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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

In a world led by these bozos

by Tom Sullivan

Many readers must have had the same reaction to Tuesday's Republican debate: disbelief. A stage full candidates for president promising that, after swearing to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, they would violate the principles behind it and commit war crimes in our name (like those who set recent precedent). Banning Muslims from the U.S. Carpet bombing. Targeting civilians, women and children. All-American, make-Jesus-proud stuff like that. Because strong, you know?

Instead of allaying people's fears in the aftermath of recent terrorism, they fed them. Stoked them. CNN set the tone with a berserker lead-in right out of a Don LaFontaine "In a world ..." movie trailer. Republican leaders pledging to fight terrorism staged an hours-long infomercial for Daesh and proved once again that their commitment to American principles is a mile wide and an inch deep.

Front-runner Donald Trump doesn't know what the nuclear triad is. "Not a problem," writes Gail Collins. "He can hire somebody who knows about nuclear weapons. Somebody really great." Charlie Pierce agrees that "none of these guys is up to the job."

The "overwhelming insecurity" was palpable, as Charles Blow observes this morning:

I would posit that most of the issues that get traction in these debates, and indeed have gotten traction among Republican voters this cycle, have to do with a tremendous insecurity about power and safety — terrorism, the economy, immigration, gun rights, refugees, exploding drug addiction among white youth, policing, all of it.

We live in an America that is changing in dramatic demographic ways right before people’s eyes. Many of our largest cities are already majority-minority or soon will be. The electoral map, altered by this growing number of minority voters, makes it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the presidency, even as they enjoy overwhelming successes on the state and legislative levels.

None of this is new. Republicans have been running on fear of change and the Other since Lee Atwater and before. Martin Longman at Political Animal quotes from the GOP platform from 1952 to prove the point:

We assert that during the last twenty years, leaders of the Government of the United States under successive Democrat Administrations, and especially under this present Administration, have failed to perform these several basic duties; but, on the contrary, that they have evaded them, flouted them, and by a long succession of vicious acts, so undermined the foundations of our Republic as to threaten its existence.

We charge that they have arrogantly deprived our citizens of precious liberties by seizing powers never granted.

We charge that they work unceasingly to achieve their goal of national socialism.

We charge that they have disrupted internal tranquillity by fostering class strife for venal political purposes.

We charge that they have choked opportunity and hampered progress by unnecessary and crushing taxation.

They claim prosperity but the appearance of economic health is created by war expenditures, waste and extravagance, planned emergencies, and war crises. They have debauched our money by cutting in half the purchasing power of our dollar.

We charge that they have weakened local self-government which is the cornerstone of the freedom of men.

Etc., etc., etc. Longman writes, "Their rhetoric is old. Their tactics are old. Their belief systems have been warped forever."

Stanley Greenberg has measured the anxiety for years. The Republican base "thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country – and their starting reaction is 'worried,' 'discouraged,' 'scared,' and 'concerned' about the direction of the country – and a little powerless to change course." Republican candidates know well that there's nothing like Viagra and a little peace through superior firepower to treat that. It is all they have left.

Afghani Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai addressed the anti-Muslim rhetoric:

"It's important that whatever politicians say, whatever the media say, they should be really, really careful about it. If your intention is to stop terrorism, do not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it because it cannot stop terrorism. It will radicalize more terrorists."

Instead, she believes, education, not discrimination is the key to stopping terrorism. "If we want to end terrorism we need to bring quality education so we defeat the mindset of terrorism mentality and of hatred."

Does that mean we don't get to blow shit up?