Over the course of the month of August I've been watching the near riots at the town hall meetings and while I may not be the most experienced political observer I certainly don't remember this happening in the past. People have always gotten a bit heated with politicians who don't vote their way, or with complex legislation and that's the American way to be sure. But the screaming, the violence (on both sides), the vitriolic lies, the open carrying of weapons? That's new and I think I know why.
For the past eight years we had an administration that shunned thought, controversy and dissent. To question was to oppose and to oppose was unpatriotic. Shoot first and ask questions..... never. And certainly never admit when a mistake was made or, heaven forbid, offer an apology. We saw it over and over from the lack of preparation for the war in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq on trumped up charges and the non-existent weapons; from Katrina to the medicare drug bill to squashing science. Mistakes were to be covered not fixed, and generally the covering was done from the gut with force, violence or intimidation. Sound familiar?
As I've proposed here before, the GOP is terrified not that health care reform will pass, but that it will work. So they've gone into Bush/Cheney mode and they're blasting it with everything they have rather than taking a step back to analyze and figure out how they can be a real contributing part of the conversation. Their followers, fomented to a froth and fed with blatant lies by talk radio and TV, are merely following in their footsteps: Scream at the opposition; bring a gun to terrify them; don't listen to the answers; walk out without learning or accomplishing a thing.
It's the same story: shoot (your mouth off) first and ask questions..... never.
And it's severely absurd.
UPDATE: I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks but I was inspired to post it by South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's infantile (and, yes absurd) "you lie!" outburst during the President's address to the join session of congress on 9/9/09. Sadly, his descent into rudeness fits the trend and should shock no one. He apologized for it within minutes but has spent the last two days back-peddling while being lauded by the far right for his "courage" and "speaking truth to power". Never mind that what President Obama was saying at that moment is demonstrably true, making Mr. Wilson the real liar here. Many self-respecting and even some self-satirising Republicans condemned his remark but still there are those who think such behavior has its place on the national stage.
Want to put a point on it that even the Congressman will understand? Send a couple of bucks to Rob Miller, his opponent in next year's election. So far he's raised almost $750,000 in just the last two days. Add a couple more to it. I did. Felt good.