“And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely”
In the run up to the passage of the Healthcare bill there were clear attempts to intimate lawmakers into changing their votes.
Since the passage of the bill, the threats of violent reprisals have only escalated.
“Death threats have poured in to the offices of Louise Slaughter and Bart Stupak. A propane line at the home of Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello’s brother was slashed, and in a gesture with less-than-subtle symbolism, a coffin was placed on Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan’s lawn. More than 100 House Democrats met with representatives from the Capitol Police and FBI on Wednesday, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at least 10 Democrats have been given enhanced protection.” Time
Speaker Pelosi had it right when she said that “words have power”.
We have already seen what happens when public figures label individual physicians as “baby killers”. Individuals take it on themselves to exact vigilante justice and people get killed.
The same thing is going on here.
Talk show hosts and political leaders are using inflammatory language to advance their cause with little regard to the consequences of their actions.
“I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” Minority Leader Boehner said. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable.”
Rather than acknowledgment any responsibility for the unstable state of their supporters, Republicans are blaming Democrats, not only for the setting these wing nuts off, but then for going public with the death threats and vandalism to their homes and offices. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s defense was classic. Blame the victim. He said that it was “reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain.”
That may be so, but wasn’t it MORE reckless to encourage this behavior to begin with?
Didn’t he figure that some people were likely to act out when his party called the Healthcare bill tyrannical and totalitarian? Boehner called the vote on the bill “Armageddon” and predicted that Ohio Rep. Driehaus would be a “dead man” as a result because he represents a Republican district in Cincinnati.
How did they think that this contingent of radicalized conservatives was going to react?
This is the worst of the Republican “Big Lie” politics.
The “Big Lie” in this case was that the American people overwhelmingly opposed this legislation.
Prior to it’s passage, the Rassmussen Poll reported a fairly consistent 54% opposed to healthcare legislation . Gallup researchers said that number included at least 4% who felt the plan didn’t go far enough. The day after the bill was passed, the Gallup poll showed 49% approved the bill’s passage and only 41% disapproved.
This is not a picture of “overwhelming” opposition. It is the picture of a country deeply divided.
Other countries may have to resort to violence or mob role to resolve their differences. We have another peaceful option. It’s called the ballot box.
The Republicans used this Big Lie in an attempt to subvert the normal democratic process. They knew they didn’t have the votes in Congress. So they, and the right wing media, intentionally created an angry mob in an attempt to subvert the process. They portrayed it as a patriotic act, but it was very much the opposite.
Both they and the media ignored the fact that these same American people elected our current President based in part on his promise to do exactly what he did. Even though this was fulling a campaign promise, Republicans portrayed it as a tyrannical act.
The only tyranny here was the rule of the majority. Which is one of the basic tenants of our democracy.
At the end of the day, the Republicans lost on a fair legal vote. They didn’t have the votes because they didn’t have the overwhelming support of American people that they claimed. The problem now is that they and their supporters have nowhere to go.
They have lit the fuse on this powder keg of discontent that they created in a two year effort to derail the Obama Presidency.
They can’t apologize for holding up the business of the people for the past two years. They have no choice but to continue with the same scorched earth tactics which weaken our democracy, sow the seeds of dissension, and undermine the public’s confidence in the institutions of government.
By condemning violence and blasting Democrats in the same breath, Republican leaders implicitly validate the anger spurring these incidents. Instead of defusing the situation, this sort of response only escalates it.
It is possible that some moderate Republicans may attempt to break this pattern and work with the Democrats on future issues, but there are so few moderate Republicans left in Congress that this will at best be a token effort.
Now Republicans at the state level are pilling on in an attempt to burnish their conservative bona fides. They are mounting challenges to this law that they know will fail. A constitutional law professor at Wayne State said, “any first year law student knows that states cannot defy the federal government”.
As President Obama said, “this is what change looks like”. Unfortunately, its not a very pretty sight and I’m concerned that someone may get hurt because of this cynical and reckless behavior.