Monday, August 20, 2012

Right-Wing Revolution Rhetoric: Greene County, VA Edition

Greene County, VA, known in this part of the OD for its perpetual speed traps along highway 29 north of Charlottesville, is in the news. The reason: an article in the Greene County Republican Newsletter calls for "armed revolution" if Obama is re-elected in November.

Now, this is, in some sense, a lone kook, and no party should be held responsible for the words nor the actions of lone kooks.

However, in a very important sense, this is not merely about a lone kook.

First, this unhinged, semi-literate and seditious piece of crap should never have been published, and the Greene County GOP needs to take responsibility for having done so. Squealing about the First Amendment is utterly irrelevant in such a case. Here we have calls for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government if an election does not turn out to the GOP's advantage. These people want it both ways--they want to advocate violence against the government and the people, but then dismiss their own advocacy. The Greene County GOP has issued a lukewarm rejection of the piece, which semi-rejection they use primarily as an excuse to bring up Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones. It's about as close to a non-rejection of McPhee's position as a rejection can be.

Second, this loose talk of armed revolution seems to be more common than one would like. I've seen several bumper stickers that say something like "it's time to get our muskets, get behind the split-rail fences, and take our country back," and, of course, one encounters such nonsense with some frequency when one slums around in the fever swamps. This nonsense needs to stop.

Third, and most importantly--and as I've said before--such insanity is a foreseeable consequence of the conservative/Republican strategy of demonizing Obama (and, for that matter, our last two Democratic Presidents). When you undertake a concerted campaign to convince the populace that the President is an evil dangerous socialist Islamist hellbent on intentionally destroying the country (and, quite possibly, the Antichrist)...well, you can't claim that your hands are clean when some people believe you. Calling for armed revolution is a fairly rational response for anyone so foolish as to believe that the GOP is telling them. I can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater and then act as if I'm blameless on the grounds that no one should have been stupid enough to believe me. (Note: appeals to the fire-in-a-crowded-theater analogy must be used judiciously...)

Finally, now we've got:
A. A GOP campaign based almost entirely on lies about a fictional President and fictional policies attributed to him.
B. A concerted attempt to steal the election by disenfranchising Democratic voters in order to stop non-existent voter fraud
C. Calls for violent revolution if A and B should fail.

Again, I'm not advocating holding the GOP responsible merely because some Republicans are crazy. Some Democrats are crazy, too. Rather, I'm saying that the GOP must be held responsible for their role in fanning the flames of craziness. McPhee's lunatic screed is not unrelated to the GOP's overall anti-Obama strategy. And Republicans must take responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of that strategy.

It's their use of lies and lunacy as political tools, more than their advocacy of any specific policy, that drove me completely to the other side of the aisle. And it's their embrace of such strategies that  makes it so important to defeat them in November.


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