first black American president took office appear to be, in large part, made up of the same people…They are nearly exclusively white, predominantly middle aged and elderly, and unambiguously conservative….It is, in short, a movement made up of the enfranchised and enabled; people who have gained every benefit from the politics of America and yet who feel in their very bones that they are the oppressed ones, the ones who have nothing left to lose, so rapidly is America falling away from them. It is rare to run across any movement so deeply angry — or more to the point, a movement which explicitly celebrates anger as the primary mission of their activism.

That seems the operative element of discourse, of late. It is angry beyond any objective rationale. It is actively hostile to fact. It finds the mere premise of debating a political argument to be deeply offensive. And as a movement, it is large….Maybe this fight is a postmodern segregationist one after all, postmodern because it is not even about the thing it is purportedly about, but fought through weird three-times-removed proxy issues that even the participants themselves don’t really grasp and heaven knows have no actual information on.

We have here a movement built on irrational impulses, armed and dangerous, and ready to lash out like an animal backed into a corner. I suspect that many if not most Americans who are paying any attention can observe that fact. It is also quite clear that G”NO”P leadership, while  not outright pulling the strings, is certainly fanning the flames. Whether they like it or not, the Republican Party circa 2009 has irrevocably hitched its wagon to the Birthers and the Baggers. There is a backlash already brewing, even beyond that of the past two election cycles, and it will not end well for an entity that just a few years ago seemed on the verge of long-term dominance.

More on this forthcoming….

-Jeremy

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