Sept. 3rd, 2010
by F. Grey Parker
It's that time again, kids. In politics, these moments come reliably during our downward cycles. But this is like some once-in-a-generation storm you hear surfers whisper of in hushed tones.
"Throw the bums out!" is the cry heard all over. Again. No, really. Here's one now:
There is, as I have often said, nothing new about these tides of fury. With each wave, the differences are generally cosmetic as they seize on similar, albeit generationally peculiar, fears. There is always some nebulous shadow threat in the form of "otherness" without an allegiance to "our principles."
Also, these periods have always encouraged one thoroughly neurotic fringe or another. For a trip down "nut-case lane," you may click here, here, here, here and definitely here.
However, dusty politically cyclical truisms and their exemplars in this election season should not be dismissed out of hand. There is a real risk in underestimating the destructive possibilities that desperate times present.
here, here and here), a few charlatans with just plain crazy views (examples here, here and here), and a number of politicians with a strong taste for viciousness (examples here, here and here) all of whom stand to take or keep office. From these positions, they can truly cause harm if emboldened to do so.
We are now in an era where rage alone is accepted as good copy.
This emboldens them.
This is an age where vast numbers of the pundit class are not only relying on the tyranny of the mob for their talking points (examples here, here and here) but are also arguing that such majority bullying is really the "American Way," as we saw with the proposition 8 controversy (examples here, here and here).
This, too, emboldens them.
We have, for the first time in my lifetime, spent weeks in a state of national anguish over whether it's "appropriate" for a group of American citizens to establish a place of worship and celebrate their heritage. That so many fail to find it unseemly to debate this at all is a moment of national shame and yet many are righteously scheming to gin it up all the way to election day.
We are now polling America's opinions on the religious convictions of a sitting President of the United States. I don't find frightening the fact that 19% of Americans believe Obama to be a "secret Muslim." I find it terrifying that the context of the discussion has been allowed to go largely uncriticized.
So it goes. We would do well to remember that when our only motivation is to "throw the bums out," we sometimes pave the way for extraordinarily dangerous outcomes.